Roll with Respect: Mastering the Unwritten Rules of Craps Etiquette

Navigating craps etiquette can be as crucial as the bets you place. Whether you’re new to the game or refining your table manners, this article will equip you with the dos and don’ts of craps— from buying chips to rolling dice— ensuring you avoid common pitfalls and enhance your table presence.

Key Takeaways

  • Craps etiquette entails a set of unwritten norms focusing on mutual respect and game integrity, such as not handing cash directly to dealers, joining the game at appropriate times, and maintaining dice visibility.

  • Handling and shooting dice are critical to craps etiquette, requiring players to keep dice visible, handle them correctly and perform a one-hand toss, ensuring fairness and transparency.

  • Betting manners are integral to the game, involving placing bets considerately, respecting the payout process, navigating crowded tables with courtesy, and respecting fellow players’ superstitions and game rituals.

[Quick Nav]

Watch what you say
How to join the game
Handling cash
Watch your hands
Handling the dice
Good Manners
Dealing with a crowded table
Tipping your dealers
Navigating superstitions
Social Interactions
Handling Mistakes

The Cardinal Rules of Craps Table Etiquette

Craps is regulated by a collection of unwritten norms, collectively known as table etiquette, that players are expected to follow. Adhering to these rules ensures a fair and enjoyable gaming experience for all participants. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer, understanding these rules can help you navigate the world of craps with ease and confidence. It’s a form of mutual respect, where each player acknowledges their part in maintaining the integrity and smooth flow of the game.

Watch What You Say!

Craps players are often times very superstitious…NEVER EVER say the word “seven” at the table.

If you’re new to the game and just learning how to play, it may be tempting to talk to other players or the dealers as you try to understand what is going on. Some players don’t want to chat, others are happy to share the rules and insights, so get a sense for it, but as you talk, just don’t say “seven”.

Joining the Game: Timing Is Everything

If you’ve ever watched a craps game in progress, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a certain rhythm to it. Players place their bets, the dice are rolled, and the cycle repeats. But what happens when you want to join the game? It’s pivotal to know when to enter, as inappropriate timing can disrupt the game’s rhythm and possibly annoy other players.

The protocol for new players joining a craps game is to do so in between rolls, particularly avoiding doing so during a shooter’s turn or mid-roll. This allows players to place their pass bets and other wagers without disrupting the game. A novice player can discern the conclusion of a roll in craps when the shooter rolls a 7, or when the point number is rolled, indicating an interruption in the game that may serve as a suitable time to join.

Exchanging Cash for Chips: The Right Way

Now that you’ve identified the ideal moment to join the game and are ready to acquire some chips for betting, how should you proceed?

In order to exchange cash for chips at a craps table, simply place your cash on the table, rather than directly handing the cash to the dealer. This practice aligns with craps etiquette and helps ensure a smooth exchange. It also adheres to the casino’s safety regulations aimed at preventing misunderstandings or allegations of impropriety. If you try to hand it directly to the dealer, they’ll just tell you to lay it down.

Keep Your Hands Above the Rail

When the dice are passed to a shooter, your hands need to be completely out of the way. Some craps players grab the dice and throw them as soon as they get them. Others take a few seconds, so as soon as you see the dice being passed to the shooter, get your hands out of the way!

If a dice hits your hand and the dealers determine you did not “effect” the dice, the roll will count, and if that roll results in a seven, you’re going to have an entire table of players who are upset with you.

Just pay attention to the sequence. After a roll is thrown, the stickman gathers the dice and moves them to the center of the table. This is when all payouts and new bets are made. Once the stickman sees these transactions are finishing up, he will start moving the dice, often times saying “dice out”, or “here we go” or some other indicator which essentially means – no more bets!

Dice Handling and Shooting

Having secured your chips, let’s focus on one of the key elements of the game: the dice. The way you handle and shoot the dice can have a significant impact on the flow of the game and the experience of other players at the table.

When shooting the dice, it’s important to keep them visible at all times and to use only one hand. This helps prevent any potential switching of dice and upholds a fair and transparent playing environment.

Selecting your Dice

When it is your turn to roll, the stickman will pass you 5 dice. You pick two and let the stickman pull the other back. Some players will grab all of the dice, roll them around in place until they get the numbers they are looking for.

Although there is nothing wrong with that, it needs to be done quickly. If you’re trying to get one die to show up as a six and roll it several times before it appears, you’re taking too much time.

