Carefully Watch Your Bets and Payoffs when playing Craps

Most craps dealers are good in terms of skill, speed, accuracy, and personality; however, they’re human and even the best ones make mistakes.  Get in the habit of paying attention to your chips on the table.  This article applies only when playing at a live table, which means the material presented in this article describes yet another advantage of playing at your favorite online casino (i.e., you don’t have to worry about the dealer making mistakes with your money).  This article assumes you’ve read our other articles about the various craps bet types and Craps table positions.  If you haven’t, now is a good time to review those articles.

Watch Your Craps Bets!

As noted in other articles, ensure you have the dealer’s attention before putting your chips down for a non-self-service bet (i.e., a bet that the dealer makes for you, such as Place, Buy, Lay, and proposition bets).  When the craps table is crowded with lots of action, patiently wait for the dealer to finish paying off winners before putting your chips down.  This reduces the chance that the dealer will get confused by seeing an out-of-place chip on the table when he’s scrambling to pay off all the winners.

Ideally, know what craps bets you want to make in advance and then be the first to act.  Suppose a new game is about to start and you plan to Place the 6 and 8 if the point is 4, 5, 9, or 10; or Place the 5 and 9 if the point is 4, 6, 8, or 10.  Think about what you want to do, plan ahead, be ready!  Get your chips ready in your hand before the shooter even picks up the dice.  For this example, you need $12 in your hand ready to go (i.e., depending on the point, you’ll need $12 to make $6 Place bets on the 6 and 8, or $10 to make $5 Place bets on the 5 and 9).  Be prepared so when the shooter rolls a point, you immediately put the correct amount in the Come box and tell the dealer what numbers to Place.  As soon as you see the outcome of the roll or hear the stickman shout the outcome, immediately put your chips down and tell the dealer what you want.  Then, keep your eyes on the dealer and watch him position your chips.  Ensure he puts them on the right numbers and in the correct positions in the point boxes according to your table position.  After the dealer properly positions your Place bets, then make your Odds bet for the Flat Pass Line.  Now that you’re done with your business, watch all the slow disorganized players at the table fumble with their chips trying to decide what to do.

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If the dealer doesn’t immediately pick up and reposition your chips, wait a moment until you can grab his attention, lean in and point to your chips, and tell him again what you want.  This isn’t the time to be shy.  Ensure the dealer knows they’re your chips and what you want him to do with them; otherwise, he may leave your chips in the Come box thinking you made a Come bet.  Sometimes, the dealer says, “Yes, sir, I heard you.”  If that happens, simply remain polite and say, “Sorry about that.”

Learn to identify your bets on the craps layout.  Your position at the table determines where the dealer positions your chips on the layout.  If you’re a novice, before you play your first game, stop at a dead table (i.e., an open table with only few people playing) and ask an idle dealer to explain how she positions chips for Place bets.  For example, suppose you walk through the casino and see the craps tables ahead.  There are three active tables and one is dead with only two players together at one end.  The dealer at the other end is idle because no one is playing at that end.  Simply approach the idle dealer and ask, “Can you please explain where you put Place bets so you know whose bets are whose?”  She’ll be happy to help you because that’s part of her job.

Don’t be afraid!  The dealers are there to help players, especially newbies.  They won’t yell or laugh at you.  Instead, they’ll be happy to show you how bets are positioned sequentially inside the rectangles by the point box corresponding to the sequential positioning of players around the table.  (Refer to our other articles that explain in detail with illustrations the player positions at the table.)

Every few seconds, glance at your bets to ensure they’re still in the correct positions.  Occasionally (not often), you’ll find that your bet has mysteriously crept out of position.  If your bets aren’t in their proper positions, don’t be afraid to tell the dealer which bets are yours.  He should get the hint and then reposition them correctly.

Knowing your bet positions also helps keep track of what bets you have on the table.  Sometimes, you forget what bets you made.  Instead of sheepishly saying to the dealer, “Hey, Joe, I can’t remember if I have any numbers out there, which bets do I have?” simply scan the layout for chips in your positions.

If the dealer doesn’t see you make a Come bet, he usually asks whose chip it is.  Simply say, “That’s my Come.”  For all subsequent Come bets, put your chips in the same position in the Come box.  If the dealer doesn’t see you make those subsequent bets, he assumes they’re yours because they’re always in the same spot.  If he doesn’t ask and then positions a bet incorrectly in the point box, don’t be afraid to tell him it’s your Come bet.  He should get the hint and reposition it properly.

Watch Your Payoffs!

