My favorite game in the casino used to be roulette, then I learned how to play blackjack. Eventually, craps replaced blackjack as my favorite casino game. One of the many reasons for this is because of the colorful language used at the table.
I’m not talking about swearing necessarily. I’m just talking about all the cool jargon and slang that you might hear while playing craps.
Where else in the casino do you get to hear cool expressions like “box cars,” “muleteeth,” and “snake eyes?” And where do you get to hear most of this colorful language? From the stickman, of course!
That’s the casino employee at the table with the stick. It’s his job to move the dice around the table using a stick but, more importantly, he announces the action and sells the prop bets that are available.
A good stickman is basically the P.T. Barnum of the casino, selling terrible bets with a high house edge to unsuspecting players. Readers of my blog know that it’s a good idea to never take any of the bets offered by the stickman.
But, even if you skip those bets, you should still understand all the phrases he’s using. It just makes the game more fun.
Keep in mind that these expressions are generations old, and some of them may go out of vogue after a while. I’m pretty experienced, so some of the expressions at the craps table I’m familiar with might be less familiar to you.
2-way – This is when the bettor is placing a bet both for himself and for the dealers. It’s a popular way of tipping the dealers at the craps table.
50-yard line – The center of the table. The dice have to go across the 50-yard line when you roll them.
Action – A measure of how much money is being wagered at the table. Also, if you have money that you’ve bet, that’s called money that’s in action.
Any craps – This is a one-roll bet that wins if the next roll comes up 2, 3, or 12. The odds of winning this bet are 7 to 1, and the house edge is 11.1%.
Any 7 – A one-roll bet that wins if the next roll is a total of 7. The odds of winning this bet are 4 to 1, and the house edge is 16.9%.
Ballerina special – This is when both of the dice show a 2. “Two twos.” Get it?
Big red – This just means 7. It’s considered bad luck to use the word “seven” when you’re at the craps table.
Bones – This is what they call the dice. (And you thought “bones” were dominoes, didn’t you?)
Boxman – This is one of the dealers at the table. He’s in charge of supervising the other dealers, and he’s sitting down instead of standing. You’ll find him at the craps table opposite the stickman.
Boys – The appropriate thing to call the dealers at the craps table is “the boys.” This can be inaccurate when the dealer isn’t male, but that’s just the lingo.
Broke money – This is money the casino will give a player for transportation when he’s lost all his money. I’m not sure how often this practice happens in modern casinos.
Cold – The dice are “cold” when the shooter has been rolling but doesn’t make the point.
Crapless craps – This is a variation of craps where you can’t crap out on the come-out roll. The 2, 3, and 12 are all point numbers. This is an unusual variation that never really caught on.
Garden – This is another name for the field bet.
George – This is what the dealer calls a craps player who tips well.
Hard way – The hard way bets are bets on totals of 4, 6, 8, or 10, but they only win if you roll that number “the hard way,” as doubles. There’s only one combination of dice out of 36 that results in one of these hard totals. A hard way bet loses if the total is rolled the easy way. The house edge for all the hard way bets is high.
Hit a brick – This is when the dice hit a stack of chips and don’t make it across the craps table.
House edge – The statistical difference between the payout odds and the odds of winning. The house edge is expressed as a percentage, and over an infinite number of trials, it represents the average amount of each bet that will be lost based on the math behind the game. The lower the house edge, the better the bet is for the player.
Hot – The table can be running hot and/or the dice can be running hot. This just means that the pass line bet and the corresponding odds bets are winning repeatedly. Usually, it’s when a shooter is doing well at hitting his point often as he rolls.
Little Joe – Another name for the “ballerina special,” or a pair of 2s.
Monster roll – This is when a shooter has been winning for over 20 minutes, which usually means most of the players at the table are winning lots of money.
Muleteeth – This is when both dice show a “6.” The total for this combination is 12, and you have 35 to 1 odds of getting this result. Muleteeth is also sometimes called “boxcars” or “midnight.”
Natural – On the come-out roll, the 7 or 11 wins immediately. Either of these totals is called a “natural.”
Right bettor – A right bettor is betting for the shooter to succeed, placing pass line and come bets. Most of the players at the craps table are right bettors.
Snake eyes – This is when both dice show a “1,” for a total of 2. The dice don’t have numbers on them, just pips, and a “1” has a single pip in the center of it. A snake has two eyes, and that’s what those two pips represent with this result. You can even bet on snake eyes and have a 35 to 1 probability of winning. Sadly, the payoff is only 30 to 1 on such a bet, which means it’s not worth making. The house edge is 13.9%.
Square pair – A hard total of 8, or a pair of 4s, depending on your perspective.
Washing your hands – The dealers are required to clap their hands before leaving the table. This ensures that they’re not palming chips or gambling equipment (like dice).
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! – This just means someone won or you’re rooting for someone to win. The idea is that you can spend the winnings on a chicken dinner.
Wrong bettor – A wrong bettor is someone who’s rooting against the shooter. He bets on the don’t pass and don’t come lines. The house edge for a wrong bettor is 0.05% better than it is for a right bettor, but most people are willing to give up that tiny percentage just for the sake of camaraderie at the table.
Yo eleven, take me to heaven! – This is a bet that the dice will come up with a total of 11. It’s also sometimes just called a bet on “yo.”
These are just some of my favorite craps terms defined. I’m sure you’ve heard others. Would you like to leave a comment with some of the more interesting slang you’ve heard at the craps table?