Pick up the dice, shake ’em, blow on ’em, and toss ’em across the table. The image of a high-roller sauntering up to the craps table is partially a pop culture staple nowadays. Virginians can get in on the rush of rolling the dice at craps tables in the state’s casinos.
For new gamblers, or even regular casino-goers, craps can be intimidating. It doesn’t have the advantage of being a card game, which would give players something familiar to latch onto. Instead, craps is a dice game with a huge table and all sorts of bets that require an understanding of the game.
Want to give craps a try? We’ve got you covered with a guide on how to play and popular craps bets. Plus, we’ll cover which Virginia casinos offer the game.
The Come Out roll and Point roll
Virginia currently has three retail casinos operating in the state. Virginia online casinos are prohibited.
For new players, I like to explain craps in two stages:
- Stage 1: Come Out roll
- Stage 2: Point roll
Keep in mind that the term “stage” is not an official craps phrase. I’m just using it to help you understand the game. The official name for Stage 1 is the “Come Out” roll. For purposes of explanation, I’ll refer to the Pass Line bet, which is the most common recommended bet for craps beginners. The outcome of a Pass Line bet changes depending on which stage of play is active.
During the Come Out roll, the shooter – the person in control of the dice – rolls. During this stage, bets on the Pass Line win if a 7 or 11 is rolled. The Pass Line loses if the roll is a 2, 3, or 12. These outcomes only apply on the Come Out roll.
If any other number – 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 – is rolled during the Come out roll, that number becomes the “Point,” and the game enters Stage 2.
During Stage 2, there are a few possible outcomes:
- Shooter rolls the point number: Pass Line bets win, and the game returns to the Come Out roll
- Shooter rolls a 7: Pass Line bets lose and the dice go to the next player, who then becomes the shooter
- Shooter rolls any other number: Bets placed on the number rolled win and the stage continues
In other words, a rolled 7 ends the point stage in a loss, while a rolled point number ends it with a win. Any other number is neutral, though you can place bets on those numbers throughout the stage.
How bets work in craps
Craps bets come in many different forms. Many wagers are considered “Multi-roll” bets, in that they carry on for a series of rolls until a certain outcome happens.
Here’s a quick overview of Multi-roll bets in craps.
- Pass/Pass Line: Pass Line bets win during a Come Out roll if a 7 or 11 is rolled. During the Point roll phase, Pass Line bets win if the point is rolled, while a 7 loses. This can be confusing to new players because sometimes a 7 is good and other times it loses. If you follow the stages of the game carefully, you should be able to keep track. We recommend Pass Line bets as a starting wager for new players.
- Come: This bet is nearly identical to the Pass Line, but you place it after a Point is set.
- Don’t Pass/Don’t Come: These are the opposites of Pass and Come Out bets. Betting on Don’t Pass means you’re hoping for a 2 or 3 in the Come Out roll. A 12 is a push.
- Odds: Odds bets are paid out based on the Point. You can only place an odds bet if you have a Pass or Come bet on the table. This bet is highly recommended because it carries no additional house edge or advantage. Essentially, you’re betting on the odds that the Point will roll before a 7.
More Multi-roll bets
- Place and Buy: You can make these bets during the Point phase. They’re nearly the same, with slight differences. In either case, you can bet on any or all of the numbers on the table: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. If one of them rolls while you have a Place or Buy bet on them, you win. Place bets pay different odds based on the number (7-6 odds for 6 or 8, 7-5 odds for 5 or 9, and 9-5 odds on 4 or 10). Buy bets pay true odds with a commission. For beginners, betting on 6 or 8 is the easiest Place/Buy because these numbers roll with more frequency than the others.
- Hardways: These bets are placed on a “hard” number rolling. A hard number means rolling doubles, so rolling two 3s would be a Hard 6. Most craps games offer Hardways bets for 4, 6, 8, and 10, with different payouts for each. Betting on Hardways means you think the specific one you pick will roll before a 7 or the number you selected with a different combination. For example, a Hardway bet on 10 would lose if the shooter rolls a 6 and 4.
Single-roll craps bets
Craps also allows for bets on a Single roll. While these can be fun to sprinkle a few dollars on here or there, we don’t recommend making them your entire betting strategy.
- The Field: This bet wins if the next roll of the dice results in a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, or 12. You can also bet on only 2 or only 12, which pay out 30-1 at most craps tables.
- Any 7: You win if a 7 is rolled.
- Any craps: You win if a 2, 3, or 12 is rolled.
- Hops: Hops bets are wagers that the dice will show two specific numbers. For example, you could bet on 3-6 “on the hop,” and the bet would only win if the next roll shows a 3 and a 6 on the dice.
As evidenced by all the rules and bets above, craps can be complex. If you know a few key tips and tricks, though, betting on the dice game can be a blast. Here are our top craps tips:
Start with the Pass line
The Pass Line is the easiest bet to place in craps, and we recommend starting with it. You can enjoy your time at the craps table while only placing Pass Line bets. Move on to other wagers as you get more comfortable with how the game works.
Try betting the odds
Whenever you have the opportunity to bet the odds, do it. This bet has no house edge and pays well if it hits. It’s an excellent complement to Pass Line bets.
Make Single-roll bets sparingly
Multi-roll bets tend to have better odds and lower house edges than Single-roll bets. It’s okay to place the occasional Single-roll bet to spice things up, but they are not a long-term winning strategy. If you are hankering for a Single roll bet, we recommend starting with The Field because it gives you the most chances to win.
Trust the dealer
For casino dealers, craps is one of the most demanding games, often requiring two people to run the table. Craps dealers are experts, and you’ll be blown away by their skill in remembering bets, settling wins and running the game. Place your bets at the craps table with peace of mind; you’re in good hands.
Where to play craps in Virginia
I called each Virginia casino to ask about craps tables with varying degrees of success.
Bristol Casino: Future Home of Hard Rock confirmed that the temporary casino has two craps tables.
Caesars Danville Casino transferred me to an extension and then rang for five minutes with no answer. However, it’s likely the temporary property has at least one craps table.
Rivers Portsmouth Casino played an automated message multiple times telling me I was the first call in line. This went on for 10 minutes and I never received an answer. Like Caesars above, it’s likely the property has at least one craps table.
A Norfolk casino is currently in the approval process. Construction could begin by the end of this year. Richmond, meanwhile, is going for a re-do after a 2021 initiative was shut down by voters. A Richmond casino referendum is on the 2023 November ballot. Both casinos are expected to have craps tables if and when they open.
Will Virginia online casinos have craps?
As mentioned above, Virginia online casinos are not yet legal. If they do come to the state, craps is likely to be among the games on offer. Live dealer craps is offered at most online casinos in legal markets.