11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating

About 20 minutes after dice were invented, fashioned from the ankle bones of hooved animals, somebody cheated using dice.

The tradition of trying to swindle casinos continues to this day, so casinos take extraordinary measures to prevent players from cheating, especially at the craps table.

Because players handle and shoot the dice, craps is the only casino game where patrons have complete control over the outcome of a wager. In other cases, it’s a machine or wheel or dealer. Dice, then, are an easy target for cheaters.

Here are 11 hastily slapped-together dice security measures casinos take to ensure players don’t cheat and every roll is random.

1. Serial Numbers

Swapping out legitimate dice with weighted or “loaded” dice is a time-honored tradition in Las Vegas casinos. To avoid “crooked” dice entering a game, casino dice have serial numbers. Typically, casino dice come in packs of five, wrapped in gold foil, each with matching serial numbers. If a casino staffer sees two dice in play with two different serial numbers, the cheater’s jig is up.

Dice serial number

Casino dice come in groups of five, much like Hugh Hefner.

2. Sharp Corners

The next time you use dice on a board game at home, take note of the corners. Most dice outside casinos have rounded corners, but in casinos, they’re sharp. Rounded corners cause rolls that aren’t truly random, and exaggerate any bias in the dice. Sharp corners “grab” the felt and assure rolls are random and keep the odds the way casinos like them, in their favor.

Dice square corners

Curved corner, amateur hour. Sharp corner, all business.

3. Glow Spots

Some casinos use dice that have spots, also called “pips,” filled with special epoxy that changes color under U.V. light. Floor managers can quickly tell if dice are legit using a simple black light.

Dice glow spot

Shout-out to Bruce Leroy.

4. Translucency

Before the advent of plastics, it was difficult to tell if dice were weighted, or “gaffed.” Since the 1950s, dice have been made of cellulose acetate, making them translucent. Being able to see inside a die makes it much easier to see if anyone’s mucked with it.

Dice key letter spot

We’ll get to the “K” in a minute. Always in such a rush.

5. Key Letter Spot

This is one of our favorite casino dice “secrets,” because while we’ve held hundreds of dice at craps tables in Las Vegas and around the world, we never noticed this security measure despite the fact it’s in plain sight. Each casino die has a letter or number “monogrammed” on a designated spot before the spot is painted. While scammers may be able to replicate the exterior of a die, it’s difficult to convincingly fake a letter under pip paint. Check it out the next time you’re shooting for “boxcars” or “puppy paws.” Yes, there are a lot of nicknames for dice combinations.

Dice key letter spot

You’re totally going to win a bar bet with this one someday.

6. Casino Logos

Yes, imprinting a casino’s logo on dice is actually a security measure. On its own, putting a logo on dice is fairly easy to do, but this “unique identifier” is another element a cheater has to take into account, and another way they can get tripped up trying to use counterfeit dice.

Dice logos

Logos are typically printed on the side of the dice with one or two spots, because there’s more room. This isn’t rocket science.

7. Diamond Rubber Bumpers

This security measure is more about the table than the dice, but we’re including it, anyway. They have lots of names, but along the sides of a craps table are textured bumps, sometimes called “diamond rubber bumpers” or “pyramid bumpers” or even “alligator bumpers.” These textured bumpers make it much more difficult to manipulate how the dice will land.

Craps pyramids

It’s all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

8. Change-Outs

Casinos foil cheaters through a variety of means, including frequently changing out dice, just as they do with cards at the blackjack table. As mentioned, the randomness of rolls can be impacted by things like edges and corners becoming less sharp through use. Fresh dice are brought into a craps game every four to eight hours, often during a shift change. Casinos have the right to change out dice at any time, however. This sometimes happens during hot rolls, as casinos want to ensure a player’s good luck isn’t the result of dice tampering.

Dice

Casinos are paranoid about dice cheats, so always keep dice over the table and only use one hand to shake them before you shoot.

9. Perfect Cubes

There’s a reason casino dice are also called “precision dice.” That’s because casino dice are made to exacting specifications. Most casinos use 3/4-inch dice, and each of the die’s dimensions must be true to within 0.0005 of an inch, or approximately the length of this blog’s sexual organ. Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

Precision dice

Perfect cubes, of course, aren’t “perfect.” For example, some mistakenly believe Chicago-style pizza is actual pizza.

