Where in a casino would you find ‘Little Joe’?

Not to be confused with ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright, the character made famous by the late Michael Landon in the television series ‘Bonanza’ from the late Fifties onwards, ‘Little Joe’ is a traditional – in fact, almost obsolete – term used in casino craps games. The term ‘Little Joe’ was first recorded in the late nineteenth century and is often used, loosely, and erroneously, according to some sources, to describe any roll of four – that is, 1-3, 3-1, or 2-2 – or a point of four in a craps. The term ‘Little Joe from Kokomo’, on the other hand, was a later development and refers specifically to a ‘hard’ four or, in other words, 2-2 alone. For the record, the probability of rolling any four is 3/36, or 1/12, or 8.33%, while the probability of rolling a hard four is 1/36, or 2.77%.

In the case of the latter term, the ‘Little Joe’ in question is believed to be ‘Little Joe’ Fohn, who was one of the top tournament bowlers in Kokomo, Indiana in the Twenties. Interestingly, the first Japanese American jockey in the United States, Yoshio Kobuki – who, his father once joked, was small enough to fit in his jacket pocket – was also nicknamed ‘Kokomo Joe’. However, Kobuki Jnr. was not born until 1918 and did not rise to prominence until the early Forties, by which time the ‘Little Joe from Kokomo’ term was probably already in common usage. It is also interesting to note that U.S. Route 31 and U.S. Route 22 pass through Kokomo, Indiana north-south and west-east, respectively.