Casino games are widely known for inspiring slang terms, but that phenomenon can be observed most easily at the craps table. You’ve likely heard about players “rolling them bones” (the dice), trying to dodge “snake eyes” (the 1-1 combination), or hoping to cash in on their “horn” bet (2, 3, 11, or 12).
Craps regulars have long loved to come up with their own exclusive language, one shared between players and dealers (“the boys”) alike. But the next time you play craps for real money, keep your ears out for these seven slang words every dice thrower should know.
Right Way Betting
Whenever a new shooter is gearing up for their first roll, better known as the “come out” roll to craps players, the other bettors have two options.
They can bet on the pass line and hope that the shooter wins, either by rolling a seven or 11 on the come out, or setting a point number on the come out and hitting it again before rolling a seven. Pass line bets are considered standard operating procedure for almost all craps players, as they’re basically ante bets that enable further betting on the lucrative odds.
Playing with the shooter and betting on the pass line is popularly referred to as the “right way,” or simply “playing right.” When you see a packed craps table all celebrating the shooter’s productive roll together, that’s because they’re all right way bettors.
Backing the pass line is indeed a great way to approach craps, as the wager offers a very low casino house edge of only 1.24%. And indeed, much of the fun and excitement derived from craps centers around the camaraderie a table full of like-minded right way bettors can quickly build together.
When the shooter is hot and hitting their point numbers, right way bettors practically throw a party together right there at the table.
Dark Side Betting
Every so often, you might catch one player standing sullenly and biding their time while everybody else carries on.
And conversely, when the dealer is sliding them a new stack of chips after a winning roll, this player doesn’t seem to let loose with any celebrations, nor does anyone congratulate them for that matter.
And should the shooter set a point number instead, the dark side bettor wants to see them spike a 7 to “seven out” before they find the point for a second time. As you might suspect, dark side bettors are the bane of every craps table, drawing dirty looks and derisive comments from the gaggle wagering on right way action.
They’re content to take the heat, however, because the don’t pass line bet’s house edge is slightly lower at 1.06% to 1.24% on the pass line. While that difference might not seem like all that much, the percentage points in a dark side player’s favor do add up in terms of expected value over the long run.
The Hard Way
Craps players in every casino ever constructed have cried out to the heavens for a “hard 8” to save their bacon.
As the name suggests, landing a “hard way” bet involves hitting a single number using an exact doubled-up combination of numbers. In other words, to hit the hard 4, you would need the dice to show matching 2-2, while 1-3 or 3-1 wouldn’t cut it.
Landing the hard 6 requires the 3-3, so 1-5, 2-4, 4-2, and 5-1 are no good. To score on a hard 8 bet, 4-4 is the only ticket while 2-6, 3-5, 5-3, and 6-2 aren’t up to snuff. And finally, catching a hard 10 can only be accomplished via the 5-5, meaning 4-6 and 6-4 are out the window.
You can bet on the hard 4, 6, 8, or 10 individually, using just a couple of them, or all at once. When you have a hard way bet in place, it will remain live until the shooter rolls a 7 or an “easy” version of your chosen number(s).
That is to say, when you bet on the hard 8, you don’t want to see any 7s or any other 8s which aren’t formed by the 4-4 hard way.
Hard 4 and bard 10 bets are paid out handsomely at 7 to 1, but you’ll have 1 in 8 odds against success. Similarly, the hard 6 and hard 8 wagers are paid out at 9 to 1 as opposed to the true odds of 1 in 10.
Due to this discrepancy between the true odds and payout odds for hard way wagers, the 4 and 10 offer a steep house edge of 11.11%, while the 6 and 8 are slightly better at 9.09%.
Speaking of the classic hard way bet, you can hedge your action just a bit by placing a “Buffalo” bet instead.
The payout odds on your hard way action remain the same, but you get to add in the any 7 (“Big Red”) bet to your possible winners. Landing a 7 with a Buffalo bet in play is good for a 4 to 1 payout and you’ll have a 1 in 5 shot to cash it in. That creates a huge house edge of 16.67% though, so exercise caution whenever you go buffalo hunting.
Midnight or Boxcars
This exciting craps bet is a form of hard way bet with no easy alternative is the “Midnight,” which is also commonly referred to as “Boxcars.”
Naturally, the longest shot of them all when shooting a pair of dice puts the player up against a house edge wall of 13.89%.
Rolling a Natural
Whenever the shooter starts their session by nailing a 7 or 11 on the come-out roll—an instant winner for all pass line bettors—this is known as a “natural.”
Other casino games have their own forms of natural winners as well, namely the ace + 10 in blackjack or the two-card 8 or 9 in baccarat. As for craps, when you hear the table cheering a shooter every 15 seconds or so, chances are good they’re enjoying a string of consecutive naturals.
Sevens might get all the notoriety amongst craps aficionados, but many regulars love another number more—the “Yo-leven.”
Due to the 7’s status as the key number in craps—a winner on the come out roll and a loser if it shows up before the point hits again—players are very superstitious about saying “seven” aloud. But because they might want to place a single-roll bet on the 11, members of the craps crowd took to calling out “Yo, eleven!” to avoid any confusion.
Over the years, that phrase evolved into “Yo-Leven” or even just “Yo” to signify a bet on the 11. So, don’t be surprised to see a few faces looking your way while yelling “Yo!” while you play craps. They’re not doing their best Sopranos impression, they’re simply trying to bet on the 506 or 6-5 without drawing any heat for potentially saying “seven.”
Now You Know Casino Craps Slang
Craps is perhaps the liveliest of all casino games, with a good table becoming more like a party between buddies rather than a gathering of strangers. With high-fives and back claps all around during a hot roll, craps is defined by the table collectively winning and losing as a unit.
And as most units tend to do, the craps community has created its own vernacular that outsiders often struggle to decipher. The next time you hold the dice in hand, I hope this list of seven essential slang craps terms helps you blend in with the crowd a little better.