Category Archives: Craps

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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Five Ways to Not Piss Off a Las Vegas Dealer

Being a dealer in a Las Vegas casino can be a sweet gig. You meet interesting new people every day, the financial rewards can be substantial and you get to be an ambassador not only for your casino but also Las Vegas, the most exciting city on Earth.

There are challenges to being a dealer, too, of course, and a lot of that’s on us.

We grilled a dealer, Michael Nguyen, co-owner of a new dealer school, Casino Entertainment Group (CEG), and got him to spill about the things that tick dealers off, and how we can avoid them.

craps game

We’re about to get told.

5. Don’t Blame Dealers If You Lose

Gambling is a numbers game, and the house always has the advantage. Nevertheless, dealers make a convenient target when players need to vent about their bad fortune.

“We hear people say things like ‘unbelievable’ or ‘Can you believe that?’ every other hand,” says Nguyen. “We’ve dealt thousands of hands. Don’t get upset if your 17 in blackjack doesn’t beat the dealer. People must realize the odds aren’t always in their favor. They can’t expect to win every hand.”

One of the worst things about players taking their frustrations out on dealers, often to the point of verbal abuse or worse, is dealers aren’t allowed to defend themselves. A dealer who gets combative with a player, even if it’s deserved, risks losing their job. So, they just have to take it. Only jerks and cowards beat up on those who aren’t allowed to defend themselves.

4. Don’t Gamble Drunk

Yes, the cocktails are free, and drinking is part of the Vegas experience, but customers going overboard can turn ugly for dealers.

Nguyen says, “The person gambling isn’t doing him or herself any favor by tipping back one too many during the game. The more drinking, the more mistakes are made during a game. If you’re wasted while playing, you’re wasting money.

Dealers are used to players having a few cocktails, and getting a little boisterous, but excessive drinking is annoying to dealers and other players alike.

Also, gambling drunk leads to spilled drinks, one of the most irksome aspects of a dealer’s shift. Spilled drinks ruin table game felt, disrupt the game and turn dealers into babysitters. Drink responsibly. Or don’t, but don’t play a table game!

Las Vegas dealer

It’s simple. You be nice, they’ll be nice.

3. Don’t Blow Smoke in a Dealer’s Face

Sounds like common sense, right? Wrong.

“We understand the environment and know people like to smoke while playing,” says Nguyen. “We don’t even mind the smoking, in fact. But blowing cigarette or cigar smoke directly in a dealer’s face is rude. Be respectful.”

Agreed. Oh, and if we ever write a list of “The Five Best Ways to Not Piss Off This Las Vegas Blog,” not smoking a disgusting, big-ass cigar in our vicinity will be all five things on the list.

2. Tip Your Dealer, Already

We’d have make this number one on the list, but we defer to the expert.

Nguyen comes clean, saying, “This is a very touchy subject. Dealers don’t expect a person who’s
losing to tip. But if you’re winning, toss a chip our way every so often. We’re not looking for
a stack of chips, but don’t stiff the dealer if you’re on a winning streak.”

Somebody had to say it! We’ve seen this trend getting worse in recent months, or at least it seems that way.

We disagree with Nguyen on this point, actually. Dealers make a meager base pay, and they live on tips. So, we tip whether we’re winning or losing. We value what they do no matter the outcome of our play.

craps dealer

One of the many talents of dealers is concealing their “tells” when a player is being a nimrod.

Nguyen continues, “Another pet peeve is when a player tells us we’ll get tipped at the end [of the session] and leaves a dollar or less when all is said and done. A dollar or less is sort of like a slap in the face. And while we’re talking about tipping, don’t stiff the cocktail waitress, either.”

We can’t say it enough. If you can’t afford to tip, do something other than play casino table games. Slot machines might be your thing. No tipping required.

1. Good Vibes Only, Please

Playing in a Las Vegas casino is meant to be fun, so avoid being a buzzkill.

“Remember, there are other people at the table, too,” says Nguyen. “No one wants to be next to the person who constantly complains, demands the cocktail waitress bring a drink immediately, and so on. We understand when a person’s trip or gambling session may not be working out, but the next hand or spin may be different. Keeping an upbeat attitude and staying positive could possibly change a person’s luck.”

Absolutely nailed it. The Golden Rule applies to casinos as it does to everday life.

In a casino, be the kind of person you’d like to hang out with. Keep the mood light, be polite and don’t lose sight of the fact if gambling isn’t fun, why the hell are you doing it?

Special thanks to Michael Nguyen of CEG dealer school for giving us the straight scoop, and we appreciate dealers for being such an integral part of some of our most memorable Las Vegas moments, ever.

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Craps Basics: What’s a Horn Bet?

Even if you’ve played craps, you still might be fuzzy about “horn” bets. We can help.

Horn bets are commonly referred to as “not especially smart bets,” also known as “sucker bets,” mainly because the house edge is high-ish compared to other bets on the craps table. Who cares, though, right? Horn bets are a blast and keep the game interesting.

The horn bet is found in the middle of the craps table where the proposition, or just “prop,” bets are. A horn bet is a bet split between the numbers 2, 3, 11 or 12. A $4 horn bet is a bet of $1 on each number.

If one of your numbers hits, the 2 and 12 pay 30-to-one and the 3 and 11 pay 15-to-1. Horn bets are a one-time roll, by the way.

Proposition bets

The layout says 16-for-1 and 31-for-1 on horn bets, but they keep a buck to replace your bet. The house is sneaky like that.

