One Important Thing (and Seven Silly Ones) Every New Craps Player Should Know

Whenever I talk to a group of new craps players I generally start off explaining some basic “craps etiquette” to them.  The first thing I explain is when and how to buy in at the table.   The “when” part is dictated largely by courtesy and superstition. The how part is dictated by the house. I’ll cover this and other subjects for you in this article both courtesy and craps superstition point of view in an effort to spare you some embarrassment – justified or not – at the tables.

First off, you shouldn’t just walk up to a craps table and drop your money on the layout to buy in at any time you feel like it. You should take time to see where the dice are – and whether or not the “puck” says “ON” or “OFF.” The puck is a round plastic disk used to mark the point once it is established. If, for example, the shooter has established the eight as the point the dealer will have placed the puck on the number eight with the white or “ON” side facing up.” Do not drop money onto the table while the puck says “ON.” That means a game is in progress and many players consider “new money on the table” to be bad luck. If you inadvertently drop your money on the table while the puck says “ON” odds are you’ll hear a chorus of “Turn my bets off” coming from the gallery as superstitious players demonstrate their belief in the power of the money to draw out the seven. Odds are you’ll pick up a dirty look or two as well. No big deal as long as the shooter doesn’t throw the seven next. But if he does then guess who will get blamed for it? Not the shooter. Not the dice. No, it’ll be all your fault for buying in late and tossing new money onto the table.

So trust me.  This one thing is important for beginning players.  Buy in at the proper time.  Wait until the puck says “off.” Then drop your cash in the Come area in front of you and say in a voice loud enough for the dealer to hear, “Change only.” He’ll take care of the rest from there, collecting your cash and exchanging it for playing cheques, counting them out for the boxman and the eye in the sky to verify, and then handing them off to you. You can then pick them up and place them in the rack in front of you, arranging them however you wish.

So much for buying in. Now let’s talk about the other “silly” superstitions you need to be aware of, as crapshooters are some of the most superstitious people in the world. If the dice are thrown and one or both dice bounce OFF the table – superstition dictates that the next toss will be a seven. How do you counter this superstition? Well, if you’re at the table when this happens you’ll hear a chorus of players shout “same dice.” Why? Because the dice jumped off the table because they were “hot.” They don’t want the house dropping “cold” dice on the table to replace the “hot” ones.

Of course, the odds of the seven showing on the next toss have not changed. I don’t care if the shooter stands on his left foot, tosses backwards with his “off” hand with one eye shut while snorting tequila shots! The odds are one in six. But if the shooter does toss a seven on the next throw every superstitious player at the table will think, “Aha! Knew it. Every time the dice bounce off the table . . .” Had the shooter made his point on that toss instead the rest of the players would have dismissed that as irrelevant. It’s only the seven outs that are remembered. And that, my friends, is what we call “confirmation bias.” It’s how these superstitions continue to be passed along from generation to generation of players.

And now that you’re up to snuff on how superstitions continue to permeate the game, here are my Big (silly) Seven Superstitions for Craps Players:

1. New money on the table will bring out the seven. (Buy in at the right time)

2. If the dice hit the money (chips) they roll funny (roll the seven).

3. If the dice bounce off the table the next roll will be a seven.

4. If a player is making a late bet and the dice hit his hand the dice will roll a seven.

5. If anyone interrupts the shooter – a beverage server, his girlfriend, another player, etc. – the next roll will be a seven.

6. If there is a chip fill at the table (security bringing more chips for the dealers) the next roll will be seven.

7. The echo effect. If anyone at the table says “seven” or if there is another table open next to yours and you hear the stickman call “seven out” on it – the next roll will be a seven.

There you have them. Seven superstitions for craps players. And those are just the big ones. There are dozens more. And when those situations arise you’ll see many veteran players turning their bets off – often quietly, simply calling the dealer name, making eye contact, pointing to their bets then dragging their index finger across their neck in a “cut-throat” action while mouthing the word “off.” Why so quietly? Because he knows the dice have ears, and if they hear you calling your bets off they’ll listen for you to turn them back on. THEN they’ll roll the seven.

At the end of the day craps superstitions are really pretty silly. They can cost you money if your bets are “off” when they hit. Twice last year I had my eight pressed up to $1800 and had it turned off when it hit. Why?  Once because the dice bounced off the table the previous roll, and once because the beverage server asked the shooter if he wanted a drink while he was preparing to toss the dice.  Both times he followed up by tossing an eight.  And that’s a total of That’s $4200 that I didn’t win. But having your bets turned off can save you money when the seven shows. Just last week I had my bets off at the right time to save around $2500 in Place and buy bets and double the $2500 win I already had in the rack.

In the end, just be aware that you don’t want to do anything at the table to cause anyone else to lose money (unless you’re playing the Right side and they’re playing the Don’ts – or vice versa) – even if the other party just THINKS you did something to make him lose money because of his superstition.  After all, it’s a community game and a community where everyone is winning is a happy place to hang out.