The main point for dice setting is
to develop consistency with your toss. The rest has to do with theory. It
is absolutely essential that you have a baseline with your shooting style.
Without a baseline, adjusting to different table conditions amounts
to…well, a craps shoot.
I reviewed a video sent to me from
a dice setter and I critiqued his toss. I carefully observed twelve rolls
provided in his footage. Although you do not have the benefit of seeing
the video, I thought my commentary which follows could benefit some dice
setters with regard to using self-observation.
Anatomy notes; Medial: Towards the
midline of the body. Lateral: Away from the midline of the body.
Alex, your launch pad needs to be stable. What you are using now moves
around too much. Pick up a yard of green felt from a fabric store. Either
wrap the felt so it is fixed to the underside of the table or you could
glue it to a piece of composition board. Make it about 12” x18” inches.
This will provide a stable launch pad big enough for practice.
I will address each toss and I
have numbered them 1-12.
Having an anchor point is a must in order for
you to make any corrections with your toss. The anchor point is your
starting position. Notice that you make a tap-tap with your hand right
before you toss. This is unnecessary movement. Your hand needs to be
motionless before the launch. Position your hand on the felt at your
anchor point, (same place each time) this also eliminates the unnecessary
movement. Also, I suggest moving your anchor point back about six inches.
When you toss, you will move your hand forward like a plane taking off
from the runway. Lightly dragging your hand to naturally lift off from the
layout as your arm continues to move upward, taking the hand forward in a
natural arc. Your arm is moving like a pendulum, with momentum to launch
the dice. The way you shoot in #1, your hand “jumps” up and then you make
a forward movement toward the back wall. I make this suggestion to improve
your starting point (anchor point) by moving your hand back a bit and to
eliminate unnecessary movement.
With the second toss, you have a similar
starting point and hand position, minus the tap-tap this time. The dice
were on line and all looked good, start to finish. They stayed together in
flight and landed without too much energy.
This toss was okay enough to say it was
consistent with the second roll.
With this toss, you went back to tap-tap again
before shooting. The tap-tap does not add to anything to your technique
that I can see. Again, it is better to just put your hand down on the
layout, where it needs to be, at the anchor point. Focus on the landing
and shoot the dice to the target zone. Eliminate unnecessary movement.
Also, you lifted you hand again, just slightly off the table, before
initiating forward momentum. Subtle as it may seem, I call it jerky not
With this toss I noted a subtle wrist rotation
laterally. Your hand was slightly cocked to the right, not perpendicular
to the sidewall. The dice flew to your right and did not land together.
Remember, the dice fly the way your hand takes them. With a consistent
anchor point and motionless start, this can be avoided.
With this toss, notice how your hand is in a
better starting position. Perhaps you intuit a better starting point as
previously recommended. Your hand is square, motionless, and your dice fly
together nicely, parallel and land together at the same time. They roll up
into the back wall together and come to rest together. Nice roll and you
are showing improvement with technique which means consistency. Note:
Regulated self-adjustment with the starting point. You recognize when you
need to adjust the starting point for example, and then observe the
results. Did the adjustment help? Yes, I’d say so.
In this toss you again start at my recommended
anchor point, six inches back. However, the launch pad moved with your
hand. When you review this toss, it is easy to see how you drag the pad in
an errant direction. This is one reason for securing the felt or to use a
more stationary board mentioned above. You do not necessarily need a
professional craps table, but you need to make your practice rig as real
as is possible. Be aware of a steady hand before shooting.
This toss was okay and your dice looked good,
start to finish. Review this toss for your own benefit to lock it in
visually. Close your eyes and visualized the toss. Then watch it again.
Train the brain with hand eye coordination.
No roll with this toss, one die down – It
appeared as though your hand rolled laterally just before the release.
Hard to see it for sure with the camera angle, but it is the direction
your dice took, so your hand had to have rolled at some point. The dice
will always go in the direction of your hand and release. Throw them
straight, they go straight. Hook your hand and the dice will take a right
Okay roll here, it looked just like roll number
8. Consistency. Lock in the feeling as well as visualizing a good toss.
With consistency you are then able to make adjustments at any table
because you have a baseline to work from instead of a guess.
