They cast them alright, but how?
July 30, 2007 4:36 AM   Subscribe

In historical fiction (movies or books), if people in places of ill repute or just in the pub are "playing dice", usually for money, which game(s) exactly are they playing and how could I find out how to play them myself?
posted by Skyanth to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think "playing dice" usually refers to craps.
posted by lucidium at 4:43 AM on July 30, 2007

here are the results of a cursory google for "rules street dice"
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:46 AM on July 30, 2007

Liar's dice is the game played in Pirates of the Caribbean 2, but otherwise Craps is probably right on.
posted by anaelith at 6:17 AM on July 30, 2007

Could also be hazard, a precursor to craps.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:20 AM on July 30, 2007

Here's two historical dice games for you:

Inn and Inn

I found them both here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2007

Perhaps Mia or passe-dix? I think it would vary from era to era and region to region.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:47 AM on July 30, 2007

In addition to the games mentioned above, another interesting traditional dice game is Passe-Dix

According to tradition it was this game that the Roman soldiers played to divvy up Jesus' clothing during the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:35).

It was first described in 1674 and it is still played all over Europe and goes by a variety of names: a testament to its longevity. A quick google search yielded this, which details the rules.

For my own part, it looks kinda boring. I would much prefer Liars Dice :)
posted by TheOtherGuy at 6:51 AM on July 30, 2007

The history of dice games is a bit tricky, because for most of history, the literate members of society didn't think lowly activities like dice and board games were worth writing about. It's a bit frustrating, because archaeologists will dig up dice and gameboards, but not have any instructions for the games.

Since dice games were basically oral culture, it's hard to say exactly which games were played when and where -- old games evolved into new games, without being documented (or even renamed). Most popular dice games between the Middle Ages and the 20th century were probably "craps-like" -- although I should really say "hazard-like", since game called "craps" now is (by most accounts) only about 200 years old.

Many of the other popular games were variations on Liar's Dice. (Mia has some elements of that.) After that, there are some oddballs like Crown & Anchor, which would probably only show up in a historical novel involving 19th-century sailors.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 9:46 AM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite bars is A la Mort Subite, in Brussels, named for the "sudden death" in a dice game called 421, which was popular there in the early 1900s. No idea of how to play, but there's a good list of games here.
posted by sixpack at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2007

If you're in an American urban setting, especially a predominantly African-American one, it's probably not craps but cee-lo.
posted by box at 7:28 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

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