Shaving Points at Craps?
What are Casino dice? I found this on the
Internet. I imagine it is pretty standard even though it is from
Dice must be transparent.
Dice must be manufactured to a
tolerance of 0.0006 inches (0.01528mm).
All sides of the dice must be
equal in dimension and have the same angle between the
All edges and corners must have a
The surface of each dice side must
Any markings on the dice must be
flush with the dice surface.
The texture and finish of each
side must be identical to each other side.
The weight of the dice should be
evenly distributed throughout the dice with no side lighter
heavier then any other side.
Each dice must have the Casino
Name permanently imprinted, impressed or engraved on
Each dice must have a unique set
identifier permanently imprinted, impressed or engraved
The substance used to fill the
markings on each face must be the same density as the
The rear surface of the dice
markings must be visible through the dice from the opposing
The dice faces must be numbered
one to six.
Opposite faces of the dice must
sum to seven.
The side of each die must be
between 19.05mm and 19.69mm in size.
Dice must be supplied in sets of
five with each dice in the set displaying the same
As you can see, these are pretty tight
specs. This is even a subset of the complete specifications. You would
think they were contracting a critical part for the space shuttle’s main
engines. Crooked dice are one of five types.
That is weighted off center to favor coming to rest on one face more than
should by random chance.
Having an insert that can be influenced by a magnetic field that can be
force the dice to come to rest on one face more than they should by random
The simplest concept possible. They simply do not have the numbers 1
to 6 on the six faces. In one case the numbers on opposite sides of a die
are the same,
duplicated that is. Suppose your dice only had pairs of faces numbered 2,
3, and 6?
Could be a “slight” advantage there.
Rectangular, trapezoid, concave or convex faces, non-uniform vertexes or
points, or sides not parallel. Shaved dice or dice with one face purposely
bulged out for
Weird dice with sharp ledges on one edge or even a pin sticking out of one
to catch on the felt and thus get stuck with that face down.
If you go back and read the specs, you
will see how they are addressing each of these problems. Also some of
these methods are grotesquely obvious to even casual examination. Some
like the magnetic ones require very large electromagnets as accessories.
I ordered two sticks of Dice Coach Dice,
one red and one green and subjected them to the similar tests a bit more
than a year ago. They passed. It was not easy to do. Measuring in the
1/10,000 of an inch range and determining absolute face flatness etc. That
is tricky, but with a really good micrometer with a tension thimble and
vernier and knowing how to use it correctly, it can be done. You can also
use a strong light and a very high precision tool and die maker’s
miniature square for some of the tests. There are dice spinners and the
water glass test to check for uniform density. Visual inspection alone
spots many “defects.”
There are just a few cosmetic aspects of
dice not specified. The numbers 1, 2, and 3 have to meet in a single
vertex. If you look at that vertex point on, the numbers can increase
either clockwise or counterclockwise. Also a range of transparent colors
How many times have you seen the dice
placed in front of the boxman where he can glare intensely at them? Or
even pick them up and spin them expertly between his thumb and finger?
Most of the crooked dice listed above could be easily spotted by just
looking carefully at them, and certainly by spinning them to see if they
I once had a fantastic sequence of fours.
I could not stop tossing fours. Mostly hardways. I commented on it, the
stickman commented on it, the other players were betting on it, I was
betting on it, we were all cleaning up. Sure enough, first the stickman
would just give me the dice. Then he started parking them directly in
front of the boxman after each throw where the boxman would glare at them
like he was using X-ray vision on them. After another four showed up, the
boxman finally picked them up and gave them each a beautiful
well-practiced spin. No heat. No negative comments from the staff. No
problems. No swapping of the dice. Same dice stayed in play. But there was
most definitely a low profile investigation of those dice!
Where’s the Advantage?
Now for the most important part of the
“crooked dice” equation. Craps is played in two phases. The comeout phase
and the chasing points phase. In one the seven is your friend. In the
other the seven is your enemy. Given that dice have to total seven on
opposite faces, it is very hard to get such dice to suppress or enhance
sevens. Most if not all the value of any crooked dice is lost if you do
not switch out the true dice and the crooked dice based on the game
conditions from moment to moment. Dice switching by players is a bit of a
no-no. (Slight understatement).
Casinos change out dice when they are
worried that the dice have become out of specs and are no longer
absolutely trustworthy to be random. Like when they go off the table and
suffer obvious vertex damage, or have been used long enough to suspect
point or razor edge wear.
A math professor at a major university
got some professionally shaved crooked dice and got his graduate students
to roll them, a lot! The data collected showed that any slight advantage
from shaved dice was swamped by the random roller style of the shooters.