Keeping the Dice Visible

Maintaining the dice in sight throughout a craps game is not only a matter of etiquette but also vital for ensuring a fair and open gaming environment. Maintaining visibility of the dice is essential in order to:

Prevent any potential switching of dice, which could unfairly influence the outcome of the game
Allow players and dealers to verify that the dice outcome

This means, when you are the one throwing the dice, never pull them out of the table. If one bounces off the table on a roll, it is perfectly acceptable for you to pick it up for the crew. As you do so, be sure to keep it visible for the cameras and dealers.

The One-Hand Toss

In craps, you should only handle the dice with one hand. This goes back to “keeping the dice visible”. The moment you put both hands on the dice, you’re certain to hear at least one dealer correcting you. If you do it a few times, they might terminate your roll.

Betting Manners at the Craps Tables

Making your bets at the craps table involves more than just strategic thinking; it’s also a matter of good manners. Knowing when and how to place your bets can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable playing experience for you and your fellow players. So, let’s take a closer look at the betting manners at the craps tables.

When placing your bets, it’s important to do so in a respectful and considerate manner. This means:

refraining from making last-minute wagers, once the dice are out, no more bets!
handling your payouts with grace, no gloating, especially if you’re a Don’t bettor
waiting patiently for your turn – there is a payout sequence, get to know it and understand when it’s your turn

The Protocol for Placing Bets

Making bets at the craps table entails more than simply laying down your money. Each bet type has its particular procedure, and being familiar with these procedures can aid in ensuring a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience.

Self service bets, such as the pass line, field, or big 6 8 can be made by the player, but each has its own rules and you should get to know them prior to playing them. You can also ask the dealer for advice if you are unsure.

When you are playing craps, just be sure not to place any last minute wagers and get to know the bet you’re making and its payouts. Always feel comfortable asking a dealer for assistance if you’re unsure.

Navigating a Crowded Table with Courtesy

Craps is a popular game, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself at a crowded table, especially on a weekend in Las Vegas. While this can add to the excitement of the game, it can also present some challenges. Learning how to navigate a crowded table with courtesy is an essential part of craps table etiquette.

Space Sharing at a Full Table

Sharing space with other players is significant at a full craps table. This not only helps to maintain a pleasant playing environment but also contributes to the overall flow and fairness of the game.

You’ll see some players who perhaps established “their spot” before a table got crowded. They are often reluctant to give up any space as a table fills. Be kind, invite others in. You don’t need to stand square to the table with your arms spread across 4 feet of chip rail blocking others.

Providing extra space for the shooter is an essential part of good craps etiquette! If you are next to the shooter, be sure to move out of the way when the dice are coming their way. Make them feel comfortable and they will do the same for you when it’s your turn.

Watch your money on the table and in your chip rail. Keep your chips neatly setup to ensure there is no confusion on whose chips are whose. Avoid placing your hands near someone else’s chips as well.

Betting Without Disturbance

Craps can be a fast-paced and intense game. However, amidst the thrill, it’s crucial to make your bets without causing disruption to other players or the game’s rhythm. This is an essential part of craps table etiquette and contributes to a positive playing experience for everyone at the table.

When placing your bets, pay attention to what the dealer is doing and other bets they are taking. You don’t want to overwhelm them by shouting out your bet at any random time.

There is a payout sequence after a roll. The dealer will start paying the person closest to the stick and move down the line. If you happen to be on the number that just hit and are going to be paid, wait until they are finishing up with the player in front of you, and tell them what you’d like as they are getting ready to pay you.

For example, if you had a place bet on the 6 and you want to press it, tell them to press it as they are grabbing the chips to pay your bet. Not when they are paying two players in front of you.

If you did not have a bet that is going to be paid after a roll, but you’d like to place a bet, wait until the dealer is finished paying out. As they are finishing up with the last player being paid, you can set your chips on the table and tell them your bet. This allows them to smoothly transition from their final payout to grabbing your bet and placing it accordingly.

It’s also important to refrain from removing your bet until it has been paid out. This helps to maintain the fairness of the game and ensures that all players are paid correctly. For example, if you had a field bet, don’t pick it up until after the dealer pays it.

Tipping: A Gesture of Goodwill

In the realm of casino games, tipping serves not only as an expression of appreciation for good service but also as a gesture of goodwill. And in a game like craps, where the dealers play a crucial role in the flow and enjoyment of the game, tipping is especially important.

