There is a myth or a legend that when a woman is new to the game of craps, and it is her first time throwing the dice, that she is very good luck. Is it a coincidence I feel like I am going to be tremendously lucky tonight? I also feel a little bit nervous and intimidated as I have never gathered the courage to walk up to a table. The gentleman to my left is running the show and I don’t want to mess up his flow by being too slow.
My husband and I love to gamble together. He is explaining all the bets that are happening on the table to me and their odds. I have played online before but all of the sudden the game looks like Keno to me. Something completely foreign. I become drastically aware that I am in need of a cocktail. As soon as one has had the thought cross their mind, low and behold a well proportioned cocktail waitress in some miniature outfit appears. Ahhh Atlantic City.
The first thing I do (once I have my gin and tonic in hand) is “color up”. This simply means to exchange cash with the dealer for chips with which to bet on the table. At first, the terminology is daunting. There is a whole different language of unfamiliar words being spoken by the dealers and players. However, the most important thing is to not get overwhelmed by the vocabulary. The dealers are very good at assisting you if you are not quite sure what is going on. They call out the rolls and keep track of the bets on the table. In my opinion, you don’t actually have to know all of the ins-and-outs of craps to throw the dice and have a good time playing the game.
The person throwing the dice at the craps table is called the “shooter”. Each player with an active bet is eligible to be the shooter. The dice will pass from player to player during game play in a clockwise rotation around the table. I am trying to pay attention to all the information I’m being fed but the dealers are very good at keeping up the pace. Luckily, I am several players away from actually touching the dice. I learn that when the dice pass to a new player, their first roll is called the “coming-out” roll. This is the only time it pays to roll a seven. If you roll a seven or an eleven on your coming out roll, this is called a “natural”. Who knows why? The best that I can determine is something I read on the wikipedia about the game itself, “Its origins are complex and may date back to the Crusades, later being influenced by French gamblers.” It is no wonder why the language and intricacies of the game are difficult to learn.
The pace is very fast. So fast in fact, I have only bet on the pass line so far as anything else exceeds my understanding of the game. No worries, as my chips have nearly doubled it seems like a safe bet. And, it is my turn to roll. I have been paying so much attention to the chips on the table that I unknowingly take the dice with two hands when they are slid to me by the “stickman”. Faux pas. Do not use both hands to handle the dice. Great, I am already slowing down the excitement. On my second chance, I fumble my throw a little and it barely makes it more than halfway across the craps table. I roll double deuces. The four gets marked “on” and becomes the “point” number. My job now as the shooter is to roll a four again before I roll a seven and “crap-out”.
The dealers call out my rolls as I throw. My coming out roll of double twos can be called a “ballerina” because its two two (tutu). There are so many names for the different rolls and old-school dealers tend to have even different terms for the dice combinations. Newer dealers will tend to call out an eleven as Yo-leven where older dealers use the term “Ozzie and Harriet” for the five and six combo. I have heard my parents talk about Ozzie and Harriet but, I have no idea who they are.
I get more comfortable at the table after a couple of rounds as the shooter but the pace is slowing down. There are still many bets and terms that I’m hazy on. For example, there are additional side bets called “hard bets” and “soft bets” where you actually bet on the number combination of the dice. However, I’m not sure exactly when it would be the most advantageous to place a bet there. Also, the “Don’t Pass” bet line is a bit of a mystery to me. I understand how to use it for betting in the game of craps. You are betting on that line because you believe the shooter will roll craps before he rolls the point. Its’ just that it seems horrible to bet against the shooter. Especially if they are the guy standing next to you. Won’t they be mad at my lack of confidence in them?
It was clumsy from time to time and a slight variation from the Hollywood rolls I had envisioned myself throwing (hair blowing in the wind). I was having so much fun anyway. My chip stack had it’s own story to tell. It wasn’t growing as rapidly. The population at the table was dwindling. The cheering and clapping of the remaining players was slowing to a halt as well. The table had grown “cold” and my group was signaling that it was time to move on. I had learned a lot and made a few bucks. Honestly, I was bummed to have to leave the table and I can’t wait to get the chance to play craps again. Maybe I’ll see you at my table at the Venetian in November.