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Craps Etiquette – What Is It and How It Shapes the Game

Ever since the popularity of craps rose in the 1940s, the game’s rules of conduct evolved as well. While general craps rules are upheld by both players and dealers, there are unwritten ones that are chalked up more to being good manners, than actual game laws. Today, table etiquette has become iconic, which is why there is so much craps lingo and terminology that exists to describe almost every type of bet and even a specific result from a dice throw. In today’s craps glossary, we will delve deep into the essence of the game itself and shed light on the different terms that are part of the overall playing experience.

Crabs Table Etiquette Used to Be Classy

Until the 2015s, casinos had exquisite craps etiquette. The most basic rule from it, dictated that everyone who approached the table waited for a new shooter to be selected, before buying in. Another interesting rule was that a croupier (or stickman) would never switch in the middle of a roll (when a point has been established). Betting or “throwing money” was considered to be quite rude, and many seasoned craps players considered it to be bad luck if someone new to the table did that.

Although the craps lingo and etiquette did enhance the overall gaming experience, it carried one specific flaw – it took too much time for new players to buy-in, which in turn, meant that the casinos couldn’t earn money fast enough. The historic Chinese stock market falling in 2015 affected many industries worldwide, including the gambling sector, which is why casinos started seeing a decrease in player’s interest, especially in craps.

The Rise of a Newer and Faster Casino Craps Etiquette

With craps being considered a connoisseur’s game, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the number of new players wasn’t increasing at a rapid rate. In fact, after the 2015 economic crisis, casinos started to allow players to join mid-roll, and employ many other tactics in order to increase the number of people on the table. One particular tactic used by the casino is to have casino craps dealers encourage people who have just arrived at the table to throw their money on the gaming mat, regardless of the game’s current activity phase.

This quick change of craps table etiquette was needed and implemented by the casinos, but it wasn’t particularly liked by seasoned players who were used to the cadence of the previously established gaming order. At first, only a few gambling houses implemented the new set of craps rules, but everyone else followed soon after.

Vital Craps Lingo and Terminology When Playing the Game

Naturally, no dealer in a casino will decline assisting you, especially if you don’t know something about the game; however, if you’re going to ask questions about the game, it is best if you do it on an empty table. As part of the “old school” etiquette, it is considered rude to ask basic game questions, especially if the table is full. Check out the craps terms glossary below. You will better understand what dealers and more experienced players are talking about – here are some examples.

  • Come Out Roll

    The first time the dice are thrown by a shooter.

  • Mid-Roll

    Any current game phase, after an initial point has been established by the Come-Out Roll.

  • Natural Break

    A period in the game when the dice are given to a new shooter, indicating the perfect time to place a bet, or leave a game.

  • Call Bets

    Some casinos allow players to “verbally” place a bet, without giving money right away.

  • Self Service Bets

    Bets that the player is allowed to place on the table by himself.

  • Coloring Up

    When a player says that they are “Coloring Up”, that means that they are ready to leave the game.

  • Big Red

    The number seven.

  • Press Up and Take Down

    Phrases that are used to tell the dealer whether they should increase or decrease any standing bets.

When it comes to craps etiquette and lingo, there is a different name for every action, bet, and dice result. A lot of players consider the names to be a “lucky chant”, which is why both dealers and players use it during the game. For example, a roll that has come up with two ones is called “Snake Eyes”, a two and a three are called “Michael Jordan”, double sixes go by “Midnight”, and so on.

Craps Players Are a Superstitious Bunch

What is big red in craps

The number “7” is dreaded to such an extent on a craps table, that it is considered to be unlucky if someone says it. Gambling houses are aware of that fact, which is why when the dice land on this particular number, both the dealers and players refer to it as the “Big Red”. To qualify as shooters, players will bet on the Pass Line, which also indicates that a 7 will result in a shooter’s loss.

Craps is a game that can prove to be quite dramatic, because what is good for some, is bad for others – as it is with the Don’t Pass bets. Players who decide to put their money there, are hoping for a 7 to hit after a point is to be established. Don’t Pass wagers designate the number seven as a winning one. If the roll produces the same number as the established point, they will lose.

This leads to the next superstition – anyone betting on Don’t Pass is often considered to be “playing against the shooter”. Although this can be considered to be a bit of a “bad luck” for the shooter and anyone else who places a Pass Line bet, it can’t be defined as a lack of casino craps etiquette, because this type of wager is allowed in the game, and it is meant to be used. If you’re the only one that makes the Don’t Pass bet on a full table of shooters, however, you might get a few strange looks.

