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The Mad Professor's Shooting Bible
Part II

In Part I of my Shooting Bible, we talked about the importance of making notes after each one of your sessions.  It enables you to bring not only a higher level of consistency and professionalism to the craps table, but it also helps you keep track of ALL aspects of your game.

Today we cover:

       A very close look at the Pincer-Grip.

       How one particular grip can be varied to suit different table and shooting situations.

       Why the dice don’t always do what you want them to do, and how to fix specific problems. 

So let’s dive right into Chapter Two of the Mad Professor’s Shooting Bible.

Venture and Incentive

I’ll tell you right away that if you haven’t tried it, or you haven’t been successful with it, the Pincer Grip is one of the most difficult to master.

So why use it?

Well, it also gives some of the truest, most accurate, most profitable results for those who actually do master it.

With proper execution, the Pincer-Grip in all of its permutations does give astonishingly high on-axis performance, and very solid primary-face outcomes (where the dice end up in the original way that you set them). 

That is a good enough reason for me to dedicate an entire article to it.

I use a number of other grips for certain shooting situations and table positions or conditions, but of all of the different dice-holding methods, the Pincer-Grip gives me one of the highest percentages of on-axis results.

Oh, before we go any further, I’ll explain that my use of the word “axis” means the imaginary axle that the dice rotate around as they travel to the other end of the table.  If they stay on the same “axle” as the one you set them on; then we can say that they stayed “on axis”.

Controlled Throw   –vs-    Luck  &  Hope

Recently, Irishsetter wrote:

      “The ULTIMATE K.I.S.S. when it comes to dice setting…is K.I.O.A.S. (keep it on axis stupid).

      If the dice go off axis, then it's a random roll. That's the bottom line.

      There are MINOR, and I mean M I N O R advantages gained when the dice roll off axis, but basically you are a random roller with a pretty shot, the minute that one or both dice go off axis.

      Everything else is B.S. until you can execute a controlled throw, ON AXIS, 50% of the time or greater.”

Irishsetter is correct, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.  

The more you can keep the dice on-axis, the more control that you are able to exert over the dice.  You may have a smooth, fluid and pretty throw, but if the dice aren’t staying on axis, then you are gambling on LUCK, as opposed to engineering the risk out of the game with a controlled-throw.

That is what Precision-Shooting is ALL about.

I Say Tomato, You Say Tomahto

Irishsetter is also correct when he tells you that what works perfectly for one player may be the worst thing to happen to the next player who tries it.

If you try this grip and it gives moderate success, then you might want to give it further attention.  If it doesn’t even produce glimmers of effectiveness after carefully trying it, then perhaps it may not be right for you.

I don’t get caught up in the religious dogma of commanding you to use one set, one grip, and one toss to solve all of your problems at the dice table, simply because a one-dimensional approach DOES NOT work enough to make consistent casino profit.

For me, I know that keeping the dice on-axis a high percentage of the time while using the Pincer-Grip works very well for ME.  Of course, your mileage may vary.

The benefit of trying and succeeding, or even trying and failing is:

       You are likely to pick up some extra insight into your own skill-set.

       You are likely to gain additional knowledge about dice-dynamics.

       You will be better able to adapt and overcome ever-changing real-life game situations.


The Pincer Grip and it’s Variations

Let’s start at the beginning by counting and naming our fingers to avoid any confusion.

For our discussion purposes today, we’ll refer to:

       The first digit on your hand as the “thumb”

       Then comes the “index finger”

       Next in line is the “middle” (up yours/bird) finger

       Then comes your “ring finger”

       Finally, your “little” (pinkie) finger

With that in mind, let’s enumerate the various pincer-grips:

       Two-Finger (Thumb and Middle-Finger) Pincer

       Two-Finger (Thumb and Ring-Finger) Pincer

       Four-Finger “Crab” Pincer

       Five-Finger “Full-Balance” Pincer


Why So MANY Grip Variations?

