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Settlers of Catan taught me how to play Craps

Last weekend, my brother taught me how to play craps. It turns out that craps is a fabulous game, and absolutely the best table game I’ve ever played at a casino. It seems *very* intimidating at first, but you can kind of ease into it by sticking to a pass line bet until you figure out the rules. You don’t need to understand all of the bets to play, and the majority of bets are very easy to understand.

But the best part about craps is the energy.

Usually, the worst part about playing in a casino is the other people. I love poker, but I feel like I am surrounded by hard-core card sharks, taking my money and laughing all the way to the bank about my rookie mistakes. Blackjack is even worse. You wouldn’t think so, but I’ve heard people complain for hours about how the idiot next to them hit on a 14 when the dealer was clearly showing a 6, causing them not to get the card they needed and making everything off by one so the dealer ended up not busting the way they should have…you get the point. But in craps, everybody is rooting for the same thing. You’re all playing together, and your bets don’t affect anybody else. When a shooter is hot, everybody is winning. Yelling encouragement, cheering, and high-fives are absolutely allowed (except with the dealer apparently. I tried to give her a high-five and she just looked at me with cold eyes and said, “I can’t touch you.”)

At the end of the day, it’s a casino game; you’re going to lose your money. But you might as well have some fun an excitement while you’re doing it.

Craps is a game that is essentially about probability of dice rolls. This is relatively straightforward: 7 is the most likely, followed by 6 and 8, followed by 5 and 9, etc. But you could tell that some of the old-timers really had a gut feel for what numbers were going to come up next. And then I realized, so did I. This was just a fancied-up version of Settlers of Catan.

In Settlers, a roll of a 7 moves the Robber, generally a bad thing, though maybe not as bad as a 7 out in craps. Other rolls earn you resources which you can use to buy things (otherwise known as money). It is therefore desirable to be located next to numbers that are most likely to be rolled because, probabilistically speaking, you will get more resources that way. You’ll notice in the picture above, 6 and 8 are highlighted red, and all other numbers have a set of dots underneath them, more dots indicating numbers that are more likely to come up, and less dots indicating less likely numbers.

Of course, just like in Settlers, you can sit all day on an 8 while everybody rolls 4’s like a boss. And a 7 is a little more painful when there’s actually money on the line. But still, if you’ve played a lot of Settlers, you’ve essentially played a lot of craps.

On the other hand, I lost all of my money. So, you know, take any advice from me on the subject with a little grain of salt. I’m actually better at Settlers of Catan than craps, so that should tell you everything you need to know. I guess the real question is, why aren’t we playing Settlers of Catan for money?

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5 responses

  1. Meg

    I think I would do better at craps, because I’m horrible at Settlers. I’ve won basic Settlers a few times, but I’ve never won a game of Cities & Knights. I peak early, make myself a target, and then die a slow and painful death. At least with craps, I don’t think you have anyone saying, “Well, I would help you out, but I think you’re a threat.” Or “I’m not trading with you. You wouldn’t sell me your wheat last week, and I still hold a grudge.”

    June 27, 2013 at 6:39 am

    • I agree. In craps, everyone may be rooting for each other and sharing good vibes, but in even the friendliest games of Settlers, paranoia and backstabbing are rampant. But that’s what makes it fun!

      June 27, 2013 at 7:41 am

      • Yes, in my experience craps players will go out of their way to explain things to you and help you with your bets. You *might* get that the first time you play Settlers, but after that you’re on your own. :)

        June 27, 2013 at 9:09 am

  2. When I was a kid, I was hardcore about winning Monopoly. I took out Monopoly strategy books (they exist!) from the library, read them, and even took notes. I always tried to buy the orange properties, which are 6, 8, and 9 spaces from jail, which is a spot that people are often sent to, thus making the orange properties more heavily trafficked than others. It works! Sadly, this has not translated into real-life wealth for me.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:44 am

    • Wow, I’ve never even thought of applying that kind of thinking to Monopoly.

      On the other hand, I traditionally hate Monopoly. When I was a kid, for some reason I owned the Monopoly board (I guess you might say I had a monopoly on it, wakka wakka!), so I simply refused to let anybody play Monopoly.

      June 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

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