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Best of Mark Pilarski
Mind-reader dice and kitchen Hold'em29 March 2004
A great column last week on don't bettors. It reminds of a game I was on recently where a guy threw the number seven about a dozen times without the point ever being made. He touted that he had the skill of willing the number seven. Of course, two hours later, he was broke. But that still begs this question, do you think there is any skill involved in throwing dice? Eddie P.
The telepathic player on the craps game you describe possessed no second-sighted
skills, because dice, Eddie, have absolutely no notion of who is throwing them.
(Just imagine a sleepy pair of dice suddenly realizing they'd goofed on Player
Z's last roll and determining to make up for it next time around.) I will match
any six-year old Monopoly Jr. player against your crapped-out clairvoyant in
producing losing (and winning) numbers, with the happy casino always maintaining
its house edge. BUT — there's always a but — my answer above, Eddie, is based
on honest dice, and on a legitimate game. Are there any other kinds? Well, yes,
shocking as that may be. A skillful and crooked player, or an underground illegitimate
casino, can introduce gaffed dice on the game. One example would be the use
of "tops," dice that have certain numbers omitted. Instead of the six distinct
numbers 1-6, each die has only three different numbers, each smiling twice from
opposite sides of its die. These defective dice work like this: One die sports
the numbers 1, 3 and 5, while the other shows 2, 4 and 6. This foul pair cannot
roll the numbers 4, 6, 8 and 10 but the can roll 7s all night long.
Another example would be two dice that have only the numbers 2, 3 and 6 on
them. This set will roll 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9, but it would be impossible to seven-out.
The sucker player just doesn't catch on because only three sides of a die are
visible at any given time. Yet another example would be the player who has developed
skill at sliding one or both of them bones across the table. But any box person
not napping on the game would yell out "NO ROLL," and mentally mark the slider
for close observation. Then there are loaded dice, also known as weights, that
you can buy at any magic shop. Loaded dice are "percentage dice," since they
do not win as often as tops do, but they do tilt the odds in the cheat's favor.
In the years that I boxed a craps game, I never caught gaffed dice on the table. To introduce them, the cheats would have had to match the color and shade of the house dice, imprint the casino's name and logo on them, and, usually, match a three-digit number engraved on them. Even working the late swing shift, I was never sleepy enough to have missed such painstaking artwork.
The affirmative answer is to include each player's pocket cards. Therefore, using your example, if the community cards were an ace, queen and jack of clubs, and player A had a five and three of clubs, with player B having a four and two, player A's five of clubs would accord him the winning hand. You would only split the pot if all five cards on the board (the flop, the turn, and the river) were used to make the highest flush.
Gambling quote of the Week: "Texas Hold'em is not an easy game
to play well. To become an expert you need to be able to balance many
Best of Mark Pilarski