BY: Michael Vernon
Dice setting and the Dice Coach have contributed a positive addition to my game. The more "tools" available to me as an advantage player, the better chances I have of coming away with a winning session.
Of all the "tools" in my arsenal, I still cling to the metaphysics or what I typically call the prevailing energy as one of the more import. The prevailing energy at a craps table is an expression of all the players, personnel and events that occur at the game. Often energy is expressed in subtle yet powerful ways. Little things can occur during a game to effect the energy. Sometimes this is good, sometimes it is not so good and sometimes it does not make a difference. Often a shift in energy occurs as a result of an inconsiderate act or otherwise uneducated player that does not follow protocol at a craps table.
Table manners at the craps table goes beyond social etiquette. It is more than the basic "yes sir", "no ma'am", "thank you", "yes please". Your behavior is an expression of your energy, stating to the universe who you are and how you expect to be treated. My intention, when playing dice is to be treated like a winner. Winners are always respected, and they are treated in an honorable manner. During a recent session with Dice Coach and Soft Touch one player exhibited poor table manners. After the session I was encourage to write an article on table manners and how a person's play can effect the game on an energy level.
I will take you through what I consider protocol for entering a game, playing and exiting a game.
Before entering, be aware of the game. Is it a come out roll or is it in the middle of a hand? Identify the shooter. Do not push in or crowd the shooter. Doing so is an invasion and usually breaks the energy, which results in the seven out. If standing next to the shooter is where you wish to play, be patient and wait until the shooter has finished the hand. I have a personal rule of never entering in mid-game and never interrupt the shooter. The shooter is sacred.
When you have selected your position and you are ready to buy in, do so during the come out roll or at least when the dice are in front of the box man. Do not toss in your money and rating card with a "look at me, I am in this game" kind of energy. Get the dealers attention. Politely put your money down with the rating card stating how much you have and if you want to book a bet or want no action. If you are going to buy-in during the middle of a hand, please do so when the dice are in the middle and when you can see that your buy-in is not going to hold up the game. Example: Don't call for a marker. Don't make bastard bets that befuddle the dealers and require repeated explanation. You owe it to those already in the game to get in with a low profile allowing for the flow to continue. Your buy-in if not handled properly can be an interruption and cause the game to break down. There is always plenty of time. You do not have to rush. You will not miss a thing.
Now that you are in the game, here is a bit about the dealers serving you. There are three dealers at the table. The stickman runs the game. He controls the dice and sends them to the shooter. The stickman is in charge of the proposition bets directly in front of the stick position. It is the stickman's job to determine the winning pay-off, who is paid, and when they are paid. The stickman first instructs payment of winning proposition bets from the end of the table, opposite to the shooter. He begins with the player closest to the paying dealer.
There is one dealer at each end of the craps table. They are the money handlers. The dealer exchanges cash for chips, settles winning bets, and picks up losing bets. They have a set routine for the order of how they pay and pick up bets. Watch, and you will quickly see that the order is right to left or left to right, depending on which end of the table you are playing. When being paid, you have to pay attention and wait your turn.
The same thing happens when booking a bet. The dealer is like a cocktail waiter, willing to take your order. In the lounge, a table of six people would not shout out the drink order all at once. Unfortunately, it happens at a craps table all the time. Here are just a few suggestions for good table manners once in the game.
- Be patient, be alert, and be ready to make your wager when it becomes your turn to bet.
- Be polite! Learn the dealer's name and use it when booking your wager. It helps to get their attention, as well as a way of honoring them.
- Wait your turn to be paid before giving the dealer betting instructions. That is, "same bet, press up, take down".
- Proposition bets go to the stickman. Get his attention first before throwing the chips in. Nothing slows the game like a stickman chasing checks then having to ask who’s bet it is and what they want. Never mind the attitude it can evoke.
- Make your wagers when the dice are in the middle of the table. There is plenty of time and all you have to do is be ready when it comes your turn to bet.
- Don't try to make late bets after the dice are out.
- Don't toss your money or chips out in front of the shooter after they have the dice. If you have to make a late bet, get the dealers attention by name and make a call bet chips in hand. After the roll politely put your action down for the dealer.
- Keep your hands up and out of the table at all times except when making a bet. Too often I see zealous players pointing out their bets to a friend crossing the shooter's energy, line of site or worse, having the dice hit their hand. Always a guarantee for a seven out.
