Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter
to Run a Pro Craps Team
Lets say you follow the advice guys like Dice Coach, Irishsetter and I dole out and practice practice practice. Your skill advances to the point that you win consistently on your own hands. But no matter what silly betting strategy you try, you still get whacked on the chicken feeders. You could work on your discipline or seek out more favorable tables. Or you might decide to join up with a few friends who are skilled shooters and smooth out some of the bumps on the precision shooter highway. You might form a team.
There are several ways to approach team play. One way is technically not team play at all. It is what many of us do every time we go to Vegas. A few like-minded players simply get together and take over a table. Each team member brings his own stake and runs his own bets. There is absolutely no co-mingling of funds. Some people may win while others lose. But just about everyone has fun.
A second way to play is as a hired gun on a team backed by a high roller. In this type of arrangement, the high roller often runs all of the bets and pays the shooters a pre-determined amount per session plus a percentage of any wins. Some pro shooters insist on controlling the bets as well as the dice, and fearlessly lock up huge wins with no downside risk. On the other hand, from time to time youll run across a down-and-out precision shooter who can control the dice but not his bankroll. Often these players will shoot for as little as a $100 table stake.
Last of all is the true team concept, where four or five players get together and take on the tables with a shared bankroll. Lets consider a pro team that ultimately failed well call them the Mississippi Mechanics - and talk about what it takes to run a successful team.
Expenses: The first mistake the Mississippi Mechanics made was funding the groups expenses out of its shared bankroll. Worse still, a couple of members of the group contributed the shared bankroll with funds secured from credit card cash advances. When the bills came due and there was no money to pay them things got ugly fast.
Believe it or not, mishandling expenses is the primary reason most pro teams fail. Expenses, whether they are in the form of travel, accommodations, meals, or entertainment, are a tax on your advantage over the game. Think about it in these terms. Would you step up to a craps table in a casino where you had to pay $100 up front to get in the door? Of course not. But when you pay expenses out of your teams bankroll, you are already in-the-hole when you step up to the table. You are relying on the hope that your as-yet-to-be-realized winnings will offset your already-incurred out-of-pocket expenses. Often that can be a big chunk of change. Give yourself every possible advantage including the psychological advantage of starting your team session with its bankroll intact.
Record Keeping: The Mechanics did not do a very good job of keeping records. This lack of discipline was also reflected in their personal play. Bill the Book, the groups banker, would slip away from time to time for a private session with the team bankroll. He never lost big but he did lose steady.
Designate one member as the banker and bookkeeper for the team. The banker records the pooled buy in at each session, every wager and its results, and the ending bankroll. He accounts for every dollar that goes on and off the table, supervises the final count, and supervises the distribution of winnings at the end of each session. All parties must be present at all times during the final accounting. This may seem extreme when the team is winning, but it is essential when the dice turn against you. A losing team will quickly collapse under the weight of its own internal mistrust and suspicion. Keeping a team together when it is winning is difficult enough. When the team is losing, it is almost impossible.
Every team member has a defined job: Each member of the Mechanics thought he was the greatest shooter in the world, but three of the five were average at best. Since everyone wanted to shoot stick left or stick right, their best shooters were often out of position.
A typical pro team will have as few as three members, and may have as many as six. Four to five member teams are the norm. A five-member team might look like this: The two primary shooters who position themselves at stick right and stick left. The high roller who plays straight out on one end, runs the bulk of the bets, and doubles as a blocker to keep the shooters lane open. The high roller usually passes the dice. A distracter, usually an attractive female or a chatty male that plays on the opposite end of the table and doubles as a blocker to keep the shooters lane open. The distracter is often a skilled straight-out shooter. Last of all, the banker or bookkeeper, who appears to all the world to be a systems player tracking rolls and generally passes the dice.
Plan your play and play your plan: The Mechanics were on the right track in this department, but when the dice went against them several of the members had a tendency to freelance bets. This usually resulted in increased losses at the table.