It appeared that the dice would have to be modified in a very significant
way to survive all the built in randomizers on a craps table such as the
felt, the pyramids, specs on a proper acceptable throw, chips in the way,
There have been cases of stickmen and
boxmen swapping crooked dice in and out of a game in cahoots with players
who were co-conspirators. This was not a Casino sanctioned behavior
Random is to a Casino business as
actuarial tables are to an Insurance company.
Random is what makes it a business with a
bottom line, a predictable cash flow and a return on investment they can
bank on. To do this business they typically need a special license. Doing
anything that would endanger that, such as petty cheating to increase
slightly some gain at one game makes no sense at all. They would be
“betting the entire farm” for chump change relative to the total take
across all the games and slot machines on the Casino floor.
You would have to have something that
works for all situations that come up in Craps in a 24 hour period, works
with five dice of which two are selected at random, and which a shooter
holds for a hand at a time and involves no funny switching of dice by
stickman or boxman.
It would have to be completely legal and
subject to examination by regulators. And it would have to generate enough
extra income to justify the effort to select the dice in the first place
and manage two types of dice at the tables. That takes equipment, manpower
and adds complexity to making money.
That is a lot to deal with in order to
create a scenario that makes business sense.
If it ain't broke,
don't fix it!
Craps ain't broke from the Casino's view
and nearly all the rules favor them. Including their ultimate rule, they
can just refuse to let you play for any reason at any time.
If you want to see Casinos trying to
"fix" Craps, look at sit-down tables designed to cut staff required to man
a Craps table. Should they use 12 foot or 14 foot tables? Or 10 foot, or
super size tables?
Look at the decisions to either include
or remove the Big 6 and Big 8 from the felt. Are there enough suckers to
justify that waste of felt real estate? What level of odds to allow?
Double? Triple? 20 times? 100 times!
How about the size of the Hardways? Make
them big because your players love the Hardways, or make the lousier prop
bets bigger in hopes of dumb suckers attracted by
BIG RED LETTERING. Look at the few
prop bets that have different payoffs at different casinos.
When to open a table? How many tables to
have? Where to put the tables? What to eliminate to free up floor space
for the poker room!
Do we need to eliminate a Craps table and
put in a dumber game with just one dealer such as Let It Ride?
Those are the kinds of ways Casinos try
to "fix" Craps to generate more income.
Not ways to get caught doing something
shady or blatantly illegal that requires lots of extra work.
Nevada Specific Information
Casino Dice are considered
to be “associated equipment” in Nevada. Interestingly, there are no exact
specifications for “Casino Dice” used in Craps in Nevada. But they would
be covered under “Industry Standards” for such equipment. So it would not
be correct to say dice used in Nevada are not regulated. From what I was
able to find out, the Queensland specifications indicate what can be done
to make high quality dice, specifications that manufacturers can routinely
meet. They probably make a good example of “Industry Standards”. Some
things like the casino name being required on the dice I am not sure about
The main thing looked for
in Nevada is anything about the dice that would affect the roll and cause
them to tend to land in any specific way other than randomly. Dice would
typically include a set in play that would be five dice all the same with
the same serial number on them.
Ways to affect randomness
checked for would include weighting of course, but dice should also be
perfect cubes, opposite sides should total seven, no numbers on a given
die should be duplicated, and they are normally made of transparent
material to facilitate checking for common methods of loading or weighting
dice. There is some flexibility in the design of Casino Dice in Nevada as
long as they are not manufactured or modified in such a way as to affect
the randomness of their roll.
I got the impression the
experts I contacted thought the question a bit strange. That crooked dice
would be, well crooked! Rather obviously. In a heavy handed sort of way,
not something subtle. But seriously out of specifications in some way not
that difficult to detect with even casual testing.
The bottom line, literally,
is that casinos need dice to be predictably random. It is part of the
business model for running a craps table. Cheap “toy” dice are born
crooked. I tested a bunch of them and was amazed at the seriously bulged
faces, the irregularly rounded vertexes, the non-parallel faces, and other
glaring problems. And these were not even made to be crooked on purpose,
just sloppy cheap work. I measured some Bicycle Dice and found them a
considerable improvement over the el cheapo red plastic types. By
comparison the precision of real professional casino dice is quite
impressive and a serious cut above even the best “toy” dice.
Given the slight advantage a Casino might
gain, versus the incredible damage of being shut down for running a
questionable game, why would they risk the entire golden goose?
I believe it is much more likely that
aliens will land in your back yard and treat you to an anal probe than it
is you will encounter a major Casino introducing shaved or otherwise out
of spec dice in a Craps game to try to take unfair advantage of customers.
Mike in Hawaii