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 The Importance of Being Earnest
(About Practicing)

Originally I was going to address some e-mail questions I received about practice sessions in one of the Dog’s Mailbag articles.  Then, as I dug deeper, I found there to be some erroneous perceptions of what a practice session involves by those who were posing the questions.  If you’re having difficulty converting success on the practice table to success on a live table in a casino, perhaps this will help.

For most dice influencers, practice is the single most important aspect to developing a consistent and repeatable throw.   Some of you have easy access to local casinos and therefore may choose to “practice” on live tables, but most of us have to hone our skill on some sort of practice rig outside of the casino environment.  So, how do you approach your practice sessions? 

Mental Preparation:

Do you mentally prepare yourself for a practice session or do you just pick up the dice and start tossing?  If you aren’t establishing a pattern of how to mentally prepare yourself for the practice table, how do you expect to get yourself mentally ready when you walk up to a table in a live playing situation?  

Your mind and body must be focused to be successful in the casino.   You must develop a method for getting your mind focused on the task at hand and make sure it is part of your practice routine.   In live play, if you find that it takes several hands to get your throw “dialed in”, you may need to work on your mental preparation. 

Physical Preparation:

I first read about physical preparedness for dice influencing in Yuri’s book, Dice Control for Casino Craps.  Frankly, I thought, “You got to be kidding!”  But, he was right, there are certain exercises that will get the blood flowing to the extremities and to the brain.  Don’t scoff!   A few deep knee bends and some finger calisthenics prior to shooting will do wonders for your throw.  Not to mention, it may also assist in battling fatigue at the tables.

Attire:

You would think this is obvious, but the email I’ve received indicates that sometimes the obvious gets overlooked.  One gentleman wrote that he was having a lot of success practicing but that he just “couldn’t get comfortable” when he was shooting in a live situation.   After several back and forth emails, I came to discover that most often he practiced at home in his pajamas and bare feet!  No wonder he couldn’t get comfortable in the casino!   If you wear loafers in the casino, make sure you’re wearing them in practice.  Same goes for jewelry, contacts, and glasses etc.  (I’ll also reiterate that I recommend short sleeve shirts for dice influencers.)   Come up with a “uniform” to wear in practice and at the live tables.

Grip Position:

So, you’ve found a dice grip you’re comfortable with, and have success with.  Why is it that sometimes it’s quite easy to grip the dice while other times it seems you just can’t seem to get the damn dice into the grip correctly? 

Often times you’ll find that you’re establishing your grip in different positions in relation to your body.  Sometimes you establish your grip reaching out a foot and to the right, other times you may be gripping the dice up close and directly in front of you. 

Find the spot on your practice rig that you’ve found to be the most comfortable for establishing your dice grip.  MARK it with chalk or a piece of tape and make sure that you ALWAYS arrange and grip the dice on that mark.  It will become second nature and you’ll find that your grip will be more consistent and a consistent grip is a vital ingredient to a consistent throw.

Nerves:

We’ve ALL gone through this.  When you begin your dice influencing journey, you become very comfortable in the your practice environment, but the minute you are in a real shooting situation, the hands tremble, there’s a bit of a rumble in your stomach, and despite the air conditioning, you’re sweating profusely.  I would guess that all precision shooters have experienced this in one form or another.  Don’t worry, with experience this will pass.

There are dozens of issues similar to those listed above (stance, time of day, point of diminishing returns)   I’ll address some of those in Part II.  For now, this should give you some things to mull over. 

The reason we practice is to develop throwing mechanics such that they become second nature.  If your practice routine is not a routine at all, then you’re probably not getting all that you can out of your practice sessions.  If you’re not making the most of your practice time, you’ll probably in turn, make similar errors on the real tables and every misstep you make in a casino will generally cost you money.  

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