Craps Is the Only Casino Game You Should Play

Because you’re here to have a good time, right?

craps casino

A game of craps — hands-down the best casino game — at Rivers Casino. Photograph by Jeff Fusco

I used to walk through a casino like a self-conscious teenage girl in a high-school cafeteria — unsure of what the unwritten rules were, but confident they existed. Now? Picture George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven. The change? Someone taught me how to play craps.

Most people who head to casinos are there for the entertainment. The flashing lights, the first-rate people-watching, the heady prospect of making some easy money — the casual gambler is there to be social, to be part of the collective fun. It’s the same reason people go dancing with friends. Parking it in a cushy chair and being a solitary slot jockey? Might as well stay home and play Candy Crush on your phone. Grabbing a seat at the staid poker table, hardly talking to the dealer, high-fiving no one when you win a hand? Why bother? You see where I’m going: The craps table is the best gaming experience because it’s boisterous, it’s communal, it’s the cool kids’ table.

Craps is pretty easy to play even if you suck at math or have been overserved. (I speak from experience.) There are dozens of bets you can place — ignore those and stick to the basics. A quick primer: Find an open spot and wait till the table is cleared by the dealers, because that means a new roll is about to begin. Drop cash if you need chips. Put your chips on the pass line. (The dealer will tell you how much to put there. It depends on what the minimum bid is. If you find a $10 table, jump on it.) The shooter will roll the dice. If this first roll is a seven or an 11, everyone wins and he or she rolls again. If it’s a two, three or 12, everyone loses. If a four, five, six, eight, nine or 10 is rolled, that number becomes “the point,” and the shooter keeps throwing. If a seven shows up on the dice, though, the turn is over. (That’s called “crapping out”.)

Once that point gets established, put some money on the four, five, six, eight, nine or 10 (whatever isn’t the point), because if that number is rolled, you’ll win even more. Actually, nearly everyone will win, so everyone will cheer. Sometimes you’ll hug that Japanese tourist or Snooki standing to your right — winning at craps busts through implicit biases. The best part? Stick around, and you’ll get to throw the dice. Roll a few good ones and you’ll be a “hot roller,” which is the craps equivalent of being the prom queen. And when that happens, for just a few minutes, you’ll finally own that high-school cafeteria.

Published as “Craps Is the Only Casino Game You Should Play” in the Know-It-All Guide to casinos in the February 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.