Recognizing Craps Shooters, Streaks and Trends

Craps is a game of streaks. Streaks of Point – Seven Out. Streaks of Point – Pass, and most often, choppy streaks where there is no dominant trend.  Recreational gamblers tend to believe strongly in streaks and trends, probably because in hindsight, this is when they’ve won most of their money.  Advantage players, with their math-based background, quickly point out that craps is a game of independent trials – what happened on the last roll of the dice has no effect on what happens on the next roll of the dice.  Believing otherwise is what is known as Gambler’s Fallacy.  Never is Gambler’s Fallacy more evident than when you hear someone at the table say, “Things are due to change.”   Surprise.  They aren’t.
Predicting a streak is impossible. However, every forty-five minute monster hand starts out with a single toss of the dice.  The players see one or two numbers rolling more often than expected  – say the Four and Ten show up a couple of times in succession.  They jump on those numbers.  The player’s hand stretches to the five-minute mark, then ten, fifteen, and twenty.  Players press up their bets and start to include higher vig bets and prop action.  Gradually almost every player at the table recognizes what is happening and chips fill the layout. The players have spotted the streak and they are riding it for all it is worth.

Let’s define the streak down a little further.  For right-way players, there are two types of streaks that get the money.  First off is the random streak that fits perfectly into the math model of bankers craps.  These streaks are part of the variability of the game.  The results fall within what mathematicians refer to as standard deviation.  The most common example used to explain this is the coin flip.  If you were to flip a coin 100 times you would expect to see heads appear approximately 50 times and tails approximately 50 times.  In reality the numbers might spill out at 49-51, 52-48, or even 55-45 in this small of a sample. Within the context of our 100 tosses you might see heads show up three, four, or five times in a row.   You might even find yourself checking the coin to make sure it does not have TWO heads.  Due to random variability, these kinds of streaks are fairly common.  Yet over a large sampling the final results will come very close to a 50/50 split between heads and tails.  How close?  In craps the distribution of numbers rolled is close enough to the model that the casino knows they have an advantage over every bet on the layout.  Sure, a few players will capitalize on these streaks, exercise good money management skills and walk with a win.  But others will continue to stand at the table and bet long after the streak is over.  The Law of Large Numbers kicks in and eventually the table gets back everything it dumped to the smart players – plus.

The second type of streak is what we’ll call a “man-made” streak.  These streaks may develop at the hands of a skilled shooter who has spent endless hours perfecting his toss, or at the hands of a natural shooter who falls into a rhythm of picking the dice up and delivering them the same way over and over.  Often both types of shooters will have hands that develop along the same line as the random roller who has a good run – beginning with a few repeating numbers, then stretching for ten, twenty, thirty minutes or more.  Let’s break down the shooter types and look at them individually.

First is the dice influencer, or precision shooter.  While the types of toss utilized by precision shooters may vary, they are generally easy to spot.  Why?  Because they go through exactly the same routine before every toss.  They typically exhibit a great deal of concentration as they carefully pre-arrange and grip the dice, then toss them in such a fashion that they rotate on axis, land softly and bounce off the back wall with very little roll back.  Not only does the fact that he sets the dice and tosses them the same way over and over give him away – his betting strategy tells you what numbers he is expecting to throw.  If, for example, a player bets the Four and Ten working on the Come Out, then promptly tosses either the Four or Ten, there is a good chance that these are his signature numbers – points he throws at a higher than random rate.  Armed with this piece of knowledge you have a much better idea of how to bet this shooter’s hand.

Right behind the dice influencer is the shooter some people refer to as the natural shooter, or rhythm roller.  Like the dice influencer, these shooters often have a routine they go through before tossing the dice.  They may simply take the dice as presented by the stickman, pick them up and toss them to the same spot on the table over and over.  Or they may “school” the dice, picking them up and dropping them several times before they see numbers they like – then picking them up and tossing them town the table.  Some stack the dice and toss them.  Some shake the dice – then throw them into the hook.  Whatever their particular routine – it is the consistency you are looking for.  Consistency and repeating numbers.

There is, of course, another type of shooter whose hand you can profit from at the tables.  This is the player who consistently sevens out without making a pass.  He may be influencing the dice – consciously or subconsciously – in favor of the Don’ts.  Or luck may simply be frowning on him.  In any case, one can profit from his hands by betting them appropriately.  You do that by following the shooter’s personal trend until he proves you wrong – at which time you either lay off betting on his hands or follow the trend.

Whenever you make a point to observe the skill level of the shooters and the general trend of the table itself you are doing what veteran gamblers call “charting.”  Some players chart with complicated tracking sheets.  Others use a simple spiral notebook.  A few track with the chips in their racks.  Still others simply make a point to remember who tossed the good hands and what their high repetition numbers were –  and who tossed the bad ones.
I chart tables because it helps reinforce my discipline.  Every time I go to the casino I see players rush up to the first open spot at the table, throw down their first bet and promptly lose it. They continue to toss in bet after bet without knowing who the shooter is or how long he held the dice last time out. They don’t care how poorly or how well the game is going. They simply want to get in on the action. If they are very lucky, they catch the table when it is trending in the way they bet. However, as often as not they end up losing.

Rushing to play shows a clear lack of self-control and discipline – two elements you must have if he is to survive at the game. Charting tables and shooters is a good way to slow the rush and gain control over your game.  It enables you to see who the shooters are and what the table is giving.  Then you capitalize on what you’ve learned.  Is it fun?  Not particularly.  But neither is losing your first bet.