Chuck-a-luck revival

Sep 5, 2006 1:46 AM

Want to know about the dice game Chuck-A-Luck?

Chuck-A-Luck, also called Bird Cage, is becoming popular again, and several casinos have chuck-a-luck games, but it is usually found in the slot machine area rather than with the table games. Long ago, along with Hazard, it was the forerunner of craps.

You may see a large dice "bird cage" with a handle on the side filled with three large dice. The "dealer" will announce to onlookers, "The best game there is — three winners and three losers. Bet just $1 ”¦ easiest money you’ll ever make."

Sounds like a good 50/50 proposition, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Here’s the story behind the game and the secrets that the pros use to play chuck-a-luck.

Underneath the large wire chuck-a-luck cage is a layout vaguely reminiscent of a craps game. It is usually green, with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 printed on top.

You place $1 on any of the numbers and if you number appears on any one die, you get even money. If your number appears on two dice, you get 2-1 ($2). If it appears on all three dice, you get 3-1 ($3). The game begins when all six numbers have a bet placed on them.

Although on the surface this looks pretty good, let’s look at what is really happening.

If two 2s and one 3 are thrown, the bank pays $2 to whoever bet on the 2 and $1 to whoever bet on the 3. Those who bet the 1, 4, 5 and 6 all lose. In this case there are two winners and four losers. So the house takes in $6 and pays out $3.

Now let’s say the dealer rolls three 4s. Whoever bet on the 4 wins $3, but all five other bettors lose $1 apiece.

The dealer’s original claim of three winners and three losers is true, but only applies if all three dice are different. If he rolls, for example, 2, 3, 4, then three people will win $1 each and three people will lose $1 each.

If you figure out the casino edge for this game, it is about 7 percent, which is not so good compared to other casino games. Plus, there is no strategy involved; it is purely a game of luck.

If you see Bird Cage or chuck-a-luck at a county fair, beware of cheating. Watch out for a set-up in which the bottom of the cage is less than one inch from the supporting box. This could signify a foot operated magnet that the dealer uses to alter the outcome so he wins more and you win less. You don’t have to worry about this in casinos because the 7 percent house edge is more than enough for them.

So, even though this game might be a lot of fun to play, a regular craps game might provide a little more value and profit.

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