The first article had a "Little Joe" antedate. This last article also
contains "Phoebe," "Jimmy Hicks," "Big Dick," and more. It's from the New
York Sun, 7 November 1897, part four, pg. 2, col. 6:
THE SCIENCE OF CRAPS.
Likewise the Lingo of That Characteristically Southern Game.
_From the Atlanta Constitution._
"Cut his throat, seven!"
"Jimmy Hicks, take my gal to Memphis!"
"Big Dick is mine!"
"Come, Little Joe!"
These expressions are a part of the vocabulary which accompanies any
well-arranged sitting of the Southern darky's great game of craps.
Throughout the entire South the game is now probably played, although it
has been in existence only about twenty years. (Huh?--ed.) But just how the
name originated is not known. It is used in only one part of the game, on the
very first throw, when the thrower is said to "crap out."
The rules under which the remarkable game is played are interesting.
From one of the king crap players in Atlanta I have been initiated into the
mysteries of the game, and I have given all the rules here as faithfully as if
I was transcribing the new rules in whist.
Any number of persons can shoot craps. I say shoot advisedly, for no
crap player ever uses the word play. The game is played with two dice. The
first player places them in the hollow of his right hand (unless he is left-
handed), and shaking them about a bit, throws them upon the floor or the
ground, generally the ground. Before he throws he states how much he is
throwing for, usually a nickel. Some one among the other players cries out:
"I fade you!"
That means the thrower's money is covered. There then can be as many
side bets as the other players wish to make. If on the firstthrow the player
makes seven or eleven he wins. If he throws two, three or twelve on the first
throw he loses, or craps out. If he throws four, five, six, eight, nine or
ten, that is called his point, and he throws again until he either makes his
point once more or makes seven. If he makes his point before he makes seven,
he wins; but if seven comes first, he loses. The thrower can hold the dice as
long as he continues to win, but when he loses he surrenders them to the next
Any person in the game has the right to pick up the dice quickly when a
player makes the first throw. He does this to see that no loaded dice have
been smuggled into the game. The usual way of doing this is for a player to
reach out as the dice fall and say:
He examines them, blows on them, and, tossing them back to the thrower,
"Your dice; shoot!"
If this is attempted at any other stage of the game, except on the first
throw, a legitimate show-down of white-handled razors is in order. The person
who offers to cover the thrower's money is called the "fader." Most of the
betting in the game is done by those who are standing around.
Nearly all the points on the dice are named. Four is called "Little
Joe," five is called "Phoebe" or "fever," six is known as "Jimmy Hicks," nine
is "Liz," and ten is "Big Dick," sometimes also called "Big Tom."
When a game has been arranged those who havethe cash sit or stand around,
and the first thrower tosses up his coin and gets ready to shoot. He blows
upon the dice, make an exclamation that sounds like a deep, aspirated "Ah!"
throws the dice upon the ground, and, as they fall, snaps his fingers (Not
"pops his fingers"?--ed.) sharply. This may seem like some special
trimmings, but the manoeuvres are as much a part of the game as putting up the
money. When he has been faded the outside betting begins, the thrower acting
slowly to give time for all the gamblers to get their money up. The man who
bets with the thrower is said to "like him."
As the game progresses you can hear the thrower as he first tosses the
dice exclaim, "Come seven-eleven!"
If he fails either to win or crap out he will then cry, as he tries to
make his point:
"Come to see me, Little Joe or Big Dick or Liz," or whatever his point
The man who has faded him or who is betting against him on the outside
"Cut him off, seven!" "Cut his throat, seven!" "Come under him, seven!"
When Liz--that is nine ("Liz" is not in the RHHDAS--ed.)--is first
thrown, the player always exclaims: "Liz is the gal for me."
The words which accompany Jimmy Hicks, a throw of six, are: "Big Six,
take my gal to Memphis."
A smooth place on the ground is always preferable to the floor of a room.
A table is entirely out of the question. Many times a gang of negro gamblers
will play on the sidewalk under the glare of an electric light, and boys are
stationed in the middle of each block to keep a watch for the approach of a
policeman and to give a signal if one is seen coming.
The game is played by the old and the young, in the country and in the
cities, by railroad hands and deck hands on the river steamboats. Negroes in
the large cities know scarcely any other sort of gambling. The steamboat
hands play night and day and they have been known to return after a long trip
with every cent of their earnings gone into the pockets of the lucky players.
Here in Atlanta there are all sorts of crap shooters, including the big
gamblers and the small boys, who will shoot for anything of value, often the
clothes on their backs. Hardly a week passes without some place, usually an
alley, being raided and a lot of the "crap shooters" arrested. But the
gambling cannot be broken up.
Craps has come among the Southern darkies of a sporty nature to stay, and
as long as they can get hold of a pair of dice, and have the coin, they will
woo the goddess of fortune, with prayers for the lucky seven-eleven.