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Maddog's Journey - Part VIII

(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 8: Taking a Class

Damn it was cold.  Of course it’s always cold this time of year.  The sun would be up soon and hopefully that would take some of the bite out of the winter chill.  I don’t know what I was doing up this early anyway.  The flight wasn’t scheduled for departure for several hours yet.  Jeeze, this was just like a kid on Christmas morning or something.   Overcome with excitement and unable to sleep.   A head full of anticipation for the surprises that waited and the hopes for that one special and expected gift under the tree.

It certainly wasn’t going to be all that big a deal, but, still here it was, the sun just coming up, the bag long since packed and sitting by the door, the wife thinking that I’ve gone off the deep-end and still several hours to kill before starting the trip to the airport.

Even with the necessary evil of airport security requiring all passengers to get to their flights early and the hour-long drive to the airport, there was plenty of time to try and find something to do.  The task of scrapping the frost off of the car windows had taken all of, oh…, 5 minutes and the morning introduction to the bitter February cold left any outdoor activities firmly crossed-off the “things to do” list.

Still, despite the numb sensation in my extremities, it was an exciting morning. After six months of self study and practice, the day had finally arrived.   The question still remained.  The question to be answered over the next few days was whether I had been putting in all this effort to productive use or had I been doing it all wrong?

Somehow the monotonous minutes ticked away and activities continued according to plan.  The long wait was over and the plane was in the air.  Next stop, the lovely town nestled in the eastern side of the Sierra-Nevadas.  Reno.  This was my destination and the location of the next Axis Power Craps clinic and my chance to learn the ins-and-outs of dice influencing.

As I suffered through the turbulence induced bumps and buffeting of the little prop-plane, I found it was difficult to focus on Heavy’s APC manual which sat in my lap.  I sure it has happened to you where it seemed that you’ve read and re-read the same few lines for about the umpteenth time.  The difficulty to focus was not due to the rough flight or the fact that I’d already read through the manual about a dozen times.  My mind was filled with thoughts of what would be happening this weekend and what it was that I hoped to learn.  And certainly not a few daydreams of possible “Monster” hands and picking up a few bucks off what I might learn over the few days.  Finally relenting to the distraction, I closed the APC manual and began making some notes about what it was that I wanted to accomplish over the weekend.


Why take a class?  I had received a email questionnaire prior to the class.  The little survey asked this very question, “What did I hope to get out of the class?”  I again contemplated what the answer to that question was for me.

After practicing all this time, why feel a need to learn any more?  Why was I going and what did I hope to accomplish?  For me, probably one of the biggest influences on making the decision to take the trip was a deep curiosity.   Who were these guys?  What kinda people are they?  Most of all, what could I do and learn that would help in improving the consistency of my dice influencing results.  In addition to my cat killing curiosity (or in spite of), I felt it important to established some specific goals that I wanted to meet by the end of the class.

~ My primary goal for heading out on this trip was to find out if my technique was good, and if not, what adjustments were needed to become successful.  My last few casino trips had been 50/50 propositions.  Some good results mixed with some not so good.  The dice influencing seemed to be coming along on the right track, but not with any real consistency.  Hopefully there would be a way to improve on the over all results and perhaps accelerate the success curve.

~ How do other people perform the controlled toss?  Specifically how do the “pros” do it and what would I need to do to emulate their activities.  It was my hope to learn if my technique was anywhere close to what others were doing and to do what ever was needed to with my grip or toss or whatever to progress.

~ And finally, but not the least important, I hoped to try and learn some betting strategies that go along with dice influencing.  I especially wanted to better understand Darkside betting strategies and even right/wrong/right transition moves.  I planned to learn and use at least one betting strategy that I had not tried before.

The Class…

I could probably fill up several pages on what went on during that Axis Power Craps clinic, but since I already wrote a pretty extensive trip report on that subject, I’ll stick with just a few observations:

That trip report can be found here: (you must be a member of the Irishsetter's Dice Forum)

~ The class is a great way to really see dice influence in action.  Despite the many, many hours I’d spent standing around and playing at craps tables, I had never before had an opportunity to see someone performing a toss to influence the dice.  Even though I had spent a lot of time alone in my basement tossing the cubes, it was hard to know if there was any similarity in my toss and the “proper” toss technique.  I could read about it and I could look at pictures of people gripping the dice and I could try to imagine/envision how the toss must look, but without having any examples to see or compare against it is difficult to be sure you’re getting it right.  (Even if your results indicate that you are going in the right direction.)

Through the weekend there were numerous occasions to see more then a dozen people attempting the controlled toss.  I was also able to see two of the best in action.  I was surprised how many different techniques that there are to tossing the bones in an influenced fashion.  Of course some techniques are more successful then others, still, there is certainly more then one way to skin the proverbial cat (and controlled toss). 

~ No matter what or how much I discover or think I know there is always more to be learned.  Even with study and understanding of several betting strategies including the betting strategies in the APC, Heavy pulled out a few more during the clinic.  And even though it turned out that I had the basic mechanics of the controlled toss down pretty well, Irishsetter pointed out some issues with my grip, positioning and follow through that I hadn’t considered and that help to improve my overall consistancy.  He also taught me some of the true meaning of “concentration” and “focus”.

