What’s the Proper Technique for Rolling the Dice?
T his article applies only when playing at a live craps table. When playing online, you simply click the “Roll the Dice” button and the computer simulates a roll usually with cool sound effects. So, if you’re reluctant to roll the dice at a live table, then you have yet another good reason to play craps online. As mentioned in our other articles, the benefits of playing craps online are abundant, but if you’re going to play at a live table, you should know how to handle the dice.
We believe you will enjoy this article, so here are a few more related to Craps Dice:
- Are Crooked Dice an Issue at a Live Table?
- Never Surrender If the Dice Don’t Cooperate
- The Dice Control Scam
- Golden Touch Craps Review
Ok, let’s get to it.
After each throw, the stickman gathers the dice and places them in the center of the table while waiting for the dealers to catch up. If it’s crowded with a lot of bets on the table, the stickman waits until the dealers pay all winning bets. When the dealers are ready, the stickman pushes the dice to you. Regardless of what else is occurring at the table (e.g., a conversation between a player and the dealer, the dealer re-stacking chips, or something else occurring where the crew doesn’t seem to be paying attention), when the stickman pushes the dice to you, it’s a silent indication for you to pick them up and toss them. Don’t hesitate.
Don’t ask, “Is everyone ready?” It doesn’t matter if they’re ready or not, that’s not your problem to worry about. By pushing the dice to you with his whip, the stickman is basically telling you, “Hurry up and roll the dice.” The stickman’s job is to keep the game going with minimal delay. After all, the more rolls the casino can get per hour, the more profit they make from newbies and boneheads who don’t know what they they’re doing. (Remember, casinos make most of the profit from players who don’t know the game, not from strong players like you and I.)
If you’re a new shooter for a new game, the stickman will empty his dice dish on the table and push all the dice to you, usually three or four pairs (refer to our article on the components of a craps table to understand the “dice dish”). When selecting two dice to throw, simply reach down and take two. Don’t analyze each die or rearrange them or take forever to pick two. Just take any two so the game can start. It’s annoying when a new shooter picks up all six dice, drops them all on the table, scoops them all up again, and then drops them all again and again trying to find a pair that he thinks is lucky. Don’t do this. It’s inconsiderate and just plain silly because there are no lucky dice. Other players are anxious for the game to start, and no one wants to wait for some clown wasting time trying to figure out which two dice are going to land his way. Just pick two and start the game.
When handling the dice, always use one hand and never allow the dice to leave the table. “Leave the table” means bringing them outside the imaginary plane that extends straight up around the edge of the table. In other words, when holding the dice, always keep your hand inside the table. If you want to take a swig of beer or hug your wife, do it before you pick up the dice. Once you pick them up, the crew will watch you like a hawk until you toss them. This is a standard rule among all casinos for security purposes. It’s difficult to introduce crooked dice into the game using only one hand when it’s in plain view over the table. If you’ve never played at a live table and if this is the first time you’ve ever handled dice, you might be nervous or so excited that you forget these basic rules. The crew will quickly remind you by politely, but firmly, requesting that you use only one hand and keep it in plain view inside the table.
To make the crew’s job of watching for crooked dice a little easier, I like to flash an empty hand just before picking up the dice. As I reach down for the dice, I quickly turn my palm up, flash open my fingers so they (and the camera) can see my hand is empty, and then grab the dice. It’s an instantaneous, fluid motion just long enough for the crew to see my empty hand, but quick enough that most players don’t even notice it and don’t realize what I’m doing.
Smoothly toss the dice, both at the same time, to the other side of the table so they hit the craps table felt first and then bounce against the back wall, which ensures you have no control over the outcome. If the dice come close to the back wall but don’t hit it, the stickman will likely call it a good roll, but will politely ask you to hit the back wall on all future throws. Follow these simple rules and you’ll do just fine:
- Handle the dice with only one hand.
- Don’t bring the dice outside the table (keep them inside the table).
- Smoothly toss the dice. Don’t slide, drop, or throw them hard.
- Don’t toss the dice higher than the height of the dealers.
- Toss the dice so they land on the table felt and bounce against the back wall.
Sometimes, even with a nice, smooth roll, a die bounces off the table. That’s okay, it happens. The stickman calls, “No roll,” empties his dice dish, and pushes all the dice to the shooter to select another pair. A “no roll” means the roll doesn’t count and no one wins or loses any bets. When a die leaves the table, the shooter has the option of requesting, “Same die,” meaning he wants to continue using the one that flew off the table. This is pure superstition, especially when the shooter is having a hot roll. Changing a die or both dice in the middle of a hot roll is considered bad luck. If the table is cold or choppy, then the shooter typically doesn’t care about wanting to use the same die because it’s not lucky (if it were lucky, the table wouldn’t be cold or choppy), so the shooter simply takes a new one from the group that the stickman offers.
