It’s interesting to note the variety of dice-tossing styles you’ll encounter over your craps-playing life. Some are plain and boring, weird and funny, and others are downright irritating. Ever really thought about it? How many ways can you reach down, pick up the dice, and toss them to the other end of the table? If you’ve played enough craps, you’ve seen it all.
The casino has strict rules for handling and tossing dice, which are the subject of an upcoming article. I’ll mention four of them so you’ll understand the basics. Handle the dice with only one hand. Never bring the dice outside the imaginary plane that extends up from the edge of the table (i.e., always keep the dice inside the table). Don’t toss the dice higher the height of the dealers. And smoothly toss the dice so they both hit the back wall (i.e., the wall at the other end of the table). If you follow these simple rules, you’ll do just fine.
Let’s start with the grip. Most people simply reach down, pick up the dice, and hold them in their palm or between their fingers. Not some people. Some believe their lucky grip will result in a winning number, while others believe they can control the outcome of their tosses so taking a precise grip is the first step in their wacky routines. For example, there’s the ice-tong grip, lock grip, 5-finger grip, 2-finger front diagonal grip, flying-V grip, stacked grip, 3-finger front grip, 3-finger front diagonal grip, 2-finger pincer grip, and many more. (Seriously, I’m not making this up!) And don’t forget, before taking one of those grips, they must properly position the dice with the precise alignment and orientation. For example, the 6 on one die must be oriented so the pips (i.e., the dots on a die are called “pips”) are parallel to the tabletop and the number must be adjacent to the 3 on the other die, and the pips on the 3 must be oriented so they go diagonally upward to the right. (Again, I’m not making this stuff up!)
After they’ve achieved perfect alignment with the heavens and stars, they take their grip. But they don’t just pick up the dice, they must slowly and gently place their fingers on them and precisely measure the pressure applied to each die using the delicate pressure sensors in their fingertips. Finally, with the exact dice alignment and finger pressure, the shooter launches the dice toward the end of the table contorting their wrist, arm, shoulder, and torso. I’ve often wondered how some people don’t throw out their shoulders or keep from tearing the tendons that attach the muscles of the forearm to the arm bone at the elbow joint. These are the irritating shooters because they seemingly take forever. Everyone else at the table is anxious for the next roll, but these clowns who think they’re dice doctors or dice wizards (or whatever they call themselves) delay the game by taking their weird grips instead of just picking up the dice and tossing them.
Some people gently tap the tabletop before tossing. That’s okay as long as it’s just a tap. If you knock or bang the dice, the boxman will politely ask you to refrain. If you don’t heed his request, the next time he won’t be so polite. Personally, I’m a tapper. Also, I like to flash an empty hand just before picking up the dice. As I reach down for them, I quickly turn my palm up, flash open my fingers so the crew (and the camera) can see my hand is empty, grab the dice, and smoothly toss them. 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 notice it and don’t realize what I’m doing. (I make the boxman’s and surveillance team’s jobs easier by showing an empty hand before touching the dice.)
Some people puff on the dice for luck. That’s okay, too, as long as you don’t use two hands, don’t bring the dice outside the imaginary plane, and don’t spit on the dice (accidentally or otherwise).
Some people throw the dice low and hard so they bounce all over the place after hitting the back wall. Avoid doing this because it increases the likelihood that a die will fly off the table causing the game to be delayed.
Some people toss them so weakly that they barely hit the back wall. Although you don’t want to throw them like a Major League pitcher, you should avoid feeble, pathetic tosses. Smoothly toss them so they bounce off the tabletop and then hit the back wall. If you’ve never tossed dice, you’ll get the hang of it after just a few throws.
So, what’s your technique? Whatever it is, be considerate of other players and the dealers. Don’t take forever finding your precise grip. Don’t throw them so hard they continually fly off the table. Don’t spit on them as part of your puffing routine. Don’t aim for the chip stacks at the other end of the table (chips fly everywhere and the dealers have to remember where they all go). Don’t hit the mirror on the side of table (casino dice are hard with sharp points and angles, so don’t break their mirror). A smooth toss so the dice gently hit the back wall and stay on the table is all you need.
Now you know! Remember, learn how to play craps the right way.