A new dealer coming off break may incorrectly “read” the layout and pay bets incorrectly.  Since he hasn’t been at the table, he isn’t familiar with who’s been making certain bets.  For example, suppose your end of the table has five players.  Yours is the only $6 Place 8 bet on the layout.  The shooter then rolls an 8 and you win.  The dealer has a good idea of whose Place bet it is by its position by the point box, so he puts the $7 payoff in the apron directly in front of the player next to you.  Immediately tell the dealer, “That’s my six.”  He moves the $7 to the apron directly in front of you and says, “Sorry, sir.”  Then, he adjusts the position of your Place bet to his liking by moving it slightly to the left or right so it perfectly corresponds to your table position.  Never be afraid to talk to the dealer, especially when you know a mistake was made against you.  In cases where you’re wrong or say something stupid, the dealer will politely correct you, at which time you politely respond, “I’m sorry, I’m still trying to figure out this crazy game.”

When your Pass Line with Odds bets win, don’t be in a hurry to pick up your chips.  First, wait for the dealer to finish paying the other players next to you (i.e., don’t immediately reach down to grab your chips).  The dealer leans over using two hands to pay the winning Pass Line bets (usually a stack of red chips in one hand and a stack of white in another).  He doesn’t need your impatient hands and arms in his way while he’s paying other players.

Watch your chips as the dealer pays your Pass Line.  Does he pay the correct amount?  Sometimes (not often) a chip sticks to the bottom of one of his stacks, which results in you getting shorted.  Most of the time, the dealer catches it and makes the correct payoff; however, the “sticky chip” error does occasionally occur.  If you inform the dealer while your chips are still on the table, it’s easy to for him to acknowledge the error and fix it.  If you pick up your chips and then notice the error, it’s much more difficult to convince the dealer and boxman that you got shorted.  So, remember, don’t be in a hurry to pick up your winning chips.  This allows the dealer to pay other players without you getting in the way, and it gives you a chance to quickly count and verify that he made the correct payoff.  If an error was made against you and the dealer contradicts your claim, it’s easy for the pit boss to call Security to check the video, where they’ll see that you never reached down to your chips and cheated.

Another instance where an occasional dealer error is made is when you want to Place the point (i.e., make a Place bet on the number that’s the point).  Suppose you approach a table with a game already in progress where the point is 8.  You want immediate action and, because 8 is your lucky number, you put down $6 and tell the dealer, “Place the point, please.”  Instead of positioning your chips on the back line of the Pass Line (indicating a Place bet on the point), the dealer moves your chips to the point box like a normal Place bet.  Pay particular attention if the shooter then makes the point.  After the dealer pays the Pass Line, he may forget and not notice that you have a Place bet on the point and, therefore, not pay you (remember, even the best dealers sometimes make mistakes).  Simply lean over and politely say, “Same bet,” or “Press it,” depending on what you want to do.  He’ll get the hint and realize he missed paying your Place bet on the point.  Don’t embarrass the dealer by saying, “Hey, Joe, you forgot to pay my Place bet.”

Sometimes, the dealer overpays, which is another reason for watching carefully as the dealer pays your Pass Line.  For me, this seems to occur most frequently when I tip the craps dealers.  If you see an extra red chip in your pile and the dealer doesn’t pick it up before paying the next player, I suggest reaching down and grabbing it as soon as possible before the boxman catches the error.  In this case, I’m not at all concerned with interrupting the dealer’s rhythm of paying other players (but I still try to avoid getting in his way).  My goal is to get my chips before anyone notices the error.  You’ll eventually face this predicament especially if you tip (refer to our other article about the benefits of tipping the dealers because sometimes they try to intentionally sneak overpayments as a “thank you” for tipping).  Do you keep the overpayment or do you give it back?  I like to think my integrity is intact even after I keep an overpayment.  If someone drops a five-dollar-bill, I pick it up and return it instead of putting it in my pocket.  If a clerk gives me too much change at the store, I return it.  I don’t even cheat on my taxes.  But when it comes to overpayments at the craps table, I’m the exact opposite.  I can’t get that extra chip in my pocket fast enough.

Before you condemn me as a dishonest crook, think about this.  Your overpayment most often occurs when you tip the dealers, which means the overpayment is likely a “thank you” from the dealers.  Your dilemma is whether to keep the chip or return it.  If you return it, you basically put the dealer on report to the boxman for making a mistake that could have cost the casino.  Although management understands mistakes do happen, it might not matter much when it’s time for the dealer’s performance review (i.e., your honesty in pointing out the dealer’s mistake against the casino might cost the dealer a promotion or a raise).  The casino tolerates dealer mistakes made in the casino’s favor more than mistakes made in your favor.  Therefore, I suggest keeping the overpayment and remaining silent.  I doubt you’ll go to Hades for it.Check out some safe reviewed casino such as Sun Palace, Casino Max, or Slots Plus to play craps for real money. We also have a bonus guide, and some Craps FAQ.

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Written by John Nelsen in partnership with the team of craps pros at