Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Learn and Play Craps with Royal Flusher: Simple Pass Line Play

This is the second article on the simplest way to get into the wonderful game of craps. I'm going to tell you exactly how to walk up to a table and get playing without making an ass out of yourself. And I'm not talking about that Pop-o-matic Trouble Craps electronic game with the giant size vaudeville dice, either. I'm talking about the real thing, seven come eleven, dollar yo, eight the hard way, toss the bones CRAPS.

You'll be able to play craps with complete confidence, as long as you follow my simple directives and don't screw up, or say the wrong thing, or spill a drink, or look at someone the wrong way, or break some unwritten rule.

See how easy and fun learning craps can be? Oh boy!

Believe me, you are in good, crappy hands with Royal Flusher. I've taught as many as half a dozen people how to play craps, some successfully.
My best rack of chips ever - so far.

In part 1, Learn and Play Craps with Royal Flusher: The Basics, I explained the basic rules of the game, and the flow of a roll, using this handy chart.

Here it is for a refresher. This will be helpful if you, like me, can't remember what you had for breakfast, let alone the arcane rules of a ridiculously math-driven game like craps.

There's one addition, little thing you need to know about before I explain how to get into a game without tears, blushes, or black eyes.

And that is the Puck.

What the Puck?

The puck is a round, heavy disk about three inches in diameter, and each full-size craps table uses two of them - one for each side of the layout. The puck is white on the "ON" side, and black on the "OFF" side.

Before the come out roll, the puck is placed to the outside of the layout, showing the OFF side.
Between rolls. Puck off. Safe to buy in.
When a point is established, the puck is turned over to the ON side and placed on the point number. This is really valuable information to have.
Probably not a good time to be throwing cash on the layout to buy in.

It's considered rude by many, and bad luck by most to have some-one buy in to a game in the middle of a roll. Our black and white disko friend can be used to tell us what the puck is going on in the game.

You now have all the background information you need to get into a craps game. Next up is the practical information that will make your craps experience easy.

How to Play the Pass Line

As a beginner, I recommend you find a craps table that has three or four shooters at it. Don't dive into a full table. It might not be a positive experience, and you could suffer abrasions when your face hits the felt. It's easy to find a quiet table earlier in the day, say, mid-morning. And, minimums are lower then.


Thank you.

So, first find a table. Then circle it a few times like a shark. Look for the little sign that tells you what the table minimums are. In Vegas, if you really want cheap, look downtown. Fremont has a three dollar game. On the strip, in the morning, you might find a $5 table if you are lucky.

It can be helpful to watch for a while. Watch for the flow of the rolls that I taught you. Watch the puck. Notice what things happen when the pass line wins and when it loses.

Get your money ready, and your player's card out, if you have one. You are going to play the pass line. All set? Here we go.

  1. Find an open spot at the table and belly up to it, money and player's card discretely ready.
  2. Look for the puck. Wait until the current roll ends. If the puck is OFF, and nobody is imminently about to shoot, you are good to buy in.
  3. Buy in by dropping your money lightly on the felt in front of you. DON'T try to hand it to the dealer. Almost all beginners make this mistake. Dealer's can't take it from your hand, its got to be on the table.
  4. Watch as your money gets swept away and forced down a little slot in the table with a little paddle. This is where everyone's crushed dreams go.
  5. The dealer will give you chips. Pick them up.
  6. Make your first bet - a single chip on the pass line, you high roller, you.
  7. Keep an eye open for the pit boss - he will hand back your player's card, perhaps calling you by name, once he's seen how much you are wagering and entered you in the system.
You are betting that the dice will pass. The next thing that will happen is the shooter will roll. And it will go according to the flow chart. 7 or 11 on the come out and you win. 2, 3 or 12 on the come out, and you lose. Any other number, and that is the point. The puck is placed on the point, and the shooter rolls until the point is hit and the pass line (including you) wins, or, God forbid, he sevens out.

When you win, the dealer will place your winnings (probably a single chip to start) beside your original bet. Pick up the winnings and leave a chip on the pass line to go again!

When you lose, the dealer will sweep away all the losing bets, including your poor little chip. Mutter something blue, dirty, and greasy, and put another chip down on that pass line.

How Not to Fuck Up Whilst Playing the Pass Line

I can't afford to play here.
There are a lot of beginner mistakes that I've seen over and over. Here are some of the most common ones, and some superstitions that you should know about.
  • Keep your head, hands, feet, and other body parts out and away from the layout. If the dice hit your hands, causing a loss, the table is NOT going to be happy with you. At all. You might hear the dealer say something like 'Dice are moving' or  'Hands high' to tell everyone to get their money-grubbing paws out of the way.
  • Don't say the word 'seven'. Don't express worry that xyz might happen. That will surely make it happen (craps shooters believe).
  • Don't put anything on the felt except your money, players card, or chips.
  • If you have a drink or a smoke, there's a little shelf underneath the chip rail to hold those things.
  • Pay attention to your bet. Don't forget to pick up winnings. Don't forget to get back on the pass line after a loss.
  • It's probably best to keep your hands on your chips. Sometimes people (other than dealers!) take them. And it will keep your hands out of the way of the dice.
  • If one or both dice fly off the table, you can go and get them, if you want. And if you don't want to, you don't have to. Hand them to one of the crew. The pit boss will inspect them and if they look okay, they'll go back in the game.
  • Don't disturb the shooter. Generally, don't talk to them. If they are next to you, discretely stand back a bit and give them room. Of course if the shooter wants to talk to you, or high-five you, that's just fine. But when they are shooting, be quiet. It's like putting in professional golf, except there are no dice in golf. And no golf clubs in craps. There is a stick, though, as you'll have noticed.
  • If the stickman puts your eye out by mistake, don't say anything until the shooter is done shooting. Don't bleed or lose an eyeball onto the felt. There's a little shelf underneath the chip rail for that.
For your first foray into craps, you may not want to shoot the dice. It can be nerve-wracking. It can also be a lot of fun. If you don't want to, you don't have to. When the dice are offered to you, just wave 'em off. They'll go to the next person in line. I do this all the time because my shooting sucks, and I'm still trying to live down the hard six stuck into the ceiling tiles at the El Cortez.