The “No Roll” Phenomenon
Although not common, in some cases when a shooter throws the dice, one of them might bounce out of the table. If this happens, the dealer declares a “No Roll”, and the game doesn’t progress. The dealers allow a shooter to either play with the same dice, or request that a new one is given to them. From a superstition point of view, most players choose a new dice, because the one that flew away is considered to be unlucky.

Handing the Dice to a New Shooter
Once the game is over, and a new player is supposed to become a shooter, the stickman will collect the dice and place them in a pan. This pan contains three additional dice; the stickman will slide all five of them to the next shooter and allow the player to choose two from the pile. Some of the superstitions surrounding this action are that the next shooter wouldn’t want to “touch the misfortune” of the previous shooter. Other superstitions include picking up dice that show lucky numbers on top, or even taking those dice that look “less scuffed” than the others. Overall, the dice selection ritual is upheld to accommodate the individual superstitions of all players.

Player Behavior Tips That Are Part of the Etiquette

How to behave when playing Craps

First and foremost, craps is a social game, which means that every player will be engaged with the dealer, and all others who are present at the table. Manners on the table are incredibly important and knowing most of them will save you looks full of ire by either the casino staff or other casino guests. First and foremost, if you’re standing next to a craps table, don’t put your hands over the edge – especially if you happen to be in front of the shooter.

Be Polite to the Table Staff
When placing a craps bet on a crowded table, make sure to catch the attention of the dealer before placing your bets. It is considered to be extremely rude to throw your chips at the stickman or the dealers, which in some cases may get you kicked out of the casino. Respect and common courtesy are inseparable from the universal craps etiquette. Another interesting belief is that if a player from the side of the table points out to their bet, a shooter will always throw a 7.

Mind Your Physical Gestures
Don’t act in any way that will distract the shooter. As mentioned before, seasoned craps players believe in luck with a passion, which is why in most cases, both the shooter and the players around him will remain calm for the duration of the throw. A popular movie myth is that shooters are always “hyper” before throwing the dice, which is a general misconception!

Dice Etiquette Is Extremely Important
This is considered to be one of the most important parts of the overall craps etiquette. Shooters must always use one hand when picking the dice up and throwing them. This particular rule came out of practicality, because over the years, there have been known cases where some players would use sleight of hand and replace them with “cheat dice”. Even if that’s not the case, if a player fondles the dice between their two hands, it is considered to be extremely bad manners at the craps table. There is more to the dice etiquette – once a player has them in their hand, they should not bring that hand behind the table, or on the edge as well, for the same reasons mentioned above.

Remember to wait for the dice to be given to you by the stickman. Usually, after a Come-Out roll there will be a small pause, allowing players who have already bought into the game to make additional bets. If a point is not established yet and the shooter has to throw the dice again, they shouldn’t reach out on the table and grab the dice.

Different Ways for Tipping the Dealer

How to tip the craps dealer

Tipping the dealer is a noble gesture, and it is usually done in the beginning when a player enters the game, or when they are ready to leave. On the other hand, craps does allow another interesting form of tipping – which is playing a bet on “their behalf”. Let’s say that a player has placed a $10 on the Pass Line, and has put another $5 next to their bet; a dealer will then usually ask about it, and the player will indicate that this is a bet for them.

Naturally, upon a successful win, the player will be paid out their winnings, while the winnings from the $5 bet will go as tips to the dealers. It should also be mentioned that a “dealer bet-tip” is the only one that can be played out below the minimum wager limit of the table. It is a common misconception that losing a “tip-bet” is considered to be impolite towards the dealers! In fact, the staff managing the table are actually appreciative of a player for taking a chance on their behalf.

Online Casino Craps Feel like a Different Game

Given the nature of the platform, online craps isn’t physically capable of accommodating any of the real craps etiquette. While the live dealer versions of the game do have a similar game pace, players that haven’t placed a bet on the Pass or Don’t Pass fields, will still be able to place their money on Come or Don’t Come. Players will be able to buy-in during a Mid Roll, and since there is no social interaction nor an actual physical shooter, no one will be upset.

One particular advantage that the online version of the game has that others don’t is the automated process of settling wagers, which allows for a much “snappier” action. Another interesting benefit here, is that online dealers will still use the traditional craps table lingo, which can prove educational for players who are just starting to learn the game. Last but not least, are the wager limits – in online craps, the minimum amount that can be bet is significantly smaller.

Craps – The Real Gambler’s Game

Given the fact that craps has so many intricate details, its complete etiquette is often described as a type of philosophy that only avid casino players are able to engage in. The craps dice game is not simple, and although many aspects of it have changed over the years, seasoned players continue to abide by the golden craps table etiquette that was established in the first place. It is common knowledge that those who fall in love with the game, rarely gamble on anything else – which is another reason why craps is considered worldwide to be one of the greatest casino games to this day.

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