No Dice

Dice cheating article from "Easy Money" published in 1935. Loaded dice, Mag dice, Tops, Flats and more.


Tracey Bennett

6/30/202210 min read

IT WAS Bert Williams, the beloved comedian of two decades back, who sang the song. It went something like this:

TWO ivory bones wid ebony dots Oft lead to cemetery lotsNow duh game las’ night Brought- on a fight Which ended up in pistol shots!

Bert Williams is dead, but the “ivory bones wid ebony dots” keep galloping on, winning and losing enough cold cash yearly for their always hopeful manipulators to pay off the National Debt.

The Irish Sweepstakes took three million out of the country last year and gave plenty back in winnings. Reformers ranted and politicians prattled about this “wholesale gambling.” At a round dozen big tracks throughout this democracy there are daily “takes” of hundreds of thousands of dollars as Uncle Sam’s coveted greenbacks pour into the mutuel machines in a never-ending stream. It is said that five millions change hands as a result of the outcome of a heavyweight championship bout; a little less on a World’s Series.

But, strange as it may seem, this is all small potatoes compared to the dough that slips from hand to hand, depending upon the roll of a pair of ivory or celluloid cubes, six-sided and dotted.

The game of “craps” is strictly an American affair. While no attempt has been made to estimate how much money is actually “faded” in the countless games, big and small, that are constantly going on, a fair guess would give the game the top spot in gambling. In the first place, “craps” can be played by pauper, prince or prelate. You can shoot a jit or a buck or a million. In the second place, you get a fast reaction. There’s no waiting around while the horses go to the post. You shake, they click, you roll and you know pretty damn soon whether they’re still your dice—or the guy’s on the left.

It’s a great game if the bones are working right for you. I watched a Wall Street man, who never batted an eye when the bottom dropped out of the market, come close to an apoplectic stroke when he rolled six “naturals” in a row at a big Broadway game. His “take” on the run was only $14,000, but he reacted as though someone had handed him the U. S. Mint.Luckily for the broker, that game was on the level. If it hadn’t been he probably would have tottered out of the hotel with a first mortgage on his gold fillings. Ali of which leads us up to the purpose of this little treatise. We aim to bust wide open, once and for all, the various methods used to rig up the galloping dominoes, and tell you, in plain, everyday language, just how and why Mr. John “Sucker” Public gets taken for a merry old sleigh ride every time he is lured into a dice game in which educated cubes are used.

To begin with, it might be well for you to know that professional gamblers do not always use dice that have gone to college. Offhand I can think of only five ace-high crap shooters who can make fair dice obey every command. But let that come later, together with the mathematical methods employed to trim suckers. For the present let us concern ourselves with “unnatural” or “fixed” dice.The simplest of the phony dice are “Tops And Bottoms,” otherwise known as “Murder Dice.” On these crooked cubes, the spots are incorrect. One type is used to roll “naturals” with deadly frequency; another intentionally mismatched pair will roll eternally and never hit 5-2, 4-3 or 6-1.

However, “Murder Dice” are never used by a smart crap shooter unless he’s playing with a blind man or a yokel who never saw dice before. An attempt to match them immediately will reveal what’s wrong and the “pistol shots” that Bert Williams referred to usually end the crap game! In disposing of this most amateurish form of unfair dice, it might be wise to caution every hopeful who enters a game with strangers to match the cubes before starting.

MUCH more difficult to detect—and much more expensive to manufacture — are four other types of unfair dice used by crooked gamblers. In the jargon of the gaming room they are: “Heavies,” “Shapes,” “Combinations” and “Electrics.”

“Heavies” are dice which have been loaded with some foreign substance such as lead, silver, gold or platinum, the object being to make the dice top heavy. Common bone dice are loaded by drilling out two or more spots on one side of the dice and filling the holes with metal. Naturally, the heavier the “load,” the less chance there is of the weighted side turning up at the end of a roll.

To illustrate clearly, assume a gambler wished to load a pair of dice to fall a 6-5 natural. The opposite side of 6 is 1. The opposite side of 5 is 2. He would have to load the 1 and 2 sides to make the 6 and 5 sides come up.