I know that some people will argue that I have suggested too many variations to learn and perfect.  On one hand they could be correct, but I’ll tell you why we are looking at so many.  I want to help you find the most comfortable, most consistent, and most replicable throw for YOU.  What feels great for one person may feel awkward and unnatural for the next guy.  By showing you a number of variations, you may find the perfect one that suits you best.

You may also find that one grip will produce stellar-profit results on one table, but when you export it to another, no matter how much you vary the trajectory, or the throw-energy, or the target-area; it just doesn’t work well enough for you to make ANY money.

You can perfect one type of throw at home on your practice-rig, but when you put it into a real-casino situation, it sucks.  It sucks big, it sucks large…oh boy does it SUCK.

By showing you a number of variations, you should be able to find one style of grip that adapts, or is adaptable to, most shooting situations both at home and in the casino.

That is why you have to intersperse your practice sessions with some real casino sessions.  The casino-sessions help you sharpen and focus your skill in a real-world, real-money environment.  When you play in a casino, it either validates what you have been practicing at home or it points our deficiencies in your throwing methods that require additional work and retooling at home. 

Endless practicing of the WRONG throwing methods only ingrains muscle-memory that will LOSE you money.

You’ll agree that one type of baseball pitch does not strike everyone out.  One golf club and one swing does not conquer all golf courses. 

One type of grip and toss does not always get the job done when it comes to being consistently successful from every position at every craps table.  If you don’t believe that, then please believe this:   keep your day job because you are really going to need it now and until retirement.  If you use craps as entertainment and not as a money-making venture, then it’s okay.   However, if you care about how much money that you lose at the craps table, then a more focused effort to stem the flow of losses may be required.

One grip and one toss will not get you to great casino profit.   On the other hand, it may help you make some additional money, and that’s great, but don’t rely on it to pay the bills, buy the cars, and finance your retirement, cause it ain’t gonna happen!

Here then are my four Pincer-Grips, and a number of variations:

Two-Finger (Thumb and Middle-Finger) Pincer

My briefest description would have you place the dice side-by-side.   Use your thumb to grasp one side-axle, and your middle-finger to grasp the other side of the axle.  Your other fingers do not touch the dice.

From there, you throw squarely to the back wall.  This method gives you good control over backspin based upon the angle of your release, the speed of your launch, and the direction and degree of your follow-through. 

With practice, you should be able to vary backspin from one extreme (no backspin) to the other (blurring rotational speed).  You’ll need varying degrees of backspin to contend with different table surfaces and longer throwing distances from various shooting positions at a craps table.

If your progress with the Pincer Grip stalls out; you may want to use your free index finger to reach down to stabilize the front seam of the two dice. This is another excellent way to control backspin.  At the same time, the use of your index finger to stabilize the dice-seam helps to correct any mid-air "inward collapse of the axis” problems.

With practice, some people have found this grip to produce repeatable “perfect-rotation” whereby the two dice will spin perfectly freely between your thumb and third-finger.   Your fingernail length is critical for this to occur.  On small tables, tub-tables or the sit-down Crapshoot variety, this grip has been a solid-gold winner for me over the past eleven years.

Another huge benefit of this grip and release is that, with focused practice, you can get the dice to tumble side-by-side through the air, and stay on-axis with forward spin, instead of the conventional back-spin. 

If you combine forward spin with a high-trajectory landing (over 60-degrees, and up to nearly 90-degrees) the dice can be made to immediately stop once they hit the lower-edge rubber of the backwall.  While the trajectory is high (in number of degrees upon landing) it doesn’t mean that the dice have to be launched over the dealer’s head.   If you release the dice from the table surface or just above it, and release them in an upward fashion, then the apogee (the highest point of flight) of your throw will be less than chin-high when it flies past your favorite 5’ 10” dealer.  No magic involved here…just Precision-Shooting.

Two-Finger (Thumb and Ring-Finger) Pincer

As many of you know, one of my favorite grips is this two-finger pincer.   

I find that table conditions vary so much, as do dice types (brand, size, density, finish and age) that using small and subtle variations of grip, release and spin to compensate for those variations from table-to-table and casino-to-casino work best for me.  Remember, this is all done in an effort to overcome those differences, and to bring greater on-axis primary-face consistency to your throwing.

