When most people think of gambling they think of cards, chips or dice. However, dice are the most used symbol to represent casinos and gambling. This archetypal device has a long association with games of chance of skill, that began as far back as 3200BC. Let’s delve into the world of dice and how this small, simple device became the symbol of casinos the world over:
The Origin of Dice
Dice have been around for eons, with knuckle bones acting as dice in fortune telling games since possibly the dawn of man. In the ruins of the ancient city of Shahr-e Sūkhté in Iran, which dates back to between 3200BC and 1800BC, archaeologists even discovered a six-sided dice similar to what we still use today. It is also known that ancient Egyptians used to play a variety of games using dice. These games were possibly some of the oldest forms of gambling, with grain often used as a form of currency in this society.
The Standard Six-Sided Dice
Gambling with dice became common in ancient Rome. Unfortunately, these dice weren’t typically square but more rectangular in shape with uneven sides that meant the roll typically favoured one side of the dice. The standard square cubes we see today only really became popular around the 15th century.
The arrangement of the numbers also became standardized around this time, whereby originally 1 was placed opposite 2, 3 opposite 4, and 5 opposite 6. This was called primes because the addition of opposite sides equalled a prime number. In the 1600s, the modern day six-sided device was developed in which the opposite numbers are equal to seven.
Modern Day Gambling with Dice
The most widely known casino game using dice is Craps. Craps revolves around a pair of dice with bets placed depending on the outcome of the dice roll. Bets can be made against players or the casino and typically all the players play together against the house. Variations of the classic Craps game exist including High Point Craps, New York Craps, Die Rich Craps and Scarney Craps.
Another popular dice game is Hazard, on which Craps is based. The game play between Hazard and Craps is pretty much the same. The Australian Chuck-A-Luck involves rolling dice inside an hourglass shaped cage, while Klondike is a popular budget gambling game that involves playing with five dice. In Portuguese casinos you might find Banka Francesca, a game that is like Baccarat and is played with three dice while in Asia a popular dice game is Sic bo which is also played with three dice.
These games are usually quite fast paced with a variety of betting options and thus can be quite intimidating for beginner gamblers.
Cheating with Dice
For as long as dice have been around, so have people been using them to cheat at games. One common way to cheat is to swap some of the numbers on a standard six-sided dice so that some numbers appear twice. Another way to cheat is with loaded dice, in which the device is manufactured to always land on a specific side.