Played at a very fast pace and by a loud crowd at brick-and-mortar casinos, the game of craps may seem quite intimidating at first. It features several phases, a great range of bets, and multiple dealers and casino staff who operate the table and pay off the winnings. What seems like a chaotic amalgam of people and chips around the craps table, however, is perfectly structured to create one of the most interesting casino games that exist today.
This article aims at providing novices with the information they need when starting to play craps – how the craps table is laid out, where and how the chips are placed, how many casino employees can be seen around the table, etc. It is important to note that while craps is usually played by many people in land-based casinos, it is played solo online. There is also strict etiquette that has to be followed when playing craps since there is a certain feeling of community and the game is filled with lots of superstitions.
The Craps Table and Betting Layout
In brick-and-mortar casinos, craps is played on a large, wooden table – the exact size could vary significantly in different casinos but in most cases, it is 12 feet long and 3.5 feet wide. It is a stadium-shaped rectangular with oval ends and a high edge that allows the dice to remain on the table when rolled.
The padded rail runs along the top edge of the bed and the purpose of the thick padding is to provide a comfortable place for players to lean on. Next to the rail, we can see the chip rack - a wooden section, divided into smaller sectors where players store their chips. The main part of the craps table is the betting layout and this is the lowest section covered with a cloth made of felt. The chips for each bet are placed onto the printed chart on the felt.
Usually, each end of the craps table features identical betting layouts and accommodates up to 8 players. The two long sides of the table have special cut out edges for the dealers and other staff who manage the game. The blank area along the perimeter of the layout is called the apron, while the inside wall of each end of the table is covered with a rubber rail with little spikes called pyramids. Their purpose is to make the dice roll as random as possible.
The center section of the craps layout displays a square grid where the chips for the so-called proposition bets are placed. This area is shared by players from both ends of the table and is serviced by the staff. Players are not allowed to place chips in the center section themselves so whenever they wish to make such a bet they need to signal one of the dealers or the stickman.
The areas positioned on either side of the center section are identical. This is where the main bets are made, including the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass bets, Come and Don’t Come bets, the Field bet, and the Big 6 and Big 8 wagers. This is a self-service area, which means that players can place their chips rather than ask for assistance. However, each player is allowed to use only the side area on their respective side of the table.
The two side areas also feature small betting grids, displaying the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10. Each of these small fields is called a point box. When the point has been established, the dealers put a small disk, saying “On”, on the corresponding number. This plastic disk is called a puck and it has two sides, one showing “On” and the other showing “Off”. This is the dealer’s area, however, so players are not allowed to handle any bets here on their own.
Usually, craps tables are 8, 10, or 12 feet long but some casinos have introduced smaller tables. These mini-craps tables accommodate fewer players and are operated by only two dealers. Rather than having two identical layouts on each side of the table, the mini-craps has one betting layout for the main bets and another for the proposition bets.
Casino Chips and Additional Equipment
When playing in a live, land-based casino, craps players should be aware of the importance of the equipment used during the game. Obviously, the dice that are thrown in each round are essential but there are a few other things that should be considered.
Players must know the different denominations of the chips they are betting to avoid wagering the wrong amount of money. In most casinos, the chips follow a standard color scheme by denomination – the $1 chips are white, the $5 chips come in red, and the $25 chips are green. The $100 chips are usually black and if the casino offers chips worth $500, they may be brown or gray. In some casinos, the highest-denomination chips are oversized.
Of course, these colors may vary and additional denominations may be offered, as well. Cash may be exchanged for chips at the Cashier of the casino or at the craps table.
The marker puck, also called “buck”, or simply an On/Off button is a white, two-sided disk that indicates whether a point number has been established or not. If the button is On, then a point was made with the previous roll of the dice and the second phase of the round is starting. To win, players now need the dice to roll the number the puck is sitting on. When the button is Off, they need a 7 or 11 to win. This is, of course, a very general explanation, while the real game has many more details that also need to be taken into account.
Personnel at the Craps Table
Since craps is a multiplayer game and the tables are quite large, they are usually operated by several casino employees. Their exact number may vary across casinos but usually, there are up to four people operating the craps table. They have different responsibilities and the dealers rotate positions every 20 to 30 minutes.
