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Crooked Dice

With so much money riding on the simple roll of a couple of dice at the craps table, it’s not surprising that some people try to cheat the system by introducing crooked dice. Capped, loaded, floaters, bevels or suction dice, crooked dice come in many forms, and they have been around ever since money could be made on the roll of a die. Indeed, the Indian Hindu Sanskrit, Mahabbarata, the first known document references dice, mentions crooked dice, and examples can also be found in ancient sites in the Orient, South America and the Middle East.

Although fixed dice may appear in many games involving dice, craps is definitely the biggest target, since this is where the money is. In craps “passers” are dice that favor the point numbers and not the 7, or that favor craps on the come out throw. “Missouts” are dice that favor the 7 and not the points.

A “dice mechanic” will artfully substitute the real dice for crooked or “gaffed” dice during a craps game and they can quickly switch them back once they have no need for them. The dice will either be switched using slight of hand or when the dice are out of sight. If the dice do end up off the table, however, dealers are quick to check the dice to make sure they are “straight” or “square”.

A practiced “switcher” is very difficult to detect, however. If you suspect a switch has taken place during a craps game, feel free to check out the dice yourself. To do this, you will need to know the different ways that dice can be modified. As mentioned at the beginning, crooked dice, also known as “percentage” or “P.C.” dice, come in many forms. These include the following:

Loaded or Weight Dice

These dice are heavier on one side. They have extra weight added to a specific part of the die - lead, gold, platinum or even mercury may be used. A small amount of these metals is enough to change the odds of the game. Even transparent dice are not immune to loading since the actual spots can contain the extra weight. An astute observer may notice the spots on some sides are deeper than on others, but some gaffed dice will not have any flaws. The best way to test for a loaded die is to repeatedly drop it in a glass of water. The die should sink, for one thing, and if a particular number is frequently facing up, it is loaded. Another test is the pivot test. Hold the die between your thumb and finger by diagonally opposite corners. If the die is loaded it will turn as you hold it lightly.

Floats or Floaters

These dice have weight taken away, making them lighter than regular dice. A hollow gap inside the die is placed off centre to create a bias in the dice. They are called floaters because they will frequently float when dropped in water.


These dice are not true cubes. They may be convex or concave on one or more sides or edges or a side may have been carefully shaved down. “Bevels” are shapes with convex sides and “suction dice” have one or more concave sides. Bevels can be detected by pressing the die against a flat surface. If it rocks back and forth the die's face is convex.

Bricks or Flats: Shapes that have one side shaved down. The four adjoining sides of the shaved side will have less surface area, so they will be less likely to be rolled. These are also known as “barred dice”.

Trip Dice

These dice have what is known as “edge work” done to them, meaning the edges of the dice are not equal.

Cut-edge Dice: These are a type of trip dice, but have an edge shaved specifically at a 45 degree angle, while the other edges may be at 60 degrees.

Raised-edge Dice: Trip dice with a lip on one or more sides. The lipped sides have more surface area and also grip when rolled.

Capped Dice

These are shaved down on some sides and the missing material is then replaced with a different material. The new material will have a different elasticity, so that the dice will be more likely to bounce off these sides onto one of the non-modified sides. One can use their finger nail or something else sharp to feel the give of each side in order to detect them.

Slick or Rough Dice

These are polished on some sides and roughened on others. The idea is that the dice will slide to a stop on the slick side and tumble off the rough sides. It is unlikely that this will have much of an affect on the outcome of a roll.


Also called top-and-bottoms, horses, tees, tops, or busters. Mis-spotted dice have duplicate numbers on opposing faces. These dice are not as easy to detect as you might think, since only three sides of a die are visible at once.

Painted Dice

Solutions are applied to one side of these dice to make it stickier. Some solutions may only become sticky when they are warmed in a player’s hand or by blowing on them.

Careful Out There

If you are playing a dice game for money that isn’t in a casino, playing with transparent dice can reduce the chances of crooked dice being used. Casinos always use these dice, and are very careful to check their dice regularly. Although casino craps may not offer an impossible environment for a well-trained cheat to unleash his crooked workings in, the risks are certainly minimized. It is therefore advisable to stick to the respectable gambling areas, as illegal gambling operations are much less likely to have control measures in effect for catching gaffed dice.

Casinos, for instance, can detect suspected crooked dice using a mechanism called a micrometer that can measure the sides of a die very precisely. These may be necessary in detecting some crooked dice, as shapes, trip dice and loaded dice are sometimes combined, with the separate defects so insignificant as to be undetectable by an unsuspecting human.

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