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Deciphering the Language of Craps

7 April 2006

One of the fun things about standing around a craps table, besides playing the game, is to just stand there and listen to another language. I don't mean a foreign language; it's English all right, but sometimes, you wouldn't recognize it. Craps has its own slang that's often hard to decipher.

A lot of craps' slang words have to do with the types of bets placed. You'll remember some of them from our short primer a few months ago: the do and don't bets, hard ways, horn bets, prop bets and crazy crapper bets.

Here's one we may have missed: a "C & E." It's a combination bet of any craps ("C") and an eleven ("E"). It's another center prop bet to stay away from, but I was standing at a craps table recently, and when a player asked for a C & E, the stickman sang out, "Chicken and eggs. We catch 'em, you eat 'em." Caught my attention that one did.

There's also "right" betting (pass line) and "wrong" betting (don't pass). And surely you've heard of the "monster" roll where numbers and points are coming out, and the 7 doesn't show itself for at least half an hour.

But a lot of the slang refers to numbers rolled. Sometimes the meaning is obvious. For example, when "snake eyes" are rolled, you have a pretty good idea that it means the dice total 2. But would you ever guess that Little Joe does not mean a Bonanza character? Instead, it means a hard ways 4. I've often heard it rhymed as "Little Joe from Kokomo."

Want to hear more? The following is from a list that I pulled off the Internet, particularly Frank Scoblete's RGT Online Games. I have to admit that some of these I have never heard, but most of them you'll hear roll lyrically off the tongue of any self-respecting stickman.

For example, when a shooter makes his point number of 8, the stickman just might sing out, "Meet Ada from Decatur" or "He eight it." And if you want to bet a hard ways 8, you might call out, "Give me a square pair," "I want two windows," or "Make that block fours."

See why it sounds like a foreign language?

Can you guess what a 9 is? It's a "Jesse James." Scoblete isn't sure why, but it may be because ol' Jesse was shot with a 45. Get it? Four plus 5 equals 9. And if the point number is 9 and it rolls, then you just might hear "Nina from Pasadena."

I knew a 10 was often called "sunflowers" or "double nickels," but "Venus and Mars" or "Tennessee Tottie?" Or how about "Big Ben," "the Ripper," or "the Queen's Crown?" I can guess there's an English connection here, but past that, I'm at a dead end at figuring out what these mean.

A lot of people have probably heard "box cars" for 12 and maybe even "midnight," but my favorites are "the Apostles," "six-packs" and "mule teeth." Now, those are just too cute.

This one you might remember from the column I did about etiquette at the craps table: instead of mentioning a 7 any time other than the come out roll, you say Big Red. And, here's another one you can substitute for the 7: the "devil." If you hear someone say, "The devil jumped up," then you know a shooter sevened out.

And if the devil jumps up too often, then you'll probably "tap out."

And, last but not least, on the come out roll, you'll often hear a shooter yell out "Yo-eleven" just as he's about to throw them bones. Remember the scene from Ocean's Eleven, where Sammy Davis, Jr., is driving off in the garbage truck full of the casinos' millions? He's blissfully singing "E-yo-eleven, e-yo-eleven." It's a classic scene that I always remember whenever I hear someone wager on the yo.

So, until next week, "Dice, be nice."

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