A pro team must have a specific betting strategy established in advance, and no one should be permitted to vary the strategy. Typically, the shooter limits himself to a Pass Line bet with maximum Free Odds. The other shooter by-passes the Come Out, then runs a Come Bet with Odds Progression. The high roller may run Four and Ten Power Press Progressions, while the distracter runs a simple Six and Eight progression. Meanwhile, the banker may be playing a table-minimum Dont bet while tracking the rest of the action at the table.
It is important to have team members who keep their heads in the heat of battle. For that reason, it is vital that you exclude compulsive gamblers from the team. Such players are quick to abandon the plan when things are not going their way. Likewise, intuitive players who are quick to follow their hunches generally do not make good team members. While you may not always recognize a potential problem player in advance, if a team is faced with such a situation it must deal with it immediately, even if that means kicking someone off the team.
Team member accountability: The Mechanics were all close friends when they formed the group. No one took the lead and addressed the issues the team was struggling with as it started to falter. But when they did fail, everyone played the blame game and no one took responsibility.
In true pro teams, every member is accountable for his or her performance during the team sessions. Team members come into the group because they perform at a certain level or have talents the group needs to succeed. Enforcing standards required to accomplish the teams objectives can be difficult when the team members are also your friends. However, team members must set friendship aside and focus on the task of winning. If one of your friends is not putting in enough time at the practice table to play with an edge or is deviating from the planned system of play, you must draw the line between your friendship and your bankroll. If you do not, you will ultimately lose both. With that said . . .
Lighten up when you are losing: Everyone has an off day from time to time. If you are doing everything right yet still losing, deal with it, take a few days off, and move on. Losses are going to happen. That doesnt mean you have to chase them.
Is team play for you? Maybe it is. Learn from the Mississippi Mechanics mistakes and you could be on your way to building a winning team.
by the Mad Professor
Leaving Quebec and entering Ontario is physically uneventful. One sign thanks you for visiting their province and the other one welcomes you to theirs.
However there is a psychological eventfulness that does accompany that passage for most players. I think its related to the fact that you are re-entering the rest of Canada where English is still the primary spoken language, and leaving behind a province where French dominates.
As a craps player who has tossed the bones at places as far flung as the Tinian Dynasty Hotel in the Northern Mariana Islands and the Allure Resort in Myanmar, all the way to the Hilton Madagascar in Antananarivo and the old Benin Marina Hotel in Cotonou (when both of those places still had craps); it doesnt really matter to me what the primary language of any jurisdiction is as long as I get to shoot the dice my way and Im paid correctly when I do. However Ive noted a palpable sense of relaxation in other players when they return from layouts where the game is called in more than one language. Though an English-only game may have less continental flair to it, most players seem to take greater comfort in the more prosaic game-calls and in that vein, I too was glad to be headed back to a more familiar tongue.
About one hour north of Toronto lays this sprawling resort that is owned by the Ontario Government leased to the Mnjikaning First Nation tribe of Indians and operated by Penn National Gaming.
Youll know Penn as the company that also operates Casino Magic and Boomtown in Biloxi/Bay St. Louis; Casino Rouge in Baton Rouge; and of course the three Hollywood Casinos in Tunica, Shreveport and Aurora.
Of their seven full-fledged gaming operations, I would put this one pretty much on top of the heap, although it does have a couple of shortcomings that are more related to convenient access than to anything related to gaming or resort-operations.
The casino is well laid out and easy to maneuver around. The staff here is unfailingly outstanding, and there are more than a handful of VERY skilled shooters who call Casino Rama their home base. That potent combination makes their craps tables an ideal no-hassle place for some high-dollar day-in, day-out withdrawals. Ill have much more to say on this subject in a few moments.
While they only have four tables here, all of them are of the same length and have the same bounce-characteristics; which means that if you can master one, then you can master them all.
