Cheating with Dice

How professional sharpers rob and deceive victims with gaffed dice and manipulation


Los Angeles Evening Express 07/21/1894

7/4/20223 min read

Cheating With Dice

How professional sharpeners rob and deceive victims. The mysteries of electric and loaded dice, dispatchers and securing explained by a sleight of hand performer. The New York World recently gave an account of some devices for cheating at cards described by John Neville Maskelyne, a well-known English sleight of hand performer in his book sharps and flats. In the same book he tells how dice are loaded and otherwise falsified, by which means innocent gamblers are cheated as much money as at cards.

Methods of cheating with dice are divided into two classes -the manipulation of proper dice and the employment of improper ones.

The familiar loaded dice of romance are clumsy affairs now little used. They do not spin properly, which reveals their peculiarities to intelligent people. The commonest way of manipulating fair dice is called securing. One die is held against the inside edge of the box, while the others are rattled freely in the box. One therefore falls to the table in the position in which it has been held. The inside edge of the box is roughened with glass paper to prevent the die from slipping. The die to be secured is taken from the table with the six upward, which fall from the box again in that position. How they are handled is shown by the illustration, of course it requires great skill and care to remove the fingers so that the dive falls on the face intended. Only practice makes perfect.

By this method the lowest possible throw with two dice will be 7. The average of an infinite number of fair throws is 7 with one die secured it is necessarily much higher.

Dice which do not bear the correct number of spots in their faces are called “dispatchers”. Loaded dice are, of course, loaded in one side and tend to fall one side downward. Electric dice at the very newest device. Dispatchers are of two kinds, high and low. In a high dispatcher three adjacent sides of the dice are marked with two, four and six respectively. In fair dice the two opposite numbers together make seven spots. In dispatchers, the side opposite six is 6 opposite four is 4 and opposite two is 2. The low dispatcher three adjacent sides are marked one, two and three. A higher dispatcher cannot throw less than two, in a low more than three. If the sharp uses a high dispatcher and gives a low one to his opponent, each using one fair dice as well, the former will average 30% better than the latter if he throws.

A price list of gambling commodities says:Loaded dice -made of selected ivory, loaded with Quicksilver, and can be shaken from the box so as to come high or low as you wish. With a set of these you will find yourself winner at all dice games, and carry off the prize at every raffle you attend. Sold in sets of 9 dice 3 high 3 low and three fare price per set complete, $5.

Electric dice are made of celluloid. A cylindrical cavity is bored from the six side almost to the face of the ace side. At the bottom of the cavity, immediately above the ace, is a thin disc of iron. The cavity is filled in with cork, and it loaded disk of the same weight as the iron one leaving space for the insertion of a celluloid plug bearing the six spots. The die is therefore evenly balanced and would spend like a fair one.

These dice must be used on a table having electric magnet beneath it which can be put in and out of effect at the will of the sharp. The magnet brings the ace side near which is the iron desk, against the table and turns up the six. The sharper demagnetize the magnet before lifting the diet from the table, otherwise its efforts to stay there would be noticeable. Unfair dice are usually “ring in” in after the game has commenced.

Electric dice are particularly useful in hazard. A pair of dice being made to fall six and one, he can throw a “neck” whenever he pleases. If it gives his dupe a pair, made to fall both sixes or both aces, the dupe can be made to throw a “crab” whenever his opponent pleases.

A dice top, or teetotum, can be made to fall on any particular side, after the manner of a loaded die.

In false roulette wheels the copper points forming the recesses into which the ball falls are made to move in two sets. By moving one of these slightly the man who spins the wheel can close all the high numbers or all the small ones, according to the betting.