This grip is similar to the thumb and middle-finger pincer, only we substitute our ring-finger in place of our middle-finger.  Some people find this provides a better feel of balance and control.

Again, backspin is easily dialed-in and controlled based on the upward angle at which you release the dice and the flourish or flair of your follow-through.

To correct any mid-air "inward collapse" of the axis, you could try a “leading-edge, trailing-edge” grip adaptation where your thumb and fourth-finger grip the upper rear corner of the dice (on their side axis), while your index and middle-finger lightly balance the leading top edge of the dice.  This is a “lite” version of the four-finger “crab” pincer.

This variation works best where the table has a soft underlay.  The dice take full advantage of the table-cushioning and they simply refuse to “pop” or scatter when they touch down.  This grip has one of the highest percentages of producing “dead-cat bounces” of all of my throws.  The only problem is that you have to throw the dice to a farther target area simply because they have a tendency to “die” at or near where they initially touch down.

Four-Finger “Crab” Pincer

We start out holding the dice the same as we do with the Two-Finger (Thumb and Ring-Finger) Pincer, then we add our index and middle-fingers to the front-face of the dice.  Those two fingers (index and middle) rest about halfway down the front of the two dice faces.

We “square” both the dice and our hand to the back-wall of the table.   Most people find this grip quite comfortable and it affords them a high degree of control over backspin.  They also find that having four fingers in contact with the dice helps to keep them on-axis. 

The one concern that this grip always raises is that the amount of pressure or “squeeze” that you put on the dice is critical.  For some people, it is difficult to nail down consistent grip-pressure time and time again.  They find that they are always over-focusing on the throw “feel” which causes them to over-tighten their grip, and that takes away from repeatability.  At-home experimentation should help build the sensitive muscle-memory that this grip demands if you want it to deliver reliable profit.

For rock-hard but bouncy tables (without foam or cloth underlay) I use this grip to produce a “dead-cat bounce” using a “lopsided” variation.    To visualize it, think about one of those cheap beach-balls that don’t roll true because the air-nozzle patch adds too much weight, which unbalances the ball. 

When you throw a ball like that, it kind of has a “looping” rotation to it.  Okay, that’s exactly how the dice react when you grip and throw them with this variation.  Your thumb and ring-finger actually grip the dice very low on the sides and at the rear-most portion of the dice.  Upon release, I give the dice a pronounced backspin and follow-through.  I use a fairly high trajectory (between 50-degrees all the way up to 70-degrees) at their release point.  When they spin in the air, it’s like the dice are unbalanced (on their side-axis), and when they land, they tend to slam down very hard on the felt.  The dice usually stop-dead right where they land.  Therefore, my aiming point (target area) is no more than 2 to 3 inches from the back wall.   In most casinos, this is usually close enough to qualify as a full-length roll. 

The drawback to this type of grip and throw is that sometimes one or both dice will flop forward one or two additional rotations.  This can be good if both of them do it, or VERY bad if only one dice rolls twice (double pitches).  Using the 3-V set, that almost always equals a 7-Out.  This grip and throw takes a lot of practice, but when it works perfectly, it’s a beautiful thing because of the predictability of the results. 

Using the Four-Finger “Crab” Pincer, I get the following results:

       Stunningly high 85% on-axis results.

       Perfect as-set primary-face “dead-cat bounces” about 28% of the time.  This can be a high-paying Hard 6 & 8 set and bet.

       I get one additional forward-rotation on-axis result from one dice about 50% of the time.

       The 7% balance of on-axis outcomes result in that double-pitching ugly bitch that we call “7-Out”.

       The other 15% of the results are off-axis random outcomes.

Despite it’s great on-axis percentage, this one produces my lowest Sevens-to-Rolls Ratio out of all the grips and variations that I use because of its tendency to double-pitch.  I continually fine-tune this grip to correct that particular defect.

