Props & Hops simplifies the craps experience for a new generation of players
Philadelphia is known for a lot of things—Ben Franklin, the Liberty Bell, Rocky Balboa, cheesesteaks, just to name a few. Soon it may also get a reputation as an incubator for new table game concepts.
At least that is the hope of Mark Grochala and Tom McCann, employees at Philadelphia, Pa.-based SugarHouse Casino, and managing partners in Props & Hops, a new craps-based table game that debuted at SugarHouse Casino in April and is currently undergoing a six-month trial period.
“Props & Hops has been shown quite a bit of interest from players,” said Rose Cook, vice president of gaming for SugarHouse Casino, who helped Grochala and Mccann shepherd Props & Hops from concept to reality. “The great thing about Props & Hops is that its peeking interest from people who do not normally play craps.”
According to McCann, the concept for Props & Hops came about one trying day when he and Grochala were working a craps table at SugarHouse. An argument had broken out with an inexperienced player over one of the many sidebets now present on the modern craps table.
“There are a lot of inexperienced players more concerned with these dollar sidebets than placing bets at full odds,” said McCann, who works as a dealer for SugarHouse. “For the dealer, these sidebets create a lot more work, and the supervisors are putting out fires because there is all this confusion regarding the extra bets.”
Once the dispute with the customer was settled, McCann started a conversation with Grochala, who is a table game supervisor for SugarHouse, and mentioned that maybe it would be a good idea to take all the sidebets off the craps table and make a separate new table game out of them. McCann and Grochala talked throughout the day and by the time the shift was over had a rough idea for Props & Hops firmly formed in their minds.
Props & Hops may have been nothing more than that except a few days later Grochala was having a conversation with Cook and happened to mention the concept. Cook thought it was an excellent idea, that they should run with it and SugarHouse would help support them. Props & Hops was born.
But taking Props & Hops from concept to reality was far from an easy and quick process. After much trial and error, Grochala and McCann realized simplicity was the best policy, and decided to adapt the concept for a standard blackjack table to make it easy for the casino, color code the bets on the felt so the game could be dealt by non-craps dealers, and simplify the concept and layout so non-craps player could quickly understand and play the game.
“Eventually, we came up with a concept that my girlfriend and her daughter could easily play and understand,” Grochala said. “We knew we were there.”
What they eventually came up with, according to Grochala, was a craps-like game that plays like roulette. Customers lay their bets down on numbers or groups of numbers like a field bet, the dealer stops the betting and has a player shake the dice in the shaker cup, the number is revealed and the dealer takes the losing bets and pays off the winners. The process starts again until the person shaking the dice rolls a seven, in which case another player takes a turn at the dice.
Even though the game has only been on trial for a few months, Grochala and McCann realize it is more attractive to non-craps player. Ultimately, they see Props & Hops as a niche table game, an addition to a party pit where people look for an easy game to play and to have fun