WITH the advent of transparent dice, loading became an art. It was impossible to just drill and fill with any metal because the transparency immediately revealed the fraud. Therefore, gold and platinum, being more adaptable, came into play. The load is placed in the spots and covered with a layer of paint. In order to get enough weight into the side loaded, the spots are made deeper and larger.A gambler can buy a complete outfit for loading dice. It consists of a hand drill, hollowing drill, celluloid for plugging, amalgam for loading, and spotting paint. This handy cheat set is much in use by experts who go from saloon to saloon loading dice for barkeepers who like to treat their customers to a good, “honest” crap game.Loaded dice or “heavies” are easy to detect if you know how. Fair dice, as you probably are aware, will spin on one corner. Loaded dice will not. You might try spinning the cubes the next time you get down on your knees. The final and best test for detecting “heavies” is to drop them into a tall glass of water. Champagne will do if there isn’t any water handy. If the same numbers turn up, time after time, you can give odds that the dice are plenty loaded.

So much for dice with pay loads on them and metal lodes in them.“Shapes” may fool all but the expert nine times out of ten. These are dice fashioned into imperfect cubes, that is, one or more of the sides have been planed down, making them narrower than their opposite sides. When rolled, they tend to settle on the broad side. Fortunately, “shapes” cannot be shaved too much because they begin to look lopsided. This saves the sucker from too great a trimming. Even the best of “shapes” do not fall the way they’re supposed to on every roll. Shaping is usually done on round-cornered dice-and the work is often so fine as to escape detection. On top of that “shapes” may be broken open for examination.

To detect “shapes,” the dice have to be matched on all sides. Those who do not square up under tests definitely have been shaped.“Combinations” are merely dice that have been treated to both loading and shaping. A pair of 6-5 “combinations” are made in the following manner: The opposite side of 6 is 1 and the opposite side of, 5 to 2. Therefore, the 1 and 2 spots are loaded to make them heavy. Then the edges of the 6 and 5 sides are planed down to make them narrower than the 1 and 2 sides, thereby making certain the dice fall on the broader and heavier 1 and 2 sides, showing the 6 and 5 sides up.

“Combinations” are deadly in the hands of a craps expert, since neither the load nor the shaping is so pronounced as to excite suspicion. But the union of the two tricks make for dice that practically will talk for their owner.

You are probably wondering why, if phony dice will work for the sharp, they won’t work for the sucker since he uses the same cubes. On the face of things it would seem that everyone in the game had a fair chance even with faked dice. Unfortunately, this isn’t gospel truth. The sharper, handling “combinations” or “heavies,” never gives the dice a long roll, but a gentle, short roll that lets the load and the shape work. If a cup is used, he sets the dice in the cup by turning it lightly from side to side, then shoots the cubes out in a spin instead of an end over end roll.When you get the phony dice you roll them out hot and heavy, little suspecting that they have been fixed. This rough treatment takes the advantage of the load and shape away from you. You’ll make a few passes, of course, but in the long run the bird who knows the dice are faked has the upper hand in a crooked game.

Space does not permit a full description of “electrics” and since we would like to devote some time to telling you how fair dice is played, let it suffice to say that “electrics” are dice controlled by magnetic attraction. At some later date, we’ll go deeper into the subject.The breaking of a crap game by an honest player with perfectly fair dice requires moral courage and digital dexterity. You probably have .heard stories of men who can throw twenty-five passes in a row with honest cubes. The chances are you don’t believe it.

Well, it can be done. Joe W.., one of the most successful professional crap shooters, threw twenty-one straight naturals up against a wall in the presence of five newspaper reporters, using my dice! There are, in all, eight methods of controlling fair dice to the point where the roller has an 80-20 break in his favor. In any game of chance odds like that are not to be sneezed at.

We shall pass over methods used involving tossing the dice from a cup and save them for another session. Cups are usually brought into play only in big games. For the present we can study three methods of hand rolling with fair dice: the “Hudson Shot” (also known as the “Navy Twist” or “The Spin”) the “Pique” and the “Wall Shot.” If you succeed in mastering these three methods you can start making arrangements to live a life of ease on your winnings.The first thing a gambler learns, in controlling fair dice, is how to pick them up and get them set in his hand without exciting suspicion. Nothing but practice can make him proficient. If the dice are on the table 4 and 3 up and he plans to use a “Hudson Shot” to make a 6-1 natural, he picks the dice up 5-5 on one side and holds them vertically in the hand. The dice must be loose enough to rattle without changing position.