That’s the basic horn bet. You can always toss out a $5 chip, and rather than getting $1 back, you can ask the dealer (the stickman, specifically) to double up the bet on one of the numbers.

To double up on the 11, for example, the bet is “horn, high yo.” “Yo” is used rather than 11, because 11 sounds too much like “seven,” and craps players are superstitious like that. With a “horn, high yo,” $1 is put in 2, 3 and 12, and $2 goes on 11.

A “horn, high 12” bet puts the $2 on 12 and $1 on the other numbers. A “horn, high aces” bet means the $2 goes on the 2, with $1 on the other numbers. There’s probably a name for the bet where $2 goes on the 3, but we have no idea what it is. If we did, it would mean we have a gambling problem. (It’s “horn, high ace-deuce.”)

Now for the bad news: The “horn, high aces” and “horn, high 12” bets have a house edge of 12.78%, and the “horn, high ace-deuce” and “horn, high 11” bets have a 12.22 % house advantage. Translation: It’s only a sucker bet if it doesn’t pay!

So, now you know. And, yes, there will be a quiz. But quizzes about craps are the most fun kind of quizzes.

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Today’s Sucker Bets, Courtesy of The Orleans

We popped by The Orleans, a casino-hotel about five minutes west of The Strip on Tropicana, and saw two side bets we hadn’t played before, and sort of wish it had stayed that way.

Orleans

Sucker bets aside, The Orleans is a great place to play. Insider tip: Ask for Beaver. (That may not be his real name.)

Specialty bets on table games have notoriously high house edges, and these two beauties followed suit.

First, up a blackjack side bet called “Let’s Play.” This bet has a $1 minimum, and pays based upon the player’s cards (and in one case, the combined cards of the player and dealer).

Given the odds, let's not.

Given the odds, let’s not.

If your two cards are the same suit, you’re paid 2-to-1, you’re paid 4-to-1 for a straight flush, 15-to-1 for a suited queen-jack, 20-to-1 for ace-king suited and 250-to-1 for ace, king, queen and jack suited (this one includes your cards and the dealer’s).

Even for those of us math-challenged, it only takes a moment to realize those payouts are pretty awful. Overall, the house edge for this game is a killer 11.01%.

See all the numbers for this game at one of our favorite number-crunching sites, Wizard of Odds.

Our next side bet was truly a doozy. Yes, there are still doozies, although these days, they’re called WTFs.

Moving over to craps, The Orleans has a side bet called the Replay Bet. It’s akin to the popular Fire Bet, but this is the only casino where we’ve see the Replay Bet.

Here, you’re betting you’ll roll the same number three times before you seven out. Given that seven is the most commonly-rolled number on the dice, you’re definitely bucking the odds to win this bet, and it shows.

The Replay Bet has a gargantuan house edge of 24.79%. For laypersons, we can best describe that house edge as “Run! Run for your life!”

Replay Bet

This bet has ouch written all over it.

All the numbers for the Replay Bet can be found here. Seriously, this side bet competes with keno (house edges of up to 35%) as the worst bet in a casino.

So, as with most bets in a casino, caution is paramount. It’s fairly safe to assume side and specialty bets aren’t great for players, so they should be avoided, or at least bet sparingly.

Sometimes, your instincts, or copious amounts of liquor, tell you different, and you have to go for it. Gambling, after all, is meant to be fun, not a retirement plan.

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Today’s Fun Sucker Bet: Craps High Dice/Low Dice

Pretty much all craps players understand the perils of the Big 6 and 8. Those giant red numbers, within easy reach, are such a temptation for inexperienced players.

Big 6 and 8 craps

Caveat bettor! Which we should totally put on a T-shirt.

What those tricky craps layouts don’t point out, however, is there’s another bet on the 6 and 8 that pays more for the very same dice roll. The Big 6 and 8 pay even money ($5 in winnings for a $5 bet), but if you ask the dealer to “place” a 6 or 8, that bet pays $7 for a $6 bet.

The Big 6 and 8 bet has a house edge of 9.09%, and the place 6 and 8 bet has a relatively teensy 1.52% house advantage. Now you know why they’re called “sucker bets.”

A couple of casinos in town have added a new wrinkle to this craps table real estate by swapping out the Big 6 and 8 sucker bet for a less suckery one, the High Dice/Low Dice bet.

We saw this bet at the Cannery casino, but understand it’s also available at the Hard Rock casino.

Low dice high dice craps

We’re hoping this bet will bump the Big 6 and 8 off craps tables everywhere.

Here’s how it works. It’s a one-roll, self-serve bet (the player can bet it directly, as opposed to asking the dealer to do it).

On the Low Dice side, if a 3, 4, 5 or 6 is rolled, the bet wins and is paid even money (you get $5 for your $5 bet). If a 2 is rolled, the bet is paid 5-to-1 (so, $25 for a $5 bet). If a 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 is rolled, the bet is lost.

The High Dice bet is the flip side. If an 8, 9, 10 or 11 is rolled, you’re paid even money. If a 12 is rolled, the bet pays 5-to-1. If a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 is rolled, the bet is lost.

It’s a fun little side bet and here’s why. The house edge is 5.55%. To be clear, that makes it a sucker bet, but it’s half the sucker bet a Big 6 and 8 is!

By comparison, the house edge in roulette is 5.26%, so it’s on par with one of the most popular table games in Las Vegas casinos.

Let us know how it goes!

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