If I have the double-pitch thing under control, I will occasionally use the Hardways-set for this toss, especially if the dealers and I have action on the Hardways.  If you have read my Blasphemy…courtesy of The Mad Professor article, you’ll know that I advise careful and judicious use of the Hardway-set.

One last caution is to watch your little finger.  If the dice are consistently rolling off-axis, and you are getting the same irritating outcomes; then it may be because your wrist is slightly turning in the direction that your little-finger is pointing.  One cure is to curl your little finger into your palm as opposed to “pointing” down table with it.

Five-Finger “Full-Balance” Pincer

This grip uses the thumb on one side-axis of the dice and your little (pinkie) finger on the other axis.  Your other three fingers gently touch the front faces of both dice.

A variation of this excellent grip has the three “inside” fingers resting on the sharp leading-edge of the dice, which gives a very soft release with limited backspin.  If the table calls for a flat-trajectory throw; then this is one of three or four grips that work best for me.

Another variation that is more extreme, is where the thumb and little finger GENTLY force the leading-edge of the dice into the first joint of the index, middle and ring-finger.  A very pronounced backspin is imparted upon release.  I use this grip and toss where I want to hop over a Pass-Line or Don’t Pass bet that is near the intended target area.  I find this useful if I know that a table has a great sweet-spot, but there is a lot of stacked chip-action nearby.

Still another variation is to move all three of your “inside” fingers right down the front dice-faces to the tabletop.  This helps to “even up” the release of the dice off of your fingers.  While this grip “looks” correct, some people have difficulty mastering it because when you “even up” your finger-tips, it actually exaggerates individual finger pressure on the dice.  The result is that upon release from your fingers, a slight imbalance is imparted to each dice.  The farther they fly, the more pronounced the pressure difference will make on their outcome.  So even though it “looks” right when you hold the dice “evenly” and examine your grip carefully, you actually have unequal pressure coming from various fingers.  That usually results in an uneven or off-axis result.

The trajectory for these “full-balance” grips is fairly normal, and should be pretty close to 45-degrees at both launch and touchdown.  Backspin aids in keeping the dice from rolling too far or with too much force.  After one short hop, they usually coast into the lower margin of the wall, and then rollback twice before stopping.  This throw yields good, consistent on-axis results for me.  If I was restricted to one universal toss that I was comfortable with while ALWAYS hitting the back-wall 100% of the time; then the Five-Finger “Full-Balance” Pincer would be the one.

Let me quickly add that the dice have to be perfectly aligned with the back-wall of the table, otherwise expect one or both dice to go off-axis almost  EVERY time you throw them.  This grip is ultra-sensitive to being “squared” from launch, to touch down, to roll-out and final resting place.  The reward is incredible on-axis performance, and high primary-face results when it is thrown properly.

Grip Pressure  and Fingernails

The “full-balance” five-finger grip can also be sensitive to fingernail length, but you DO NOT require long nails to derive profitable consistency from this grip.

Ideally, with all of these pincer-grips, the tip of your finger and thumb (the fleshy fingerprint part) will stabilize the side-axis of the dice. Upon release, the tip of your outside fingers (thumb and little finger) can transition into a fingernail release only, if necessary.  Therefore, your nails will work against you if they are too long.  If your fingernails are long, you may find that one of them is clipping or tripping a die as it leaves your hand.

One More Reminder

Be sure that both dice are always square with each other. If one die is slightly off when it hits the table, it will flip and roll to the opposite side that first touched the table. 

In addition, with the exception of “opposite corner” shooting, you’ll want the dice to be “square” to the back-wall at all times.  If you draw an imaginary line from your release point to your target area, then extend that line to the back-wall of the table; it should be straight.  If that imaginary line isn’t at a near-as-perfect 90-degree angle to the wall, then that may be a major cause for some of your off-axis problems.

Final Words on Pincer-Grips

That’s my take on the various pincer-grips that are in my repertoire.  Of course there are other variations and permutations, but the ones that I have presented here gives me the most consistent on-axis, primary-face (results the same as I initially set them) performance…and after all, that is what Precision-Shooting is all about.

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.


The Mad Professor

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