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Frank Scoblete - The Craps to English Dictionary

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  • Frank ScobleteCraps is another country, a kingdom with its own mores, legends, myths, rites, rituals, superstitions and government. It also has its own language, much of it easily misunderstood as sexual or scatological references. For those of you interested in journeying to this other country in the near future, a knowledge of the language is a prerequisite. The citizens of Crapsylvania are a cantankerous, narrow-minded bunch and you had better learn their customs and concerns because they certainly won't tolerate any deviation from their patterns. Therefore the need for my "craps to English" dictionary with some cautionary comments about decorum.

    The first word you should know is a compound word: come-out. No, this is not the children's game of "come-out, come-out wherever you are!" or the modern game of demanding that certain movie stars "come-out of the closet" but rather it is the start of a craps game, as in "shooter on the come-out roll!"

    Next are the words pass and don't pass. These words have nothing to do with making moves on the cocktail waitress or showing restraint when she wiggles by in her seductive outfit. They are merely two bets that can be made on the table [Hey, you with the dirty mind, watch out!]: the former bet is that the shooter will make his point, which is not to get across his ideas, but to hit the number that he must make before he rolls a seven; the latter bet is that he won't make his point. The point numbers are 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 by the way.

    The come box is not some salacious sexual reference but rather a box on the layout -- the layout being the diagram on the table and not where you make Marian a "maid" no more -- where come bets are placed after the shooter has established his point. The opposite of come is don't come -- which is not what your first girlfriend said to you during your first magic moment -- but is also a bet that can be made after the shooter has established his point. The hard four, hard six, hard eight, and hard 10 are not measurements of excited porn stars but bets that those numbers will be made with doubles (3:3 = hard six; 4:4 = hard eight, 2:2 = hard four; 5:5 = hard 10). Here are other bets that can be made at craps: Craps, which are the numbers 2, 3, and 12 in tandem or alone; yo, which is not what Rocky said to Adrian, but the number 11; Big Red, which is not Joseph Stalin but the number seven -- which is as dreaded at a craps table as Stalin was during the purges. As Richard Nixon was fond of saying: "Let me make this perfectly clear," the seven is dreaded if you are a right bettor (betting with the shooter and against the appearance of the seven), but it is not dreaded by a wrong bettor (betting against the shooter and for the seven) as the seven is the wrong bettor's best buddy just as Stalin was the buddy of all those people that he didn't butcher.

    Boxcars are the two six-spot dice. While a boxman is the person who sits in the middle of the table and oversees that the game is handled properly by the dealers who run the game. Little Joe is a hard four (poor guy) while Ada from Decatur is a hard eight and snake eyes are the two one-spot dice. A sleeper is a bet that has been left behind on the table while its owner has left the table behind in his rush to leave the game and, perhaps, the casino. Single, double, and triple odds are not some weird couplings but how much you can proportionally increase your pass, don't pass, come and don't come bets when they are on the number. So, too, with 5X, 10X, 20X and 100X odds, which are not shirt sizes, but bet sizes.

    A proposition at craps is not an indecent proposal but one of the bets in the middle of the layout that has a high house edge which, translated, means how much money the casino takes from you when you win a bet. Vig or vigorish is another term for the house edge not some type of wiggly candy. The field is not a place where one dreams of playing baseball with Shoeless Joe, but it is an area on the layout where you can wager that one of the following numbers will hit on the very next roll: 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12. To make your point is not to win an argument but to hit the number you must hit before the seven shows in order to be a winner! A hop bet is not made on one foot but is a bet that the dice faces you pick will appear on the very next roll. ["Give me five-three on the hop!"] A hot shooter [listen you, watch that mind of yours!] is someone who's making money for the table by rolling numbers and points. The horn bet is not a wager as to whom will get more excited at one of Vegas' sexy shows, but it is a one roll bet that the 2, 3, 11, or 12 will be rolled. A place bet is one that is made directly on the box numbers at the top of the layout. A crazy crapper is not an insane person in the bathroom but a person who makes insanely poor bets with high house edges at craps, such as the hardways, the hops, the any craps and so on. And a buck is that black and white disk that lets you know which number is the point, not a young man on the prowl. Of course, knowing the language is important but you must know comportment as well. Never dangle your hands over the edge of the table when the shooter is shooting because, if the dice hit your hands, someone very big and very angry just might hit your nose! Never throw your money or chips down in front of the dice as they are rolling. Again, if the dice hit bills or chips, you might find yourself with dental bills for fixing the chips in your teeth after they met that large fist. Never say the word "seven" at a craps table. It's bad luck. Never talk to a shooter when he is about to roll because if he sevens out everyone at the table will want to skin you alive until you're dead. The only people who might like you are the one or two wrong bettors at the table, but they'll like you in a quiet way so as not to be killed.

    There's more, much more, but this primer should get you started. Before you know it, you'll be able to fit right in at a craps game, be a citizen of Crapsylvania. You'll be able to simultaneously smoke a cigar, talk in a gravelly voice, and curse the fates (men, you'll be able to do this too!).

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