Category Archives: Craps

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.

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10 Craps Mistakes Made By First-Time Players

Craps is an absolute blast, and one of the most exciting games in a casino, but it can be intimidating to new players.

We’ve slapped together 10 common craps mistakes made by newbies.

googie 1. Trying to hand cash to a dealer.

Dealers aren’t allowed to take cash from your hand, so simply lay your money on the table. The dealer will give you chips, and you’re ready to stick it to the house.

googie 2. Not holding the dice over the table.

There are lots of rules in casinos, typically intended to either keep people from cheating or employees from stealing. Always keep the dice in sight of the dealers and boxman. We’d explain what a “boxman” is, but it’s not that kind of list.

hard_six_dice

Want to make $1,000 from a $1 investment? Bet a “hard six.” Hit it three times before you “seven out” and you get a grand!

googie 3. Touching the dice with two hands.

It’s exciting shooting the dice, and if you’re a craps virgin, experienced players are going to love having you shoot the dice, too. Just make sure to only use one hand to shake or throw the dice. Using two hands makes the house nervous (as some cheaters try to switch the dice for loaded ones).

googie 4. Not hitting the back wall.

Throw the dice all the way down, or the dealers will let you hear about it. This ensures each roll is truly random, and there’s no funny business (sometimes called “dice control” or “precision shooting”) going on.

Craps pyramids

Just look for these bad boys at the opposite end of the table, and hit them with the dice. No pressure.

googie 5. Not knowing the chip denomination colors.

We saw this one at a downtown casino recently, and it was adorable. Before you begin play, make sure you know the colors associated with each denomination of chip. Red chips, for example, are typically worth $5. Green are worth $25, and so on. This helps a lot when a helpful dealer says, “If you’d like to bet on 6 and 8, I’ll need $12.” Otherwise, chaos.

googie 6. Holding a drink over the table.

Yes, people sometimes drink when they gamble. That leads to spills, and the felt on table games is especially vulnerable. So, take a sip and place your drink on the special “rail” down below (and don’t forget to tip your waitress). The chip rail is on top, by the way, with ample room for your winnings.

Craps the hook

See the drink rail? It’ll keep your cocktail out of harm’s way.

googie 7. Dangling hands over the table.

Seasoned gamblers are very superstitious, especially craps players. Avoid their hard stares by keeping your hands out of the way of the dice. Hands are better put to use clapping in support of hot shooters.

googie 8. Shouting out late bets.

“Get your bets in early!” is a common saying among dealers. Waiting until the last minute to make a bet can cause confusion and delays at the table. Make your bets when the dice are in the middle of the table, before they’re pushed to the shooter.

googie 9. Mistaking dealer placed bets for self-serve.

Some craps bets are made directly by players, and others are made by the dealers. For the most part, anything within arm’s reach is your responsibility. Otherwise, set your chips in the middle of the table (the area marked “Come” is a good spot), and tell the dealer your bet. If you’re confused about which bets are which, just watch and ask questions. You’ll find other players and dealers are very helpful. Note: It’s best not to ask lots of questions during a hot roll. You’ll mess with the mojo.

craps mistakes

Craps tip: Don’t bet the Big 6 and 8. The same bet pays more if you “place” those numbers with the dealer. You’re welcome.

googie 10. Saying “seven” at the table.

Speaking of mojo, this is one of the worst transgressions a new craps player can make. Don’t say the word “seven” out loud at the craps table. Our hands are actually shaking just typing that word. Part of the fun of craps is learning the rituals of the game, the jargon, the ridiculous rules and superstitions. This isn’t one of the ridiculous ones, by the way. Don’t say “seven”! Just trust us, we are a Las Vegas blog.

Now that you know some of the gaffs new craps players make, you can avoid them and take part in one of the most thrilling casino games, ever.

Remember to have fun stick to the basics of the game when you’re first starting out.

Catch a hot roll and you could reach legend status in a mere three to four hours. Actual results may vary.

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Colorful Nicknames for Dice Combinations in Craps

Craps is one of the most lively games in a Las Vegas casino, and it’s also one of the games with the most colorful jargon.

Over the decades, craps dealers (many of them bored out of their skulls) have come up with clever ways of calling out dice numbers, often based upon rhymes.

Here’s a collection of our favorite names for dice combinations in craps.

Craps dice rolls

Because the number seven is the most frequently rolled number on the dice, it has the most nicknames. Sevens, by the way, are jerks, except on what’s called the “come-out roll.” Long story.

Many of the slang terms for craps numbers have fascinating stories behind them. We obviously won’t be talking about those here, because we have a reputation to preserve.

An “Australian yo” is called that because on the opposite sides (“down under”) of a 1 and 2 are a 6 and 5. Those total 11, and “yo” is another name for 11. It’s called “yo” because it’s bad luck to say “seven” at a craps table. Please keep up.

A “ballerina” is called that because, wait for it, two 2s sound like “tutu.” Hey, we didn’t say this was rocket science.

A 4-5 combination is called a “Jesse James” because the notorious outlaw was shot with a .45 caliber pistol.

