Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter
Welcome back to another edition of the Precision Shooter Newsletter. There are a couple of news items this month. First, as I've announced previously in the newsletter, the message board will become subscription based on July 1. For most board participants, they will notice no change as anyone who contributes their insight on the forum, will continue to enjoy the board for free. Those members who choose to lurk, will be required to "renew" their subscription, and those who wish to join will have to subscribe. I sent an email to members who are required to renew early in June. Those who have chosen not to renew will be unsubscribed on July 1st. For more information on this, click here.
The other new item is that we've officially announced the Las Vegas Crapsfest with Heavy, Dice Coach, Michael Vernon and Soft Touch. It will be held October 15-17, and promises to be an exciting and fun event.
Tick Tock - Is Time Running Out?
Mad ProfessorIt's a bit of a moral balancing act.
Whenever a major seminar is held, regardless of which gaming jurisdiction it is held in, there is usually some blowback in the form of increased pit-heat for a period of time.
I have been seeing this phenomenon for a number of years (going back to the original PARR seminars). At first, the intensity of casino attention decreased VERY rapidly once the PARR posse had left town.
However, as more and more seminar presenters started doing their road shows, and the frequency (and geographic diversity) of those seminars increased from one or two each year (in total) to the ~30 or so that we had in 2003, we've seen the heat factor increase quite a bit, and it appears to take much, much longer for the heat to dissipate.
2004 holds the promise of an expected 40+ events. As the number of seminars that are held in casinos increase, it would not be unexpected that the amount of heat will rise exponentially, as will the duration of its intensity.
Add to that fact that some highly skilled shooters like to frequent a small number of very sweet tables in just a handful of casinos, and you can see that it's a major collision just waiting to happen. A few of those houses have been HAMMERED over and over again, so it should be no surprise that a few of them have increased their player-scrutiny.
To my mind, the free information that is contained on excellent websites like dicesetter.com is the LEAST damaging to the long-term prospects of the game, and the MOST beneficial to those who are prepared to spend the time and effort to improve their game.
The closing of dicesetter.com would leave a huge void in the Precision-Shooting community. Nature abhors a vacuum (as does greed). The void would quickly be filled in by those who have no regard for the future of this skill, save and except for the money that they can wring out of it through seminar and book revenues.
If you want to see the extremely QUICK DEMISE of this game, just eliminate the free stuff and leave it solely to those who derive their income from book and seminar sales, and/or casino consulting.
TinhornGamblerThe Classic Tale Comes to Life, and it's not, "The Cat in The Hat" but, "The Cat Is Out Of The Bag." Since it's clear, the word is out and just about everyone has heard about it, there is no going back. We are going to have to try and deal with this unhappy situation. There is so much information out on Dice Setting, that it's hard to ignore it. Every gambling magazine lately that I pick up lately is telling the Dice Setting tale. My guess-estimate is 99.9 % of the crap dealers and casino managers are aware of Dice Setting. The only good thing, is some refuse to believe it, and others are not concerned. For them, it's the dice table pyramids job to randomize the dice. OK, that's until someone is shooting a good hand. And when a shooter gets a hand, some casino's and/or even some dealers play hardball. We can't hide anymore. We can camouflage some of our action, but we need to do is come up with a better game plan.
Although "inside " information may border on conspiracy, I think we need to name names (dealers) and places (casino's) to avoid. I think a good "insider" defense makes for a better offense.
Case in point, Rampart Casino- LV has been good to Dice Setters, but there is one particular dealer, that try's to break the rhythm of the shooters who are in groove, even with tokes. There are also casino's ( the Coast Casino's) that should be avoided, if all possible.
My thinking is that this information should be made available to members of the board. Basically properties to avoid at all costs.
