Fact and fiction of loaded dice

Sep 9, 2003 1:41 AM

Despite all of the tricks I have seen crossroaders try over the years, such as past posting, bet switching and dice sliding, I have never seen "gaffed" (crooked) dice on a game, at least not that I’m aware of.

I have only heard anecdotal stories of some Las Vegas casinos using gaffed dice in the 1940s and 50s. It makes one wonder if dealers and players should still be concerned with the possibility of either a player or the house of introducing gaffed dice into a game.

From the standpoint of the casino employee the answer is obvious: we deal and supervise the game as though every player is potentially a crossroader on the verge of "making a move." The procedures we deal the game by are designed to prevent those that would take advantage of the house, from doing so.

From the player’s standpoint, even if they believe today’s casinos are too concerned with losing their gaming license to risk their livelihood by cheating their patrons, by learning a bit of how the games can be cheated, they will look at gambling in a whole new light. The next time the stickman says, "One hand on the dice please!" they might realize that the reason they say this is to make it more difficult for them to switch the dice.

Misspots are the most obvious of all dice gaffs that involve what is called "outside work." Outside work is gaffing that is done to the outside of the dice. On "square" dice, opposite sides of a die always add up to seven. On a misspotted die the opposite sides will not add up to seven. The most blatant example of misspots can be found in some souvenir shops in Las Vegas. Old timers refer to them as "door pops." One die has nothing but fives on it and the other die has nothing but twos and sixes. Subsequently, the only numbers that can be rolled are seven and eleven. Today’s crossroader may still be fearless but they are not stupid enough to send in door pops even in a private game with first class chumps, much less try to use them in a casino.

I worked with a man that claimed he witnessed his father using "doubles" in a casino on Fremont Street. The man switched the dice the stickman gave him for a pair that had an additional six on each die where the one should be, the odds against him where now 8 to 1 instead of 35 to 1 of throwing a twelve. He bet the "boxcars" and cleaned up. Even the boxman using the mirrors on the table would not have given him a clue. The only chance they would have had in exposing the gaff would have been to have the stickman turn the dice from top to bottom to see if the number facing up was the "place side" of the number on the bottom.

A slightly less obvious and effective way of gaffing dice is to create a "flat" or "brick." Today’s casino dice are manufactured so there is no more than 1/10,000 of an inch difference between each dimension. If one was to create a die where the four vertical lines were as little as 1/5,000 of an inch shorter than the others, the numbers on the top and bottom of the die would have a slightly greater surface area and there would be a greater chance of the die coming to rest on them.

In this example you can clearly see that this die has a much greater chance of coming to rest on a four or three, the distance of "a" is shorter than "b" making the surface area of the four on the top (and the three on the bottom) much larger.

This is why you might see a pit manager using a micrometer to measure the dice before he puts them on the game. It doesn’t matter how big the die is, as long as there is no more than 1/10,000 of an inch difference in the dimensions.

The most common example of "inside work" (work done to the inside of a die) is the ever-popular "loaded die." People have believed

for years that the clear dice used in casinos today can’t possibly be loaded since someone could see the load in the clear plastic, unfortunately this is not the case.

Crooked dice manufacturers will carefully drill out the paint in the spots of a die and paint the bottom of the hole before placing small amount of lead, gold or platinum in the hole and refilling the hole with paint. After the paint dries they will sand it down and have a die that will favor the side that is opposite the loaded side.

The most reliable method of testing for loads is by dropping the die in a glass of water and looking for the weighted side diving for the bottom and the opposite side being on top. Since this method is hardly practical for boxmen to employ, they usually spin the die between their thumb and index finger looking for the die to make an unnatural move when it stops.

The serial number many casinos have manufacturers put on the "six" side of their die won’t deter a determined cheat. He will have a manufacturer make a gaffed die without a serial number. Then after he has had a chance to shoot the dice and find out what the "number du jour" is, he will go out to his car and add the serial number to the gaffed dice. I am told the ink used often smells like bananas.

Notice that in all the examples I have mentioned are instances of what is called "percentage dice." In other words, they don’t always roll the number the user wants them to but merely roll that number more often than the percentages say they should. An example a gaffed die that is never rolls a number not wanted by the user is electro-magnetic dice. The dice are loaded with iron and there is an electro-magnet under the layout. There is a switch for a dealer or boxman to turn it off or on.

I can’t imagine a Las Vegas casino using such a gaff. For one thing, it would be impossible to get rid of the evidence if the gaming commission decided to drop by for a visit.

I got taped off of a game one time and saw the pit boss staring at a lady that was playing on a game and had a small compass sitting next to her checks in the rail. I came up behind my boss and asked; "Do you want to know what the compass is for?" He turned around and said: "Yes Dale, please tell me what the compass is for!" I then said; "In case you turn on a table magnet, she will see the needle move."

(Dale S. Yeazel is the author of "Precision Crap Dealing" and "Dealing Mini-Baccarat." They are E-books on CD-Rom available for only $20 each (plus tax) at Gamblers Book Shop and Gamblers General Store in Las Vegas. www.geocities.com/lump450).