Gambling has been around for hundreds of years and has a lot of tradition built up around it. While you don’t necessarily need to follow all of the rules and traditions of the games you’re playing, it can certainly make it easier for you to fit in, make friends, and keep from unintentionally upsetting other players who expect you to act a certain way.
If you’re not sure what the rules of etiquette are for your particular choice of casino games, don’t worry. Most are informal and, if you’re about to break one of the rules, someone around you will usually give you a gentle nudge before you commit a major faux pas.
Still, it’s not a bad idea to brush up on your gambler’s etiquette before walking into a casino or public place to play. That’s why I have listed five of the most important rules of craps etiquette. These five simple rules are easy to follow and will keep you from acting like this is your first time at a casino (even if it is).
But why craps? Of all the games at a casino, craps seems to have more of its own little traditions than many other games. Therefore, it seemed like a good place to start a discussion on gambling etiquette.
1 – Never Mention Seven at the Table
Right up there with never wish an actor “good luck” or yelling “fire!” in a crowded theatre is the rule that you never say the word “seven” at a craps table.
In case you’re not familiar with the rules in playing a game craps, once the point is set, rolling a seven is an automatic loss for the shooter. It tends to involve the house taking in a whole lot of money.
Because gamblers are a superstitious lot, the going belief is that if someone says seven, then the next roll is likely to be a seven.
You also shouldn’t hand the dice to a player with a seven showing.
Fortunately, this rule of craps etiquette is fairly easy to follow. Just refrain from saying one single word and you will be welcome at any craps table. Break the rule and see how long everyone else wants to keep you around.
2 – Don’t Put Money Down When the Player Has Dice
This rule is really more about preventing from potentially interfering with the dice than actually being polite. To follow it, simply do not put chips down on the craps table when the shooter has been handed the dice. It’s really that simple.
To do otherwise is to invite possible interference. Imagine your embarrassment (and the rest of the crowd’s irritation) if the shooter, unaware of your bet, tossed the dice and hit your hand or a stack of chips that weren’t there when they started their shooting motion.
Such actions could cause the toss of the dice to be thrown out all together, people could lose money and, more than likely, the dealer won’t honor your bet until the next toss anyway. This leads to angry gamblers with no gain for yourself.
Ultimately, to follow this rule, just listen for the dealer. The dealer will indicate when it’s okay to place bets and when you should not. Therefore, if you’re not sure if it’s okay to bet, don’t and wait for the dealer’s okay. Do this and you will be fine.
3 – Don’t Dally When Shooting the Dice
This bit of craps etiquette is a must-follow because it helps your fellow gamblers and the house. Also, it’s fairly easy to follow.
When the dice are passed to you and the dealer signals it’s time to throw, just shoot the dice. If you have a lucky routine, go through it quickly. Only ask one bystander to blow on your dice for luck if you must imitate what you see in the movies, then toss.
Gamblers get a thrill from craps by seeing where the dice lands and if they made money. It’s more fun to earn money than it is to watch some stranger go through a 21-point routine before each roll of the dice. If this seems strange to you, perhaps baseball betting is your thing?
Another reason you want to keep the dice rolling is because the house wants to you toss the dice. In craps, there are winners and losers.
Therefore, when the time comes for you to shoot, be a gambler of action. Grab the dice. Give them a quick shake, and roll. Everyone will be happy that way… Unless you roll a seven. Everyone will be happy but you!
4 – Don’t Use Stacks When a Chip Will Do
This is one of those rules that you might not think about when you first start playing craps, but it makes more sense the more you shoot the dice. While individual chips aren’t that thick, they do start to stack and can make high towers.
Those high towers can become an obstacle that the shooter has to roll over to make a legal roll. If the stacks are too high, the shooter’s throwing motion can change, which may well make her feel out of control or cheated.
Again, gamblers are superstitious and something as major as a change in the way they roll the dice can actually affect the outcome of a roll. While there’s no way to be sure that the change in motion was any better or any worse for the shooter, the appearance of something going amiss is enough to get in many gamblers’ heads.
The way to avoid this completely is to not stack your chips if you don’t have to. Use as many smaller chips as possible and if you have the chips to place a large bet, try to keep them out of the shooter’s direct line of site. In this way, you keep the shooter calm and the table happy.
5 – Tip the Dealers and Waitstaff
This rule of etiquette applies not just to craps but to anytime you decide to play poker games, too. Always tip your dealer when you leave the table, even if you lost money. Also, tip the waitstaff a buck or two for every drink.
There are a number of reasons to tip. If you’re superstitious, think of it as earning karma for the next time someone says seven.
Still, there’s probably no better reason to tip than the fact that tipping your dealer or server is just the right thing to do. Most of the folks who work in the casino are doing it for the tips, not the salary. A reasonable tip doesn’t cost you much, but it can mean the world to the person who receives the tip.
With that said, never tip the pit boss. In most casinos, the pit boss will think that’s a bribe, not a tip, and you really don’t want that.
If you think these rules of craps etiquette are a lot to follow, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. There are lots of other things you should not do at a craps table, but mostly, they boil down to not being a jerk. Don’t yell. Don’t swing your arms around wildly, and you will be fine.
With that said, the next time you hit a craps table, keep in mind the rules above. Avoid saying the word seven so that the shooter doesn’t think you cursed them. Avoid making a bet at the craps table when the shooter has the dice to avoid distracting the shooter or interfering with their role.
When it’s your turn to the shoot the dice, it’s okay to have a ritual, but don’t have a long shooting ritual. Avoid big chip stacks so that you don’t make obstacles for the shooter to overcome. Finally, tip your cocktail waitress and the dealer because it’s the right thing to do.
Most importantly, don’t be nervous. If you make it to the craps table and forget all of these rules, you won’t be thrown out of the casino for breaking them (at least not the first time).
Others around you will remind you of these rules, which you probably won’t break more than once. Then, you can relax, get your hasty dice toss ritual ready, and worry about nothing else than if that pesky seven is going to show up.