Shut the Box

Published: 22/04/2013

Also referred to as Batten Down the Hatches, Canoga, Zoltan Box, Klackers or High Rollers, Shut the Box is a dice game that dates back at least to the 12th century. It was popular among fishermen and seafarers of Normandy and the Channel Islands, as well as with 17th-century trappers and traders of the Hudson Bay Company. The game spread throughout England in the mod-20th century, and today it can often be found in British pubs.

Shut the Box can be played by one person alone, but it is more common to have two to four participants, often vying for stakes. Although the game requires nothing more than a pair of dice and a score pad, it is traditional to have a set of game tiles numbered 1 to 9 and a counting box with a hinged or sliding lid.

The object of the game is to “shut the box” by using rolls of the dice to eliminate all of the numbered tiles from play. Following each roll, the player chooses tiles that equal the sum of the pips showing on the faces of the dice and then turns them over so their plank sides are showing. For example, if the dice were to come up a 3 and a 4 on the first roll, the total is seven and the player has the option to eliminate tiles 1 and 6, or 2 and 5, or 3 and 4, or the single tile 7.

Once a tile is taken out of play, it cannot be part of any further elimination, so it is very important to select which tiles to remove and which ones to leave. The sum of all numbers from 1 through 9 is 45, so it takes a series of dice rolls totaling exactly 45 to win the game by shutting the box. If the total on the dice cannot be used to eliminate more tiles, then the player’s score is the sum of the tiles remaining and, among competitors the lowest score wins.

The online version of Shut the Box is a single-player arcade game available on major casino websites such as Bet365. It offers fixed odds for reducing the sum of the tiles below a certain threshold, and the top prize is won by shutting the box. The game display looks identical to the actual hinged wooden box seen in pubs, with red felt as the playing surface inside and white tiles with black numbers to keep track of the score. Additionally, there is a sliding “Payout Table” in the box’s lid.

An online game of Shut the Box begins by using the left/right arrows at the bottom of the screen to choose a stake to wager from £0.50 to £100. Once an amount has been chosen, clicking on “Confirm” will place the bet, light up the display and reveal the pair of dice used in play. A counter will also appear in the box lid to show the sum of the tiles remaining; it is initially set at 45.

To throw the dice, simply click anywhere above the red felt playing surface. The dice will roll, come to a halt and a prompt will appear indicating the total of the faces and instructing the player to “Make your selection by clicking on the tiles.” Each clicked tile will turn over and be taken out of play. Then, the player rolls again, repeating the process until no more tiles can be taken from play. Note that a maximum of two tiles can be turned over per dice roll.

The payout amounts are based upon the final score at the end of the game. Scores of 45~26 are losers and pay nothing. Scores of 25~19 are worth 0.1X times the stake wagered. The payout for scores of 13~18 is 0.4X, for 12~9 it’s 0.75X and for 8~5 it is 1X or even money. Winning begin with scores in the 4~1 range, worth 2X. Shutting the box earns 5X, which is doubled if the finishing roll is a double, such as 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, etc. All prizes values increase in proportion to the player’s stake value.

Published on: 22/04/2013

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