dice

dice [plural of die ], small cubes used in games. They are usually made of ivory, bone, wood, plastic, or similar materials. The six sides are numbered by dots from 1 to 6, so placed that the sum of the dots on opposite sides equals 7. Dice much like those used today were found in ancient Egyptian tombs and in the ruins of Babylon. The playing of dice was popular in Greece and even more so in Rome, and dice were used throughout the Middle Ages. In the simplest form of play with dice each player throws, or shoots, for the highest sum. The most popular dice game in the United States is called craps. It is played with two dice; the underlying principle of the game is the fact that the most probable throw is a 7. On the first throw, if a player shoots 7 or 11 (called a natural) he wins and throws again, but if he shoots 2, 3, or 12 (called craps) he loses. If he shoots 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 that number becomes his point, and he continues to shoot until he makes his point, in which case he wins and retains the dice, or until he shoots a 7, in which case he loses and relinquishes the dice to the next player. Bets may be placed against the thrower or, in side bets, in favor of him. In gambling halls all bets are made with the house either for or against. There are numerous other dice games.

See studies by J. Scarne and C. Rawson (rev. ed. 1962) and H. A. Heritage (1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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