Deep Dive: Hybrid Stadium Craps Rolls Into Downtown Grand
Downtown Grand recently added a stadium table games area, and we figured it was about time we got all up in the business of what is arguably the future of casino dice. Specifically, Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps.
Here, we’ll dive into the features of the game, and list some negatives and positives. We were going to say “in our humble opinion,” but we couldn’t really type that with a straight face, so let’s move on.
Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps tables are at other casinos in Las Vegas (including Planet Hollywood), but providing an exhaustive list of locations would take “research” and possibly “effort,” and we all know that’s not happening. Try the Googles, they usually know what’s up.
Interblock’s hybrid craps game follows in the footsteps of a similar game that sort of tanked.
Roll to Win Craps from Aruze Gaming was heralded as the future of craps. Which is true, but Roll to Win Craps is better as an idea than in execution.
A bunch of Roll to Win Craps tables were rolled out across Las Vegas casinos, but most have now gone away. Rumors are the games could be cheated, and were, with a technique called dice “sliding.” (Interblock’s table features a simple deterrent to this form of cheating, which we’ll show you in a minute.)
Complicating matters further, Aruze Gaming, the maker of Roll to Win Craps filed bankruptcy, so nobody really knows what that means for the future of that game.
The good news is Interblock’s version of hybrid craps improves upon Roll to Win Craps in a number of ways. Let’s get into it, already, you’re thinking to yourself. Your insolence is duly noted.
Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps follows the trend of blending live craps with several human dealers (translation: expensive) with electronic table games (lower cost to the casino, but not as fun), with the goal of keeping labor costs low and providing gamblers a degree of human interaction and the elements they like about live games (like throwing dice).
With Interblock’s table, players get to shoot physical dice.
Players sit at terminals, then get up and shoot the dice if they’d like, or they can decline.
It’s worth noting that players stand when playing traditional craps, already a big benefit of the hybrid game.
While there are physical dice, there are no chips used in hybrid craps. All bets are made at terminals.
When the shooter moves from their terminal to the table, their screen goes into “mirror” mode, and they can make bets while shooting. It’s a pretty clever and seamless transition, and ensures your seat is waiting for you when your roll is done.
A big plus of the hybrid craps game is the table minimum: When we visited Downtown Grand, the minimum was $3. Every other downtown casino we visited along Fremont Street had $15 craps minimums that evening.
This makes hybrid craps very appealing to many players, as it’s a great value. Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps has just one “dealer.” We put that in quotation marks because the “dealers” at this game, we’re fairly sure, aren’t actual “dealers.” They’re “dealer-like spokesmodel stickpersons.”
To put it right out there: The dealers are attractive young women who never have to do math of any kind. Not that they can’t, they just don’t need to.
Dealers at this game have four jobs: 1) Get someone to shoot, 2) retrieve the dice with a stick, 3) enter the result of the roll into the computer, 4) move the dice to where the camera can confirm the result of the roll.
Dealers don’t take bets, pay bets, mark points or make snarky comments to each other under their breath.
In lieu of our hands-on tutoring, here’s a cheat sheet for those dice combination nicknames.
A key point: Dealers don’t accept tips.
That one took a minute. Nope. There’s no tip function on the game and dealers can’t accept cash tips. They are noticeably enthusiastic about this policy!
In the realm of tipping, it should also be mentioned because players don’t have chips, tipping cocktail waitresses is sort of a pain, so plan ahead. The lack of easy tipping might have been why drink service wasn’t brisk the night we played. If players aren’t tipping, cocktail servers tend not to visit that section of the casino as often. Just a fact.
The hybrid craps table is the only live game at Downtown Grand where the dealers don’t get tips. It’s weird, but an undeniable money-saver for players.
The lack of “real” dealers is probably the biggest downside of hybrid craps.
You’ll never see an incorrect payout (computers do everything), but dealers contribute to the craps experience a lot. They remind you about bets you need to make, they give advice, they are often craps players and help make the most of your bets (such as “pressing,” or when to “parlay” your winnings), they also say hilarious things and share gossip that later ends up on our Twitter feed.
We trust you have questions. What are they?
Here’s a list of things we found interesting about Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps at Downtown Grand.
The machine generates a running commentary, including phrases like “Warm beer, cold dice” when someone has a short roll, and “Field is alive after nine.” Which is strange, because the reason people say the “field is alive after five” is because it rhymes. Even Eminem can’t make “alive” and “nine” rhyme, sorry.
The voice has a bit of an echo because there are speakers on the main table, as well as on the terminals, and possibly comes through the casino’s sound system. We’re sure they’ll sort that out.
Because players get up from their terminals to shoot, when they have a bad rolls, there’s a physical “Walk of Shame,” which doesn’t happen on traditional craps tables. Oh, there’s shame, but there’s no walk, except to the ATM.
