Throwing dice on a felt-lined table accompanied by a cheering crowd has long been a popular game in big casinos.
But craps, a game where the dice determine the outcome, and roulette are specifically banned in California. In 2004, the state Division of Gambling Control, which has some regulatory control over Indian casinos, said card craps and card roulette are card games and are allowed in the state’s casinos.
A few of the bigger California clubs have developed their own variants of card craps.
Players at Red Hawk Casino off state Highway 50 near Placerville will find an added bonus on its two card craps tables.
Just as some poker variants, like three-card poker, offer a bonus bet, Red Hawk’s card craps has a bonus feature.
“I started as a craps dealer,” said Peter Nairn, vice president of gaming operations. “I was skeptical at first, but now that I have actually seen the game, I love the game,”
Red Hawk was pretty busy on a recent Sunday morning — both its slots and most table games, including two very busy card “roulette” tables. A trio of players and several spectators were at one of two card craps tables. One player consistently was placing healthy bets on the field, and winning.
No need to be afraid — the friendly Red Hawk employees answered questions. Here’s how card craps is played at Red Hawk: Six decks of 48 cards are used, 288 in all, placed in a continuous shuffling machine. The cards are marked one (ace) through 6, to mimic the count on dice. They are shuffled automatically to make sure the odds are always exact.
In a Nevada casino, the shooter can pick two of five dice. At Red Hawk, the shooter tells the stickman (one of four house employees at the craps table) to “burn” from none to three cards out of the automatic shuffler.
This decision — to discard, or burn, a few cards — gives the shooter some control over which cards are actually played, Nairn said, so “the shooter has definitely, absolutely an impact on the outcome,” just as if the shooter was selecting and throwing dice.
After the burn, two cards are dealt to determine the point, or number. The game proceeds as in regular craps.
For traditional dice players, Nairn said, “Once they play it, they say this is a really cool game. It’s exactly the same, only it goes faster.”
To help spice up the card craps game, Red Hawk’s craps tables feature a bonus bet.
Three boxes are marked at the top of the table, labeled All Small (for numbers 2-6), All Tall (for numbers 8-12) and All or Nothing (all numbers but 7).
As each number comes up with a roll of the dice, that number gets marked on the table.
Players can bet from $1 to $100 on each of the three bonus bets.
If all five numbers come up before the shooter rolls a 7, those who put money on the bonus bet win. Odds on the All Small and Tall are 34-1, on the All or Nothing, it is 175-1.
Red Hawk Casino
Where: 1 Red Hawk Parkway, Placerville
Phone: (888) 573-3495
On the Web: www.redhawkcasino.com
Tables: 75, including seven poker
Extras: Players club members can get discounts of up to 20 percent at area hotels. Child care and arcade games for children.