Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Here ya go folks, the latest Simpson on Vegas, via our good friend Jeff Simpson.

This column is all about the little annoyances on the casino floor - it's a great look at the little things that bug Jeff (and a lot of these bug me too)... Plus, we get to publish the term 'craps superstar' - a new job description is born!


I've been working on a column about the Gaming Control Board's complaint against the Hard Rock Hotel but decided to wait to post it until the Nevada Gaming Commission acts on the board's proposed settlement deal.

Instead, while we wait for the NGC's decision (it should come Jan. 27), I'd like to write about some of my gambling pet peeves. Some are superstitions, acts that I know don't have a real effect on the game or my chances of winning, but they still irritate me, at least a little. Irritating or clueless patrons are responsible for many; others are customer-service related. Of course, I have to admit, none of these irritants are enough to keep me from playing, and I know that my complaining will not change things at all.


1. Buying in with $50 bills. I don't know why people bring Grants to casinos, but when someone spreads out a handful of fifties at a dice table I wince. You'd think folks would know that fifties are bad luck. And don't try to give them to me at the cage when I redeem chips, either (although most casinos train their cashiers well enough not to). I know using 50s doesn't truly affect the game, but c'mon, man. This is Las Vegas. Leave your Grants at home.

2. A lot of people feel that it is bad luck when a die is tossed off the dice table. That's fine, and I don't mind if you want to take your own bets down or off for the next roll, with a quiet request to the dealer. But don't make a big spectacle of your request and don't make a big deal of how bad it is that the die or dice left the table. No one wants the commentary.

3. People who say the word "seven" at a dice table after a point is established. I never say the word at a table but I particularly dislike it when folks say it after the point is set. The don't bettors should just be quiet, and for the pass-line bettors who don't want a seven, don't say "No seven." Of course, there's a special place in hell for that certain kind of antisocial dice player who not only likes to play the don't but also likes irritating his table-mates by calling for and cheering seven-outs. I just can't believe God is a don't player.

Customer Irritants

1. Don't stand and watch players at table games for a long time. I don't have a problem with folks who want to watch a dice game or a blackjack game for a few minutes, but don't stand there for 10 minutes or more, especially if there's just one or two players at the game. If you want to play, play. If not, take a hike. I know that some blackjack players like to count the cards at tables that allow mid-shuffle entry and that doesn't really bother me. Prospective craps players who watch for certain rolls, or a certain number of wins before they'll play, are just ridiculous. And people who watch a cold dice game and then comment on how bad it is are just asking for a profane response.

2. Craps rollers who engage in too many shenanigans before throwing, like rubbing the felt, or taking mini practice rolls while waiting for a number they like to come up. I don't mind people who set the dice on a certain number before they throw -- if they can do it speedily. Folks who take forever to figure out where the right numbers are (there are only six) do irritate me. The worst are the hot dogs who make theatrical gestures when they throw, spinning around, snapping their fingers and otherwise acting like they think they are some kind of craps superstar, on stage for the world to admire.

3. People who bet against everyone (on the don't pass or don't come) but bet on the pass line when they roll. I don't mind don't bettors, and don't even mind if they throw the dice and keep betting the don't. I also don't mind players who switch back and forth, trying to ride streaks or whatever. But those who switch, betting only on themselves and against everyone else -- they are irritating.

4. Folks who can't believe their luck, either good or bad. Believe me, it's usually not that unusual. At blackjack, 20s regularly lose to dealers who hit and get 21s. Doubled hands regularly catch stiffs and lose to the dealer. It's not some casino conspiracy against you; take your loss like a man, whether or not you are one. In dice, it's not that unusual for the table to lose on six or more points in a row, yet some players act like they just can't believe their horrible bad luck.

5. Video poker players who jump from machine to machine, especially when the machines all offer the same games and denominations. And especially when they sit right next to me when there are plenty of open machines. Stay away.

6. Craps players who wait until the very last second to make bets. For some reason the morons who prefer field bets are the worst at this, grabbing their chips, if any, after the last roll and then making their new bets at the last possible moment.

Employee Annoyances

1. At a dice table, dealers should not tell me when my original line bet and subsequent come bets have now covered every number. "You've got the bases loaded," they like to say -- right before the roller throws a seven. I know what's going on and don't need that kind of dealer update. A related gripe: If I have four or five numbers covered and the roll is an uncovered number, don't tell me the shooter "found the hole."

2. If I change my betting pattern and stop making a bet I'd previously been betting, don't advise me that I would have won if I'd continued with that bet. Some dealers like to remind me, as if I'm not aware. Even worse are the dealers who feint as if they are preparing to pay me but then suddenly "realize" I didn't make the bet. Ha ha ha.

3. Dealers who try to sell bets and then rub it in if you don't take their advice and it would have won. I know they are supposed to sell bets (especially the bets most beneficial to the house) and that's totally fine. Just don't tease players for failing to follow your advice when it wins. I rarely hear players tease the dealers when their advice fails.

4. Dealers who stare at players -- particularly attractive women, or even at women who walk by the tables -- and murmur comments, whether blatant or in code, about them. Save that talk for the break room, dealers. It's rude. Also, stick men should refrain from "short-sticking" attractive women, when they make female dice throwers reach farther than normal for the dice so that they'll expose more of their cleavage.

5. Dealers who check player IDs to make sure that the player is old enough, then discuss among themselves the player's age or where they live. Respect players' privacy.

-- Jeff Simpson, January 2011


Read archived comments (24 so far)
January 19, 2011 2:53 PM Posted by chuckmonster

Brilliant. Thanks Jeff!

January 19, 2011 3:22 PM Posted by Dave

That was great.

January 19, 2011 4:03 PM Posted by Clayton

What's the deal with no $50 notes? I've never heard of that superstition. Any idea where it started or why?

The slow dice setters are absolutely maddening, especially the people who do the mini-roll thing five or six times.

January 19, 2011 5:13 PM Posted by vegashead

I like when the stickman short-sticks unaware attractive women. I once saw when an unsuspecting gal had that almost climb into the table to get the dice. Admit it, it's pretty comical. "Welcome to the crap table".

January 19, 2011 6:58 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I agree this is a brilliant column, but I must ask if there are things I should say or ways I should act at the tables? Possibly in another column? I am so afraid of exposing myself as a clueless boob at the craps table that I can't even work up the nerve to play at the dollar table at Slots-A-Fun. Jumbo might be watching, y'know?

January 19, 2011 7:14 PM Posted by Hunter

Despite your allegiance to this blog, be sure never to ask for a 'two way hard three', as you'll likely be laughed off the table. There's no such bet (no way to have a 'hard three').

January 19, 2011 7:59 PM Posted by JIm

How about guys who, during a hot roll, say things like "this guy is on fire" and "he can't miss"

January 19, 2011 8:06 PM Posted by Neruda

Enjoyed this. My biggest craps pet peeve are the folks who belly up, buy in, and THEN announce "Now, how do you play?"... as well as people endlessly repeating worn out phrases like "winner winner chicken dinner".

Then again, I love different, unusual or funny stick calls. My 2 favorites: "German birth control" (nine a.k.a. "nein, nein") and "The national average!" (yes, a hard six).

January 19, 2011 8:30 PM Posted by jinx

I have a couple grants that are currently sitting in my Vegas envelope and I'm trying to figure out when and how to get rid of them and whether they've already tainted the stash.

I will say my bank teller in November was completely perplexed on why I was adamant that I only wanted hundreds not fifties for the trip. I tried to explain that they were bad luck, but she still looked at me like I was nuts. She'll learn though, my old bank did :)

January 19, 2011 8:36 PM Posted by d3wayne

$50.00 bills are considered bad luck just about everywhere. Not just at the Craps table.
The main reason being that they are easily confused with $20.00 bills.