Note: It is somewhat unusual to make simple pass-line bets, as you'll see, but there is nothing wrong with it. There are many, many different bets that you will see being made as you dip your toes into the soft green felt of the table.

It is common to make an additional bet when a point is established, called odds. Odds are placed behind your passline bet, on the other side of the little line.

Your dealers may say to you something like, "Hey numbskull, are you going to back up your bet?" or "Hey newbie, you taking any odds?", or "Hey savvy craps player, did Royal Flusher teach you that?".

Chances are this is going to happen. You can simply say, "No thanks, I'm good." I also get by with a simple wink of the eye and a "Bullshit. Fuck you." 

Or, you can let them help you put an odds bet down.

OR... you can read the next article on Pass Line with Odds.

How Not to Fuck Up Whilst Shooting the Dice

I promised that this article would get you up and running with a simple pass line bet. So far, so good. Let's say you want to shoot the dice.

Thank you.

A shooter keeps rolling the dice until they either drop dead, walk away, or seven out. Shooting craps (2, 3, or 12) does not cause them to lose the dice.

The dice go around from player to player in clock-wise order. Here's what you need to know if you are going to shoot.
  • The stick man will slide five dice to you. Pick any two. Wait for him to get out of the way, and roll.
  • The dealers want to keep track of those dice such that you can never pull the old switcheroo and put some fakes in. So only ever use one hand to hold them. Keep that hand visible - don't drop it down behind the rail, or at your side, or behind you. Best thing is to pick up the dice with one hand, and just hold them until you are ready to let 'em fly.
  • The best way to throw is with an underhand motion. Not too high, not too low, and be sure to hit the back wall. You are looking for a nice arc over the table.
  • If you don't hit the back wall with the dice, they will tell you to hit the back wall.
  • Don't roll the dice down the layout monopoly style. This can knock over bets, making it hard to figure out who had what. (Another reason to always keep track of your bets!)
  • Generally, when the stick man pushes the dice to you, you are good to roll. He won't do it until all the payoffs and placing of new bets and other table business are done.
  • Before you roll, take a look down the table. Is some moron who didn't read this article dangling their hands over the rail? Shout "HANDS HIGH!" like a drill sergeant and give 'em the stink eye.
  • You will, at some point, throw them off the table. It happens. Sometimes they take crazy bounces. If you are winning, yell "SAME DICE". Everyone does. Don't sweat it.
  • Have fun. Throwing the dice is exhilarating.
One more piece of advice. One time I was showing a newbie the game. There was only one other person at the otherwise empty table. We were standing next to the stick man at the side of the table. When it was his turn to shoot, he picked up two dice and then marched down to the end of the table, like a pitcher taking the mound.

Of course the dealers went apoplectic. Another boo-boo for the 'how not to fuck up' list.
  • Shoot from where you are.

Coloring up

One more thing to cover - what to do with your winnings. If you have a small handful of chips, just take them to the cashier. Don't leave anything on the felt!

If you've hit a winning streak and have a big rack o' chips like the first picture in this article, you'll have too many to easily carry.
After coloring up.
First, carefully, carefully count them so you know what you have. Wait until a shooter sevens out and the puck is set to OFF, take all the chips and carefully place them in stacks on the felt in front of you, but off the craps layout. You don't want those puppies on the pass line.

Say, "Color, please."

The dealer will say "Color coming in..." and when he has time, will bring your chips in and count them up.

The point here is to exchange the low denomination chips for higher ones, so you can easily carry them. The dealer will confirm with amount with the box man and give you your payout.

If you've had fun, and you've made a few bucks, why not throw a chip to the crew? Say you make a couple of hundred, toss a couple of reds onto the layout for them and say, "For the boys." or "For the crew." Everybody will be happy.

Note: I've joked a lot in these two articles so far about getting in 'trouble' and such at the table. The fact is, dealers are almost universally helpful, and players are resilient and friendly.

Craps can be complicated, and many if not most are intimidated by it.

I want you to try it out and see if you like it and the best way to do that is to remove as many possible sources of worry as possible. That's why I've explained how not to fuck up, in such excruciating detail.

Don't let this worry you. Now grab your cash, find a game, and buy in!

Next up, I'll explain a bit more about odds - and why they are the best bet the casino offers.


  1. Replies
    1. For once, yer not gonna get slapped for that. :)

  2. Thank you, this very informative, I am looking forward to your next lesson(s.

  3. Whattya think about "Bubble Craps"?