You don’t hear many dealers use “O.J.” for a 3-2 dice combination these days, but it’s called that because O.J. Simpson’s uniform number was 32.

It would be awesome if someday craps dealers started calling removing a “place bet” an “O.J.” Because Las Vegas took O.J. down, too. Long story.

Thanks to our reader James Hilder for this gem: A roll of three is sometimes called a “shocker,” because its a two and a one. Saucy!

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Today’s Casino Jargon: “On the Hook” in Craps

At a crowded Las Vegas craps table, things can get crazy. Dealers have developed a shorthand to communicate with each other, including ways of describing where players are positioned at the table.

Sometimes you’ll hear dealers use the term “on the hook.”

This refers to the corners of the craps table, usually the corners on the same side as the “stickman” (the dealer who retrieves the dice, calls out the numbers and places proposition bets).

Craps the hook

Ah, the times we’ve had on the hook in Las Vegas. Which is not also a euphemism. Probably.

Since a player at any of the table’s four corners is said to be “on the hook,” dealers sometimes qualify the term as “inside hook” (corners across the table from the stickman) and “outside hook” (on the same side as the stickman). Learning craps jargon is half the fun of playing. Now you know!

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We Security Breached the Crap Out of White Castle at Casino Royale

We have no idea why, but the opening of a White Castle on the Las Vegas Strip is one of the most-anticipated events in the history of ever.

White Castle at Casino Royale is scheduled to open by the end of 2014. Or is it? We asked ominously.

First, a look at the fancy new Walgreen’s and expanded Denny’s (the nation’s most profitable) at Casino Royale. No security breach here, as the work can be seen from the sidewalk outside. Which is where most sidewalks are kept, come to think of it.

Denny's Walgreens

Yes, we’ve been reduced to writing about Denny’s, Walgreen’s and White Castle. We blame the Millenials.

You can’t miss the newly-expanded Denny’s as it sports a massive, color-shifting fork.

Denny's fork

Early forks were considered “pronged monstrosities.” Which, we might add, would make a great band name.

Next to the over-sized fork, you can see the exterior of the future White Castle at Casino Royale, replete with scaffolding, a sight as exciting to this Las Vegas blog as lap dances and construction walls, and not necessarily in that order.

White Castle Las Vegas

This should count as a security breach. There was a fence. Sort of.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky.

The White Castle space is as locked down as it gets in Las Vegas. There are 12-foot tall construction walls that run the entire length of the casino, plus strategically installed plastic sheeting above that, attached firmly to the ceilings. Zero access, even with a drone. Mission impossible.

Then again, doing the impossible is this blog’s middle name. Which, as you can imagine, is very confusing on our tax forms.

In the casino’s food court area, there was a tiny hole in the plastic, about 14 feet up, we couldn’t resist breaching, hard.

White Castle Las Vegas

We probably should have told you to lower your expectations.

No major revelation here, other than the fact there’s a lot of work to be done before White Castle can open for its surprisingly rabid fans.

After exploring the restaurant perimeter for, oh, an hour, we discovered another tiny opening in the plastic, again 14 feet up. It was just off the casino. What we’re saying is for you, our hapless blog reader, we risked being blacklisted by White Castle. Here’s an exclusive look. At not very much.

White Castle

There’s a chance Casino Royale’s White Castle is being built by sloths. Possibly union sloths.

It’s never easy to gauge how long a Vegas restaurant will take to launch. Many are bare bones one week and open the next. It remains to be seen if White Castle will open on schedule.

Since we’d already risked Tasing and a body cavity search, we thought we’d point our camera in the direction of Casino Royale’s table game area. To our dismay, there is but a lone remaining craps table in the casino with what we believe are the best craps odds (20x odds) on the Las Vegas Strip.

Casino Royale

Curse you, change.

At one time, there were four craps tables at Casino Royale, and even then it was tough to get a spot most nights.

Oh, the times they are a changing at Casino Royale. Bigger Denny’s. New Walgreen’s. New White Castle. And a serious reduction in craps tables.

By the way, Casino Royale isn’t even the Casino Royale anymore! Since last year, it’s been the Best Western Plus Casino Royale, because that rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Craps sadness aside, it’s great to see some new life at Casino Royale. The casino is the last of a dying breed on The Strip. The hooch is cheap, the dealers are surly and soon, there will be tiny, square burgers. Which we plan to breach a dozen of the first day White Castle opens. The things we do for you.

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A First Look at the Long-Awaited Street Dice at Downtown Grand Las Vegas

Downtown Grand, formerly Lady Luck, opened on October 27, 2013. Even before the hotel’s grand re-opening, there was buzz about a new game to be offered at Downtown Grand: Street Dice.

The much-talked-about game will finally debut to the public on Friday, May 16 at 6:00 p.m., and we’ve got a first look at the game Downtown Grand touted as “unprecedented,” “crazy fun” and “unlike anything Vegas has ever seen,” which is technically the same thing as “unprecedented,” but let’s not get bogged down in details. Behold, Street Dice!

Street Dice Downtown Grand

Yes, there are dice, but don’t get your hopes up about the “street” part.