The important thing in the “Hudson Shot” is making the dice leave the hand in the proper manner. Plenty of “English” is necessary to give the dice twist. They must not turn end over end, but slide along the surface in a spinning motion. Naturally, since you already have a 6 and 1 up (owing to the position of the dice in the hand) that’s how they’ll show at the end of the roll.

My own variation of the “Hudson Shot” is easier for beginners. It involves controlling only one die and letting the other roll free. If the controlled cube is made to show a 5 you eliminate the chance of crapping and have two chances of rolling a natural on the come-out, 5-2 or 5-6.The die to be controlled is held tight in the pinky with the 5-spot up. The other die shakes free. When you roll you slide the pinky die across the table and let the second one go out naturally. A more realistic rattle can be secured using this method.

THE “Pique” likewise involves the control of only one of the dice. The cubes are held in almost the same manner as for the “Hudson Shot,” with the exception that the bottom die is made to slide across the playing surface and the top die rolls off.

Too often, crap shooters think that if dice are rolled up against a wall there isn’t the ghost of a chance of making them behave. Not much! Just to refresh your memory. I mentioned seeing Joe W...make twenty-one passes that way with my dice. It’s no trick you can learn overnight by any means. It requires hours and hours of tedious practice, but once mastered, it’s a honey in any crap game, big or small.

The dice are held in a similar manner as those for the “Hudson Shot,” with the exception that the spots you want to show at the end of the roll should be facing the palm of your hand instead of up and down. For instance, if you’re after a 5-2 natural, the dice should either show 3-1 or 6-4 as you look at them in your hand. That brings the 5-2 against the palm cushions.

The shake is the same as that for the “Hudson Shot,” care being required not to get the dice out of position. When the throw is made the hand is twisted so that the knuckles rest on the floor and the dice come out over the forefinger, sliding to the wall together. If the wall is hit squarely, the dice will not turn over, but slide back with the spots you want still up.

Another variation of the "Wall Shot” controls only one die. For this method you set the under die with its top side showing 5 and slide both dice off your two middle fingers, giving them plenty of spin. They should ride to the wall together. When they hit, the top die will fall off and the bottom one will stay put, showing a 5. This eliminates crapping on the come-out and gives you an even chance of making your point.

WHEN all is said and done, sharpers, whether they use fake cubes or fair ones, meet their match eventually. For the comparative novice, playing percentage is a much better method of beating the game. It is mathematically true that the fader has a better percentage break. Actually it amounts to 1% per cent better than the shooter. At a glance, the odds on any one roll are the following:

Any pair 35—1. Eleven 17—1. Three 17—1. Four 11—1. Ten 11—1. Five 8—1. Nine 8—1. Six 6 1/5—1. Eight 6 1/5—1. Seven 5—1

These are actual odds, figured on the mathematical possibilities of the dice. Banking odds run a little lower. This may guide you in side-betting after the come-out when a point has to be made.

To bring this sermon to a conclusion, it might interest you to have the list of “Betting Propositions" used successfully by one of this country’s ace gamblers. This man never rolled the dice himself and rarely faded. His was strictly a side-bet racket, figured down to a point Propositions have been offered to the public.

Here they are! Use ’em at your own risk.

(1) When 6 is point, bet EVEN money no make. (2) When 8 is point, bet EVEN money no make. (3) When 5 is point, bet 6 to 5 no make. (4) When 9 is point, bet 6 to 5 no make. (5) When 4 or 10 is point, bet 3 to (7) Bet EVEN money a man will throw 7 in four rolls. (8) If a shooter gets 4, 5, 9 or 10 for a point, bet EVEN money he will not get over three rolls for his money. If he makes 7 on his third roll, you win(9) Bet EVEN money you can throw 5, 6, 7, or 8 in one roll. (10) Put your dough in the savings bank and let the next guy make the bones bounce.