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Also known as four-five-six, this dice game was once popular with sailors, but it appears that it is now virtually extinct. Very little information seems available regarding the history of See-Low. One cultural artifact that remains to suggest the game may still be played in contemporary America is the line from a Big Daddy Kane rap that declares "when I roll four-five-six, I go See-Low." Unfortunately, I am not able to remember which song or album this line comes from, and the album may be one of the many that were lost in the great Albuquerque burglary fiasco... but that's my life, not yours.

And, speaking of my life, I may as well relate my own personal association with the game. See-Low was my favorite game to play while gambling for french fries in the Junior High cafeteria, at least until I was busted by the cafeteria aides for gambling in violation of a strict anti-gambling school policy.

But what I'm sure you're really dying to find out is "how do you play!?" Well you're in luck, because today I will disclose to you the rules of the game, so that you and your friends can participate in the Absolutely Guaranteed See-Low Renaissance that's about to sweep the country. Read, play, and enjoy:

The Rules of See-Low

See-Low is a gambling game played with three dice (you know, the ones that look like cubes and are numbered with pips, from one to six per side, and not to be confused with those silly 117-sided polyhedral Dungeons and Dragons dice that you have stuffed in a little velvet pouch at the back of your closet). It is a direct contest between a banker, who puts up an initial stake, and several players who gamble at even odds against the bank.

The banker's initial stake is known as the bank, or the center bet. Once he has placed his stake and announced the amount, then the other players, starting from the player to the left of the banker and proceeding clockwise, each have a chance to fade some portion of the bank. The first player may fade the entire bank, or any portion thereof, and then each other player can fade as much as he likes until the entire bank has been faded, or until everyone has placed their bet. If any part of the bank has not been faded, then the banker pockets the unfaded portion.

Now the banker rolls, and one of the following results occur:

  • He rolls a four-five-six, and wins instantly.
  • He rolls triples, and wins instantly.
  • He rolls a one-two-three and loses instantly.
  • He rolls a pair, and a single, in which case the single becomes his point. (e.g., if he rolls 2-2-4 then his point is 4). A point of 6 is an instant win, and a point of 1 is an instant loss.
  • He rolls some other combination, in which case he must roll again until one of the above combinations occurs.
If the banker gets an instant win, then he collects all bets into the bank. If he gets an instant loss, then he pays each player from the bank, paying the same amount that the player faded. If he gets a point from 2 to 5 (the other cases all being instant wins or losses), then he passes the dice around the circle and each player takes his turn to try to beat the banker's point, in the following manner:
  • If the player gets a four-five-six, triples, or a point higher than the banker's, then he wins and collects from the bank an amount equal to what he faded.
  • If the player gets a one-two-three, or a point lower than the banker's, then he loses, and throws his bet into the bank.
  • If the player gets a point equal to the banker's, then the bet is off (only with regard to this player). He pockets his bet, neither winning nor losing.
  • Any other combination requires him to roll again until the bet is settled according to the above rules.

Once all bets have been settled, the banker can stake more money if he chooses, or he can let the bank stand with whatever remains (so long as there is at least some money still in it), and a new round begins with the players fading as much as they like from the current bank. However, before the new round, if the banker chooses, he can resign by pocketing whatever remains of the bank, and pass the dice down the line to the next player who is willing to put up an initial stake to create a new bank. The old banker is still free to bet against the new bank, as an ordinary player.

The only other way that control of the bank can change hands is if one of the players beats the banker by rolling a four-five-six or triples, in which case, once all bets are settled and the banker pockets whatever is left of the bank, the first player to win in this manner becomes the new banker.

There is a slight advantage to being the banker that amounts to about 2 1/2 percent on all bets. The advantage comes from the fact that the banker rolls first, and so he gets the first chance to roll triples (every other instant win being offset by an equally probable instant loss).

So, there you have it folks! A fun time will be had by all (except for the kid who loses all his french fries, or the unemployed father of six who loses his rent money). So enjoy, and remember it's only a game, so leave the knives at home.

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