The language of craps
10 December 1999
By Mark Pilarski
I tried playing craps for the first time on a
recent trip to Las Vegas. I stuck with the bets
you mention on your tapes and actually walked
away from the crap table $200 ahead. And though
I was up $200, I still found the game
intimidating. Mostly because I couldn't
understand what numbers the dealer was calling.
No wonder it scares so many players away. So
just what number is "Little Joe from Kokomo?"
Your question, Ralph, is the reason why more
than 90 percent who visit casinos deny
themselves playing what many consider the most
engaging, exhilarating game the casino has to
offer. Not only that, if craps is played
correctly, the percentage favoring the house is
less than video poker, slots, roulette and even
blackjack; that is, Ralph, if players like you
follow the fundamental principles I've laid out
on my audio tapes and stick to pass line bets
with odds or placing the six and eight.
But still, when the game gets electric, the
communal consciousness of the players leads to a
table of whooping, rooting and apprehensive
participants. This creates a game that both
confuses and overwhelms. Now add your complaint:
A dealer (stickman) with a rattan rake in hand
moving the game pace along at high speeds,
yelling calls that only someone in the industry
might understand. Your best bet is to learn the
lingo. By no means, Ralph, is the language
eloquent, but it is expressive and the best way
to learn is by putting the dice in your hands.
So shooter, you're coming out, hands up, feet
off the table, let'em loose and I'll make the
TWO: "Craps," "two aces," "rats eyes," "snake
eyes," "push the don't," "eleven in a shoe
store," "twice in the rice," "two craps two, two
bad boys from Illinois."
THREE: "Craps," "ace-deuce," "ace caught a
deuce," "winner on the dark side," "three craps
three, the indicator," "small ace deuce, can't
produce," "the other side of eleven's tummy."
(Here's an example of an old-time crap dealer,
Judd, who invents a call that made its way
across Nevada to a carpet joint that I've worked
in. It doesn't make sense, like many of the
calls, so your confusion is fitting.)
FOUR: "Little Joe," "little Joe from Kokomo,"
"hit us in the tu tu," "ace trey, the country
FIVE: "After five, the field's alive,"
"thirty-two juice roll" (OJ's jersey number),
"little Phoebe," "fiver, fiver, racetrack
driver," "we got the fever."
SIX: "Big Red, catch'em in the corner," "like a
chip">blue chip stock," "pair-o-treys, waiter's
roll," "the national average," "sixie from
SEVEN: "Seven out, line away," "grab the money,"
"five two, you're all through," "six ace, end of
the race," "front line winner, back line
skinner," "six one, you're all done," "seven's a
bruiser, the front line's a loser," "up pops the
devil," "Benny Blue, you're all through."
EIGHT: "A square pair, like mom and dad," "Ozzie
and Harriet," "the windows," "eighter from
NINE: "Center field," "center of the garden,"
"ocean liner niner," "Nina from Pasadena," "What
shot Jesse James? A forty-five."
TEN: "Puppy paws," "pair-a-roses," "pair of
sunflowers," "the big one on the end."
ELEVEN: "Yo leven," "yo levine the dancing
queen," "six five, no jive."
TWELVE: "Craps," "boxcars," "atomic craps," "all
the spots we got," "outstanding in your field,"
"triple dipple, in the lucky ducky," "double saw
Look there, Ralph, you just rolled a seven.
Column's over. Cinco dos, adios.