The Language of Dice

Casinos have their own language, like any specialized occupation or sideline, but no game has a more colourful shouting slang than craps. Much of this heritage has been lost as the legendary craps players head for the big game in the sky, but novice players would do well to review expressions they just might hear while playing their initial dice games.

The language of craps can be divided into two categories: colourful expressions craps shooters say to encourage the dice to roll their way, and the phrases dealers and stick men use to accept a bet or announce a roll of the dice.

The point numbers have all been given names, and with the exception of the five and ten, all have home towns that rhyme with their names.

In America, for example, the four is often called Little Joe from Kokomo, while the five is sometimes known as Little Phoebe. She has no hometown, but her cousin, Fiver, Fiver, Racetrack Driver, at least has a job. Our best friends, the six and eight are Southerners, known as Sixie from Dixie and Eighter from Decatur. Perhaps the nine was named after a former Rose Bowl Queen, Nina from Pasadena.

The ten usually goes by the name of Big Dick, but his hardway cousin, the five-five, is sometimes referred to as Hard Ten, Ladies’ Best Friend.

The dots on the dice have spawned a variety of other names. Snake’s Eyes is a pair of aces. Old-timers refer to the ace-deuce as Cross-Eyes, while Chopsticks and Rabbit Tracks are favoured nicknames for the hard six. Windows or the Square Pair is the hard eight. Twelves are usually known as Boxcars, but on occasion are called Sergeant’s Stripes, a reflection of the barracks games where many players cut
their craps teeth. The bets you can make have some distinctive names. The Buffalo Bet, for example, means that you put £1 each on all the hardways and £1 on the “any-seven”. A bet you’ll still hear a lot at the table is “C and E” which means “any craps” and “eleven”. On the odd rare occasion, you will hear this called “Chester and Esther”. Probably the most common word in craps today is “Yo!”, meaning Eleven. Legend has it that some long-forgotten dealer pronounced his elevens “yo-leven”. If you want to use it at the craps table, be sure to shout it with feeling.