The Craps Table Crew – Boxman & Dealers

T he crew for a standard-size casino craps table comprises five people: one boxman and four dealers.  The boxman is more senior than the dealers in terms of experience and status with the casino, and she’s in charge of the game.  The dealers take turns being the stickman.  Three dealers (i.e., two dealers and the stickman) at a time work the table, while the 4th is on break.  The dealers rotate positions every 20 minutes so each dealer gets a 20-minute break each hour.

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The boxman is the table boss.  She sits in the middle of the table in front of all the casino’s chips.  The boxman observes everything ensuring the game runs properly.  She watches the dealers to ensure they give the proper payouts and don’t cheat the players or casino.  She watches the players to ensure they don’t cheat the casino or other players.  She serves as the judge for disputes between a dealer and a player (e.g., a player sometimes claims that a dealer paid incorrect odds or forgot to pay a winning bet).  She has the power to deny someone a spot at the table, or to have a player removed from the table for making the game unpleasant for others.  The boxman’s focus is on the game.  She seldom talks to the players, so don’t be offended if you try to start a conversation with her and all she says is, “Good evening.”  If you want conversation, talk to the dealers or other players because the boxman is not interested in chatting.  When you drop your money on the table and ask for chips, the dealer picks it up and hands it to the boxman.  The boxman then puts the cash on the table usually with the back side facing up to make it easier for the cameras to see the denominations.  When the boxman verifies the count, she instructs the dealer to give you your chips.  She then uses a “paddle” to push the bills through the slot in the table where they fall into the drop box that’s fastened to the underside of the table.  The name “boxman” was coined because of her responsibility for getting the cash into the drop box.

craps boxmanThe two active dealers stand on either side of the boxman and handle players’ bets in the side sections of the layout.  They sometimes help the stickman handle bets in the center section of the layout when there’s a lot of action.  Each dealer is like a bank teller, giving and taking money.  When you win a bet, the dealer puts your winning chips in the “apron” directly in front of you.  When you lose, the dealer takes down your losing bets.  With a packed table and lots of action, it’s fun to watch a fast dealer moving from player to player knowing exactly how many chips everyone gets.  To us, it seems like calculus, but to them it’s like adding 2 + 2.  If the table is dead or there’s not much action, you can carry on a conversation with the dealer.  Most of the time, dealers try to be polite, try to help you if they see you’re a novice, and want to be your friend because they want you to tip them.  They generally make minimum wage so they rely on your tips to make a decent living.  When a dealer auditions for a new job at a casino, a good personality and people skills are more valuable than dealing skills.  The casino would rather have a dealer who’s slow but can interact amiably with the players than one who’s lightning fast but never says a word.  The casino knows a new dealer’s counting skills will develop quickly, but good interpersonal skills are a lot harder to develop.  Most of the time, your experience with the dealers will be pleasant and enjoyable; however, on occasion you’ll come across a dealer who’s simply having a bad day.

The stickman stands at the center of the table on the opposite side of the boxman and dealers.  He controls the pace of the game, but if he’s too slow, the boxman will encourage him to speed it up.  The stickman manages the bets made in the center section of the layout.  He uses a long L-shaped, wooden stick (called a “mop” or a “whip”) to gather the dice after each roll and give them to the shooter for the next roll.  The stickman calls each roll of the dice, usually adding banter that makes the game more fun.  It’s entertaining to listen to a good stickman spouting funny rhymes, such as, “Six with ease, like spaghetti and cheese,” and, “Seven’s a bruiser, the front line’s a loser.”  The stickman also tries to persuade players to make those center-section bets that have a high house advantage.  The casino loves a good stickman because they can talk players into making bets that they normally wouldn’t make.  The stickman can be very tempting, so be careful not to fall into his trap.  It’s okay to laugh at his banter, but when he calls you out and tries to talk you into making a bet that you know you shouldn’t, simply smile and say, “No thanks.”  He’ll soon learn that you’re a smart player and will stop trying to influence your bets.

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Author
Written by John Nelsen in partnership with the team of craps pros at crapspit.org.