The floorman is usually the casino employee who manages and supervises all tables. The floorman would approve a credit to be given to certain players. He is also the person who observes for any form of cheating or inappropriate behavior. Of course, the floorman is not a part of the crew at any particular table.
The personnel at a standard craps table comprises of the boxman and four additional dealers. The boxman is usually a senior employee at the casino and is in charge of the game. He sits in the middle of the table in front of the casino’s chips. His responsibility is to observe the game, the actions of the dealers, and the payouts they give to the winners.
He watches whether players cheat and settles any disputes that may arise between the dealers and the players. The boxman is also the person who changes the denominations of the chips in some casinos.
The stickman stands right across the boxman – in the center area but on the opposite side of the table. His role is essential since he moves the dice from one shooter to the next, using a long, wooden L-shaped stick called a mop or a whip. Moreover, the stickman calls out each roll of the dice – the number being rolled and the outcome for certain bets.
In addition, this member of the craps table crew handles the chips for the proposition bets in the center section. Whenever players want to make a proposition bet, they throw their chips in the center of the table, calling out their bets. The stickman then puts the chips in the respective betting fields and when any of these bets win, he tells the dealers what they need to pay off.
There are always two dealers standing on each side of the boxman. They are the ones who communicate the most with the players – their job is to answer all questions, to keep all bets well-organized, and to pay out the winnings. The two dealers must be very quick and accurate in their actions since they also help the boxman exchange cash for chips.
Etiquette of the Game
Craps is a game of pure chance and although it was scientifically and mathematically analyzed a long time ago, it remains one of the most superstitious casino games. Moreover, it is traditionally played by 10 to 20 people at a time and most of them bet together. This creates a sense of a community, of shared risk and reward. This shared experience fuels beliefs that are not always based on facts such as the notion that it is bad luck to even utter the word “seven” on the craps table.
Of course, there is also a certain etiquette that should be followed when playing craps in a brick-and-mortar casino. It comprises of a set of spoken and unspoken rules that have been established over the years to prevent the disapproval of other players and any suspicion of cheating.
Craps is a fast-paced game and usually, the stickman speaks quite fast, as well. Often, to a novice player, the talk around the table may sound quite alien due to the many specific terms and slang words that are used. This is why, inexperienced players should first try to learn the craps lingo or at least the basics such as what sevening out means – after the come-out roll, that the shooter has rolled a 7, which means that everyone who bets on the Pass Line immediately loses.
For this reason, it is considered bad luck to say the word “seven” and players prefer using nicknames such as the Big Red, the Devil, the S-word, etc. In fact, most of the numbers in this game have some silly-sounding nickname – 2 is often referred to as Snake Eyes, 3 is Ace-Deuce, 4 is Little Joe, while 11 is called Yo and 12 becomes Boxcars or Midnight.
Players who win a bet are expected to tip the dealers in craps. This is usually done by simply tossing some chips on the table and announcing that they are for the dealer (“For the crew”, “For the boys, etc.). Another tradition in this game is to place a bet on behalf of the dealers. A two-way bet, for instance, is a bet for both the player and the dealer – if it is successful, the winnings are shared between the two parties.
Things to Avoid
When playing craps, whether in a brick-and-mortar or online casino, players should never believe the myths and superstitions that surround this game. However, certain words and actions are considered rude or simply bringing other players bad luck, which is why they should be avoided when you are in a live casino.
- Players should never touch the rolling dice, even if it is by accident since the 7 is believed to appear. This most feared number is also believed to roll when the dice touch any of the chips or when the player says or even thinks about it. Players should never talk to the shooter as he or she is preparing to toss the dice. Touching the shooter is also considered bad luck.
- It is also frowned upon by all players at the table if you pass your turn as the shooter more than once.
- Avoid eating or drinking at the craps table. Usually, this is permitted by the casino but unpleasant accidents do happen. Spilled cocktails and greasy dice are never accepted well by the dealers or the players.
- Players should not show their enthusiasm if they are betting “against” the dice and against the shooter if they are winning. Everyone else is then probably losing and it is quite rude to openly show your satisfaction.
- Due to security reasons, players are required to pick the dice and throw them with the same hand rather than throwing with both hands or changing hands.
- Players should never try handing the dealers cash or chips. This is not allowed so instead, they should leave the chips on the table where they can be picked and moved by the dealers.