- Keep your movements to a minimum when the shooter has the dice.
· Keep your conversation focused to the game only. If you want to talk about last night's ballgame, take it to the lounge.
- Camaraderie, high five and "way to go shooter" is fun and usually okay. However, many shooters are "head down, blinkers on" kind of players and all the yahoo stuff is a big distraction from their game. Be conscious of what kind of celebration is appropriate.
- Never ever get into an argument with other players or the crew. If a referee is required, then that is the boxman's job. You keep your lip buttoned down. It is not your game and you do not get to make the rules. Emotional control is crucial. Engaging in emotion kills a game quicker then anything I know.
- Be aware and conscious of your involvement in the game making sure that you are contributing to the flow of the game and not holding it up. This means not making oddball bets in weird amounts or making the dealer do unnecessary work, are just two examples.
- Losing is part of the game. Be a gracious loser when you leave the game. It is an expression of who you are and a courtesy to those remaining in the game.
- Just because it is called a craps game does not mean you get to speak crap. Profanity really is not acceptable in the game.
A separate issue that may come up is player interaction. This covers free advice to disagreements between players. Though I am well aquatinted with the game, I will not offer help or advice unless asked directly for my input, and then sparingly with caution. When it comes to money, the emotional charge is great and I feel the responsibility of knowing the game rests with each player. On an occasion, if I am next to a novice that is really struggling, I may politely offer encouragement by saying, "if you have a question, ask me, if you feel like you need help." However, I do this only as a motivation to keep the game flowing. Okay, there is a bit of kindness in me too.
Disagreements or arguments at the table are the kiss of death. Anytime you are at a table and there is any kind of aggravation, "argy-bargy", the negative emotion swoops in, and the game will be short lived. A particular trap is a disagreement in player's opinion of play. Everyone is entitled to his or her own approach to the game. Craps is not a team sport whereby one and all benefit from a particular hand. It is best to keep your opinions and comments to yourself. If you really don't like another player's energy, it is your choice to leave the game. When I speak of discipline and detachment, this is a perfect example of what is meant, having the self-control to keep quiet or having the good sense to leave the game.
When your session is over and it is time to color up, you exit the game in a similar manner in which you entered, politely. Order and count your chips. Prepare your color up so that it can be paid back in multiples of $25. There is no sense in handing in fives and ones that just have to be counted and given back. The idea is for you to know how much you are coloring to confirm with the boxman and to make the count up easy and quick for the boxman. All this with an intention of not holding up the game.
When you have your chips sorted, wait for the seven out, wait for the dealer to clear the table and get his business complete. Get the dealer's attention, and ask for the color-up. He will check with the boxman and will either tell you yes, set it down or wait. The boxman can only color one player at a time and you may have to wait your turn.
If you have to color in the middle of a hand, not recommended, do so in this order. Check to see that the box man is not busy. Have your chips in the most reduced stack to make the transaction as quickly as possible. Best if in multiples of 100. Color when the dice are in the middle and not while the dealer is trying to settle bets. Not good to color if a hardway rolled with the point. Too much action and movement of chips at this time and the table is heating up. Don't break it down with your need to leave, wait. When you do ask for color, hold the stack in front of you. This is signaling the dealer non-verbally and at the same time you will ask to color in a loud voice and with eye contact with the boxman. The box man usually will nod to bring it in. You know you have permission at the top and the dealer does not have to ask, thus speeding up the process. You will still pass the stack to the dealer and wait until the next pause in the game to get your color.
These are just a few suggestions for table manners. It goes beyond being an expression of your energy, as it helps to demonstrate to others table protocol. Please excuse my metaphor; "monkey see, monkey do". If more players played this way it would be a much better game for us all. The game would move along at a faster and a smoother pace and develop a rhythm. I look for rhythm in a game. Rhythm helps a game develop consistency. It is what I call a table's personality or table support. It helps me to predict what to expect from the game.
The dealers are working for you. Tipping the dealers is good table manners. It goes a long way towards encouraging a positive dealer attitude and creates favorable energy for the table in general.
In closing, think of the mystery and the chivalrous nature that distinguished "gamblers" in the movies. Class was the virtue that set them apart from the everyday losers. Was it their class and charm supporting their wins or was it their skill playing the game? When it comes to energy, what you put out, you get back in return. You can win them all!
Copyright 2003 Michael Vernon
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