Before a player leaves the craps table, especially after a winning session, you’ll typically see him place his chips in the apron and say “Color, please.” You might hear slight variations of the term, but they’re all fundamentally the same. For example, the most common forms are Color, Color In, Color Out, and Color Up. What does it mean and why do players do it?
“Color Out” is generally from the player’s point of view. Before the stickman pushes the dice to the shooter, a player leaving the table places his chips (or more accurately, his cheques) in the apron and tells the dealer, “Color out, please.” Note that the proper term in this case is “Color Out,” not simply “Color.” It means the player wants to exchange his low-denomination chips for higher denominations generally because he doesn’t want to carry a pocketful of chips to the cage, or to dinner, or wherever. For example, suppose a hot roll just ended and your wife says it’s time for dinner. You look down at your rack and see $200 worth of red chips and $30 in white. That’s 70 chips (i.e., 40 reds and 30 whites), which most people can’t carry in two hands without dropping some. Instead of putting two handfuls of chips into your pocket, you color out and the dealer exchanges them for two $100 black chips, one $25 green chip, and one $5 red chip. That’s a total of only four chips, which are a lot easier to handle and hold in your pocket than 70. In other words, you exchange colors of chips and the chips leave the table, or they go “out” of the casino’s pocket (hence, “coloring out”).
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You’re not required to color out before leaving the table. Whether you have $27 in chips when it’s time to leave or $2,700 in chips, you don’t have to color out if you don’t want to. In most cases, when you have more than $100 in chips, the dealer or boxman will say, “Let us color you out, sir.” They say it in a way that sounds like a requirement, but it isn’t and you don’t have to stop and place your chips on the table. If you want, you can politely say, “No thanks, I’m good, I’ll be back soon.” If your session was unlucky and you only have, for example, $27 in red and white chips, there’s not much point in coloring out because it’s only seven chips (e.g., five reds and two whites) and it’s not necessary to waste the dealer’s time coloring you out for one green and two whites. However, if you want a green chip for whatever reason, then by all means feel free to color out those seven chips.
When you color out, do it only when the stickman controls the dice. Don’t do it when the shooter is about to roll. Get the dealer’s attention and say, “Color out, please.” Then, place all your chips on the table in the apron in front of you. Don’t put them on the Pass Line or in the Come box because you don’t want the dealer or boxman to get any idea that you’re making a bet with all those chips. Put them in the apron and make sure the dealer knows you’re coloring out instead of making a bet. The dealer says loudly so the boxman and pit boss can hear, “Color coming in!” The dealer takes your chips and stacks them in front of the boxman. The boxman counts them, and tells the dealer the exact amount. The dealer then counts out the proper amount using the fewest number of chips and places them in front of himself so the boxman can verify the count is accurate. When the boxman gives the okay, the dealer then places your chips in the apron in front of you. Pick up your chips, put them safely in your pocket, and politely say, “Thank you,” to the crew.
“Color In” is generally from the casino’s point of view. You typically hear the dealer say loudly for the boxman and pit boss to hear, “Color coming in!” (i.e., your chips are coming “in” to the casino). Generally, they want you to color so they can determine exactly how much you won and how much is leaving the table.
In summary, when you want to color, you say to the craps dealer, “Color out, please.” When the casino receives your chips, the dealer says to the boxman, “Color in.”
Another form of coloring is when the dealer pays a winning bet with the highest possible denominations while asking you for change. For example, suppose most of your bets during your session are $12 Place bets on the 6 and 8. The dealer quickly gets a sense for the type of bettor you are. Suppose the last few rolls have hit the 6 and 8. Each of those winning $12 Place bets pays you $14. So, after a few hits, you’ve accumulated a lot of white chips. The dealer keeps track of the chips in your rack, so the next time your Place bet wins, the dealer knows you don’t need anymore white chips, so he gives you three red $5 chips and says, “Drop me a dollar,” which means he wants $1 change (i.e., the bet wins $14, the dealer pays you $15, and you give the dealer $1 in change). So, by giving you only three chips (i.e., three reds) instead of six chips (i.e., two reds and four whites), the dealer has “colored you up.” Some players believe the casino intentionally tries to color you up when paying a winning bet. Their thinking is that the casino believes they can sucker you into betting more than your normal amount because you have higher-denomination chips in your rack. Even if that were true, it would not affect you because, as a result of learning the material presented here at the Crapspit, you’re a disciplined, solid rock and you’ll never be influenced by the casino’s tricks to get you to deviate from your strong play. If online craps is your thing, click here.