When a die leaves the table, typically a player or member of the pit crew (not the table crew) finds it, picks it up, and drops it on the table. The dealers are never allowed to leave the table to search for a die; they must always keep their eyes on the table. After finding the die, a player isn’t allowed to hand it directly to a dealer. Dealers and players aren’t allowed to exchange anything hand-to-hand, whether it’s money, chips, dice, food, or anything. Instead, the player drops the die on the table, and the dealer picks it up and hands it to the boxman. The boxman then inspects it to ensure it has the proper markings and sometimes spins it between his thumb and index finger to verify it’s not weighted on one side. If it passes inspection, as it usually does, the boxman either gives it to the stickman to put in his dice dish, or he drops it on the table and the stickman pushes it to the shooter to use on her next roll.
Another “no roll” situation occurs when a die comes to rest on the boxman’s chip stack. When this occurs, the stickman simply gathers the two dice and pushes them back to the shooter for another throw.
Sometimes, a die lands on the rail (i.e., the players’ chip rack around the top edge of the table). When this occurs, the stickman usually says something amusing like, “No roll, too tall to call.” A good stickman uses lots of rhymes and banter that add to the fun of playing at a live table. Sometimes, a good online casino has funny stickman banter built into the software to give the game the added feel of playing at a live table.
Other situations frequently occur that one might think are “no rolls,” but instead are valid rolls. These situations are when a die comes to rest leaning against the wall, leaning on a player’s chip on the table, or leaning against the boxman’s chip stack. A “leaner” is a valid throw and the outcome for that die is determined to be the number that is most facing up. Sometimes, the decision on what number is “most facing up” is subjective and players may or may not agree with the crew’s call, especially when it’s a losing 7-out. You can argue all you want, but the boxman won’t change his decision. The decision is made and the game continues. One of the benefits of playing at your favorite online casino is that you don’t have to worry about leaners being called against you.
The basic “Don’ts” for throwing dice are summarized as follows. Oftentimes, a “bad” throw may be considered valid, but it’s still a bad throw and should be avoided because of its negative consequences as described below.
DON’T throw the dice so hard that they hit the back wall first before hitting the table felt. Instead, toss them smoothly so they first hit the table felt and then bounce off the back wall and stay inside the table.
DON’T throw them so hard that they bounce repeatedly off the table, throw after throw. This holds up the game and frustrates everyone. Sometimes a flying die hits another player and can hurt. DO say you’re sorry if your hard throw causes a die to bounce off the table and hit someone, especially if it hits them in the head.
DON’T toss them so weakly that they barely hit the back wall. Avoid feeble, pathetic tosses. If a weak throw results in a 7-out, everyone at the table will blame you for the bad luck that your sissy throw caused.
DON’T try to be fancy with your throw. No one cares about your superstitions or talent for twisting your arm or wrist in weird positions as you launch the dice on their way. Besides, you look ridiculous. Just pick up the dice and toss them.
DON’T waste everyone’s time arranging the dice in a specific orientation before picking them up. It’s okay if you want to apply luck or superstition as you play, as long as it doesn’t affect other players. By taking forever to line up your dice in your lucky orientation and applying some sort of mojo to them, you delay the game, which frustrates the other players. So, don’t do it.
DON’T try to appear as though you’re skilled at controlling your throw (i.e., appearing as if you can somehow control their outcome). This rip-off is called “dice control” or “dice setting” (we devote an entire article that exposes the absurdity of the notion of dice control). If a throw is deemed valid (i.e., the dice bounce off the back wall), there’s no way anyone can control the dice to consistently produce a desired outcome. I don’t care what you read in any book or anywhere online about some scammer’s claim to have practiced 40 years to learn to throw dice and affect their outcome. It’s pure nonsense. The shooter may be able to control the dice for the instant they’re flying through the air, but as soon as the dice hit the table felt and bounce off the back wall, the outcome is completely random. To ensure a random outcome, the dice are required to hit the back wall, which have all those rubber pointy spikes (i.e., called “pyramids”) that cause the dice to bounce completely randomly. So, to avoid looking silly, don’t try to control the dice with your weird grip or tossing style. Just grab and toss them to the other end of the table.
