As this game is of a somewhat complicated character, another
account of it, which appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette for Sept.
3, 1869, may not be unacceptable.
'The players assemble round a circular table, a space being
reserved for the "groom-porter," who occupies a somewhat elevated
position, and whose duty it is to call the odds and see that the
game is played correctly. Whoever takes the box and dice places
in the centre of the table as much money as he wishes to risk,
which is at once covered with an equal amount either by some
individual speculator, or by the contributions of several. The
player (technically called the "caster") then proceeds to call a
"main." There are five mains on the dice, namely, 5, 6, 7, 8,
and 9; of these he mentally selects that one which either chance
or superstition may suggest, calls it aloud, shakes the box, and
delivers the dice. If he throws the exact number he called, he
"nicks" it and wins; if he throws any other number (with a few
exceptions, which will be mentioned), he neither wins nor loses.
The number, however, which he thus throws becomes his "chance,"
and if he can succeed in repeating it before he throws what was
his main, he wins; if not, he loses. In other words, having
completely failed to throw his main in the first instance, he
should lose, but does not in consequence of the equitable
interference of his newly-made acquaintance, which constitutes
itself his chance. For example, suppose the caster "sets"--that
is, places on the table--a stake of L10, and it is covered by an
equal amount, and he then calls 7 as his main and throws 5; the
groom-porter at once calls aloud, "5 to 7"-- that means, 5 is the
number to win and 7 the number to lose, and the player continues
throwing until the event is determined by the turning up of
either the main or the chance. During this time, however, a most
important feature in the game comes into operation--the laying
and taking of the odds caused by the relative proportions of the
main and the chance. These, as has been said, are calculated
with mathematical nicety, are proclaimed by the groom-porter, and
are never varied. In the above instance, as the caster stands to
win with 5 and to lose with 7, the odds are declared to be 3 to 2
against him, inasmuch as there are three ways of throwing 7, and
only two of throwing 5. As soon as the odds are declared, the
caster may increase his stake by any sum he wishes, and the other
players may cover it by putting down (in this instance)
two-thirds of the amount, the masse, or entire sum, to await the
turning up of either main or chance. If a player "throws out"
three times in succession, the box passes to the next person on
his left, who at once takes up the play. He may, however, "throw
in" without interruption, and if he can do so some half-dozen
times and back his luck, the gains will be enormous.