Craps Betiquette

Through the years I’ve talked about this many times in seminars and articles on craps.  I call it “Craps Betiquette” and it’s amazing how many people just don’t get it.

Imagine that you are the shooter. You’ve made three passes, and nine rolls ago established the six as your point. It is roll number forty-seven. You are totally focused on the dice as the stick man rakes them over for the eye in the sky. You know your dice sets and see what moves you will have to make when the dice come to you. You visualize setting them, lofting them down the table and tossing another inside number. You see yourself smiling as you collect another win.

The stick man announces that the “dice are out,” and pushes them toward you. You reach for the dice. Suddenly a player pushes in between you and the stickman, tosses twenty dollars on the table and says, “Change only – all dollars.” All action stops. The stickman pulls the dice back in. The dealer takes the money and hands it off to the box, then puts a stack of dollar chips in front of the player.

The player starts raining chips on the layout. “Sixes and eights hop for a dollar each,” he says. “Three dollar three way craps.”

The stick man patiently sets up his bets, and once again calls “dice are out.”

The new player crowds in and leans on the rail, forcing you to adjust your stance. Finally you get the dice set and are about to toss them. But just as you’re about to begin your throw the new player reaches in front of you and puts his remaining chips in the Field. And as you release the dice you feel your hand brush against the late bettor’s arm and the dice slip ever so slightly in your grip.

The call?

“Seven out – line away.”

“Damn!” says the new player, sounding annoyed. “What kind of shooting was that?”

Sound familiar? If you’ve played the game many times you’ve no doubt had similar encounters at the tables. These days it seems like no one has the patience to wait for a decision before buying in, the courtesy to keep their hands up and out of the way when the dice are out, or the good sense to keep their mouths shut when things don’t go their way.

Here are a dozen rules of betiquette that will help keep you out of trouble with the other players at the table and the dealers.

1. Understand the rules of the game before you buy-in. Standing at the table with action on the layout is not the time to be learning the game. While part of the dealer’s job includes assisting new players with the rules of the game, their primary responsibility is to deal the game. Likewise, never ask your fellow players for advice on how to play. Most have all they can handle watching their own action.

2. There is a sign on every craps table that tells you the minimum bet size, correct odds, and table limits. Read it and don’t embarrass yourself by trying to make a $5 wager on a $25 table, or taking 20X odds on a 2X odds game.

3. Only buy in with cash or large denomination chips between hands. If you approach the table and the “ON” button is on one of the box numbers, the game is already in progress. Wait until there is a decision on the current point and the button is flipped to “OFF” before dropping your money on the table. If you approach the table in mid-game and already have chips to play with, it’s okay to place the point or the numbers with your existing chips. However, this exception only applies if you are betting red or green chips. A black or purple chip will grind the game to a halt.

4. When you buy-in, do not try to hand your cash directly to the dealer. He is not allowed to take cash or chips directly from the customer’s hands. Instead, place your money on the layout in front of you and ask the dealer for “change only.” This lets the dealer know that you want gaming chips, and are not making a “money plays” wager.

5. When you want to place a bet that requires dealer assistance, set the money in the Come area in front of you and tell the dealer what you want. Do not place the money in front of the player beside you. Do not assume that the dealer will be able to read your mind and know what you want.

6. There are rails in front of each playing position that are designed to hold your playing chips. Use them. If you try to hold all of your chips in one hand and place bets with the other, you will eventually end up spilling chips on the table or dropping them onto the floor – which ultimately interrupts the flow of the game.

7. There is also a rail beneath the chip rack for your drink. Use it. If you hold your drink in your hand while leaning over the table to place bets, there is a good chance you will spill it on the layout. If this happens the game must be stopped while the spill is cleaned up. For that reason, anytime a player stands at the table with a drink above the rail he can expect to receive a warning from the dealer or boxman.

8. Follow the KISS theory and keep it simple. That means sizing your bets correctly and minimizing confusing press or regress moves. Learning the language of the game will help you to communicate your wants to the dealer effectively. “Up a unit” or “Make my action look like $22 inside” tells the dealer all he needs to know. Further instructions from you will just confuse the issue.

9. Keep you hands up and out of the way when the dice are out. All bets must be made while the dice are in the middle of the layout. When the dealer sends the dice to the shooter, the time for placing wagers has ended. If the dealer does not warn you about this, the other players at the table will!

10. Don’t shout instructions to the dealer while he is paying someone else’s bets. There is a specific order the dealer is required to follow when taking and paying bets. Losing bets are collected first. Come and Don’t Come bets travel next. Come bets are paid “off and on.” Then the dealer goes sequentially from player to player, paying their bets in order. When it is your turn you can tell him what you want.

11. Never criticize another player’s betting strategy or ability to toss the dice. You are simply inviting retaliation when your turn comes – or worse.

12. If you are a smoker, please be respectful of others at the table that are not. Try to stretch your time between smokes as long as possible. When you do smoke, place your ashtray on the side away from the non-smoker, and be aware of where you are blowing smoke when you exhale. When you are done with your cigarette extinguish it fully. Nobody likes a smoldering ashtray. While others may respect your right to smoke at the table, many players have strong opinions about second-hand smoke and do not mind expressing them.

Remember, in the game of craps – as in the game of life – A little courtesy goes a long way.