Beyond the cost savings due to the reduction in labor, this game is more profitable for casinos because of the sheer speed of the results, or the short time between rolls. On average, we clocked rolls/results at one every 30 seconds, a far cry from a traditional table.
This game has some of the same “sucker bets” (sorry, “bets for novices that we sometimes make because we’re drinking”) as traditional tables. There’s a giant 6 and 8, and the field pays double (rather than the traditional, but increasingly rare, triple).
A sign near the players club card slot says “No points.” We trust that means no players club points are earned on this game.
There’s an intriguing side bet you won’t find on other craps tables, the “Lucky Shooter” side bet. You can bet $1, and while we were watching the game, a player won $500 for a $1 bet.
Here are the rules for the Lucky Shooter side bet. When we said “nobody” reads the rules, we were kidding. They’re a laugh riot.
When we played Roll to Win Craps, we didn’t love the plastic table surface. It just felt off, like the dice would hit and stick. Interblock’s table has felt. Less show, but more akin to traditional craps tables.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s a security measure built into the table that prevents dice “sliding.” It’s an elegant solution to this problem that is rumored to have plagued Roll to Win Craps. It’s just a small cord that runs from the dealer position across the table to the dice camera. If a die were slid, it would hop and the roll would be random. We have dubbed this the “anti-sliding rod” because not only does it sound dirty, it gives us another excuse to use quotation marks.
The table is relatively short, which should make things interesting for so-called “dice control” “experts.” It’s a made up thing, but some swear they can influence the dice. Go for it, delusional “experts”! Don’t get us started.
The benefit of a shorter table? Typically, dealers have to warn shooters about hitting the back wall. We watched for hours and never once saw a short roll.
There’s a Plexiglass guard on one end of the table, so we also never saw the dice fly off the table. It’s wonderful to play craps at a table where you never hear the phrase “Same dice!”
Other big benefits of this craps game: No hitting of chips or hands (craps players have myriad superstitions), no last second bets, no drunk players throwing chips at dealers creating chaos and no arguments between players and dealers (or players and other players).
Big benefit: You don’t have to bet on every roll. Craps is streaky, and at a traditional table, players rarely skip shooters or specific rolls (unless they get spooked). Here, you can sit one out or skip a shooter or just pull your bets down with one button and wait for your mojo to kick in again.
Those who play the “don’t” (or “dark side”) can do so without shame, as long as they keep their yappers shut when they win.
Hybrid games are great for learning craps, as is the case with the beloved electronic craps game dubbed “Bubble Craps.” You can take your time, watch what others are doing and move at your own pace.
Perhaps the biggest question related to hybrid games is: Can these machines simulate the traditional casino experience?
Definitely sort of.
One of the best parts of playing craps in Las Vegas is the camaraderie, the team spirit. Most people are betting on the same number(s), so everyone’s emotionally invested in the same outcome(s) and rooting for the shooter. That’s sort of still true at hybrid craps, but any excitement is muted.
One issue is the dealer will call a result, but that call can actually be wrong, and it’s not official until the computer confirms the roll. That means players can’t get too excited at the first call, and the moment has passed by the time the official call is made.
The distance between the terminals, and between the players and the model dealer, is bigger than in traditional craps. In traditional games, players are shoulder-to-shoulder on a full table. You get to know your fellow players, and the banter between players and dealers, and the ensuing hilarity, can be next level.
Craps is a party, and when a shooter is hot, the exhilaration at a live craps table is unmatched. It’s the ultimate Las Vegas thrill, and it’s what made us personally fall in love with casinos and gambling during our first visit to Las Vegas. We stayed at the Stardust. You never forget your first time.
During our session at Downtown Grand, a player had a half-hour roll, and we’re not sure the other players knew how excited they should be, or how to express that excitement. It might’ve been the players themselves, or it might be a gap between why traditional craps has been a thing for 100 years and what craps is becoming.
So, is Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps fun? It can be. Despite a losing session, we had a blast, and if you like action, a roll every 30 seconds keeps you on your toes. (On a traditional craps tables, when there are lots of bets on the table, pay-outs can take 5-10 minutes.)
Hybrid craps solves lots of challenges for Downtown Grand. The casino offers traditional craps ($15 minimum, sometimes $10), but this new game appeals to those who might be intimidated by old-school craps, with its multitude of bets, colorful jargon and sometimes chaotic vibe.
Even if you’re not into trying a hybrid game, it’s worth taking a look at the rest of the stadium games, including two $1 blackjack tables and a roulette area where one dealer works two wheels (again, maximum results, minimum labor costs).
It’s clear casinos are looking for ways to work those margins, including finding games that give customers a casino jolt while keeping labor costs as low as possible.
If you try Interblock’s Stadium Live Craps, at Downtown Grand or elsewhere, let us know what you think. If you have questions we haven’t answered, leave them in the comments and we’ll do our best to B.S. our way through an answer.
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