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Maddog's Journey - Part IX

(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 9: Give That Dog A Bone

Well fellow crapsters, the journey goes on, one step at a time, but these articles have come to their conclusion.

I have had some great successes at the tables since picking up this DI obsession, and I have had some miserable failures.  I continue to learn and evolve my game.  Striving to improve as I hope you do also.  Before I sign off, I’d like to come back to an issue that I brought up previously.

Back in Part 5 and Part 6 I mentioned that I would talk about why I think Dice Influencing and craps table math does not mix.  Oil and vinegar.  Alcohol and gunpowder.  Paris Hilton and classy elegance.  Yeah, this might sound like a strange statement coming from me, what with all the graphs and charts and such that I’ve posted over the while.

Let me explain myself before you get the wrong idea.  There is no doubt that the game of craps is all about probabilities and statistics (math).  Maybe more so then any other casino game, if only because of the myriad and multiple concurrent bets available to the craps player.  Each bet having its own odds of occurrence and unique pay-off structure.

As we know, all the craps bets and rules are centered on the design of the random distribution of number occurrences that are possible when two six-side cubes are rolled and their top face results are combined.

The house advantage (or HA) for all craps bets are based on manipulations of the payouts from the true statistical odds of this theoretical random distribution.

I’m sure that you all would agree with me that it is important to understand some of the basic principles at the craps tables.

~ The dice distribution table is made up of 36 possible combinations.

~ The expected frequency of the 7 is six times in 36 rolls.

~ The expected frequency of the 6 is five times in 36 rolls.

~ The odds of rolling a six before a seven are 6 to 5 against, yet the casino pays the PL at 1:1 only and the Place 6 at 7:6,
thus shorting the winning payouts and collecting their gaming “entertainment” fee.

~ and so on and so on for all the available craps bets.

Most of us want to know what bets have the lowest vigorish (HA) to give us the best chance for a score.  In other words the least down-side risk while waiting for ole lady luck to nuzzle up and scratch us behind the ears.  By knowing how the house calculates the odds and payoffs we can at least make an informed decision on the gamble we are going to take. 

Some of you have learned the proper odds vs actual bet payouts through sheer time at the tables. Many have learned the odds from one or more of the many books that spell out the –EV bets in all their gory details.  Some have even taken the time to memorize all the tables and numbers for all the bets from the basic place 6 to the hopping hard ten.  Having a strong understanding of the game is of course a basic requirement and something anyone who wishes to do more then just “sniff around the table” must take the time to swallow.

But the DI simply MUST understand more than the fundamental numbers of the game. 

Why?  Well, what is the fundamental goal and objective of the DI? Isn’t it to alter the standard roll frequency distribution probability table? Ok, I stand corrected.  The fundamental objective is to make some money at the craps table. LOL.  But, really, to achieve the objective of putting more cabbage in our pockets, other then smart money management and a good scratch from lady luck, we must find a way to roll fewer sevens and more point numbers (or vise-verse for darkside betting).  That brings us back to altering the expected rolls distribution probability from what is found in a standard random game. Dice Influencing.

If a DI successfully alters the dice distribution probability tables, then he can no longer use the “quoted” EV/HA figures.  Yeah, let me say that again.  He can no longer use the standard EV/HA figures.  The -1.414% PL, et. al. just no longer have any meaning.   By altering the probabilities, the DI is now in a position to re-write the rules.  He/She must now figure EV/HA based on the new “true” odds probabilities.

If the DI is able to reduce the number of sevens in 36 to five instead of six, we now have a new probability distribution.  In the random set the six is 6:5 against.  In the new distribution table, the six is now 5:5 even money.  The Pass Line is now paying at true odds for the Point Six and the Place Six is getting $7 for $6.  In this new distribution the correct (true odds) payout for the Place Six should be $6 for $6 even money.  This DI is getting a bonus $1 for every unit on a Place Six hit.  He/She is now charging the casino to entertain him/her.

We must recognize that once the distribution probabilities are altered, it is no longer a matter of over-coming-the-HA for a bet.  All the “standard” HAs have no meaning and must be recalculated based on the new, altered, distribution probabilities to have any relevance.

This is the meaning behind my comment that “Dice Influencing and craps table math do not mix.”  Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say, “Dice Influencing and traditional craps probability calculations do not mix.”

So what is this “new” skewed distribution probability?  If we need to recalculate the figures, what is the new distribution we are to use?

Ahhh, now that is the crux of the DI world.  This is where the math of the game blends with the art/skill of the DI shooter.  Due to the nature of the DI activity that includes varying degrees of skill, hand-eye coordination, focus and concentration, differences in physical make-up, etc, the new distribution is unique to each individual.

Joe might be reasonably good influencing the cubes.  He’s been a practicing DI for the past year and a half during which he has focused exclusively on perfecting the use of the 3V.  He prefers to shoot stick-right with an under-handed “bowler” grip and toss. Joe’s favorite betting strategy is to run a power-press progression on the 6 & 8.

