Dice cheats can be spotted if the player knows what to look for.  Above, a crooked die with  only three lucky numbers on it.  with two such dice the numbers Three, Five, Seven, Nine, Eleven, or Twelve could not be thrown.  Above left, dice 1 and 2 have two slightly rounded sides; such dice will tend to come to rest on the flat sides.  Die 3 has weights inside the corners of one side that will force the die on to that side.  Die 4 is not truly square and will land most often on its long sides.  Die 5 has round edges on certain sides and is less likely to land on these.  Die 6 has a metal strip within one side that brigs it down on that side.  Die 7 is hollow at one side, so will tend to drop on the solid side.  Die 8 has edges jutting out on the side that tend to stop the die rolling off that side.  Below left, how to test a die for weights.  Loaded dice turn over when dropped in water, landing on the weighted side.

Some of the dice cheat’s sleight-of-hand exposed.  Crooked dice are concealed in the palm of the hand (top left) when the cheat picks up the honest dice.  He closes his hand, and the crooked dice drop to his fingers.  After palming the honest dice he throws the crooked pair.  Center right, the “Greek shot”: The dice are thrown against a wall (not shown) so that one lands on top of the other – preventing the bottom one from rolling.  Thus the bottom die can always be made to score, say six, and the cheat would always score at least seven.  Bottom left ad right, a “slide throw”: One die is held by the little finger so that it slides rather than rolls, again ensuring that one number will appear.  If the number is a Six, no lower number can be thrown-and so the shooter cannot “crap out” on a Two or Three and is more likely to make his point.

Most of these systems find their greatest use in european casino gambling play(or what some gamblers call “bank craps”).  In informal games (or “private craps”) the players are less likely to turn to complicated methods of improving their luck.  Craps is a simple game, and most crapshooters prefer to keep it that way.  In fact, its simplicity is one of its main attractions.  All the players need is some money, a pair of dice, and a floor to roll them on.  (To prevent some of the cheating throws already mentioned, a wall or other upright surface is necessary too.  The dice must be rolled so as to rebound from the wall before coming to rest.  A blanket is lad down to prevent dice from chipping.)

Crap games can be found on almost every social stratum: in the living rooms of mansions, in the smoky backgammon rooms of pool halls, even on street corners.  Of course, no matter what kind of premises it is played in, craps is illegal in most states of the U.S.A. and in most European countries.  This is why Damon Runyon’s famous “floating crap game” floated; it was never held in the same place twice, in order to keep one jump ahead of the police. Crapshooters have developed many ways to circumvent the law: Some years ago, for instance, the authorities in Alabama were trying in vain to put a stop to the Negroes’ street-corner crap games.  The police would swoop down on a group of Negroes crouched in a circle, money in their hands and on the pavement- but no dice would be visible anywhere. So no arrests could be made.  The Negroes’ method was simple: They used very small dice, and swallowed the evidence.
But craps is one gamble that doesn’t need to rely on the danger of police raids for added excitement.  It has been called “the fastest gambling game in the world”; the dice are rolled, picked up, shaken, and rolled again almost as fast as the shooter’s hand can move, yet the other players always manage to cover the bets (and make “side bets” among themselves) between each throw.  The pace gets even faster when a shooter begins a winning streak (i.e., when the dice get “hot”).  Runs of up 10 consecutive passes are not as uncommon as the odds might indicate (1023 to 1 against a run of 10).
The excitement engendered by a crap game was allegedly the direct cause of a tragedy that looms large in American history-the great Chicago fire of 1871, which destroyed most of the city.  I say “allegedly” because the following story has never been verified; but, true or not, it has taken its place in the colorful history of craps.

In 1871 a man named Louis M. Cohn was shooting craps with some friends in barn (Chicago was then presumably less urban than it is today) owned by a family called O’Leary.  They were playing by the light of a lantern, and in a particularly exciting moment of the game Cohn knocked over the lantern and set the barn on fire.  The fire spread across Chicago with uncontrollable rapidity Presumably to escape the consequences, Cohn spread a story that was the accepted story of the cause of the fire.  But in 1944, two years after Cohn died at the age of 89, the dean of Northwestern University, Illinois, received from Cohn’s vast estate (he had become a very successful business man) a gift of $ 35,000, together with the full story of the “truth” about the Chicago fire.

Four British youths enjoy an improvised craps game.  Games of dice need no elaborate equipment-which is mainly why they are such a popular form of private gambling.

n his will Cohn added a postscript to his story, in the form of a deadpan comment that could have been made only by a man with the unswering single mindedness of the dedicated gambler: “When I knocked over the lantern,” he wrote, “ I was winning seven card stud.”

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