Everything you need to know about shooting dice
There’s no doubt about it. Playing craps is one of the most exciting casino experiences that you can have. Not only is it a very dramatic game, it also offers you almost limitless possibilities of the number of different bets you can make, even if it does take a little while to master them all.
But, more than anything, craps is the casino game in which you, the player, are in control. Unlike games like roulette and blackjack in which the dealer is responsible for spinning the wheel or dealing the cards, in craps when you’re the shooter you’re definitely in the box seat. So how you throw those dice not only has a direct effect on how well you do in the game, it affects all the other players too.
How to play craps
The dealer will generally give you the choice of five dice and you choose just two. Then it’s a question of throwing them, making sure that at least one hits the back wall, preferably both. Once a point has been established you just carry on throwing until you “seven out”. Then the turn passes to the player on your left and the game proceeds in exactly the same way. Of course, there’s no rule or law to the game of craps that says you have to shoot the dice. You’re 100% free to pass it on to the next player if you don’t want to have the responsibility.
Before you launch into a game of craps at the table it can be a good idea to learn from the experts first, to make sure you can give it your best shot at winning.
The longest roll
Craps marathons happen in casinos around the world, with the winners often taking home a hefty sum.
In fact, there have been instances in which player might well have chosen to forego the pleasure of shooting dice, including one in particular. In one occurrence that has never been repeated, and is never likely to be, in 2009 a woman called Patricia Demauro rolled the dice a total of 154 times before throwing a seven. It was a marathon that lasted well over four hours and the odds of it happening at all were calculated as being around 1 in 1.5 trillion.
The one thing that remains a mystery, however, is how much Demauro personally won over the four hours. She has never revealed the figure, but craps experts have estimated that, if her bets were good ones, it could well have reached six figures in the end, along with sustaining a repetitive strain injury for her efforts.
The history of shooting dice
The history of shooting dice is a long one. The game of craps, or crabs as it was originally called, is thought to have been a development of an earlier game called hazard. This may have had its origins in the times of the medieval crusades but what we do know is that the craps we know today was first brought to America in the early 19th century, immediately becoming very popular in New Orleans.
It was introduced by Bernard de Mandeville, a member of a wealthy Louisiana family and, whereas the previous versions of the game had any number from 5 to 9 as the main one, he adjusted the rule to make it 7, the combination which had the greatest probability of being scored using two dice.
For many decades the game was simply played on tabletops with bets being placed on single numbers. But at the start of the 20th century, a dice manufacturer called John Winn introduced the very first version of the table that’s still in use today. This made it easy for players to place many different and more complex forms of bets including multiple ones that had never been possible before.
But it wasn’t until the Second World War that the game’s popularity really took off, particularly with soldiers looking for entertainments and diversion. This also saw the birth of street craps in which a rough army blanket often stood in as the playing surface. It was these returning servicemen who ensured that it became a major game in many Las Vegas casinos where it’s still as popular today.
Scams and controversies
Craps, like many other casino games, has many cheating controversies and scandals attached to it.
For players, being able to throw the dice for themselves is of obvious appeal. But over the years it has presented more than a few headaches for the casinos. This is because, by handing over control to players, it has opened up the possibilities that they may not absolutely play by the rules.
While today’s casino security procedures are very closely controlled and players are subjected to extreme scrutiny, there have been various techniques tried in the past to tip the odds in the players’ favour.
One method was used by players who attempted to use sleight of hand to swap the dice for ones that were weighted to ensure that some numbers were more likely to come up. Anyone who’s seen the 2007 movie Ocean’s 13 will have seen that this was one of the techniques used to cheat The Bank Casino out of millions of dollars. This was a scam that could only ever really work in the movies as the level of CCTV, as well as eagle-eyed dealers in real casinos, would spot false dice being used in an instant.
However, something that is harder to spot, and which certainly does occur in casinos, is the skill of controlled throwing. In this, some people believe that they can develop the skills to hold and throw the dice in such a way that they are more likely to land on certain numbers. It’s to prevent this from happening that many casinos insist that at least one of the dice must bounce off the back wall. It’s also why a textured rubber backing lines the wall to make the bounce more unpredictable. Whether controlled throwing can be considered as a reliable method is open to debate – but casinos are certain to come down hard if it’s suspected.
So, hopefully, this has provided more than a little insight into the ins and outs of shooting dice. The bottom line is that, for many people, it makes an already enjoyable game even more fun and exciting to play.