Tossing the Dice

tossThe Warm-Up: To be an effective precision dice shooter you must take time to train. Since dice control involves physical movement, the first thing you should do is take time to warm up a bit. The purpose of the warm up is to increase the blood flow to the body parts you will use to execute the precision toss. This increases flexibility and sensitivity,

Begin by warming up the fingers. Open and close your fists several times in a “milk the cow” movement.   Stretch your fingers by placing your hands together and effecting a “spider doing push-ups on the mirror” move. Flex your wrists by moving them up and down, then rotating them left and right. Then move on up the arm, flexing your arms in a curling fashion, then rotating your shoulders. It’s a good idea to stretch the long muscles of your back and sides as well with a “reach for the sky” movement. And don’t forget to flex those ankles and knees as well. You’ll be spending a lot of time standing in one spot at the tables so it’s best to start out warm and loose.

Once you feel prepared physically go ahead and toss the dice a few times without recording your rolls. Play a mental session of Pass Line plus Place the 6 & 8 to see how you fare. Then, once you are warmed up and your toss grooved in, start to record your rolls.

Setting the Dice: Your primary pieces of equipment when training for precision shooting are regulation casino dice and some sort of practice box. Casino quality dice are available here on this website, or you can order dice from any number of outlets in Las Vegas. Gambler’s General Store is the most commonly cited source.  Be cautious, though.  Not all dice are created equal.  Some outlets sell cheap metric dice manufactured in China or Mexico.  The quality of these dice, especially when it comes to weight and balance, may be questionable.

Your practice rig can range from shop-built practice box to a full-sized regulation craps table. Any of these will work fine for your purposes. Just be sure you use casino-grade felt for your layout and authentic pyramid rubber on your back wall.  You want your receiving station to be as close to the real thing as possible.

After your warm-up and initial tosses you should spend a few minutes practicing the various dice pre-set arrangements. Decide first which pre-set arrangement you are going to practice.  Many find the Hardway set works best for them as it’s easy to see when your dice are off axis – anytime the roll results include an ace or a six that die is off axis.

Next, place four or five pairs of dice in a cup then dump them onto your setting station. Now quickly pick the dice up one or two at a time, pre-set them to the desired arrangement, then set them aside. Repeat this process for five to ten minutes for each of the primary dice set arrangements you commonly use.

Perfecting your Pitch: Once you have warmed up and practiced your dice sets it is time to practice your pitch. Practice throwing the dice from a distance equivalent to what you will face in the casino. If your preferred shooting position is stick right, for example, and you normally play on twelve-foot tables you should practice from a distance of around eight feet.

Use Two Colors of Dice: Many players find it useful to toss two different colored dice during their practice sessions. This makes it easier to track where each die landed upon release. It is very helpful in diagnosing specific grip and release issues. However, once your pitch is grooved in it is recommended you practice with a matched pair of dice similar to the ones you will be shooting with when you head to the casino. If the casino you frequent uses 3/4-inch sand finished red dice, those are the dice you should practice with.

Develop a Smooth and Consistent Delivery: Focus on a smooth fluid movement when you toss the dice. Remember the three “C’s” of the precision toss – comfort, control, and consistency. Try to deliver the dice to the exact same spot on the layout every toss. Shoot for the same trajectory, the same release point, and the same results over and over. Visualize these results and you shoot from the Axis Power Zone.

Track your Results: Every practice session should focus on both the come out cycle pre-set and the point-cycle pre-set. Results must be tracked for every toss and your Sevens to Rolls Ration calculated for each shooting cycle.   Rolls should be broken down to include how the numbers rolled in addition to what point rolled. For example: Pre-Set – V-3. Point – 8. Rolled 6-2. With this date it is possible to analyze exactly what happened during the toss. In this case the dice stayed on axis, both pitched forward a quarter turn, and scored a primary hit on the eight. Had the dice rolled 5-2 in this example you would now that the left die was off axis, and probably rolled out a quarter to come up five. This allows you to diagnose the problem and take corrective action.

Add Chips and a Virtual Session: It is one thing to throw the dice into an empty practice box. It is quite another to throw them on a table covered with stacks of chips. For that reason I recommend spreading a few chips around your landing zone in the practice box, then running a virtual craps session in your mind utilizing your betting strategy of choice. Set a win goal and loss limit and see just how well you do.

Tracking results at practice sessions relies heavily on your powers of observation. By studying the behavior of the dice one can effectively deduce what errors are being made. Here are some of the more common observations and possible causes:

Secondary or Third Numbers Showing: The dice are not rotating on axis relative to one another, or one die is off axis and off rotation relative to the other. This is usually a grip issue. To check your grip pre-set the dice with the straight sixes facing down table, then inspect the grip after pick-up to make sure the fingers are in a straight line relative to the sixes. If the fingertips are in a straight line then the dice are probably sticking to one or more of your fingers.   Apply a small amount of talc to your fingertips to rectify this.

Double Pitch, Roll or Yaw: These are fatal flaws that will result in the seven rolling approximately fifty percent of the time. Again, these are generally grip issues. Follow the same procedure as outlined above.

Dice Bounce Left or Right: The dice are not square with the surface of the table upon landing. If the right corner of a die hits the table first it will kick the die off to the left. If the left corner hits first it will kick off to the right. This is very difficult to recognize from the shooter’s perspective. He is viewing the dice from above and behind and cannot effectively ascertain whether or not they are square with the table surface. Ask someone to observe your pitch from straight out to verify the need for adjustment, or simply videotape your toss from straight out and observe the results. One solution to this problem is to actually begin the toss from the table top rather than picking up the dice first.

Dice Rolling Too Fast or Hitting the Wall Too Hard: The dice are being thrown too hard, at the wrong angle, or with insufficient backspin. The player should attempt to toss the dice as gently as possible at an angle of approximately forty-five degrees. A moderate amount of backspin will help the dice decelerate upon landing.

The Axis Power Practice Form: A copy of the Axis Power Practice Form is included with this manual. You may duplicate this form or create your own. Always make note of the date of your practice session and the particular pre-set arrangements used. If you use more than one type of grip or toss make note of that as well. Record your shooting position and distance. You may also want to add information such as what type dice you were using and whether or not you were tossing to a double layer of felt.

While practicing record every roll. Show the individual dice totals as well as the point number rolled. Circle the point if you made your “pass.” Place an “X” or an asterisk next to every “seven out.” Make notes on the form about any specific problems encountered and corrective action taken. When you are done calculate your sevens-to-rolls ratio for the session. Then look back at your indicators for any additional diagnostic feedback. Look for repeating numbers and signature trends. Track for hardway hits and any potential edge on proposition bets.

Practice, Practice, Practice: In order to master any skill you have to practice. Your practice routine may take as little as twenty minutes – or as much as two hours. My suggestion would be to establish a daily routing with a minimum of 72 tosses for each of the pre-sets you plan to use in the casino. Sticking with three or four pre-set arrangements you should be able to complete this in a little over an hour a day. Remember, though, that daily practice is cumulative. You don’t have to do it all in once stretch. Three twenty minute practice sessions spaced throughout the day can be just as effective as one marathon session – and sometimes even more effective.