What is ‘Nina’?
‘Nina’ is most commonly used as a slang term for the number 9 by casino employees and players in the game of craps. It refers to either the actual or hoped-for result of a dice roll, where the two six-sided dice total 9 through a combination of 3-6 or 4-5 etc.
It is important to note that the word ‘Nina’ is seldom used in isolation and will generally be used as part of a larger phrase such as ‘Nina from Pasadena’.
For example, during a craps game, should the shooter roll a 9, the boxman might exclaim ‘Nina from Pasadena’. Similarly, players hoping for a roll of 9 might also exclaim ‘Nina from Pasadena’ and players wishing to make a ‘place bet’ on the number 9 can use this phrase to indicate their wishes to the base dealers.
Commonly used phrases incorporating ‘Nina’ include ‘Nina from Pasadena’, ‘Nina from Argentina’ and ‘Nina at the marina’.
It is worth noting that in the context described above, ‘Nina’ is generally pronounced ‘Nee-nuh’ as per the English pronunciation of the proper name. However it is also sometimes pronounced ‘Nine-uh’ such that it rhymes with ‘Niner’. The phrases ‘Nina form Carolina’ and ‘Nina, Nina, Ocean Liner’ are therefore also sometimes used in this context, although in these cases, ‘Nina’ is also sometimes spelled ‘Niner’ in keeping with its reference to the number 9.
‘Nina’ is not the exclusive term for the number 9 during a craps game. Other common phrases used to refer to a dice roll of 9 include a ‘railroad nine’ originating from Atlantic City, NJ, and referring to a 4-5 roll, a ‘Jesse James’, as Jesse James was killed by a .45 calibre pistol. More recently, ‘Old Mike’ is also used in reference to NBA basketball player Michael Jordan, who wore a number 45 jersey.