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Craps Primer

9 December 2005

Ever walk into a casino and hear immediately a noise from way across the room? A lot of shouting and clapping and hootin' and hollerin'? Well, most likely, that's a craps game you hear. When an exciting game is going on, it attracts everyone's attention. It has both slot and blackjack players yearning to walk over to the craps table and give it a try.

And, yet, when they get to the table, lean over and look at the layout, they freeze. The game looks complicated, chaotic and crazy; so the potential craps player slinks back to his slot machine or blackjack table, still casting a wistful eye back to the craps game.

But looks can be deceiving. The game is actually pretty simple if you break it down into its separate parts. And you can break it down because only two bets are linked together; all others are independent of each other. You don't even have to make the basic Pass bet if you don't want to.

However, that's where I'm going to start you: the Pass bet. Your assignment is to walk up to a craps table and just look at it for a second. On the long side of the table opposite from you are two dealers, standing, and the "box" man, sitting between them. The two dealers are taking place bets, putting them on the layout in predesignated spots, collecting losing bets and paying out winning bets. The box man is watching to make sure it's all done correctly; he's the one actually in charge.

Then there's the "stickman." Standing at the middle of the side where you're standing, he's holding a long stick with a hook at the end. He's more or less guiding traffic, collecting the dice and pushing them to the "shooter," the player whose turn it is to throw the dice.

Okay, now locate the double line that goes almost around the whole table. Inside that line it says "Pass" and above that line it says "Don't Pass." There are other areas on the layout that say "Field," "Come" and "Don't Come." We'll get to those other areas later in this series, but for now we'll just concentrate on the "Pass" bet.

A word of caution though: if you start feeling brave and want to forge ahead of these craps lessons, always stay away from the "Field" bets and the bunch of symbols in the center of the table. Those are sucker bets. Stay away from them! Even if everyone else is playing them and seems to be winning.

If you're new to the game of craps, the hardest part about making a Pass bet is knowing when to make the bet. The rules actually say you can make this bet at any time, but the best payout odds for you is to have it placed in time for the "comeout" roll.

When you walk up to the table, look for the "puck." The puck is a round, flat disk about 4 or 5 inches across. It has two sides: a white side that has "ON" imprinted on it and a black side with "OFF" printed on it. If that puck is turned on its white "ON" side and is placed on one of the numbers in front of a dealer, then that means that the shooter is in the middle of his roll and that you may want to wait.

After a decision has been rolled and the puck is turned to the black "OFF" side, then place your money, let's say $20, into the "Come" area and say, "Change, please." The dealer will shove four $5 chips in your direction. Pick them up and place one of those chips on the space marked "Pass Line."

Now, just sit back and watch what happens.

Until next week, may the dice be kind to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com