Jill is intrigued by the greater pay-off to bet ratio of the outside place bets, she hasn’t been practicing all that much, but continues to work the 2V set to try for the outside number hits.  Jill likes the Straight-Out (SO) position and tosses with a one finger front grip.   She is pretty good about consistently landing her dice somewhere in the come-box.

John also shoots the 2V.  He practiced many years with other sets, but is now settling on the 2V and buying the outside numbers.  John has an interesting physical characteristic in that his first three fingers are the exact same length.   This physical quirk makes him amazingly adept with the three finger front grip.

Joe, Jill and John are all different people.  Each shooter coming to the table with their own agenda, their own style, and their own skill level ability.  Would you expect each of these shooters to consistently show the same number distributions?  If Joe and Jill went to the casino together would it make sense for them to use the same betting strategy?   (<Think about that one at your next hook-up, or craps class get-together!>)

Each must track their ability and skills and determine for themselves their “new” distribution model.  Once a shooter knows his “true” distribution model that is when the “math” requirement kicks in.  The shooter needs enough math to recalculate the true odds and payoff EV based on the new distribution model.

Math vs Experience:

Just as “man-cannot-live-by-bread-alone”, the well-rounded DI cannot live and die by the math of the game alone.  The math is a critical aspect and provides the foundation for every strategy/bet/gamble that we make, but as any experienced craps player can tell you, the volatility associated with any bet can have your bankroll swinging up and down more then the gold chains around a rappers neck.

It becomes a bit of a catch-22.  You cannot blindly play by the math, and yet, you cannot play blind and ignore the math.

So what is a poor ole dog to do, caught in the middle by such a seeming paradox?  The answer is just that.  The savvy craps player must find a way to play the game from the middle.  Not blinded by the math and yet not blind to the math.

Blinded by the math:

For me the issue of the “math of craps” is that all the math formulas are based on the probabilities using the law of large numbers.  The theoretical random toss distribution (out of 36 rolls: 6 sevens, 5 each of six and eight, 4 each of 5 and 9, etc.) is itself based on probability over a large number of rolls.  This is just as true if we are talking about the random game or if we are talking about the altered probabilities of the DI game.

During any average craps game it is a stretch to get in 100-200 rolls, let alone the thousands required to “normalize” the distributions.   During any given session our few dozen rolls can easily be characterized by the standard and expected variations to the norm of what we have carefully tracked in the thousands of practice rolls.

Volatility is still a big part of the game.  No matter how well you’ve tracked your throws and how big an advantage you have on the place 4 or place 6 “in practice”, when it comes to the real-deal, we all have to keep our heads.  Ya gotta still use smart money management, start slow and ensure your toss on the casino table is showing you the numbers you are used to seeing on your practice table.  If your expected numbers are not showing, keep your bets small while you work through what is wrong.  Walk away if you can’t find a way to get the numbers you expect.  Or, if you are skilled at reading your toss, adjust your betting to the numbers you are tossing.  When your numbers are showing, bet into your advantage, maybe start slow, but don’t be timid when you have the edge and the opportunity.

IMHO, it is not as simple as knowing that the 6 and 9 are your signature numbers and slapping down 5 unit bets on those boxes.  Understanding and being able to see our own shooting “Trends” is critical to success.  Testing the waters by jumping-in-with-both-feet (as Heavy warns us) simply because the math tells us we have an advantage, is a good way to find ourselves trying to dog paddle in the deep end wearing a long, shaggy fur coat.

The math and the numbers give us a good foundation and a solid starting point.  But, the numbers alone won’t make up for an inability to “read” the table and inexperience at “reading” and reacting to the results of our tosses.

Blind to the math:

As I’ve already mentioned, we also cannot go to the tables ignorant of the bet probabilities and payouts.  As DI’s the math of the game tells us where our advantage lies.  A large part of this is tracking and recording rolls during practice sessions.  Once the tracking part has been done, then the math part can kick in for the purpose of determining which numbers are rolling strong with our selected dice set.  Figure out how your numbers are rolling and what your “new” distribution graph looks like and you’re in the power position of determining the new “true” odds of your bets.

Tracking thousands of rolls in your basement and calculating EV for the myriad of available craps bets is not the most fun thing to do in the world.  Certainly it is not nearly as fun as getting a nice win during a casino session.  As a DI, we use the former to helps us get more of the latter.  And that is fun!  Isn’t that what we are all about?

A final bow-wow

I hope you have found these articles to have been informative.  Perhaps at least you have found them somewhat entertaining.  When I began these articles over a year ago I was still a relative DI noob and my hope was to help other new DI’s by sharing my learning experiences. It is funny to think that I began with the intention to write them from a “newbie” perspective.   I never thought that a year later I’d still be thinking that I’m writing from a “newbie” perspective, but I am.

My journey has not ended.  I’ve still got my nose to the trail always trying to sniff out that elusive quarry, the “Monster Hand”.  At several stops along the way, this Dog has dug up a few tasty ole soup bones, even a few “Monster Bones”, but in many ways I’m still just a pup with a lot to learn. 

It is a bit cliché, but there is no “destination”, only the journey.  My journey continues and I hope my collections of stories have helped your journey to be both enjoyable and profitable.

See you at the tables, and remember;

Keep your toss straight and your rack full.


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