January 19, 2011 10:35 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Thanks for reading, everyone.
* Clayton, I don 't know about the origin of the $50 bill superstition. I checked out the first few pages after googling "$50 bill bad luck" and I found no answers I found credible. Any other readers have ideas? I learned as a young man when I bought in at a blackjack table with a few fifties and the dealer sort of stared at me and the other players groaned.
*vegashead, my complaint about short-sticking is mostly a reflection of my girlfriend's observations about dealers' treatment of women. It isn't a big problem for me and I'll confess to sometimes having being amused by the practice before I learned that some people are offended by it.
* Jeff in OKC, dice tables certainly can be intimidating. Maybe I will do a column someday, but, off the top of my head, here's a few words of advice for beginning players. First, read a beginners' guide to craps. Second, find a low-minimum-bet table with just a few people playing. Third, walk up to the table and, after a roll is thrown, put the money you want to buy in for on the felt right in front of you, make eye contact with the dealer. Don't try to hand the money to the dealer -- place it on the felt, and ask for chips. Fourth, once the dealer gives you your chips, make your bet. Feel free to ask the dealer how and when to bet, and to ask what other bets are, if you are interested. I recommend keeping things simple and start by making pass line bets, with odds. (Example, a $5 pass line bet. After a point is established, put a $10 odds bet behind your pass line bet.) When you're a little more experienced, you can expand the types of bets you make.
*Jim, Definitely. Don't tempt fate with comments like "this guy is on fire" and "he can't miss." I just nod when people say that kind of stuff but inwardly I'm thinking "Be quiet, you fool." There's no way to prevent human nature, and when there's a hot dice table there will invariable be more players who want to crowd in and get a piece of the action. I hate it when people come up to the table and ask if the shooter is on a big roll. I also hate people crowding too tight into a hot dice table and buying in and slowing down the game, and really hate it when they squeeze next to the shooter.
Neruda, you are so right. I don't like the hackneyed dice comments ("winner winner chicken dinner" or "baby needs a new pair of shoes") but do enjoy funny dice calls by the stickman.
jinx, I think fifties are fine in the restaurant, nightclub and stores. But training your bank teller is probably the best idea.

January 20, 2011 10:15 AM Posted by DuLac55

One more Employee Annoyance - Two weeks ago a dealer at the Palazzo and I had a litte confrontation. I stepped up to the $10 table, tossed down a couple hundred right in front of me, properly. I was with 4 other guys and it should have been clear that we weren't first time players. The dealer appropriately gave me a stack of red and four green. I tossed down 3 red (since I didn't have any white) and asked him to place the 6. He promptly puts the 3 red on the 6 and says nothing. Really? I said aren't you going to give me 3 change? He said, "well, I don't know, you didn't ask for a 12 dollar six....some people get mad when I make change and it hits and they didn't have all 15 there."

Really? I looked at him in disgust and got into it a little more with him. Then next time said "12 dollar place on the 6 PLEASE!"

I am sorry, but it was obvious I knew what I was doing and CLEARLY we don't need to be encouraging stupid betting behavior at the dice table.

It's not like I was playing at Casino Royale or O'Sheas. Dice dealers at any reputable casino should make the bet "right" unless the player instructs otherwise. C'mon!

January 20, 2011 12:01 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

DuLac55: That is ridiculous. That has never happened to me, but it is just amazingly poor dealing. I can't believe the floor supervisors and boxmen would encourage the practice (it only benefits the house a small amount extra -- paying even money instead of 7 to 6 on the extra $3 of your place bet), an advantage not worth taking to risk alienating a dice player. ONLY if a player insists on a 6 or 8 place not in increments of $6 should the dealer place an irregular bet size. I've seen dealers ask players who toss a $25 chip and ask for an eight if they want a $25 or a $24 eight, and I think that is inappropriate. They should just place $24 and return the buck and, if the player objects, the dealer should explain the normal bet sizes and then -- if the player insists -- place the additional $1.
Bad show by the Palazzo dealer. Has anyone else seen that? If so, it's wrong.

January 21, 2011 7:23 PM Posted by Jim

A couple more annoyances at the dice table:

--The guy who throws down a big wad of cash in the middle of a roll (especially a hot roll), interrupting the rhythm of the game.
--The guy whose hands/arms are in the way (usually making a late field bet) when you're trying to throw the dice

January 22, 2011 6:15 AM Posted by socalduck

Great column, especially as it focuses on the best game in the casino! Here are couple more: Please don't try to chat me up (or any shooter, for that matter) who has made at least two passes in a row; let me try to focus on making some money! Also, if you have never played blackjack, for God's sake please don't take third base!

DuLac55, I'm am surprised and disappointed to hear that happened. In fact, I can never recall seeing that happen in any casino. I've never shot dice at Palazzo, but I've always found the Venetian dice crews to be very professional and accurate.

January 22, 2011 8:49 AM Posted by mike_ch

As someone who is a social asshole, but not cripplyingly or game-breakingly so in every online game experience I've ever been in, I was not aware there was a game on the casino floor for me.

Thanks, I now have an interest in dice that I didn't have before.

