The Stages of a Craps Game

One of the biggest problems new Craps players understand is that the game is played in two stages. Sometimes a seven will cause you to win while other time. Sometimes they take your money when 2 rolls. Sometimes they don't. Other times you may think you won a bet... but you didn't. It was the wrong stage of the game. Understanding the two stages of the game is key to understanding Craps.

An overhead view of an empty craps table. One puck is flipped to ON on the 5 and the other flipped to OFF in the don’t come.

The Comeout Roll is the First Stage of a Craps Game

The Comeout Roll, when the puck is OFF, is the beginning of the Craps game, when the shooter is trying to determine a Point for the rest of the table. Before they try for a point, though, the dealers have to get everyone situated. Sort of the calm before the storm. This is when new players should be buying in, and people who are leaving should be coloring up. It's the best time to be checking your phone if you have to, making a strategy for when the Point is established, or mentioning the number 7. 

After buy-ins and color-ups, it's time to start betting. If you want to bet with the shooter, then get on the Pass Line. If you want to bet against the shooter, get on the Don’t Pass. The Comeout Roll is also when most people bet their Proposition Bets like the World, the Any Craps, or the Yo.

Also, not all bets on the Craps table are 'working' or 'ON' during the Comeout Roll. When a bet is 'working,' it CAN win or lose on the next roll. When a bet is 'not working' or 'OFF', it CAN NOT win or lose on the next roll. The bets that are 'not working' or 'OFF' during the Comeout Roll are Place Bets, Come Bet Odds and the Hardways. You can always ask the dealer to "Turn my ____ bets on" or say you want them "working." The dealer will put an ON lammer on top of one of your bets, and you are now ready to get paid if your bet hits. 

One last thing to consider is that there are bets that you cannot bet during the Comeout Roll. Pass Line Odds, Don't Pass Lay Odds, Come Bets, and the Don't Come are all reserved for the next stage, the Intermediate Roll.

Player view from spot ten looking at bets on the pass line and the don’t pass. The puck is off. You can see money in the rails.

The Intermediate Roll is the Second Stage of a Craps Game

The Intermediate Roll is when the Puck turns ON, and a Point has been established. This is when the shooter tries to make their Point so everyone at the Craps table can win. You start to see mountains of chips on the layout, and your head explodes, wondering how the dealers keep track of it all. 

The Intermediate Roll is where the betting world of Place Bets comes to life with Buys and Power Presses! Hardways being parlayed! Odds being maxed! And Come Bets being very boring... like they usually are. It's when nothing is OFF, and everybody is holding their breath every roll. It's when you really start to feel the essence of what Craps has to offer. The flow of a Craps game.

So don't go messing up the flow of the game by buying in during the Intermediate Roll. Don't be coloring up. Don't be sticking your hands on the table when the dice are out. Don't be making late bets, and be ready for what you want to do next. Keeping the flow of the game makes playing Craps so much more fun for everyone.

Keep in mind during the Intermediate Roll, you can take back or remove all bets from the table except for the Pass Line or a Come Bet after it has traveled into a Point. You can also ask the dealer to "Turn my bets OFF" if you only want to skip a roll or two. 

View from right of stick of the puck flipped ON the six. The are a myriad of bets on the whole side of the table.

How Do You Buy In at the Craps Table?

It’s suggested to wait until the Comeout Roll to buy cheques because some players feel that if you buy cheques in the middle of a roll it messes with the flow of the game, although it is your right to make a bet any time. You can walk up, put money on the table and tell them what bet you want. After the boxperson has counted out your money, one of the base dealers will hand you your cheques. You can then pick them up, put them in the rail, and be ready to play.

Three one hundred dollar bills on the layout used as a buy-in for a player. There are miscellaneous bets around the table.

How Do You "Color Up" at a Craps Table?

When it’s time to go, please don’t walk away with the cheques unless you have a handful or less. It would be best to wait until the current roll has ended and it’s a new Comeout Roll. If you color up in the middle of a roll, you are saying the shooter isn’t going to win, and you want to get out before they cost you any money. When the roll is over, tell the base dealer that you would like to "color up" and place your cheques on the table. You’re doing this so you can convert your smaller cheques into larger ones to take to the cashiers' window.

Cashing Out A
Two stacks of green chips, one stack of red, and one stack of white sitting on the layout in front of spot eleven.
Cashing Out B
Money cut out in front of the bank which is counted with money in the COME which is to be handed to the player

What's With the Number 7 in a Craps Game?

The number 7 is a double-edged sword. During the Comeout Roll, the players usually win. During the Intermediate Roll, it’s usually how all the players lose, so they don't want to hear anyone say "seven."

When betting an Any 7, many players will use the phrase “big red” in place of “any seven” because it’s written on the table in red letters. E.g., “Can I have $1 big red?” They phrase it that way as a courtesy to the other players, so they don’t hear “seven.” It’s only ok for players to say “seven” during the Comeout Roll when most players are on the Pass Line, and it wins for them.

Two blue dice on a green layout. One die is on the number six and the other on the number one.
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Before you ever make a bet on the table you should know the basics to playing the game.

The Pass Line and its Odds are the first bets you should learn on the Craps table

The most common bets after the Pass Line. These are fun to play with a lot of betting possibilities.

They work like the Pass Line and offer Odds that don't have an advantage for the casino. 

Also called the Dark Side, these players are saying the shooter won't be making points.