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Craps Etiquette
Craps Etiquette

Craps Etiquette

Joining the Game

The game of craps can be played with just a single shooter or as many players as can squeeze around a standard 12-foot table. A good dealer can handle 10 players on a side, but players are attracted to action tables, and sometimes the crowd can get heavy. This means the dealer is likely to be busy and not up to carrying on a conversation like over at the blackjack table, so the first rule of etiquette at craps is to let the dealers concentrate on their job.

If you are already playing, make room for new players. If you are trying to join a game that’s busy, don’t push the other players, especially the shooter. If there is room, great, if not, find another table. Make sure you know the table limits by checking the signs. If you need a marker, talk to the inside dealer or the boxman, not the stickman.

Getting Your Buy-in

When you join the game and need chips, wait until the dice are in the middle of the layout before dropping your cash on a blank spot on the table. Don’t dump it in the field where it might just become a bet! And, don’t drop it on another player’s bet. Immediately let the inside dealer closest to you know what you need, change or bets. The stickman can’t make change, so don’t expect him to get your chips.

If you do want to make a wager, let the dealer know before he counts out the chips and hands them to you. When you get chips for a $100 bill but also want a $30 place six, you can just drop the bill and say “$30 place six, please.” The dealer will cut out the chips, make your wager, and hand you the change.

Don’t worry if the dice get sent to the shooter before you get your chips. If the dealer repeated your bet, it’s a wager, even if the bet isn’t on the layout yet. And, if the dice are flying make sure you keep your hands out of the way. If you don’t have time to pick up your change, that’s alright. The dealer will place your change in a non-wager area. Pick it up after the dice total (make a number).

At the blackjack table the dealer may take a moment to fix their rack, answer a quick question, or make change, and the delay won’t change the cards that come off the deck. At the craps table the dice are likely to stay in action while change is made by one of the dealers or they handle other duties. If the dice have to stay in the middle during a roll because a player is slowing things down, the players will accuse that player of letting the dice get “cold” if the next roll is a seven. Is it illogical? Sure, but it’s still going to happen if the dice total seven, so don’t be the one slowing the game down.

The best way to keep everyone happy is to know what you want to bet and get your wagers in early. Don’t wait until the shooter had the dice before trying to make a bunch of place or buy bets!

Placing Wagers

So you’re at the game, have your chips, and you’re ready for action. Keep your arms out of the way of flying dice, don’t bump the shooter while they are handling the dice, and don’t throw your chips at the inside dealers. All you have to do is set the chips down on the layout in front of you and tell them the bets you want. Proposition bets can be booked by both the stickman and the inside, or “base” dealers. In some jurisdictions the dealers would prefer that you only give the wager to the inside dealer, but others, like every casino in Nevada, allow players to gently toss the chips to the stickman.

The pass and don’t pass lines, the come area, and the field are self-serve areas. The player must place and remove their own chips for these wagers as well as the red 6/8. The horn and prop bets as well as all place and buy bets are handled by the dealers. Do not touch chips in these areas.

Handling the Dice

When it’s your turn to shoot the dice, the inside dealer will dump the dice boat and give you a choice of dice. Take two, don’t grab them all and make a production out of choosing. The stickman must watch the dice at all times they are in a player’s hand, so don’t ask questions or try to distract them. When you have the dice keep them in one hand, don’t use two hands or take them off the table and out of the stickman’s sight. You may shake them in a closed fist.

The house wants a fair roll every time, so make sure you toss the dice so they tumble. They can’t be slid down the layout, and they should always hit the back wall of the table. Not so hard that the dealers have to say “To the wall, not through the wall.” In addition, they shouldn’t be lobbed too high. The stickman may tell you to keep them below their eye level. Follow directions and you’ll have a great time.

Setting the Dice

Players who practice dice control when lobbing the dice may be asked to set the dice quickly. If you know your patterns, great, set the dice and toss’em. If you take too long you may be told “Please don’t set the dice.” At this point you are holding up the game, so if you can’t do it quickly, don’t do it.

You’ll also want to try and shoot the dice so they don’t hit the dealers, other players, the dealer’s working stacks (their chips), or the mirror on the game. Really, a simple backhanded toss is all it takes to get them to bounce gently off the far wall. Or, toss them underhand and try to keep them on the table.

The dealers are working for you, but the casino sets the rules, so follow them and all will be well. If the dealers are taking care of you, toss’em a few chips as a tip, called a “hand-in.” The dealers will also accept two-way bets, where half goes to the player and half to the player if it wins. In addition, you can always put the crew (the dealers) up on the pass line. Give’em odds if you can.

The Chip Rail

The top edge of the table is the chip rail, that’s where your chips go in-between bets; don’t leave them on the layout when the dealer hands them off unless the dice are on their way towards you. Below the chip rail is a ledge for drinks and ashtrays. Don’t hold your drink over the layout, and don’t smoke over the layout. It’s messy enough down there without ashes or spilled drinks.

The final rule of craps etiquette is to try and have fun. Don’t complain and blame the dealers or the other shooters when the dice don’t roll the way you want them to. Everyone is doing their best, do your best too.

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