The proper etiquette of prop bets in craps

March 04, 2010 11:00 AM
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(Editor’s note: This article is part of a series on how to play and win at craps)

By Dale S. Yeazel
Special to GT

Proposition bets are usually played by recreational or unsophisticated bettors. So it’s not surprising that nothing is more aggravating to casino personnel or veteran players than players that disrupt the game by not following the proper procedures for making prop bets.

Prop bets should be made when the dice are in the center of the table. Dealers may show the courtesy of booking late bets after the dice have left the center but that does not mean you should be making late bets. Don’t think you have to wait for the stickman to turn around and face you, or for the base dealer to pay your pass line bet, before you can bet.

Throw your bets to the stickman in the area just before the "C and E" area and there is less chance of them getting lost or knocking over bets. Tell the stickman what you want to bet! His stick is not a light saber, his name is not Obi-Wan Kenobi and he can’t read your mind.

If you throw a five-dollar chip and say, "Hard six," don’t be surprised when he books a five dollar hard six. If you want a one-dollar hard six you have to tell him so.

Exact change is not needed; in fact it is even discouraged. Nothing demonstrates this better than when a player will give the base dealer a five-dollar chip and ask for change, then hurl four one-dollar checks to the stickman so they can roll around and knock over other people’s bets.

If you require change from your bet, the stickman will instruct the base dealer to give it to you after the stickman and base dealer have finished their work.

Stickmen usually position C and E bets on the arrows that point to the players that bet them, however they sometimes use the big "yo-leven" and "any crap" boxes at the bottom of prop area.

When they position the rest of the prop bets they work under the premise that each rectangle on the layout is a miniature craps table, the left half of the box for the players on the second base side of the table and the right side of the box for the players on the third base side of the table.

After the dice have landed and the base dealers have finished their work, the stickman will instruct them to pay the winning prop bets. They start with the end of the table that is opposite of the shooter, usually with the player closest to the base dealer and work their way player-by-player until they get to the player next to themselves and then repeat the process for the players on the shooter’s end of the table.

Payoffs for prop bets are usually posted using the term "for." A payoff for a hard six is listed as paying "10 for 1." This causes most folk to assume they win $10 for their $1 bet on the hard six. If a bet pays "10 to 1" that means the player bet one dollar to win $10 and can expect to collect a total of $11 and down.

If a bet pays "10 for 1" it implies that for every dollar bet the player can collect $10. So "10 for 1" is the same as "9 to 1."

When the stickman computes the payoffs for the base dealers, he not only leaves the player up on his winning bet but on the losing ones as well.

If a player wins a one dollar each "C and E" by virtue of crap being rolled, he has won a one dollar bet on any crap (8 for 1). He could get paid eight dollars and down but the stickman subtracts the total amount of the bet (two dollars) so the player is paid a total of six dollars and "still up the same way."

On the come out roll in Las Vegas casinos, the stickman will say something like, "The hardways work, unless you call them off!" If you want your hardways to be "off" (unable to win or lose) you must actually say the word "off" to the stickman.

When referring to bets, refrain from using the terms "on" and "not working." On can be too easily confused with off and not working can be confused with working, on a busy game. Bets are either "working" or "off."

Becoming a True Craps Player

Here are the rules to live by if you want to get maximum enjoyment from the game and get everything you have coming in the way of payoffs.

Do not make a bet if you don’t know how much it pays. Keep your bets simple. Don’t make more bets than you can keep track of.

Communicate with your dealer, tell him what you want to bet and correct him if he books your bet incorrectly.

Watch the dealer pay your bet and don’t touch it until you have informed him that you think he has made a mistake.

(Dale S. Yeazel is a veteran of the casino industry and is the author of "Precision Crap Dealing" and "Dealing Mini-Baccarat.")