We should get something out of the way right up front: The name “Street Dice” is a misnomer. The game is played on the sidewalk outside Downtown Grand, not on the street.

Street Dice

“Sidewalk Dice Under an Awning” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Street Dice is, as advertised, unprecedented. And it can only be found at Downtown Grand at the moment.

It’s played on a special table, with a unique layout, and the dice are thrown against a large, enclosed, simulated wall.

Yeah, rumors of the dice being thrown against an actual wall appear to have been thwarted by the Nevada Gaming Commission. At one time, the game was going to face the wall of Downtown Grand, but regulators nixed that, so the game was turned parallel to the wall.

Street Dice

We’ll be withholding our “meh” until we get a chance to play. We’re fair like that.

The dice used in the game are not, as was predicted by many (including this Las Vegas blog), larger-than-life dice. No fuzzy dice. No inflatable dice. No epic dice. Just, you know dice, although they’re about twice the size of regular craps dice. They’re the largest legal casino dice, apparently.

Street Dice

It gets even better.

The dice are retrieved by a “stick” of sorts, but it’s really one of those grabber thingys you use to get objects off the high-up shelves in your kitchen.

Street Dice stick

Yes, “grabber thingy” is the technical name.

Now, for the layout and game play.

Street Dice

The brick motif is awesome, but would be even more so if the game involved actual bricks.

Players make their basic bet, then throw the dice. Go ahead and set them if you like. The “wall” you’re shooting against is 10 feet away, so controlling the dice would be beyond impossible.

If you roll a 2, 3 or 12 on the first roll, you lose your bet. A seven is a “push.” Only an 11 wins on the first roll (it pays even money).

If you roll something other than those numbers, the dealer marks the point, and you have three rolls to hit the number again. There’s a digital counter on the wall that counts down from three.

Street Dice

Counting backward from three is, you know, a lot harder than counting to three.

Payouts on the numbers, if hit, vary based upon which roll it is, first, second or third. For the numbers 4 and 10, hitting the number on the first roll pays 5-to-1, second roll pays 4-to-1 and third roll pays 3-to-1. For 5 and 9, hitting the number on the first roll pays 4-to-1, second roll pays 3-to-1 and third roll pays 2-to-1. For 6 and 8 (the most commonly-rolled numbers, after seven), hitting the number on the first roll pays 3-to-1, second roll pays 2-to-1 and third roll pays even money.

If you roll a seven (the most commonly-rolled number) after the point has been established, you lose your bet.

So, hit your point (win), “seven out” (lose) or fail to hit the point in three rolls (lose), and you start all over again.

The casino has wisely put the rules and payouts right on the layout, so even the drunkest of us can keep track of our wins and losses. Especially that last thing.

Street Dice payouts

Thanks for the convenient payout table, layout designer persons.

That’s pretty much it. Easy game, easy payout table. To illustrate the simplicity of the game, we grabbed these photos as dealers (presumably dice dealers in the main casino) were being trained to run Street Dice, and their entire training took less than five minutes.

The straightforward nature of Street Dice at Downtown Grand should make it accessible to people intimidated by traditional craps, as well as those with far too much disposable income.

There’s one side bet in the game, just to keep things interesting.

The side bet in Street Craps is called a “Brick Bet” (again, no actual bricks, and this bet must be made before the start of a roll). It pays if an established point of 4, 6 , 8 or 10 hits as a pair, or “hard way,” within three rolls. On the “come out,” or set-the-point roll, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 12 lose, as those aren’t among the four numbers (4, 6, 8, 10) that can be made the hard way. A roll of 7 loses, too. An 11 on the set-point roll is a push. A winning “Brick Bet” pays 25-to-1.

Street Dice

Traditional craps has more than 100 bets and bet combinations. Street dice? Two.

So, will we play Street Dice when it makes its grand entrance at Downtown Grand? Yes! Do we expect to win? Hell, no!

Street Dice isn’t about winning. It’s about having fun, and it’s about playing a casino game outside. It’s a novelty, and it will definitely garner some interest as a one-of-a-kind table game.

Unfortunately, Street Dice’s hype doesn’t appear to match the final product (imagine that in Las Vegas), so we’re going out on a limb to say there won’t be much of a wait to play.

Downtown Grand can’t seem to overcome its challenging location, despite a number of excellent offerings nearby (including Pizza Rock and Triple George, both outstanding restaurants), and it’s unlikely Street Dice will have much impact there. Downtown Grand’s restaurants, like Stewart + Ogden, have improved a lot since the hotel opened, but even vastly improved food can’t seem to help the hotel’s struggling casino.

When it comes to Downtown Grand, we tend to follow the philosophy below.

Downtown Grand

We remain optimistic, but not inexhaustibly so.

Still, we love us some Vegas newness, and we’re looking forward to trying Street Dice during the last few moderate days of spring before Las Vegas slips into its predictable 100-degrees-plus summer. (When an outdoor table gets hot in Vegas, it really gets hot!)

Will you try your hand at Street Dice? If you do, we’d love to hear about your experience.

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