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29 March 2004

Dear Mark,
A great column last week on don't bettors. It reminds of a game I was on recently where a guy threw the number seven about a dozen times without the point ever being made. He touted that he had the skill of willing the number seven. Of course, two hours later, he was broke. But that still begs this question, do you think there is any skill involved in throwing dice? Eddie P.

The telepathic player on the craps game you describe possessed no second-sighted skills, because dice, Eddie, have absolutely no notion of who is throwing them. (Just imagine a sleepy pair of dice suddenly realizing they'd goofed on Player Z's last roll and determining to make up for it next time around.) I will match any six-year old Monopoly Jr. player against your crapped-out clairvoyant in producing losing (and winning) numbers, with the happy casino always maintaining its house edge. BUT — there's always a but — my answer above, Eddie, is based on honest dice, and on a legitimate game. Are there any other kinds? Well, yes, shocking as that may be. A skillful and crooked player, or an underground illegitimate casino, can introduce gaffed dice on the game. One example would be the use of "tops," dice that have certain numbers omitted. Instead of the six distinct numbers 1-6, each die has only three different numbers, each smiling twice from opposite sides of its die. These defective dice work like this: One die sports the numbers 1, 3 and 5, while the other shows 2, 4 and 6. This foul pair cannot roll the numbers 4, 6, 8 and 10 but the can roll 7s all night long.

Another example would be two dice that have only the numbers 2, 3 and 6 on them. This set will roll 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9, but it would be impossible to seven-out. The sucker player just doesn't catch on because only three sides of a die are visible at any given time. Yet another example would be the player who has developed skill at sliding one or both of them bones across the table. But any box person not napping on the game would yell out "NO ROLL," and mentally mark the slider for close observation. Then there are loaded dice, also known as weights, that you can buy at any magic shop. Loaded dice are "percentage dice," since they do not win as often as tops do, but they do tilt the odds in the cheat's favor.

In the years that I boxed a craps game, I never caught gaffed dice on the table. To introduce them, the cheats would have had to match the color and shade of the house dice, imprint the casino's name and logo on them, and, usually, match a three-digit number engraved on them. Even working the late swing shift, I was never sleepy enough to have missed such painstaking artwork.

Dear Mark,
I played in a Texas Hold'em tournament among friends. All went well except one hand. Two players held low clubs as hole cards, and the community cards were an ace, queen, and jack of clubs. We split the pot as both players had an ace high flush. One player thought we should count back through hole cards for winner. For future games, how should this be handled? Gene R.

The affirmative answer is to include each player's pocket cards. Therefore, using your example, if the community cards were an ace, queen and jack of clubs, and player A had a five and three of clubs, with player B having a four and two, player A's five of clubs would accord him the winning hand. You would only split the pot if all five cards on the board (the flop, the turn, and the river) were used to make the highest flush.

Gambling quote of the Week: "Texas Hold'em is not an easy game to play well. To become an expert you need to be able to balance many
concepts, some of which occasionally contradict each other." --David Sklansky, author

Mind-reader dice and kitchen Hold'em is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.