A craps table in a casino is always run by several employees. Unlike other table games, which usually have a single dealer who runs every aspect of the game, craps has multiple employees at each table.
And each of those employees has a different function.
One of the nice things about craps is that most of the employees running the craps game are rooting for you to win. After all, they rely on tips for a high percentage of their income. Also, most craps players make tips in the form of bets for the staff, which means they have a vested interest in each roll of the dice.
This doesn’t mean they do anything to change the odds in your favor. It’s just good for morale, so to speak.
If you’re wanting to play a game of craps, you should know who’s who at the craps table. Once you’ve read this post, you’ll know just that.
The Craps Dealers
Every craps dealer in the casino has four dealers, but you’ll never see more than three of them at the table at a time. One of them is always on break. These dealers move around the table and take on different positions based on what’s going on.
One of the craps dealers will be “on the stick,” and the other two dealers will be standing on opposite sides of the craps table. These two craps dealers are said to be “on base.”
The rest of this post looks at what each dealer does during the game, starting with the “stickman.”
This is the craps dealer that’s “on the stick.” You’ll know which one he is because he’s literally holding a stick. He uses that stick to gather the dice after someone shoots.
The stickman is in charge of the proposition bets at the table.
So, what do I mean when I say he’s “in charge” of this?
It means that he takes the losing proposition bets off the table.
He also instructs the standing dealers about paying you off when, and if, you win a proposition bet.
The ceremonies surrounding the dice are important, too, and the stickman plays an important role here.
Usually, there’s a tray with six or eight dice in it. The stickman’s in charge of this tray. When it’s time for a shooter to roll the dice, the stickman shoves the tray toward the shooter so he can pick his dice. Once the dice are chosen, the stickman uses his stick to pull the tray back to him.
Finally, it’s the stickman’s job to announce the results.
At any reputable land based casino, the stickman does a good job of stimulating the action with his ongoing patter.
The Standing Dealers
The other two dealers are called “the standing dealers.” They handle the players by exchanging chips for the players’ cash. The boxman is involved in this process, too. He’s the only seated casino employee at the craps table.
The boxman always counts the money and gives the chips to the standing dealers to give to the players.
Casino chips usually come in the following denominations at the craps table:
If you want to make a bet for less than a dollar, or if your payout includes an amount lower than a dollar, the casino just uses a normal coin or multiple coins for that amount.
You will NEVER put anything in a dealer’s hand, and the dealer will NEVER put anything in your hand. This is a measure that’s meant to prevent collusion between the dealers and the players. (I almost hate using that word; thanks politics.)
You’ll put your cash on the table. When you get chips, they’re put on the table, too.
Betting and Getting Paid Off
The most important thing going on at the table, besides the shooting of the dice, is the placing and paying off of the bets. The dealers have a lot to do with both aspects of the game. In some cases, you can just place your own bets, but some craps bets must be placed for you by one of the dealers.
When a resolution of a dice roll happens, the payouts are made by the dealer – just as the dealer picks up any losing bets. Losing bets are normally picked up before winning bets get paid off, as a matter of procedure.
The two standing dealers are on opposite ends of the table for a simple reason: One handles the players at one end of the table, and the other handles the players at the other end of the table.
You’ll usually see between a dozen to 20 players at a craps table, which means each dealer is handling between six to 12 players at a time.
Pay attention to what’s going on, though, because even experienced craps dealers are human and sometimes make mistakes. These mistakes aren’t always in your favor, either.
Different people have different opinions about correcting the dealer if he makes a mistake in your favor. I agree with Frank Scoblete on this point, even though I disagree with him on many other points.
If the casino makes a mistake in your favor, it’s better to let it slide and keep the money. You’re not obligated to look out for the casino. Your job is to look out for yourself.
The dealer is also supposed to place the buck in the appropriate spot.
What’s the buck?
It’s a round disk with two distinct sides of two different colors.
One side of the buck indicates that the point hasn’t been set yet. The casino turns it over once it has. They turn it back over once the shooter makes the point or sevens out.
The Boxman and the Floorman
The boxman isn’t really a craps dealer. He’s more like the banker in Monopoly. He doesn’t even wear the same uniform. He keeps an eye on the chips belonging to the casino, and he oversees the dealers’ payouts to make sure they’re correct. His role is to stay quiet and keep an eye on business.
The floorman is the supervisor for the entire craps pit.
A craps pit is made up of four craps tables, and the area inside those four tables is called the pit.
The floorman reports to the pit boss, who’s another supervisor working in the pit.
The Proposition Bets and the Mouthy Stickman
The stickman is basically in charge of the rhythm of the game, and his main job is to get players to consider the prop bets on the table.
The problem with all these prop bets is that they heavily favor the casino.
It might be that these bets are cheap to make. You might only need to bet $1.
But when the casino house edge is so high on such a bet, it becomes easy to lose a lot of money fast.
The difference between the odds of winning a bet and the payout odds is where the house gets its edge.
If you have a bet with 35 to 1 odds of winning, but it only pays off at 30 to 1, the casino has a huge edge.
Your best move at the craps table is to stick with the most basic of bets – pass, don’t pass, come, don’t come, and the free odds bets.
That’s basically everything you need to know about who’s who at the craps table.
This post assumes that you already know a few things about the game, but if you don’t, check out some of the other posts about craps on our site.