Rock ’n roll dice

Dec 16, 2003 2:37 AM

THE CRAPS STYLE of game is played on a blackjack-like table layout.

I admit, when new games like Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride were first introduced, I was a bit annoyed. Perhaps I was a too much of a purist but I wondered what the need for new table games was.

I mean, what could someone find wanting in the classic casino games of craps, roulette, blackjack and baccarat? It was not long, however, before I started taking a good look at some of the new players that found the courage to come to my tables. The classic game’s seemingly complex rules and rituals mystified many of them. They had no idea how to play, and were perhaps justified in believing that they shouldn’t have to read a book or take a class in order to participate in a recreational activity.

While new card games, especially poker variants, have been in casinos for more than 10 years, no one has endeavored to skillfully create a new dice game, until now. John P. Bonito, a three-decade table games dealer and supervisor here in Las Vegas, has created a very simple yet entertaining variation of the game of craps called "Rock ’n Roll Dice."

The game is patented and Bonito is currently seeking a casino that is willing to sponsor the game for the two-month trial period, required for gaming control board approval.

This new game is played on a standard blackjack table and can accept as many as six players. The major benefit of sitting and the simplicity will certainly have a more widespread appeal to the younger generation, along with many of the veteran craps players. The advantage for the casino is the game can be located next to the BJ tables and does not require special placement or additional supervisors, as with craps tables. The game is played with two dice that are protected in a 12-inch plastic-domed "popper" (developed by Steve Nadeau) that is operated by the dealer.

All players are required to make a bet in the "winners circle" which is essentially equivalent to the pass line in craps. On the come out roll (first roll of the dice) the circle bet wins even money on a 7. The circle bet loses if a 2 or 3 (craps) is rolled and pushes if an 11 or 12 comes up. Before any of you craps players scoff at this arrangement, read on.

Like in craps, if the come out roll is a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, that will become the "marked point" and that point must be rolled again before a 7, to win even money. What makes up for not winning on 11 during the come out roll, is the fact that the 12 is a push, and get this: when the point is made the "hard way" (with a pair) it is called a "Hard Rock Winner" and the circle bets are paid 3 to 2.

At just slightly more than a two percent house edge, the circle bet is not quite as good as the pass line in craps (1.41%) but getting a 3-2 bonus for making the point the hardway effectively gives the bettor the nice thrill of getting paid extra (like a blackjack) for a hardway winner without the necessity of betting more money and suffering the notorious high house percentage of the hardway bets in craps. The other innovative advantage of the circle bet over the pass line is the opportunity it gives the bettor to make place bets that pay true odds! No, you don’t have to pay a commission, either when making the place bet or after it wins.

Instead of taking odds on the circle bet, players can make a place bet on the 5, 6, 8 or 9 (sorry, you can’t place the 4 or 10) for as much as twice the amount they have wagered on their circle bet. These bets must be made after the dice come out on a new point and must remain at the same amount until the next come out roll, although you do have a choice to take them down at any time. Since they pay true odds, a place bet on the five and nine pays 3-2 and the place bets on the six and eight pay 6-5. I really like this because it’s the same as being able to take double odds on your point (unless it is 4 or 10) and having the option to take double odds on the rest of the inside numbers, without a come bet!

The remaining bet on the table is called the "Juke Box" and is an interesting variation of the field bet in craps and has an even smaller house edge. The juke box is a one-roll bet on the 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 and 12. I can hear the craps pundits crying already: "But that is one less number than the field (no number 9) how can you tell me it is a better bet?" The answer, oh impatient one, is that none of the numbers in the juke box pays even money!

The 2 and 12 pay 3-1, the 3 and 11 pay 2-1 and the 4 and 10 pay 3-2. At a smaller house edge than the field (even at 3 to 1 for boxcars) and a much smaller edge than the "any crap" bet, the juke box makes a good hedge bet (if there ever was a good hedge bet) for the "winners circle" on the come out roll.

I hope to see "Rock ”˜n Roll Dice" in casinos soon since even a purist like me can enjoy something new once in a while. Casino executives can contact Bonito for more details at [email protected]

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