HeavyWell, hell. I hate that you mentioned Rampart. I thought that place was my secret. And yes, I know the dealer and he can be a pain in the ass. He particularly likes to pick up the pace of the game when a decent precision shooter has the dice - quickly calling "no more bets" just about the time you toss your hop action out. I think I dealt with this rather handily last time there - by the way. The first time he rushed the shooter and shouted "no more bets" I echoed his call with "no more dealer bets." The box nearly fell off his stool laughing. And after about the third time I echoed his call he knocked it off. If the dealer does not want to be in the game - I will take him out of the game.
But Rampart is a prime example of what can go right as a result of casino heat. Under their previous ownership this place was always sweating the money. Their security people frequently stepped over the line. Finally, they stepped in it. A player was arrested for cheating - in this case getting a peek at a sloppy dealer's hole card - and roughed up a bit on camera. The player sued. The casino changed hands. A settlement was reached. But not before the casino got nationwide press for their heavy handed tactics. The result? You can't BUY heat in that place today. Yes, the tables are barges. There are more shooter-friendly tables in town. But overall I find it a great place to play.
As for MP's comments on the small number of really good shooters out there hammering the sweetest tables around - I'm sure there is some of that. But I don't think it's as prevalent as you might believe.
A former student of mine is in Vegas right now - living in his motor home - parked in a comped space at a casino I won't name. This casino has tables that most of us would consider unplayable, yet my friend is consistently taking $100 a day off it. He's also playing daily on a tub game where setting the dice is absolutely forbidden. But he tokes the dealers and they send the dice out to him pre-set. He takes around $100 a day off that table as well. That's it. $200 a day. That's all this gent wants - or needs - and he is doing it consistently every day. Is he killing the golden goose? Absolutely not.
As for the dice control seminar business - if you stopped every one of them tomorrow someone else would come along and crank them up again next week. It's Economics 101 - simple supply and demand.
Frankly, it took a long time for me to make a decision to do the seminars on a regular "for profit" basis. I'd been helping players get started on precision shooting for years - hooking up, playing sessions, and critiquing their tosses. What got me to thinking about doing the seminars was simple demand. People kept asking me to do them. I thought about it for some time but couldn't get off center on the idea. Then we did the Dicesetter.com/PARR weekend in Vegas. That, more than anything else, was the deciding factor for me.
Now, don't get me wrong here. I met some great people that weekend - many of whom I still hook up with for team play. But the seminar itself was so unprofessional that I was almost embarrassed to be a part of it. I recall talking to Irish about it one evening - discussing the fact that he and I clearly had a better command of the subject than most of the guys putting on the weekend - and that we could do a much more professional job at half the cost of their combined home-study and seminar package. Within a few months I did my first class in Tunica. The rest - as they say - is history.
I did a total of thirteen classes this year. PARR is out of the seminar business, but does PARR 'round-ups' - one day dealer school events in various markets. The Dice Coach is doing his own thing in Vegas every day. GTC had perhaps half a dozen seminars this year in addition to their involvement in the "jamborees."
As for the classes themselves - and I'm including Axis Power Craps, Dice Coach, PARR, and GTC in the mix - I don't think they have that much of an impact on our ability to find a friendly table to play. And if we'd all follow the "flying under the radar" rules I hand out in my classes we'd NEVER get any heat. Simple rules like not having more than two or three precision shooters on the same table, not echoing each other's bets, and not discussing precision shooting at the tables. Of course, these rules are seldom followed. People like to play with like-minded people. And unfortunately, in those circumstances dumb decisions can be made. Still, that's a minor part of this picture.
The heat we're getting today is a direct result of popular press articles, books, radio and television programs, and large scale casino conferences on dice control being sponsored by casino event management companies intent on one thing. Profit at all cost. Even if that means their fees are paid by the casino itself. Yes, it's the greed factor in all its glory.
Shut down the dicesetter.com site or the moderated internet forums where we discuss these topics? Nonsense. That would only signal "victory" to these guys. By offering free information on-line and competitively priced seminars in non-gaming hotels we offer the public a viable alternative to the premium priced in-casino conferences. And while they focus on quantity - we will always focus on quality.
