Table smarts essential to master craps

March 04, 2010 11:00 AM
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by Dale S. Yeazel, Special to GT |

All craps players should have a general idea of table procedures and etiquette so he knows when a dealer should be paying his bets.

After the dice land and the stickman has called the dice, the dealers will collect the losing bets and then pay the winning ones.

When it is a pass line winner the dealer will pay the pass line from "base to stick." In other words, he will start with the player closest to himself and work player by player to the player that’s closest to the stickman.

He will then pay the field if it won and then put the new don’t come bets behind the point number box. Then he will begin positioning the new come bets on the point number box starting with the player closest to the stickman and working his way to the player closest to himself ("stick to base").

Getting paid for pass line bets

When dealers pay a pass line bet with odds they sometimes use a method called "totaling." Instead of paying the odds and flat bet separately, he gives the player one payoff for the "total" of the two bets.

Dealers do this if they decide the player has sufficient small denomination cheques (chips) and they don’t want to deplete the bankroll. In order for the player to compute the total he should use the same method the dealer uses: compute the amount the odds pay, and then add that amount to the amount of the flat bet.

Of course, in order to be able to compute a total one must know how much their odds pay! Odds on a point of four or 10 pay 2-to-1. So you win two dollars for every dollar you bet.

Odds on a point of five or nine pay 3-to-2. You win $3 for every $2 that is wagered. This is why the dealers have been telling you to take an even amount for odds on five or nine.

If you take an odd dollar amount for odds on five or nine you will be shorted 50 cents on your payoff unless you are playing in a casino that uses "birds" (quarters) or half dollars in their games.

Odds on a point of six or eight pay 6-to-5. You win $6 for every $5 bet. This means you need to take odds on six and eight in five dollar increments (5-10-15 etc.) otherwise you are cheating yourself out of twenty cents for every dollar bet between $5 units.

If you think getting shorted fifty cents here or 20 cents there isn’t important you should remember why whoever taught you the game stressed the importance of taking odds. The house has no percentage on odds: unless of course you are stupid enough to give it one by not taking odds in the correct units.

Come bets

Make your come bets in the section of the come that is as close to you as possible. If you keep your bet close to the line that borders the come, there is less chance the dealer will confuse your bet with that of another player. Understand that because of different shapes to the come area and different sizes of the table, these positions are not as standard as we would like. Don’t be afraid to ask your dealer where he would like you to make your come bet.

When a point number is rolled the dealer positions the new come bets in the appropriate point number box after he has paid any winning field bets and positioned the don’t come bets.

Think of each point number box as representing that half of the craps table. While the photo shows the positions for eight come bettors, some dealers only utilize the four corner positions and two additional positions especially if it is a small table or come bet action is light.

Once your come bet has gone to a point number box, you may take odds on it. Just set your stack of checks in the same position that you make your come bet and say the word, "Odds."

The only instance where more information is required is when you have more than one come bet without odds, or you want to take less odds than the amount of money you set down. In that case you might say something like, "Twenty odds on five."

When a point number other than the point is rolled during a hand, the dealer will pay the come bets on the point number box after he has paid any winning field bets and positioned the new don’t come bets.

When paying and positioning come bets, dealers have been trained to work from the No. 1 player position to the No. 8. The dealer will take the old come bet off the point number box, pay it in the player’s betting spot in the come and put the new come bet on the point number box.

If the old flat bet on the point number box and the new come bet are an equal amount, the dealer will merely pay the new come bet. This is called "off and on" and may be done regardless of how much odds may have been taken on the come bet.

When dealers pay come bets with odds they almost always utilize totaling. Again, to compute a total: compute the amount the odds pay and add that amount to the amount of the flat bet.

Next week we tackle the all-important "place" bets.