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Deal Me In: Are casino dice on the level?22 January 2008
Dear Mark: I'm a big craps player. I was talking to my Uncle (who is in naval intelligence) about craps. He said they did studies on dice and said there are easy steps that can be done to "slightly" change the outcome of rolls over a period of time, such as: felt tip pen mark on one of the dice, hitting a certain side with some force, etc. My question is, do the casinos do any of these things? And if so, is it legal? John K.
Here is the answer to both questions. No and no, period!
Since every bet on the layout is stacked in the casino's favor, the owners have no need to cheat further, so be assured, John, that when you're playing craps in a casino, the dice are fair.
Nevertheless, a dice mechanic could still substitute a crooked pair for the square pair. We know that although gaffed dice do not behave in the same manner on each and every throw, they do change the odds in the gaffer's favor, so in the business we call them percentage or P.C. dice.
There are a number of methods of gaffing dice. The felt tip pen mark on one of the dice I'm unfamiliar with, but I believe what you meant by hitting a certain side with some force is called "Tapping dice". Tapping dice, or tappers, are dice that have a hollow dumbbell-shaped chamber inside containing some mercury. When the blob of mercury is centered in the chamber, the die is fair. But when the future ward of the state wants the die to be biased in his favor, he will tap the die so the mercury pops into one end of the chamber creating a weighted corner.
Most casinos today use transparent, numbered dice with their proprietary logo on them to reduce the chances of crooked ones being introduced on the game. An alert boxman on a crap game will periodically "pivot" the die by holding the die loosely between his thumb and forefinger at diagonally opposite corners and gently spinning it. A fair cube will spin smoothly and its revolution will stop in a natural way. A loaded die, because of the eccentric weight, will pivot back in a distinctive manner at the end of its rotation.
I once had a sneaking suspicion that a pair on a game I was boxing were foul, at a charity event, no less. So I filled a tall glass with water and dropped the cubes in, duplicating this action several times, starting each trial with a different number on top. But at the finish line – that is the bottom of the glass, the gaffers' favorite same number appeared repeatedly, confirming my suspicion they were loaded, since weighted dice do turn heavy-end-down each time they fall.
Dear Mark: My accountant is waiting for all of my '07 deductions and I'm wondering is there a simple way I can get my win/loss statements from the casino instead of the long wait I've had in years past? Sharon R.
You might want to look into whether customer service at the casino where you play allows you to go online and just print your Win/Loss Statements on the spot. I know that Harrah's makes them accessible online by just logging into your Total Rewards account and going to either My Harrah's or the Total Rewards section of their web page. The link to your Win/Loss Statement will be located in the left menu under "Total Rewards." Up to the past five years are available online.
Possibly your favorite casino has something similar.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "It is easy to smile at an insult and pretend it's funny when the person insulting you is hosing you with money." -- Alfred Alvarez (2001)
Best of Mark Pilarski