You don’t have to be a genius to lose your money at a casino. They were designed that way. It so happens that in one popular but possibly intimidating casino game, craps, the less you know the better off you’ll be.
Craps may appear a hot mess of a stacked chips, flying dice and loud men like that scene from “A Bronx Tale”-it’s all true, actually– but craps (and two other common games) are pretty simple once you’ve read a quick explanation and played for a little bit. Which is the point of this article.
Put your legs up and stay for a minute so next time you stroll across a casino floor you won’t hesitate to put down your cash at a craps, blackjack, or roulette table. One last housekeeping note: this is by no means a comprehensive explanation of each game or common strategy; quite the opposite, it contains only the basics you’ll need to play and marginalize the house advantage.
1. Each game technically begins with the “come out” roll, which isn’t an expression of sexual preference but the first roll of each turn.
2. Put your money (the minimum bet) on the “pass line,” which is basically your ante into the game.
3. If the shooter (dude with the dice) rolls a 2, 3 or 12, that’s called “craps” and you’ll lose your bet. Tough luck.
4. If he rolls a 7 or 11, you win your bet and get to celebrate with all your friends (craps is fun with a group of buddies) or strangers at the table.
5. In either of those scenarios: 2/3/12 or 7/11, the shooter will roll again. That is, until:
6. He rolls a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10… which will become “the point.” A dealer will move a marker over this point along the table near the stacks of chips.
7. At this stage, take an amount at least equal to your pass line bet and put it a couple inches behind that bet in a separate stack.
8. With this bet (the “odds bet”), you’re getting very, very close to the true odds of the point getting rolled. So put down even more back there if you can afford. All those other crazy bets – such as “hard four” (2 and 2) or “C&E” (2, 3, 11, 12) – are pretty much sucker bets. So they might look fun but it’s a fast way to lose a lot. Stay the course with the pass line and odds bet.
9. Each game will end when the shooter hits the point (rejoice!) or “craps out” with a 7. When either event happens, the game restarts with a come out roll. If the point hits, do not drop a chip atop your odds bet in an attempt to secure a higher payout – a stunt Denver Broncos safety Quinton Carter allegedly pulled in Vegas a couple weeks ago. That’s a felony.
10. You don’t have to roll if you don’t want. If you do, just grab ’em and chuck ’em (as opposed to fiddling with them until they display some “lucky” formation – that’s annoying), but don’t launch them off the table. Unless there’s some prick across the table who really, really deserves a shot between the eyes.
1. Actually print out and bring a card advising what to do in literally every possible scenario you might encounter (someone already made the card for you!). There’s nothing wrong or cheesy about this; in fact, savvier players probably will appreciate that you’re adhering to “the book” rather than just going with your gut, which may be filled with cheap booze and buffet food.
2. Face cards are all worth 10; an ace is one or 11 (depending on your hand); numbered cards are exactly what they say.
3. Place your bet in the circle (stick with the minimum for starters) and the dealer will put down two cards in front of you, in front everyone else playing a hand, and one card face up and another card face down in front of himself. No one knows what’s underneath but always assume it’s a 10. So if you can see the dealer has a 4 showing, assume he has 14.
4. The dealer must hit on 16 or anything less; once he reaches 17 or busts (has a hand exceeding 21) – the dealer will stop.
5. You can do whatever you want, but refer to your card. Your move is based on what the dealer shows, which will impact your play (you won’t see the face down card until after you decide what to do with your hand).
6. A few rules worth memorizing but you don’t have to: (a) If you have 12 to 16 and the dealer has a 2 to 6 showing, don’t hit unless you have a “soft” 12-16 (a hand comprised of one ace); (b) double down on 11 when the dealer appears has a 9 or lower showing; (c) always split Aces and 8’s. Why? Because both combinations make a really crappy hand and by splitting you’ll have a much better shot.
7. When you split or double down, you must put down another bet, effectively giving you two hands during the same game.
8. You actually have to motion with your hand when you want to stay (simple lateral wave above the table) or hit (tap a finger or two against the table). Remember, you’re being watched on camera, hombre.
9. Experience is key with blackjack. After a few turns through the shoe (the giant stack of cards) you’ll have a much better grasp on what’s going on and how to act in each situation. If you’re unsure, you can ask the dealer who will help you – not try to trick you.
10. Remember, don’t be an a**hole to the dealer; he’s just the messenger. If you go on a run, it’s good form to tip.
1. Step one: take a look at the board. You’ll notice there’s squares on the outside and ovals on the inside marked with numbers, which correspond to the numbers on the wheel.
2. You can make “outside bets” or “inside bets,” each of which carries a varying degree of risk and reward. For example, the odds the dealer will roll any single number is 37:1; if you hit the correct number on that inside bet, you’ll get paid 35:1.
3. A popular outside bet is simply RED or BLACK, which has just shy of a 1:1 shot of hitting (because the 0 and 00 make the odds less than even) and pays exactly what you wagered if you win ($10 if you bet $10).
4. If you want to make bets on the “inside,” ask the dealer to give you “singles,” or pretty colored chips that only you will use at that particular table. You can bet on any amount of single numbers each roll (and actually on more than one at the same time – if you lay a chip across two numbers, which splits your bet by half for each). BUT…
5. Don’t be a moron and (1) splash your chips on the table or (2) spread too many chips on the table on a single roll (good rule of thumb: avoid putting much more than the table’s minimum in singles on any given roll). If you’re playing a ton of numbers, you’re exposing yourself to a lot of losses and basically hedging against your other bets (reducing a possible win).
6. But if you’re feeling really spicy – place a bunch of chips on the same number or a couple numbers.
7. We like to stand closer to the wheel where it’s easier to place bets at most places on the table, and where you can see the ball dance around until it finds its resting spot.
8. As far as those outside bets – you can play those at the same time you play the inside. Try Red or Black, or one of the thirds (1st 12, 2nd 12, 3rd 12) or Even or Odd.
9. Perhaps the most important rule: After each roll, the dealer needs a moment to determine who gets paid what. The dealer will put winnings on the table but DO NOT attempt to collect anything until AFTER the dealer has lifted the eyeglass thingy that he’ll place on the winning number right after the spin.
10. No matter your wager, the odds are stacked against you; meaning, unless you’re some kind of mystical roulette luck genie, you will eventually get cold and lose. So after a great streak of luck (then a couple losses), it’d be wise to get up out of there and go to Denny’s.