happen to be an exception to the craps-playing rule that crowded is best. I like
playing at tables where there are only a few players; while most craps players
hate to be alone at a table and usually seek cramped conditions in order to court
Lady Luck. That feeling of discomfort when all by your lonesome at a craps table
accounts for the oft-seen phenomenon of two tables at the same casino, with the
same minimum-to-maximum bets, and the same length, and the same layout, the first,
jam-packed with players with other players hoping to squeeze in, and the second
Desiring uncrowded conditions, I often act like a shill, opening tables that then
see other players slowly joining until, unfortunately for me and fortunately for
the casino, they become crowded. But, of course, I am not an ?official?
shill and therefore I am not a part of the crew working the game. I?m a
real player, betting real money, whether I?m alone at a table or part of
a throng. And therein lies a problem that I have encountered many, many times
in my quest for the perfect craps game ? dealers who forget that their primary
reason for being at the table is to deal a craps game and not socialize with their
I can?t estimate the number of times I?ve been rolling the dice while
having to listen to discussions of the barbeque last week; or of what this or
that person said to that other person the other night and is it true that Tim
is divorcing Tamara? I?ve had to listen -- but not look as my wife would
kill me ? to male dealers ogling some buxom female cocktail waitress or
patron. Indeed, I?ve picked up a lot of ?inside? information
at casinos concerning their managers (most of them morons by the dealers?
accounts) and what was going to happen to this or that casino in the next weeks
or months. [For example, I found out the Sands in AC was going to dump most of
its table games from the casino floor and switch to a slot joint long, long before
it ever became public knowledge.] Some dealers will even continue personal conversations
as the table starts to fill up.
Now, this next should be an ironclad rule, as ironclad as the rule that says umpires
in a baseball game should focus on the game and not on fraternizing with players,
fans and their fellow umpires. Craps dealers, once a player has bought in, should
put all their verbal as well as mental attention on the game at hand. All discussions
of a personal nature should stop. Nor should craps dealers ever have a conversation
over the shooter; they should act as if the players constitute the reason for
their existence because, in fact, the players do ? at least, the existence
of their jobs.
Can you imagine a baseball game where the home-plate umpire carries on a conversation
with the third base umpire during the pitcher?s delivery and the batter?s
attempt to hit the ball? Of course not. No umpire who wished to remain an umpire
would do that. Yet, some craps dealers do it all the time (though not in all casinos,
I must add). The shooter is given the dice by the stickman and dealers ?A?
and ?B? are talking about how much so and so drank last night.
To make matters even worse, I have had the displeasure of playing at tables where
the dealers were actively belittling some shooters (who did nothing to warrant
it) either because of the way they shot or the way they looked or the fact that
they seven-out quickly. These conversations were sotto voce for everyone at the
table to hear. Needless to say, such snideness made for an unpleasant game even
though I wasn?t personally the object of the dealers? scorn and derision.
After all, quick seven-outs cost most players money and losing money isn?t
a cause for yucking it up.
In point of fact, dealers do have to engage in some ?banter? with
players because some players enjoy a certain amount of conversational back and
forth with the crew. That is an entirely different situation, because ?bantering?
with players is a part of the job and the better the dealers are at it, the more
fun it is to play at their tables. Still, even bantering must cease when a shooter
is given the dice. From the moment the stickman pushes the dice to the shooter
until the moment the stickman calls out the decision should be considered verbus
Craps is a great game and most casinos have professional dealers who understand
their jobs and know how to focus on the game at hand. Still, I have encountered
a significant number of times when such professionalism was lacking in a crew.
Such incidents do not occur, as many might expect, only at dives or break-in casinos;
some of the biggest, brightest and best casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City have
seen their share of unprofessional craps crews.
When I rated the top ten casinos for craps in Las Vegas for Casino Player magazine,
I did so based not only on the mechanics and math of the games they offered, but
also on the intangibles relating to how their crews dealt the games. The difference
between this or that casino in the odds and ends of a craps game are often in
the decimal points and tenths of a percent; but the differences in the intangibles
were sometimes like night and day.
Let me give you a recent example of a truly professional dealer. This occurred
at the Horseshoe casino in Tunica. I was lofting the dice to my favorite spot
on the opposite end of the table. However, a player had his chips for his odds
bet in the exact spot I wanted to land my dice. After I hit his chips, I moaned
to myself. The stick woman heard me, understood my chagrin at hitting the other
player?s dice and reached out with the stick, tapped the dice of the other
player and respectfully asked him to move them a little to the left so I could
land the dice there. Now that is a dealer who is observing and is on top of the
So for those casino executives who might be reading this article, here is the
bottom line: Think of your craps crews as umpires in the World Series and train
them to act accordingly.
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