ShootitallAll good points and on target. I have been at a lot of tables with a lot of setters. None were high rollers. All started relatively small and pyramided winnings. This is what I believe the casinos sweat the most. Plain ole money management. Shooting their former dollars back at them. With some setting skills this can be devastating to the casino bottom line.
Jeffrey47I share the overall paranoia about the future of the game. But I agree with the Mad Professor that pulling the plug could only make things worse.
Dicesetter.com has always emphasized an under-the-radar, ungreedy approach (thanks to all of those smart enough to recognize the merit of the admonition in this regard, and to routinely highlight that idea in our posts).
The message must be heard for as long as possible.
For those of you who read Part 2, youll remember that I started practicing by tossing into a cardboard box and that the cardboard was taking a beating. A cardboard box as a practice station? Come on now, we can do better than that.
The next big step up for my practice rig was to do something about what the dice were doing to the cardboard table. I needed an improved bottom (table surface) for the dice to land on. I wandered back to the garage to see if I could scrounge up a board (Did I mention Im cheap?). I found an old piece of 1/2 plywood that was just about the right size to fit into the bottom of my cardboard box. It was not quite wide enough to fit from wall to wall and left about a 2 gap on the one side, but it was the best I had laying around so it was going to have to do. It was about 2 and 1/2 feet long and I thought this would give me a good run-way for the dice landing zone.
Next I ran down to the local fabric store and picked up a yard of wool/polyester blend felt. Found a nice green color that looked about the right shade, same as a traditional craps table felt. I brought this home and wrapped it around the plywood, pulled it tight and stapled it down on the back side. Finally, I laid the felt swathed board into the box. Viola! A new and improved practice rig.
I hope you have this picture in your head, a cardboard box tipped on its side with the topside removed, a 2 foot by 2 1/2 foot plywood board draped in green felt lying inside, and three pairs of used Hard Rock Casino dice (blue, green and red!) laying there ready to be tossed.
Hey, stop laughing. Come on now, its not that funny! I actually used this set-up to effect for over 2 months! Ok, go ahead and keep laughing, it was pretty lame. But, to learn to grip and toss the dice in a light and consistent manner, you really dont need anything fancy and you dont need more then what I described here. Besides, like all those body toning pieces of home gym equipment they sell on TV infomercials, I could slide this rig under the bed when I wasnt using it.
Having gotten the rig in a bit better shape, I was now ready to start looking more seriously at tracking the rolls. To start it was easiest to just record for the touted Sevens to Roll Ration or SRR. From what Id been reading, that seemed to be the main statistic that needed to be tracked. I set the dice in the hardways set with the 4s on top (bye-bye snake-eyes, its been good knowing ya) and tossed with the 4 finger grip. Thats three fingers in front and the thumb in back. This is what was instructed in SSs book and for now I was willing to go along.
To track, I would simply count the number of rolls, ignoring the results, until a seven showed. Record that number, and start over counting from zero. For the most part you can track this in your head and just write down the count when the seven is rolled. Id keep going like this until I was weary of tossing. Id then take the average of these numbers and call that the SRR. This approach worked reasonably well. I was recording an SRR of a tad better then 1:6 so I was encouraged and kept going.
Pretty soon it seemed like I needed to track a bit more then just the Sevens. So I began tracking each number that rolled. Again, it was very simple tracking. Wrote the numbers 2 through 12 down the side of a piece of paper and just made a check each time a given number rolled using the old scratch and slash counting method. You know, draw a line for each hit until you have four lines, then draw a slash line through the other lines to represent five. Using these numbers and the expected distribution for the 36 possible outcomes, I found that I am getting fewer sevens then expected, not by much, but I also notice that other numbers were showing outside expected patterns. More so then could be explained by just the redistribution of the missing sevens.
How many tosses? I dont know how many I did during those early months. I was recording rolls on the backsides of pieces of scrap computer paper and would usually just toss them (if my wife didnt first), when I was done. At first it wasnt very many. Maybe a couple dozen every 3 or 4 nights. Not nearly enough as I found out on a disastrous trip (thats another story). But after I began getting serious about this sport, the practice hours/tosses became quite a few. I would (and still do) practice at least a half hour or so most weeknights after the kids got to bed.
I was just thinking that it was somewhere during this stage of my DI investigations that I started looking around the internet for more info on dice influencing. I started doing searches for controlling the dice and that sort of thing. This is when I found the dicesetter.com site.
Once I found the site, I started reading some of the many articles to be found. Man, what an eye opener. Can you believe all this information on how to set dice and throw dice and grip dice. I had no idea that there were so many people who were trying to achieve these results. From here I learned about more books to read and bought a few. The first two being the John Patrick book on Advanced Craps and the book by Yuri on Dice Control. Found other message boards and web sites, including Heavys Axis Power Craps board. Wow, I was blown away. And I was inspired that maybe there was even more to this then I originally thought. I signed up for the message boards right away and like many lurked a bit before I got up the gumption to ask a few questions.
From what I was reading and the progress I was making, I began to feel like I needed to do a bit better job on the ole cardboard practice box. Ive built two practice boxes since then. Neither cost more then about $30 in material (not counting the pyramid rubber, which is where the real expense is on the box. The damn stuff is like gold).
It doesnt take a whole lot of skill to build a respectable practice box. Its not like building fine furniture with precise measurements and fancy dovetail or tenon joint cuts, but you do have to be somewhat handy and have a few tools. What you need is 4 pieces of wood and a drill/screwdriver. Use one piece of wood for the deck, one for the back wall and one each for the side walls. You can have your home improvement store cut the plywood for you. Cover the deck with felt. Then just screw the pieces together. Screw the back to the deck first, and then screw the sides to the deck and the back wall piece. The most difficult part is to hold the pieces together while assembling. Pipe clamps (or a buddy) work well here. Thats it and you have a relatively decent box to toss into.
Oh, sure, you can get fancier by using hanger bolts and thumb screws to screw it together so that you can take it apart if you want to store it or need to replace the felt. You could use hinges so that you can collapse the walls. Upgrading the felt, buying real pyramid rubber for the back wall, and building rounded corners are all things that will make the box more and more realistic. If you dont want to build your own, you can get excellent units from the dicecoach.com site or from Site and Dix over at advantagedice.com. I dont have experience with their units, but Im pretty sure youd be very happy with them.
In the end, you dont really need much fancy stuff to start out. As I mentioned, none of that really has an effect on how you set the dice, grip the dice, and deliver the dice. It does have some effect on learning to position your landing zone. There is also that difference on the end results of the dice rolls which effects the roll tracking results. But until you get the set/grip/toss part down, the rest wont do you much good anyway.
You see the whole purpose of the practice rig, initially, is get the hang of the toss mechanics in a situation and circumstances where you do not have anything at risk (like money, ego, confidence, etc). The rig is used to build up that thing called muscle memory where your body becomes accustomed to performing the perfect tossing motion. We use the practice rig to get familiar with performing the act of Dice Influencing in an idealized setting and without distraction.
Oh sure, the practice rig cant match the exact bounce and feel of a true casino table. Heck, even if you practice on a full sized, authentic casino table, youd still be pressed to find a casino with a table that matched exactly to the one you use. Each table has its quirks with varying underlayments, pyramid rubber size, length, felt type, etc. In addition, even having a real table, you still wouldnt be able to replicate the mental aspect of the in-casino session. The effects of waiting for the dice, waiting for payoffs, thinking through betting, having someone swearing at you for not rolling the number they wanted, etc, etc, all take a mental toll. All of these real-world influences have a hefty impact on your ability to focus and achieve the zone and are difficult if not impossible to replicate in your practice arena.
So what is the purpose of a practice rig? As I pointed out, its primary value is helping establish the mechanics of controlled throw. Think about it. What is the one constant no matter what table you are hanging around? No matter if the table has old felt, brand new felt, or a microfiber layout. No matter if the dice are the small 5/8 or the 3/4 razor edge variety. No matter if the table has the large pyramid, the tiny pyramids, or the pyramid rubber half falling off (like Ive seen on some tables that are in use but in desperate need of restoration). The one constant is you and your physical ability to toss the dice gently from your starting position (point A) and land them squarely with minimal bounce to the ending position at the back wall (point B).
Improving your controlled throw is similar to the basketball player who is trying to improve his free-throw percentage. Our basketball friend might have practiced many years in his driveway using the simple backboard and hoop nailed above the garage. He probably spent many hours shooting over in the school playground. He even spent many, many nights practicing his shot in the collage gym. Now he is about to shoot two with a chance to put the game out of reach in the NBA semi-finals. Sure, the driveway hoop doesnt match the perfectly measured and positioned basket in the arena, and he didnt have several thousand fans screaming as he lined up to flush one from the chalk line he drew on the asphalt of his driveway, but does that invalidate the practice hours he spent there, leading up to this moment? Or another way to look at it, even if our BB friend practices hours on end in the best facilities his NBA franchise can provide, does he achieve 100% accuracy on his free-throws? Even the best in the NBA have difficulty keeping their percentage up above 75% at crunch time.
Ok, an extreme example, but you get the point. Even if you dont have the perfect casino replication, you can still prepare yourself and achieve strong results with even the most simple practice target. The initial goals of the aspiring dice influencer need to be (a) can I set the dice quickly, (b) can I toss the dice softly and on target, and (c) can I land the dice squarely to keep them on-axis. None of these goals require fancy set-ups, but they do require practice and at least some form of practice station.
I said the primary rationale of the practice rig is to produce and develop an ability to execute the controlled toss. Once you have established the ability to toss, the next value of the practice rig comes to the fore. That is your ability to start analyzing the RESULTS of your controlled toss. Now, the one short-coming that I will concede regarding the use of practice rigs vs real-world casino tables, is that the numbers that you are able to toss may differ between your practice rig and your in-casino experience. Im running long here, so Ill save the discussion on tracking and the value of tracking practice results to casino experience for a future Journey article.
For those of you who are thinking about setting up a practice rig, let me point out a few minimum requirements that your set up should cover to maximize your early practice.
Thats it. Get this set up and you have everything you need to start practicing and practicing and practicing (and while you are at it, practice a little more).
Well that is how I got started with my practice equipment. Do I still use the old cardboard box and chicken scratch notepad? Nope. Ive rebuilt and upgraded my rig a couple of times. Each alteration of the rig providing an enhancement, sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle. For example, making it larger, adding better felt, adding pyramid rubber, that sort of thing. Ive also changed the way I track my practice rolls many times, each time tracking more and more variables in the dice tracking equation. I expect that as I continue to learn and evolve my game that Ill also continue to upgrade my tools over time.
Not that there was really anything wrong with what I was using. In fact I would suggest a similar approach to any new and aspiring Dice Influencer. Why go to the expense of fancy rigs and stuff, until you know for sure that you are into the DI scene? Start with simple stuff and if you find out this is something you want to do, and that youre willing to practice several hours a week, then upgrade to better equipment. (The one exception is the dice. You HAVE to get decent dice.)
Well, after spending about 3 or 4 months practicing (in the cardboard and plywood box) and reading up on the many topics on these fine boards I had discovered, I got an opportunity to head out to the casino and give it a shot. Yep, the Maddog was ready to go on a hunt and I was loaded for bear. Well talk about that in Part 4
Until next time, keep your sixes crossed and your rack full.
IV will appear in the next Precision Shooter Newsletter)
Dice Coach and Michael Vernon - Dice Busters! - July 3 - 4, Las Vegas
Heavy's Motorcity Craps Clinic - August 20 - 22nd, Detroit
Las Vegas Crapsfest!
- October 15 - 17, 2004
If you have any comments or ideas for future issues, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And as always, we are looking for contributors with a fresh perspective.
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