January 22, 2011 11:41 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Jim, you are totally right about would-be players unduly delaying a point in progress. Unfortunately, few can resist the urge to get in on a good roll. And I also am annoyed by those who are sticking their arms out on the layout after the stickman has pushed the dice to the shooter (particularly by those last-second impulse field bettors), but I really get annoyed when the crew doesn't correct the offender. I think some casinos and dealers don't want to offend players (especially big players and those who bet on bad bets -- like the field) but they need to keep control of the game. Nothing irritates an entire table more than when a good roll is ended after the dice hit another player and end up on seven.
socalduck, I started my casino gambling in 1979 (when AC was a 19-minimum-age state) and played only blackjack. But when I started going to Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe in 1981 I quickly grew interested in craps. I, too, think it is the most enjoyable game in the casino.

January 22, 2011 12:53 PM Posted by 2baddeyes

as an older woman who had never played craps i was intimidated by the game . i know everyone reams the sahara but the guys there were so nice to patiently explain everything to me. granted i went when the game was quiet. i tried the three dollar table and they made me an enjoyer of the game. it had been the only game i had never tried.

January 24, 2011 1:11 PM Posted by lazypigeon

Dont touch my pass bet or odds by coloring up my chips, those are mine until they are yours.

Dont push the dice to me showing a 7, dont push slop I dont want to see them roll coming off the stick and really you dont need to set them to the point and then pass them mocking me what that I need to roll which I am so stupid to forget.

Dealers talking to themselves or checking out the women is their prerogative just dont slow my game down. Also yes help out new players but I dont want to sit through a dice lesson.

I know its funny for stories in the break room how you shorted a player and they did not catch it but really when I have to tell you multiple times you paid me wrong you stop and play your tricks on a sucker.

DONT apologize for losing bets, just take the money and lets play again

January 24, 2011 1:44 PM Posted by AxeATL

socalduck, I don't really get the third base thing. Ok, so a new player gets on Third Base and makes a mistake, and the dealer wins. I get it, but then the next hand, they make another mistake causing the dealer to bust. It could go either way. I don't understand why people get all bent out of shape about what other people do in blackjack. The odds say they can help you just as much as they could hurt you right? Or maybe I'm just off base.

January 24, 2011 2:06 PM Posted by David S.

Re the $50 superstition, I've heard several explanations, but the most plausible (and most often heard by me) is that the $50 bill features a illustration of U.S. Grant.

U.S. Grant filed bankruptcy near the end of his life, and died penniless. Hence the superstition - you don't gamble with currency that features someone who became bankrupt and penniless - it's bad mojo.

January 24, 2011 6:59 PM Posted by Evan

Never heard the $50 superstition...I'm sure I've used them at the tables before. Wouldn't necessarily bother me, but I try to avoid superstitions that others might have - I think that's part of being a good gambler. I'll stick to the c-notes from now on...

January 25, 2011 8:33 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

lazypigeon, you are so right about the dealer pushing the dice. I can't believe I forgot to mention the dealer pushing a seven to the shooter (especially when it is me), and I also hate it when the stick either pushes dice in a way that they aren't set and could end up on seven or gives the dice an extra push when they are already in reach, possibly hitting the thrower with the stick. Dealers who leave the stick over the table when the shooter has the dice are also annoying.
On the other hand I disagree with you about dealers' "prerogative" to talk and check out women. I would say that they should not say or do things tthat would offend or antagonize customers.
One thing is clear, you are a dice player who values a well-run, crisp game. Thanks for your comments.
AxeATL, You are absolutely right that a blackjack player making poor decisions sitting at third base doesn't really affect the likelihood of success for the rest of the table. But players hate (and remember) their losses because of poor plays more than they like their wins after the same kind of bad plays. (Sort of like in dice when a player has their hands on the table and the dice hit his hands. If it's a seven, people are way more angry than they are happy when the point or a good number come up.) The difference is that in 21 a player has the right to play his hand however he wants, even if it is stupidly, and the dealer and floor should prevent players from harassing other players for their decisions. On the dice table dealers, box and floor should warn players who fail to keep their hands off the table once the dice have been pushed to the shooter.

March 9, 2011 10:21 AM Posted by dicegirl44

Agree with much of the above, but my absolute pet peeve is teaching people to play at a crowded table. It's always a group of tourists where one of them happens to have been at a craps table in his life, and then instructs the others how to play in painstaking detail as the game goes on. It just drives me nuts to hear someone explaining the game while I'm trying to play it. Even worse is when the people are standing behind me watching me and not even playing but still explaining what I'm doing and what numbers I want and why! Grrrr!!!