Forum Archive : Equipment

Precision dice

From:   Chuck Bower
Date:   19 February 1998
Subject:   Re: PRECISION DICE???
Google:   6cidpu$orf$

Leo Bueno wrote:
> I called and ordered a set of casino/precision dice, package of 5
> (will thus have a spare), only red color available.  Price was right:
> $9 for the dice, $3 shipping.
> I ordered straight ("razor"?) edge.  I am skeptical, paranoically so
> perhaps, about the rounded corners.  I suspect that rounding the
> corners loads the dice ever so slightly, because either the milling or
> the casting process should be much more difficult, and thus imprecise,
> than for straight corners.  Am I off my rocker on this?

     Well, they're your words, so YES!!!!!!

     I want to be the last person to discourage someone from being
innovative.  But square edged/cornered dice ARE VERY UNLIKELY TO (that's
my way of saying WON'T) give you random rolls.

     The reason square cornered dice work for craps and not for BG
can be explained by a fairly simple concept:  scale.  Look at the size of
a crap table compared to the size of the craps dice.  The casino's require
the player to throw the dice to the far end of the table and the must
bounce AT LEAST ONE TIME off of a wall.  The table surface is EXTREMELY
DENSELY woven wool felt.  I haven't been in a casino for 16 years so
I don't remember the wall material, but I seem to recall it is some
kind of high density foam rubber.  The casinos believe from MILLIONS
(could it be BILLIONS?) of dice tosses that these conditions give random

     As I metioned in a post a couple of days ago, BG dice are randomized
in two ways:  while shaken in a dice cup, and to a lesser extent, when
tossed onto the playing surface.  Perfect cubes are not likely to bounce
OF THE CUP.  Casino craps dice would require dice cups the size of German
beer steins--2 liters (yes, the BIG ONES)!  You'd need forearms the size
of Popeye's to shake them.

     Secondly, when the dice hit the surface they hopefully spin, roll,
and bounce around.  That is unlikely to happen with perfect cubes.  They
will skid and slide to a halt without turning over, OR they will bounce
out of the playing surface.  And to top it off, the sharp corners are
likely to tear your playing surface to shreds after a few hundred games.

     Leo, come to your senses.  Have you ever worked a lathe?  These
devices are SUPER PRECISE.  Yes, an idiot operating one would produce
poor quality dice, but a skilled pro (e.g. Larry Strommen, the DICEMAN)
has no trouble rounding the corners and keeping them balanced.  You
paid $12 for five casino dice, which are REJECTS (although probably
still balanced), likely too large for BG play, and have sharp edges
which WON'T GIVE YOU THE RANDOM THROWS YOU SEEK.  For $20 you can get
four precision dice as used by ALL TOURNAMENT PLAYERS in the US and,
I suspect, the rest of the world as well.  Is it worth saving $8 for
an inferior product??

     Sorry if I seem a little agitated, but you asked me by e-mail to
write a post on precision dice.  I did that and you seem to have
ignored it.  Some of my technical writing may be obtuse, but was this one
that bad?  (If your newsreader didn't make my post available, then I
apologize.)  But, PLEASE, think about what I've said.  Base your decision
on reason and not on paranoia.

   c_ray on FIBS

Jay Meilstrup  writes:

I've been in casino management for over twenty years and wanted to
elaborate on your reasoning behind the design of casino dice.  Casino
dice come in various sizes but even the smallest "craps" dice would be
too large for backgammon.  Casinos use "ball edge" dice for games like
Pai Gow which use a dice shaker and these are generally small enough to
work for backgammon.  All dice used in casinos are square to within .001"
or they are rejected.  The sharp edges on craps dice are there so the
dice dig into the table surface and can not be slid without rolling.

There are bevel edge dice availble, but they are less desireable.  Ball
edge dice are so designed to prevent stacking in a dice shaker.  Ball
edge dice should therefore produce less cocked dice outcomes.  If you
are looking for alternative precise dice, try the Gambler's General Store
in Vegas.  Do not get dice that have been previuosly used in casino play
as they have probably taken quite a beating already.  Most dice will lose
their balance and show horrible wear along the edges after prolonged use,
but they will maintain their dimension to some degree.  Razor edge dice
wear out much faster as they tend to beat each other up when they contact
each other.  I hope this helps.
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