In Ocean's Thirteen they plan to rig the dice and the Malloy brothers go all the way to the factory in Mexico where the dice are made to rig them with some chemicals, which in turn would roll to the number of their liking by corresponding to the flip on their lighter.

How did this work?

  • Look like it was something magnetically driven or something triggers to make that one side heavier
    – Huangism
    Aug 19, 2019 at 15:18
  • I don't remember the exact words, but it's not magic but magnetic. what they mixed into the dice mixer is some chemical powder that'd make it magnetic. Operator (I think its Ocean) have a equipment shaped/modeled as Lighter and it would do the trick. It works by flipping up the lighter and dice will turn towards it.
    – Vishwa
    Aug 20, 2019 at 6:33
  • 5
    @Vishwa i watched the movie a few days ago and it was a polymer that reacts to ultrasonic waves and is not metallic so it doesn't trigger whatever device they use to check the dice
    – Clayn
    Aug 20, 2019 at 7:15

2 Answers 2


I can't imagine that the filmmakers have a plausible explanation for how the dice work. I mean, it's just a powder that Virgil pours into a vat of liquid plastic. Unless the powder contains nanobots, which seems out of the realm of possibility considering the Ocean's team's budget, there is no way that the powder could be "activated" to tip the dice over.

So I'd say the filmmakers want the audience to suspend their disbelief, and to think the powder is something highly technically advanced. (As Arthur C. Clarke wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Audiences accept magic in movies - especially high-tech magic.)

  • No we don't. Often it is just laughable.
    – CrossRoads
    Aug 19, 2019 at 18:06
  • @CrossRoads Fair point! Aug 19, 2019 at 19:02
  • @BrettFromLA I think they did. remember the Lighter trick? As I remember, it has to do something with magnets, magnetic powder and stuff
    – Vishwa
    Aug 20, 2019 at 6:34
  • 1
    @Vishwa as mentioned in my other comment it was not magnetic but a polymer reacting to ultrasonic waves
    – Clayn
    Aug 20, 2019 at 7:15
  • @Clayn That does make some sense. However, I can't think of a way for an ultrasonic wave to push the dice in exactly the right way to make them tip to the "correct" numbers every time. If the wave just pushes them, then the dice would always just roll over onto the next side no matter what it was. Aug 20, 2019 at 14:22

The movie explains it as a polymer that reacts to ultrasonic waves which are produced by the lighters. While this explanation is completely unrealistic, what the characters are trying to accomplish, being able to control when a dice is weighted, isn’t totally impossible

For starters magnetic dice are a real thing, however the pips in those dice are made from rare earth magnets and when rolled on a metal table will stop after just two or three rolls. However even with these you’d have no way of controlling the roll

The only real way to do what they did in the movie would be to have metal pips on one side of the die, similar to how a weighted die works, and then have an electromagnet under the table. You would then use the lighter as a remote to turn the electromagnet on and off. Electromagnets are way stronger than rare Earth magnets and would pull the metal pips down with a lot of force, effectively stopping the dice in its tracks. With enough practice you could probably get the timing down and make it look convincing, but the set up isn’t practical. You’d be better off swapping in regular weighted dice than trying to hide an electromagnet under the table.

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