~ One of the quickest all day sessions I ever spent was in the APC Clinic.  There was so much material on so many craps topics to cover.  Include on that list the part of the clinic where everyone practices tossing and I found that when the end of the day rolled around it was a real surprise that the classroom time was gone and the time for in-casino sessions had come (hey, and I skipped lunch that day to practice bet moves with the Irishsetter!).

~ I always find it amazing (and inspirational) how complete strangers from all over the country (and a couple out side the country) can come together and enjoy each others company.  Oh, sure, every one had a common interest and a built in point of topic for conversation in the game of craps, but even so, everyone was, how they say, “good” people and a pleasure to get to know.  A big part of the enjoyment of the session was going out to the casino with these new found friends and rolling the bones in this game we each enjoyed and shared. 

Yep, the craps clinic was a great weekend.  I learned many things.  I got a chance to see the influenced toss up close and personal.  I met and made new friends.  And maybe most importantly, I felt better then ever before about the time I had spent in practicing and training to be a Dice Influencer.

Had I met my goals for the weekend?  Yes and then some.  I even learned and got to try out a bet that I had not tried before; Heavy’s outside in power-press.  Not only did I get to try it out, I enjoyed the bonus of having some success with it (even though I never did correctly explain what I wanted to the dealers. LOL. Thank goodness the dealers often are better at reading our grunts and hand gestures then a cross between Helen Keller and Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent”).

I’d like to leave you with some personal observations from my journey that is specifically related to taking a dice influencing class:


I think it makes a huge difference and is a great benefit for the folks that do the majority of their grip and toss preparation before taking the class.   This is not to say that one has to be perfect, or that you can’t get a lot out of the class without prior experience or practice.   But, by going through the tossing and studying before hand, by practicing how to set the dice and trying out some grips before hand, you get the benefit of being ready to “hit-the-ground-running”.  By being prepared, your instructors can focus on the small tweaks needed to improve the issues in the grip and provide pertinent pointers on delivery and focus. 

The members of the class who had never previously attempted any kind of controlled toss spent the majority of time finding a grip and delivery that could be used as a starting point.  Any dice grip can be an awkward and uncomfortable thing the first several dozen times it is attempted.   Initially all of the dice grips feel like some form of freakish finger yoga.  But, any grip can become comfortable over time.  Like a new pair of shoes, the grip must be “broke-in”.  If you can get through the “break-in” period at home, then you’ll have more time to perfect the toss during the class.

Getting to watch it in live casino action…

One of the things I wanted to do was watch a “pro” in action.  Sometimes it can be difficult to stand at the craps table and just let the action go by.  Those damn tables seem to very much have a sirens call working its magic and drawing you into playing the game.  But to really get the full value of a session with the instructors it is a good idea to leave the game alone for awhile and pay close and serious attention to what the instructor is doing.  Sometimes the best lessons are taught, not during a lecture or in the telling of a story or the careful review of books and class materials, but in the observations gleaned during live action.

I think you will be surprised by what can be learned by simply standing at the rail and watching what Heavy and Irish (or whoever is teaching your class) is doing.  Focus on how they prepare as the dice come around.  Where is their attention and where is it that they seem to focus.  How do they go about setting the dice to the numbers they wish to set?  Can you see them turn the dice, do they hide the cubes in their hand or do they move the cubes separately and openly?  How do they grip the dice and how similar or different is it from your own grip.  How do they set up the dice just before the toss?  Are the dice kept at the same place that they were set, or do they set them, grip them and then move them to a certain position on the table for launching?

These are just some examples of an entire routine to be studied and understood.  After all why else did you decide to sign up for this experience?  Surly we are not there just so we can say “Hey, I shook hands with one of the experts”.  No!  We sign up for these classes to learn.  It is really a tough trick to learn when your attention is diverted to playing the game.  There is no way you can watch the instructors perpetration routine if you are simultaneously attempting to count out chips and instruct the dealer on a place bet or set out a Come bet.  Relax, you’ll get a chance to bet but for at least a few rounds, pay yourself in even greater winnings by observing and learning.  (for some reason the “teach a man to fish…” thingy is coming to mind)

Yeah it might not be as much fun to stand and watch, but it is a priceless opportunity to learn as much as possible.  You will be able to play and bet anytime.  For now, focus on what is there to be learned.  Take the occasion to observe how they do it.  How do they prepare.  How do they execute the set and grip?  How do they execute the toss and what are their arm movements.  How do their dice land, and where do they land.  How do they handle betting, etc. etc.

I was there to learn from these guys.  I knew it would be stupid to go there and say “yeah I’m taking your class, but I don’t need to do it your way, I’d rather do it my way.”   Damn if that was what I thought, then why the hell waste the money and the time doing the class?  At the very least, why not try it their way as a reasonable way to get started?

Watch people around the table that know what they are doing.   Like anything there are subtle little tricks that make things easier.  Tricks that unless you do them all the time, you might not think to do while in the “thick” of it.  By watching and trying to learn we all have a chance to pick up on a trick or two.

Be patient, be disciplined, be observant, be receptive.   In a class, these are the keys to the kingdom.  The kingdom of DI knowledge. 

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


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