The early morning usually sees only one $5 table open, but if a second one is in operation, it is almost always of the $25 variety.
By mid-day there is never a lack of players, and additional tables are brought online (of the $10 or sometimes $15 variety) especially during the summer cottage season which stretches from mid-May through to late-October and then re-ignites from mid-December through to late March for the skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing and winter-sports crowd.
Though you wont always be able to get into your favorite position on the cheap tables, the $15 and $25 variety offer a decent selection of prime shooting spots a fair percentage of the time.
For Darkside shooting, these tables are excellent.
Though the dice dont move around the table as quickly as you might like especially on the crowded $5 tables; the dice roll so smoothly and rebound off the wall so slickly, that it is very tempting to endure additional dice-cycles around the table just to be able to shoot another great looking (and good paying) hand.
I feel perfectly at home while playing on these tables.
They perform similarly to the 12-footers at Bellagio, Mirage and Venetian. Smooth, sweet and straight dice-travel with silky on-axis rebound from the backwall result in some dice-reactions that initially unnerve semi-skilled shooters because these types of tables can make you look incredibly skilled due to the neutral reaction that they impart. Many dicesetters arent used to that.
Now that is not to say that it will turn a bad throw into a good one. Rather, it will take your good ones and turn them into consistently great ones, and to me that makes a huge difference when it comes to tallying up your profit at the end of a session.
Its not magic, its just a matter of marrying your throw-dynamics (force, trajectory, spin, apogee, landing-angle, and rollout energy) with Casino Ramas somewhat accommodating (dare I say, forgiving) bounce and straight-tracking table-characteristics to make your dice-influencing skills coalesce (come together and work in harmony WITH the table) instead of having to fight against an oppositional (or at least dynamically-disturbing) layout that drives many players to distraction.
Why Darkside Shooting Requires LESS Skill to Succeed
For an accomplished dice-influencer, Darkside-shooting is noticeably less risky than it is for an equally skilled Rightside shooter.
That is to say, successful Rightside and Darkside shooting does not require equal skills to mirror each other in the money-making department.
At first blush, the house-edge that both sides have to overcome (based on PL vs. DP house-edge) is pretty much the same. However, the preponderance of a 7-dominant set (with four possible 7s on-axis), outweigh the Rightsiders strongest 7-avoidance set that sees a maximum of any particular PL-number maxed out at three on-axis appearances.
For example, youll find three on-axis 6s or 8s (while using the V-3 or PARR A-7 set if you are shooting for a PL-Point repeater of 6 or 8), and a max of two on-axis appearances of your PL-Point if it is either the 4, 5, 9, or 10 (while using the V-2 or X-6 set).
In other words, not only are the dice mechanically skewed towards the 7 in a randomly-rolled game, but in the hands of a skilled dice-influencer it is easier for him to throw an intentional 7-Out (with four possible on-axis 7s) than it is for him to throw any particular PL-Point winner where there is a maximum of either two or three on-axis PL-win opportunities.
Now obviously were only looking at the PL and DP in total isolation from all the other bets on the layout, but I think that it is important for you to understand the basis on which I made the Darkside-shooting requires less skill to succeed statement.
All things being equal, it is easier to 7-Out (using an appropriate 7-dominant set) than it is to repeat your PL-Point (using an appropriate 7-avoidance set).
How much easier?
Ø Well, the Darkside-shooter has a 4-in-16 on-axis chance to get a desired 7-Out.
So how does that 1-in-4 (25%) appearance-rate compare to the Rightsider who is trying to roll a PL-winner?
Lets have a look:
Ø A Rightsider trying to repeat his PL-Point of 6 or 8 has a 3-in-16 on-axis chance (while using a prime 7-avoidance set like the V-3). While still turning in a strong 18.75% appearance-rate, it doesnt quite offer the same attraction as the Darksiders 25% per-roll win-opportunity.