10. Pip Drilling and Backfilling

Even tiny variations in a die can cause it to roll in a less random way. Pips aren’t just painted in casino dice, they’re drilled. To make sure the side of the die with six pips doesn’t weigh more than the side with just one, the drilled holes are filled with a special paint that’s the same density as the rest of the die. Oh, all right, maybe there’s a little rocket science involved.

Dice pips drilling filling

Drilled Pips and The Backfillers were a terrific folk group in the 1970s.

11. Cancellation

When dice are removed from a table, casinos use a hand-operated press (or “punch”) to “cancel” the dice before they’re destroyed or sold in the casino’s gift shop. Cancellation markings, commonly in the shape of circle, make it easy for casino security, dealers and managers to see if a “retired” die has been put into play by an unscrupulous player.

Dice canceled

While Las Vegas casinos get away with this cancellation mark, Atlantic City casinos must drill a hole in canceled dice. Typically, it’s done by a guy nicknamed “Knuckles.” All due respect.

Craps is one of the most exciting games in a Las Vegas casino. Now, the next time you play, you’ll know all the dice security measures casinos take to keep players from cheating.

By the way, cheating in a Las Vegas casino is a felony. You have better things to do during your Las Vegas visit than going to the big house and being passed around like a social security number at a hacker convention.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

31 thoughts on “11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating

  1. Coop

    More great insight. Thank you. But are you poking the bear with this…? “Perfect cubes, of course, aren’t “perfect.” For example, some believe Chicago-style pizza is actual pizza.” We were almost were rid of these pizza references.

    Reply
      1. Manybar Goatfish

        Good question. Also, is the real world really real? It sure seems more real when your car breaks down 12 miles from home on the coldest day of winter, or your boat sinks 22 miles from shore, or when you had a retirement-making futures bet on the Falcons to win the SB last season.

        Reply
    1. Alex

      Amen, Coop. I seriously stopped visiting this blog because of that pizza nonsense. If it returns, I’ll leave again…probably for good.

      Reply
      1. Scott Roeben

        Yeah, unfortunately, that got out of hand, but it’s been rectified. While the conversation was derailed, I still reserve the right to use it as a running gag. Your sentiment about the discussion was common, hence the unfortunate need to ban. I’ve never done that before (other than to spammers), and would prefer not to have to ever do it again.

        Reply
  2. Manybar Goatfish

    I’m trying to figure out how “perfect cubes” has something to do with pizza crust belief systems. Must be an alter ego thing. Of greater importance (to me) than pizza crust druthers is the question of cake donuts. Are they actual donuts or not? I like to know what I’m eating.

    Either way, the dice story is superb! Very interesting!

    Reply
      1. Manybar Goatfish

        Cake donuts are the smart choice for making donut posters or taking a donut themed selfie. That’s all I’m going to say since I’ve been warned to be careful.

        Reply
  3. Photoncounter

    Scott,

    Being picky here. Cellulose acetate is what is used in producing photography film as it is flexible. When I did some testing several years ago (I have data I can PM to you) I remember (but maybe old timers disease???) that the dice were made of polyester acetate. Perhaps there’s a genius on this forum that could confirm or deny.

    Also, there is a 12th and 13th method. Many, if not all craps tables have mirrors on the long side of the table so the dealers and box man can see if there is anything in the shooter’s hand. It runs underneath the rail. Been a while since I played but I’ve seen that many times. You also forgot the surveillance cameras. The detail they provide is excellent.

    There are more methods but that isn’t for a public forum!

    More gambling discussion, less pizza talk!

    Reply
    1. Manybar Goatfish

      “Loaded craps players”… that’s too funny! And what sort of criminal mind would choose “loaded dice” as his crime of choice, especially in Las Vegas? At this stage, it probably happens once every 4 decades in a Las Vegas casino, unless it’s an inside job. Honestly, though, if I were head of security at a Las Vegas casino, I’d be milling away on some dice this very moment. Easy money, right? Face it: you can’t make money selling candy. Chumlee has that market locked up.

      Reply
  4. wysiwyg100

    Don’t the serial numbers, key letter spots and casino logos add weight to that side of the die and thus create less-than-random rolls?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *