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Maddog's Journey - Part VII

(This article originally appeared in the Precision Shooter Newsletter. 

To subscribe (it's free), send an email to dicesetter@aweber.com with "subscribe" as the subject.)

Part 7: Not a Puppy Anymore, the Hunt Gets Serious

Man that table was loud.  Not loud in terms of noisy and raucous, but the layout was blaring and glaring out in assorted shades of pinks, blues and oranges.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  This particular gambling hall was known for its penchant towards bright neon color schemes.   Walls covered in shaped and twisting neon bulbs and signs.  A floor design that looked like an entire parade of Marti-Gras floats had exploded and the floor was left covered with the bits and pieces.  Blackjack tables outfitted in hot pink coverings paired with cushy royal purple armrest skirts.   This was the standard fare at this joint.   A true assault on the ol’ optic nerves. 

Yeah, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was still taken off guard by the new layouts.  The last time I’d been here the table had been a tame light blue color and was still easy enough to look at.  Although not quite as pleasing to my old fashioned preference for traditional-green-felt, the light blue field still showed up the results of a pair of bright red dice clearly enough.  This new stuff was really making my eyes bleed.

We’d planned this “hit-n-run” trip to get us to the casino early in the morning.  All the boards have posts that recommend trying to hit the tables when there are the fewest number of players and therefore the greatest number of shooting opportunities.  It seemed a logical course of action to follow all this experienced advice, at least until I thought that I had a better plan.  So my buddy and I had gotten up early this Tuesday morning to make the two and half hour drive to our favorite little border town.

Oh now, my buddy, he isn’t a Dice Influencer.  He doesn’t even believe in this stuff.  Thinks it’s a bunch of hooey.  But he does love to play craps and was ready and willing to head out across the desert for an early morning session.  You might wonder why a non-DI guy would be willing to get up early on a weekday, play hooky from work, and head out to the casino.  Particularly if he isn’t worried about how casino conditions will affect his dice influencing activities.  Thing is, he does care about the table conditions, just for a slightly different reason.  He is one of those guys that believe the dice get into a rhythm.   The way to develop a rhythm is to get the dice quickly and toss them quickly.  Keep everything moving.  That’s the way to develop a winning trend in his book.  Not a bad approach for someone who doesn’t believe in this DI stuff and not far off from our concept of getting into the zone and trying to stay there by getting the dice back quickly. 

So, although we had different reasons for wanting to be there early, we were on the same page as to the plan of action.  On this particular morning our plan actually worked out too well.  Since it was the middle of the slow season and a week-day to boot, the first two casinos we stopped at didn’t even have their tables open yet.   The TGS told us they would open up in about an hour. OK, instead of checking the last two casinos we decided it was .99 cent breakfast time.

So about an hour later, here we were, squinting over this garish new table layout, ready for our first rounds with the dice.  When we arrived the table was already open and two other gents were set up and playing.  Not the empty table we were hoping for, but just about the next best thing.  One guy was setup near the hook off SR and the other was next to him at the Straight Out position.  I slipped into my favorite spot at SL and my buddy went into the straight out on the SL side of the table.

After getting my chips aligned into the rack according to my liking, greens in the back rack left side, reds in the front rack left side, whites in the front rack right side, I started watching the dice.  That’s when I noticed they had switched out the nice red dice to some ugly purple ones. I guess they figured these went with the rest of the disgusting table color scheme.  In fact something about these dice looked kinda funny.  It wasn’t just that they were purple, they just didn’t look right.  You wouldn’t think that 1/16 of an inch would be all that big of a difference but when they subtract a 1/16 from each side of the die, you end up with a cube that looks and feels like it would fit in much better on a monopoly board then on a regulation craps table.  The dice were too small.  That is what was bugging me about them and why I thought they looked a bit queer.

In the past I had never even considered the color or size of the dice on the table.  Just pick ‘em up and toss ‘em, no big deal.  Today I was acutely conscious of those little blocks. After spending the past several months practicing and carefully tracking the effect of various grip adjustments, toss heights and dice rotation, such a little things as dice size was now a feature of the battle field to be evaluated and incorporated into the plan of attack.

My first thought was to wonder how these smaller dice would affect the grip and delivery.  Would they be more difficult to pick up?  Perhaps stick to the fingers more or the opposite, and slip out of the fingers easier?  Should they be gripped deeper?  Should I plan more backspin?  Ugg, I hadn’t practiced for this situation.  Perhaps I should have tried to move on to the next casino.  But, this was one of my buddy’s favorite places to play, we were bought in, and the dice were coming to me next.  “Come on guy”, I thought, “Take a deep breath, relax, focus and go with the flow”.

I was ready to suck it up and get into this next serious attempt at DI.  The last few attempts had been encouraging in that I had had a winning session and the losing sessions had been small, “controlled” losses.  I knew that part of becoming a DI was learning to deal with these slight table variations.   Don’t panic, all the practice I had put in meant that the toss was under control and it was just a matter of fine adjustments to get in tune with this table.

And apparently all the hours of practice that I was putting in was paying off.  Compared to that first attempt at the dice influencing, this session was going much smoother.  I was feeling less conspicuous in what I was doing.  You know that feeling that everyone is looking at you.  Like, maybe you’re doing something just a little bit naughty and you’re going to get caught or something. Well I was past those early session jitters.  No sweaty palms this time. Setting the dice was getting easier and more natural, which meant it was happening faster, which meant I felt less conspicuous.  Yeah it’s all a cycle.  One thing leads to the next and it all starts with practice, practice, practice. 

Still, it’s funny how a little worry can focus ones attention and those little dice were giving me some worry.  The first time I got the dice I bet a minimum pass line bet and a buck for the dealers and nothing else.  I focused completely on the mechanics of tossing the dice.  All the things we work on in practice such as the grip, the starting position of my hand on the table, a smooth toss with a clean follow through, keeping the wrist flat and square to the table, picking a landing spot and hitting it.  Forget about betting for now and focus on what these little dice were going to do and what I had to do to adjust to them.

The first hand wasn’t so good.  The dice were splaying out on touch down.  One die bouncing out left and the other veering to the right.  It only took about four tosses before the old seven showed and I lost my PL bet.  But the good news was that the grip felt fine and the toss distance was good and hitting the landing zone wasn’t a problem.  I just needed to control that thumb and wrist and maybe reduce the height of the throw.

The next time the dice came around to me I was feeling more confidence.  I set up a minimum PL bet and a buck for the dealers again and again focused on toss mechanics and tried to lower the overall toss height.  All this focusing and concentrating was working.  The dice were beginning to land much smoother with less right or left bounce out.  Not perfect, no not by a long shot.  There wasn’t any of this “land in unison, one hop to the back wall and gently roll back” stuff.  But they were landing together and coming to a stop within a hand-span of each other (about half the time anyway, heh heh heh) and that was a good indicator.

I had found a groove and this hand came along much better then the first.  When the seven finally showed, I had made my point 5 times.  My buddy was ecstatic.  He likes to bet the outside and by his nature he bets pretty aggressively.  My primary set is the mini-v so it worked well with his betting style.   He had pressed and pulled his bets into a big win.  I, on the other hand, had focused on the tossing and didn’t bet anything but the PL until the second point, and even then I did a lot of same-bet type betting.  I had a win sure enough, but it wasn’t as big as it should have been, and I have to admit to being a bit envious of how my friend had profited off my hand.   Oh well, he went for it and I didn’t, good for him.

That turned out to be the best hand of the day for me.  Aye, there is nothing like a great hand to make a guy feel a little invincible.  On subsequent hands I felt like I had this table licked and began to let go of the concentration a bit.   Started thinking more about how I should bet to make some money.  What should my next press move be, should I do a regression move, etc.  Some old bad habits started creeping back into my game.

I’m convinced that the quickest way for a DI to lose control of his toss mechanics is to start thinking about his bets.  I don’t know if it’s a left-brain, right-brain thing or what, but if your about to toss the dice and you are thinking about whether you are going to parley that hit on the Hard eight, or power press the six, you are not going to have a very successful toss. 

Pre-toss preparation is very important.  I’ve seen it with Irishsetter.  I’ve seen it with Heavy.  I’ve seen it with the Dice Coach.  I’ve seen it with every successful DI that I’ve ever watched.  You’ll see it also if you watch them while they are shooting.  After their roll, they get their bets taken care of immediately and quickly, and then settle into a quiet “zone” while they wait for the rest of the table to be paid and the dice to come back. (well, Heavy isn’t always that quiet, but he is much more quiet then when others have the dice, hehehe).  It is paramount to have your betting strategies planned and prepared long before you hit the table.  When you are tossing, your mind must be clear and focused and not cluttered with stray thoughts of “damn-should-I-have-regressed-before-this-toss” or “should-I-press-in-pairs-on-the-next-hit-or-just-the-number-that-hits”.  These spurious thoughts are extremely disruptive.  They take you away from the trance-like state that is so conducive for physical excellence and move you toward the analytical thought processes that seem to sap the carefully prepared muscle memory.  Isn’t it ironic, that the main goal of what we do as a DI, the money, is also a major hindrance to our achieving that goal? 

Well, overall the day went up and down.  No more hands as nice as that early morning hand, but fortunately not to many point-seven hands either.  Overall the day ended in the red by a few dollars.  Another “controlled” loss.

Even with this loss, I knew I was getting better.  I was convinced that I was betting “smarter” then ever before (not perfect, but smarter then the hunch and chase betting that I used to do).  I felt strongly that there had to be something to this Dice Influencing thing.  My practice data showed it.  My in casino experiences were mirroring the effect.  But, dang-it, it wasn’t automatic and my skills were still evolving too slowly. I seemed to be stuck at a plateau.  What more could I do?

I think that now, maybe, I was ready for a class.  I probably had some flaws in my toss techniques.  After all, I’d never seen a DI before and only got to where I was by reading and practice.  If I could watch a couple of other folks actually doing this, then perhaps I could figure out what the short-coming was.  It just might provide the break through I needed.  Besides, I had a burning curiosity to meet these folks I’d been corresponding with on the chat boards. Yeah, a chance to meet these guys and have a “pro” take a look at what I might be doing wrong, that’s the ticket.

Next stop, we’ll take an inside look at a Dice Influencing class.

Until next time, keep your toss straight and your rack full.


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