Miscue here – Again it appears as if your hand
rolls laterally upon the release of the dice, hooking right. You also
moved the launch pad again. Note: It moved in a clockwise direction
indicating your hand was already rotating laterally while still in contact
with the pad. Your hand was hooking to the right and that is the direction
the dice flew. Consistency again, only that this consistency is developing
a bad habit. Side note: Home practice is required, however, it is like the
saying about data and a computer…garbage in, garbage out. If you practice
a bad habit, without critique, you defeat the purpose of influencing the
With this roll you made the point 8. Your hand
was anchored back at the preferred launch point. Again, your anchor point
should always be at the same place. With all pieces of a toss being
consistently the same, it allows you to make any modifications,
(adjustments) if and when the time comes. You should be able to recognize
where you need to make the adjustment in your toss with self-observation.
For example, needing to move the anchor point, rolling the wrist, hooking
the dice, hard right or left turn upon landing the dice.
The movement in the launch pad was
important to note here because it shows you how your hand is moving
laterally at the very beginning of your toss. The clockwise movement, as
you push off, confirms that your arm movement is leaving the table in a
lateral direction. The two no rolls appeared to hook right which is
consistent with the initial movement noted here with the clockwise
rotation of the launch pad itself.
Once you have a stationary
launching site with felt, you can mark your starting position with chalk.
In the game, a craps layout has numerous landmarks that you can use as a
starting point to shoot from to aid with the consistency of a starting
These little things may seem
insignificant. However, consider the length of time you intend to play
craps. In tweaking for consistency, try to eliminate unnecessary movement
and train to duplicate all steps. Again, doing so allows you to
self-critique, adjust and improve.
Mechanically your toss is
connected, resembling a pendulum from your shoulder through the upper arm,
forearm, and to the wrist. Because of all the joints in the lower arm and
wrist, this is typically where rotation tends to take place. The dice have
no choice, other than to go in the direction of the arm and hand. Shoot
straight, the dice go straight.
Your grip and pick-up seem fine.
Work on your anchor point. Once you pick up your set dice, take your hand
to your start point and anchor. No tap-tap or adjusting movements. You are
training hand eye coordination. This is similar to the skill required in
archery. (If you have shot free style with a bow and arrow?) I recommend
the book, The Zen of Archery. It is a quick read and although not
about dice, it is relevant to hand and eye coordination as well as focused
intention. I call it intuitive shooting.
Alex, the video was a clever idea.
It was hard to scrutinize the release and landing in the video, but it
seems that both dice are leaving your hand together. In the release, I
look for follow through. Sometimes a guy’s hand clutches or whips open and
it affects the dice in the last split second. Also, I can’t tell if the
dice are landing flat. Better to invest in diamond rubber for the back
wall. The one you have fashioned is flat and will not simulate the real
thing. You can easily improve you landing surface as well.
With a couple of your shots, you
pushed the dice instead of swinging them from the arm. Like a shot putt
but I am over exaggerating. Go back and watch the video, you will see what
I mean. All of this is subtle. However, with trajectory, just a small
change in angle will miss the moon all together. If the dice fly flat
instead of in an arc, they may miss the landing zone and may not have back
spin. Another common issues is when the thumb pushes through the dice upon
release. The dice will not fly parallel and the result becomes a random
The setup you have for practice
could be improved. Your dice will react differently on a craps table.
Meaning, what you see in practice is not what you will see on a casino
table. It is simple enough to make a diamond rubber back wall using 2x12
lumber and eleven inch diamond rubber and have a felt landing zone over ¾
I had a seven foot pool table back
in the day. I made two back walls, one for each end of the pool table. I
would shoot six pair of dice, record the rolls and move to the other end.
I’d recover the dice and shoot them back the other way. Thirty-six rolls
in eleven minutes, three sets in about a half an hour. I’d record in
groups of ten, 360 rolls. Practice is boring as hell and a commitment to
time. However, it is necessary to become consistent with the dice. I
recorded over 6,000 rolls. I continue to practice, but I have eliminated
the record keeping.
We practice to develop hand eye
coordination. Same thing, same thing! Look at the landing zone and deliver
the dice to the area of your aim. In the game, no two tables are alike, so
you must be able to adjust your toss based on how the dice are reacting
and what you observe with your toss. This is the reason I focus on
self-observation more than just technique. I have had numerous clients,
some with okay form and good results as well as clients with great form
but mediocre results. It is critical that you know how to fix your toss
when things are not working.
Dice influencing is like ballet.
Fluid movements linked together to create art. A good landing with desired
results begins with good mechanics. When the dice leave your hand, they go
the way you tossed them.