DON’T aim for big stacks of chips at the other end of the table. When the other end has high rollers who have lots of chips stacked on the table, don’t try to knock over the stacks. Chips fly everywhere making a mess and upset the crew because they have to remember where all those chips go. If you see chip stacks at the other end of the table, do the dealers a favor and try to aim away from them. If you accidentally hit the chips and scatter them to the winds, don’t worry, they won’t say anything the first couple of times. But if your throws routinely knock chips everywhere, they’ll politely ask you to stop.
DON’T hit the mirror on the inside side of the table. The dice are hard and the corners are pointed, not rounded. Don’t break the casino’s mirror.
DON’T hit the dice against the tabletop for luck before you throw. It’s okay to gently tap them once or twice on the tabletop, but don’t knock them hard.
DON’T take too long blowing on the dice for luck. A quick puff is okay as long as it doesn’t delay your throw. Remember, your superstitions are okay as long as they don’t affect other players. Unnecessarily delaying the game affects other players (i.e., it makes them mad). Besides, no one wants the spit that comes out of your mouth with a good hard blow to get on the dice. So, ask your wife to give just a gentle puff, but do it quickly so you don’t hold up the game.
It won’t take long for you to witness a broad variety of dice-tossing techniques. Some are funny, some are plain, and some are so very aggravating. For example, let’s look at some of grips people actually use at a live table.
Most normal people simply pick up the dice and quickly toss them without considering technique. As we know in life, there are always those who have to be different (which is sometimes good, but not when handling craps dice). These people believe their wacky grips add luck to the dice or that they contribute to their ability to control the dice. Taking a weird grip is just the first step in their crazy dice-tossing routine.
Believe it or not, these crazy grips even have names. I find it so bizarre that people actually believe these different grips can influence the dice to increase the chances of landing a certain way. Here are just a few…the 2-finger pincer grip, the 3-finger front grip, the ice-tong grip, the flying-V grip, the lock grip, the stacked grip, the 3-finger front diagonal grip, the 2-finger front diagonal grip, and the 5-finger grip. I’m not making this stuff up! These are all real grips that scammers have concocted to make you believe you can influence the outcome of a dice roll.
Not only do they waste time taking one of these bizarre grips, they must first properly align and orient the dice before actually taking the grip. For example, you’ll see a clown turn a die so the number 6 has its pips pointing in one direction and then turn the other die so the 6 has its pips pointing in a direction perpendicular to the first die (“pips” are the dots on a die). The other players stand quietly gazing at the shooter. The shooter is oblivious to the frustration and impatience that are building up inside everyone else. Finally, the shooter gets the dice precisely arranged so everything in the cosmos is aligned with the mojo he’s about to impart on the dice. But wait, he’s still not ready! He doesn’t just pick them up; he meticulously has to take his precise grip. First, he gently rubs his thumb and fingertips together get a feel for the perfect pressure. Then, he contorts his fingers into the proper gripping position and slowly lowers his hand to the dice. Ever so gently, he picks up the dice and then closes his eyes in deep thought while the mystical mojo is transferred from his connection with the cosmos through his body and to the dice. Finally, he sends the dice on their way to the other end of the table. Sure enough, after all that nonsense, he rolls a losing 7-out. Again, I’m not making this stuff up. It happens. Don’t be one of these fools. Just pick up the dice and toss them without unnecessarily delaying the game. (This is another good thing about playing at an online casino; you don’t have to put up with these kinds of clowns who take forever to roll the dice.)
After a game ends with a 7 out, the stickman passes the dice clockwise to the next player. If the game ends with a natural or by rolling the point number, the same shooter continues rolling for the next game. If the shooter is hot and hitting point after point, she may hold the dice for 30 minutes or more. Of all the years I’ve played craps, the longest I’ve ever seen one shooter hold the dice is about an hour.
If you don’t want to shoot, you don’t have to. You may choose to pass the dice to the next clockwise player. If you’re too nervous or otherwise not ready to shoot, simply make a waving motion with your hand toward the next player and tell the stickman, “Pass.” The stickman then pushes the dice to the next player.
If you decide to shoot, you must first make a Flat Pass Line or Flat Don’t Pass bet (these bets are discussed in other articles). This helps ensure the shooter won’t leave the table before a decision is made to end the game. You can certainly leave the table if you absolutely must (e.g., you’ll miss your flight if you don’t leave immediately). However, if you shoot, try to have the courtesy to finish the game before leaving.
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