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Superstition Dictates Craps Etiquette Rules

23 December 2005

Even though craps is a negative-expectation game overall, it can be fun and exciting, and it need not be as intimidating as it looks.

I'm hoping that by now you've been motivated to approach a craps game, watch for a little while and even make a small pass line bet. If you have watched a game, perhaps you noticed that there are certain rules of etiquette that if violated will earn scowls from players and dealers alike while others will earn a brutal verbal thrashing.

You see, craps is a game of customs and codes of behavior. Some are meant to keep the game flowing quickly and smoothly. Some are meant for the dealers' convenience to insure accuracy in taking and paying losses and wins. But some are just plain old superstitions.

For example, let's look at one of the first rules you'll notice - don't dangle your hands over the table. It's the stickman's responsibility to watch to make sure wins are paid out and bets placed before he pushes the dice over to the shooter, but it seems like there's always some dawdler who decides to make a wager at the last minute.

But once the dice are "out," the shooter will pick them up and roll them. If the dice hit the dawdler's hand and if an unwanted number comes up, the dawdler is blamed. No one seems to remember that the toss of the dice is random and that a 7 will roll more often than any other number regardless. After all, that's why those little diamond pyramid shapes are all over the inside wall of a craps table.

But superstition or not, watch the stickman. If the dice are "out," make sure all your bets are already made, and for pete's sake, keep your hands out of the way.

Never say the word "seven" at the craps table. Don't even think it because you don't want to jinx the table. If you're the shooter, don't let the stickman push the dice to you with a 7 showing unless it's the comeout roll.

Also if you're the shooter and the dice go off the table, shout out "same dice." This will keep your good luck going. Of course, if you keep rolling craps on the comeout roll, you can ask for new dice. After all, good and bad luck are in the dice, not in you. Who says the toss is random?

Don't crowd or distract the shooter, especially if he's on a hot roll. If a shooter's spouse or significant other (or anyone for that matter) distracts the shooter, tell the dealer you want all your place bets off because you know the shooter is about to seven out.

Hopefully by now, you know that I consider all the above to be hogwash, but it's still bad form to violate most of these rules. Craps players are a superstitious and skittish lot. Respect them.

Another rule, however, is not a superstition; it's the casino's rule - don't hand money to the dealer. He's not allowed to take money from your hand, so if you need change, put your cash on the layout before the shooter gets the dice, and ask for change only.

Once you do have your chips, you can make most of your bets yourself. Put pass/don't pass, odds, come and field bets directly in front of you. For any other bets, toss your money - gently - onto the felt and tell the dealer which bets you want to make.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot. Pick up your winnings quickly before the shooter rolls again, because if you leave them on the felt, they are considered part of your next wager and could be won or lost with the next toss of the dice.

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