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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Learning a "Foreign Language" Casino Style

21 November 2000

One of the most unusual gaming books to cross my desk arrived late last month. It wasn't written by a best-selling gaming author. Nor will it teach you how to play. But if you've ever had the desire to learn the gambling world's most colorful "foreign language" and read some delightful anecdotes connected with it, this one-of-a-kind book is for you.

A Guide To Craps Lingo from Snake Eyes to Muleteeth was written by David Guzman, a casino pit boss at Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington, Iowa, and Christine Fagans, a former pit boss. They decided to collaborate on the work after their years of experience listening to the distinctive language of terms and phrases heard at casino craps tables.

The language they write about is primarily the domain of the "stickman" (or woman), the craps table worker whose responsibility it is to move the dice around the table, and, more importantly, "call" the game for the players. That is, announce the numbers as they are rolled, pepper the players with subtle and some not so subtle hints to bet, and create the tempo of the game.

Some stickmen are better than others. Their language is a universal one at casinos across the country. Its roots are in street craps, played on city corners and in back alleys since the turn of the century. It was adopted by the more refined casino table game where the dice bounce around a felt-covered table instead of the sidewalk and a brick wall.

Terms and phrases are carried on from one generation of craps dealers and players to the next. Colorful additions to the lexicon of craps lingo have been made through the years, the majority of them started by particularly glib and imaginative stickmen. A term may start in one casino and soon it'll spread to craps games across the country.

One of the book's title terms, "snake eyes", is an oldie but a goodie. It refers to 2-craps when there's a single spot showing on each die. "Muleteeth" may not be as familiar. It's when the dice show 12-craps and there's the maximum six spots showing on each die. Twelve on the dice is also called "midnight".

A good stickman can be the most entertaining person in the casino. He's a stand-up comic, a carnival barker, and a wise guy all rolled up into one efficient, professional package. He's gotta do a lot of talking and "kibitzing" with the players, but at the same time he must be on the ball, pay attention to the game, and make payoffs on bets made in the center of the table, the propositions (hard ways, craps, eleven, etc.).

When the table's hot, the bets are flying, and everyone is making money, the stickman can add to the electrified atmosphere with his booming "Winner, winner chicken dinner!", "Yo 11, take me to heaven!", or "Mark 'um six, place 'em eight, five and nine if you have the time, or go across and be the boss!"

Interspersed throughout the book are sections devoted to "Down & Dirty Dice Dialect", a selection of off-color and, in some cases, downright dirty craps table terms and phrases. But the majority of the terms are just plain family fun. They're brought to life in a concise format. You can almost hear the stickman yelling "Eighter from Decatur", "Little Joe from Kokomo", and "Big Ben on the end".

For more information about A Guide To Craps Lingo from Snake Eyes to Muleteeth, contact co-author David Guzman by e-mail at sevenhop@aol.com, or write to him at 409 Pine Street, Burlington, Iowa 52601.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp