If you’ve ever walked through a casino, you’ve probably seen a craps table, but have you ever wondered what a craps table actually is? What does it comprise, what are its components?
The biggest and most obvious part of the table is the bed. Casino craps tables are generally available in 8-foot, 10-foot, or 12-foot lengths. Along the top edge of the bed is a continuous Padded Rail on which the players can lean. Standing at a craps table for long periods of time can become tiresome for the player, so the padded rail allows the players to rest or change body positions to ease the stress. After all, the casino doesn’t want players to walk away simply because their feet and knees hurt. Obviously, the casino wants players at the table as long as possible.
Adjacent to the padded rail is the wooden Chip Rack, which is usually two-racks deep with dividers about every 12-to-16 inches. The dividers separate the chip rack into individual sections for the players.
Along the outer perimeter is a little shelf called a Drink Rail. As the name implies, this is where players place their drinks. Drink glasses and bottles are not allowed on the Padded Rail because of the risk of spillage onto the layout. Not only do spills make a big mess on the layout (which the casino has to pay to get cleaned), spills delay the game which digs into the casino’s profits. Cigarette ashtrays are also placed on the Drink Rail.
Inside the bed is the Table Layout with all the numbers and boxes onto which the players’ chips are placed. The felt can be any color depending on the casino’s specifications. Common colors are green, blue, and sometimes red. Special designs and patterns can be incorporated into the layout to match the casino’s theme. The area on the outer edge of the layout is called the Apron.
Rubber material lines the inside wall of the bed and is called Rail Rubber. Below the rail rubber on each inside end of the table is a 6-to-8-inch wide piece of Pyramid Rubber. This is the part of the table with all the little pyramids or spikes that are specially designed to randomly deflect the dice. Casinos have a rule that a player must “hit the back wall” when tossing the dice. This rule ensures the dice hit the pyramid rubber, thereby, preventing anyone from controlling the outcome of a dice roll. Regardless of what you hear, read, or see at a live craps table, no one (NO ONE!) can consistently control the outcome of a craps roll when the dice hit the pyramid rubber. They just can’t. (Please read my other articles about the silly notion of “dice control” or “dice setting.”)
On the inner side of the bed across from the dealers and boxman is a mirror about 8 inches wide that runs the length of the table. The mirror allows the dealers and boxman to see the palm side of the player’s tossing hand. The boxman can easily see if a player is cheating by “palming” the dice, trying to introduce a crooked pair into the game.
Cut into the table layout in front of the boxman is a Money Slot for the Money Drop Box. The money slot is about 3/8-inch wide and about 3 inches long, which is just the right size for pushing bills down into the drop box. The boxman uses a Paddle to push the money through the slot into the money box that’s attached to the underside of the bed. (That’s where the term “boxman” came from.)
The stickman controls a small bowl that rests on the tabletop against the wall directly in front of the stickman. This Dice Bowl (or Dice Boat) simply holds the extra dice that are not in play. When a new game starts, the stickman dumps the unused dice onto the table and uses his stick (or whip) to push them all (usually 6 or 8) to the next shooter. The shooter then selects two that she thinks are lucky, and then the stickman pulls the remaining dice back and puts them in bowl. The bowl is usually made of clear acrylic or wood.
Also considered part of a craps table are the Puck and Buttons. The ON/OFF puck (white for the ON side, black for the OFF side) is used simply to indicate whether a new game is in progress. If a new game is about to start, the puck is turned to the OFF side. If a game is in progress, the puck is turned on its ON side and placed in the appropriate number box on the layout to indicate the “point” for the current game. Small buttons about the size of a quarter are used to indicate whether a player’s bets are off or on, or whether a certain type of bet is a “buy” or “lay.” Each button has one word engraved in it, either OFF, ON, BUY, or LAY. Buttons help the dealer, boxman, and the eye-in-the-sky keep track of players’ bets.
Now you know all the components of a craps table! The more you know, the more confident you’ll be when you walk up to a table. The more confident you are, the less likely the dealers will steer you down the wrong path by enticing you to make bets with high house advantages.