Dealers usually make minimum wage and rely on tips to increase their paycheck. Contrary to popular belief, dealers actually do want players to win. When a table is winning, it often leads to more fun for them and bigger tips.

There are a couple of ways you can tip at the craps table.

Say “For the dealers” as you lay down whatever amount you’d like to tip. This is usually done when you are finished playing, or after you are paid on a bet. For example, if I placed a 6 for $12 and felt the dealer was doing a great job and I was paid $14 for my bet, I might take $2 and say “for the dealers”. You can do this periodically as you play.
Bet for the dealers is another great option to give them tips. It’s also a bit more fun for the crew. There are plenty of ways to do it, but lets say you are place betting the 5, 6, 8, and 9. Maybe you also include a $1 bet on each for the dealers. You could also put them on the pass line, or your odds. Lets say you make a pass line bet and the point is 10. Adding $2 to your odds with the chips stacked offset shows the dealers it is a bet for them, and if it hits, they’ll end up with a $4 payout, plus the original $2.

The amount you tip should be commensurate with the level of satisfaction with the dealer’s service and may vary based on your wins and losses. Remember, tipping isn’t just about the money; it’s also a way of showing respect and appreciation for the dealer’s hard work and expertise.

Superstitions and Sensitive Topics at the Table

Craps involves a certain degree of superstition at the table. Some common superstitions in craps include:

Avoiding saying the number seven
Avoid Blowing on the dice or kissing them for good luck
Some players might warm up the dice before a roll by rubbing them on the felt
Some players may use specific rituals or gestures before throwing the dice
Some players may set the dice a certain way before they throw

Honoring player superstitions in craps is essential for maintaining good etiquette and gaming manners. Whether you believe in these superstitions or not, it’s important to respect the beliefs of other players. This means refraining from saying ‘seven’ during the game, as it is believed to bring misfortune to the table.

So, whether you’re rolling the dice or placing your bets, remember to do so with respect for your fellow players.

The Social Game: Interaction and Conduct

For many craps players, it is a social activity. This social aspect is one of the things that sets craps apart from many other casino games. From the camaraderie that develops among players, to the shared excitement of a winning roll, the social interaction is a big part of what makes the game of craps so enjoyable.

As with any social interaction, there are certain unwritten rules of conduct that players are expected to follow. These include:

Displaying respect towards all players
Refraining from excessive drinking
Being mindful of non-smokers if you partake

Just be a decent human being towards the other players and dealers. Everyone is there trying to have a good time, and good craps etiquette will ensure everyone can.

Dealing with Bad Luck and Mistakes

Regardless of how well-versed you are in the rules or how meticulously you adhere to the etiquette, there will be instances when luck simply doesn’t favor you. Bad rolls, unfortunate bets, and simple mistakes can all be part of the game of craps. But how you handle these situations can make a big difference in your overall playing experience.

When faced with bad luck or mistakes, it’s important to handle the situation with grace and composure. This might mean accepting your losses and taking a break when necessary, or politely confronting a dealer if you believe a payout was incorrect.

About a year ago I bought into a game with 5 very fresh, probably never been circulated, $100 bills. I wasn’t paying attention when the boxman laid them out on the table, but they only gave me $400 in chips. I very politely said that I had given them $500 and asked if they could double check. The money had already been dropped, so they had to go to the cameras. It turned out two of the bills were stuck together, but they could see it on camera and they gave me the remaining $100 without issue. It was an honest mistake and they happily corrected it.

Don’t assume bad intent, human error is certain to happen when you play craps. So take it in stride and politely call it to the dealers attention if you believe there is an error. They will happily correct any mistake made.


Craps is more than just a game of chance; it’s a social experience that’s enriched by a set of unwritten rules and traditions. From knowing when to join a game, to handling the dice properly, to betting with courtesy, good craps etiquette can enhance the game for everyone at the table. So whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer, remember to enjoy the game, respect your fellow players, and above all, be aware of your surroundings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you not do in craps?

Never reach for your bets once the dice are in motion at the craps table. This can disrupt the game and is considered bad etiquette.

What is the most profitable craps strategy?

The most profitable craps strategy is to focus on the pass line and come bets with free odds, as they carry a low house edge and can lead to significant gains. It’s crucial to take advantage of the decreasing house edge by wagering on odds after your pass or come bets.

What is the riskiest bet in craps?

The riskiest bet in craps is betting on the seven (big red), which has a 16.7 percent house edge. Yes, it is the most likely outcome, but the payout is reduced because of that.

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