How about if the Rightsiders PL-Point is a 4, 5, 9, or 10?
Ø While using the appropriate 7-avoidance set (like the V-2 or X-6), the Rightsider has a 2-in-16 on-axis chance of delivering a 4, 5, 9, or 10 PL-winner. That equates to a 12.5% appearance-rate which only offers one-half of the Darksiders 25% per-roll win-opportunity.
Now dont get me wrong I still shoot from the Rightside, and in fact the lions share of my profit still comes from Do-side shooting, but I wanted to illustrate again just how much easier it is to obtain a win for a Darksider than it is for an EQUALLY SKILLED Rightside-shooter.
Its definitely something to think about when you are considering your current skill-set, weighing various win-objectives and considering a range of betting-options. Since this series is all about shooting from the Darkside, a clear-eyed look at what it takes to succeed on it obviously has to figure into your deliberations.Maddog's Journey
Part 7: Not a Puppy Anymore, the Hunt Gets Serious
(part 1 was in the Feb/March Newsletter, part 2 was in the April Newsletter and part 3 was in the May/June Newsletter and part 4 was in the July/August Newsletter and part 5 was in the September Newsletter and part 6 was in the October Newsletter)
Yeah, I shouldnt have been surprised, but I was still taken off guard by the new layouts. The last time Id 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.
Wed 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 isnt a Dice Influencer. He doesnt even believe in this stuff. Thinks its 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 isnt 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. Thats the way to develop a winning trend in his book. Not a bad approach for someone who doesnt 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 didnt 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. Thats 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 wasnt just that they were purple, they just didnt look right. You wouldnt 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 hadnt practiced for this situation. Perhaps I should have tried to move on to the next casino. But, this was one of my buddys 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. Dont 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 youre doing something just a little bit naughty and youre 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 its all a cycle. One thing leads to the next and it all starts with practice, practice, practice.
Still, its 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 wasnt 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 wasnt 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 wasnt 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 didnt 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 wasnt 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 didnt, 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.
Im convinced that the quickest way for a DI to lose control of his toss mechanics is to start thinking about his bets. I dont know if its 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. Ive seen it with Irishsetter. Ive seen it with Heavy. Ive seen it with the Dice Coach. Ive seen it with every successful DI that Ive ever watched. Youll 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 isnt 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. Isnt 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 wasnt 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, Id 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 Id 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, thats the ticket.
Next stop, well take an inside look at a Dice Influencing class.
Until next time, keep your toss straight and your rack full.
Announced! It's not too early to start planning for
CrapsFest 2005! Join Heavy, Soft Touch, Dice Coach, Michael Vernon and friends in
fabulous Las Vegas, May 20 - 22, 2005. "The
best time ever! I WILL be back." Contact
the Dice Coach at 1-866-DICEMAN to register by phone with a credit card. Upcoming
Seminars Dice Coach and Michael
Vernon - Dice Busters! - Las Vegas, January 7 & 8 Heavy's
DFW Dice - One Day Only! Dallas/Fort Worth, December 4, 2004
If you have any comments
or ideas for future issues, feel free to email me at
And as always, we are looking for contributors
with a fresh perspective. If you know someone who
would be interested in receiving future editions of
Precision Shooter's Newsletter, tell them to send a blank message to Good Luck!
Crapsfest 2005 Announced!
It's not too early to start planning for
CrapsFest 2005! Join Heavy, Soft Touch, Dice Coach, Michael Vernon and friends in
fabulous Las Vegas, May 20 - 22, 2005.
best time ever! I WILL be back."
the Dice Coach at 1-866-DICEMAN to register by phone with a credit card.
Dice Coach and Michael Vernon - Dice Busters! - Las Vegas, January 7 & 8
Heavy's DFW Dice - One Day Only! Dallas/Fort Worth, December 4, 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.
If you know someone who would be interested in receiving future editions of Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter, tell them to send a blank message to