Cheating at craps takes many forms. Most of the craps cheating methods include loaded dice or fixed dice, but that’s not the only way dice shooters gain an advantage over the casino. This guide to cheating at craps includes all the many ways to load dice. We also discuss other cheating methods, such as dice control or making late bets. I’ll start with the ways to cheat without using loaded dice.
This discussion of cheating at craps is for entertainment purposes only. We do not recommend people try to cheat the casinos.
Dice control is a controversial method of gaining an advantage over the casino. In dice control, you shoot otherwise legal dice in a manner that controls the roll of the dice. If done correctly, dice control causes some numbers to appear more often than others.
To do so, you have to set the dice in your hand before the roll. Setting the dice means certain desirable numbers are arranged as you hold the two dice. This is difficult, because casinos have rules against holding dice with two hands.
Dice control experts swear by their method, though skeptics believe dice control is not an effective way to cheat. You would have to learn the various dice control methods before getting an accurate idea of whether dice control works.
Making late bets can be effective in craps, though a cheater has to be quick with sleight of hands. By making late bets after the result of the roll is known, you take all the guesswork out of dice shooting. In roulette, late betting is called “past posting” and is an effective way to cheat, if the cheater and the croupier are colluding. Top hatting is a similar concept, where the roulette dealer places your chips on the winning number after the spin.
Because a craps table has four dealers, making late bets is less effective. It is much less likely you could get 4 dealers to collude, because of the risk and the need to share winnings 5 ways instead of 2 ways. Even if you did, the chance one of the dealers would rat you out is much higher. Making late bets on your own without dealer help means you have to fool 4 sets of eyes, or 5 if you count the pit boss.
The most common way to cheat at dice involving loaded dice. Cheats have a variety of ways to fix dice, which I describe below. The risk of using loaded dice is great in legal casinos and private dice games alike. Remember that a craps cheat has to switch their loaded dice with the official dice at the craps table.
Weighted dice change the center of mass in the dice, so one side is favored when rolled. If you weight the die to the 6-side, then it will be more likely to come up the number on the other side (1). The common materials used to weight a die are lead, platinum, and gold. These are heavier, so you don’t need as much metal to weight the die.
Most casino cheats weight dice by drilling a hole in one of the dots and placing metal inside. Then they replace the hole in the pip and do their best to assure the die looks natural. A gaming inspector with an expert eye can usually spot an inconsistency, such as a dot that’s deeper than the rest of the dots.
Tappers are weighted in a more sophisticated manner, which makes them harder to spot. Tappers have a shape inside them which looks like a dumbbell, with the dumbbell arranged in such a way that one end is in the middle of the dice and another end is toward one side. This dumbbell is filled with mercury, a weighted medal that is liquid at room temperature.
If the mercury is in the center of the die, then it will seem normally weighted to an expert. Once the game begins, the cheater can “tap” the die to cause the mercury to flow to the side. Some tappers have a tiny ratchet mechanism inside, so the tap manipulates the mechanism. If this method is used, then the tapper needs rubber inside, to keep the die from making noises.
Floaters or “floats” are dice with hollow insides. Because they weigh slightly less, they float on one end of the dice. This is the opposite of the weighted die, except with the opposite effect. Instead of one number being favored because it’s opposite is heavier from metal inserts, one number is favored because that side is hollowed-out and thus weighs less.
Mis-spotted dice are those which do not have the normal number of spots. Most dice have three sets of opposite sides: 1-6, 2-5, and 3-4. On a mis-spotted die, one or more of the numbers is missing, while one or more of the numbers is doubly-represented. Mis-spotted dice have a variety of other colorful names in the craps cheat business, including “horses and tees”, “mis-spots”, “tops and bottoms”, and simply “tops”.
Dice with duplicated numbers generally are easy to spot, but some unobservant dealers might miss them at a casual glance. Mis-spotted dice are an old dice shooter’s trick. In April 2018, Norwegian archaeologists excavated a part of Bergen, Norway and found a set of mis-spotted dice later determined to be from the 15th century.
Shaped dice do not have an even side on all six sides. Instead, they are shaped to have a slight curve or parabola, which affects the die roll. If the side is convex or curved (like a hill), then that number is not likely to appear, because the dice keeps rolling. If the side is concave or indented (like a valley), then the dice is likely to land on that number, meaning it’s opposite number is likelier to appear.
To make shaped dice, cheaters heat them and shape them. A variety of heating methods are used.
Beveled dice are made to have one or more convex sides. These raised side keep the die rolling, so other numbers are more likely to appear on the roll. This is a sub-type of shaped dice.
Suction dice are another kind of shaped dice — with a concave or valley in them — and are the opposite of beveled dice. Due to the suction effect created, the die is more likely to land on the number that is concave.
This is another way to affect the roll, much like beveled dice. In this case, the numbers or pips are raised from the surface of the die, instead of sunken. Because this side of the die has protrusions, it is more likely to keep rolling on the side with the raised spots. This is also easy to spot, either visually or by rubbing one’s finger across the die’s side. For this reason, dice with raised spots are not used that often to cheat, but instead are used for practice.
Painted dice have a transparent substance painted on them that makes one or more sides sticky. To make the painted die stickier, the cheater has to get the painted side slightly wet, either from moisture from one’s drink, spittle (blowing on the dice), or palm sweat. This is a dangerous way to cheat at dice, because if the painted dice are too sticky, they might stick to the table, pick up detritus on the table, or stick to another player’s hand. Epoxy is a common material on spotted dice.
Slick dice are the opposite of painted dice. A slick die has a substance on one side which makes it slicker than normal. This assures the dice will not land on the slick side, changing the craps odds. Slick dice are a safer way to cheat at craps, because older dice wear a bit and become more polished and slicker. When the slick side is noticed, dealers might well believe they simply need to replace old dice.
Bristled dice are an old-fashioned way to cheat at craps. A person sticks a filament of some sort in one of the die’s numbers, so that it protrudes and causes the die to slow down when it rolls over that side. Naturally, this eventually will cause the die to come to a stop on the bristled side. The term “bristled” comes from a time when cheaters would place a horse hair or cow hair in the number. It is fairly easy to spot, so is outmoded these days. Bristled dice sometimes simply are called “bristles”.
Craps cheaters create capped dice by shaving off one side and replacing it with a material that looks the same but has different properties. Perhaps the new material is heavier, so the die lands on that side more. Perhaps the new material made that side of the die bouncier, so the die lands on that side less.
Capped dice are effective and hard to spot, except when it gets worn down with use — at which point it is easy to spot. Dealers who handle the die might apply pressure to capped dice and learn that one side pushes down more. Capped dice introduce us to the concept of shaving the dice, so let’s get into the topic of shaved dice.
In many ways, shaved dice are a whole category of loaded dice. Shaved dice do not have weights added to them, which makes them less obvious. Cheats who prefer to shave the dice use several different methods, which I’ll discuss below. The general methods include cutting the edge, raising the edge, or creating either a razor edge or saw-toothed edge of the dice.
With shaved dice, the idea is to make the cube have a rectangular nature, instead of squared sides. When you shave one side, that side is more like a rectangle than a square, so that 4 sides will be square and 2 sides will be rectangular. Naturally, the die will land on the rectangular sides more often, changing the odds.
If you shave the 1/6 sides, then cheats call the die a six-ace flat. A single-shaved die on the 3/4 side produces more rolls with 4, 5, 9, and 10 and are called flat passers.