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Getting the Most Out of Your Practice Sessions
Part Two
 

In Part I of this article, we talked about how practicing right instills the right methods, and practicing wrong just reinforces our mistakes.

We covered a few aspects on the mechanical-side of our actual in-casino throwing that you may not have factored into your at-home sessions.

We still have a few areas to cover so that you can get the most out of your practice sessions. Today, I want to deal with: 

v      Warm-up exercises

v      You and your Practice Rig

v      An Enlightened Exercise

v      What to do right before you begin to practice

v      Setting an ideal Practice-to-Play Ratio

 
As always, I want you to keep in mind that we use our practice sessions to hone our skills.  We use our casino sessions to make money.  I want to remind you not to confuse one with the other. 

Warm-up exercises

One of the ways to warm-up for a practice session is to NOT warm-up at all.  In the casino, I don’t know of any that will permit you to have few practice tosses before you throw them for REAL.

In bowling you might be allowed to take a couple of practice shots, and maybe you can do that before a snooker game, but in the casino, it’s money on the line before they’ll let you have a go at the cubes.  Right from the get-go, you have money on the line with your first throw.  You might want to start your practice session EXACTLY the same way.  In a moment I am going to give you a method to simulate that situation.

Other Warm-up exercises

What are some of the routines that you go through when you first get to the casino?  Do you go to the washroom?  If so, please remember to wash your hands.  Do it for hygienic reasons, as well as contributing to your dice-grip consistency.  Wash the insincerities of the world off of your hands.  Clean hands provide throwing consistency.  It’s a good habit to get into, plus they won’t be so sticky that way. 

You can also keep your hands under the warm running water to relax them and loosen up your finger muscles.  You may want to try making a few very tight fists with both hands, and then totally opening up your hands and fully extending your fingers.  If you get the blood flowing to the extremities, it will increase “dice feel” and control.

When you get to the casino property, and you park the car or disembark the shuttle, is it a fair journey or a long arduous expedition into the craps pit?  When you arrive at the table, is your heart-rate elevated?  All of these factor into your first throw of the dice.  At home, you may be relaxed and feel unhurried.  At the casino, do you feel the same way, or is your heart racing in anticipation?  If you don’t think that anticipation and expectation has an effect on your ability to precisely throw the dice; then please think again!

I also want you to use the pre-playing preparation time to wrap your mind around the fact that you are going to be throwing the dice very soon.   Try to picture exactly how you would like to see the dice leave your hand.  Picture your target area and their landing spot.  Picture the outcome.  Now you are a little better prepared for your first throw.  You should do this little exercise both at home and in the casino.  If you mentally picture exactly how you are going to grip the dice, and where you are going to aim them; you are preparing your mind for success.   Think in terms of how an athlete looks at the apparatus, or target, or goal before taking a shot or mounting a gymnastic device.   The athlete sets up their mind as well as their body in a perfect pre-launch position. 

If you want consistent profit from this game; then set up your mind as well as your body in a perfect pre-launch position.  To do less is to set yourself up for less than optimum results. 

Hey, if your mind and body set-up is inconsistent; then your Precision-Shooting results will also be inconsistent.

We want to replace HOPING for success with PREPARING for success.

The closer your practice sessions replicate the casino experience, the closer your real-world casino results will reflect your practice sessions.

Let me repeat that.  The closer your practice sessions replicate the casino experience, the closer your real-world casino results will reflect your practice sessions.

Similarly, the more realistic all of your preparation gets to the real thing; you will find that when the dice are passed to you in the casino, the less stressful it is.  If you’ve read my article entitled, Control the Dice, and your NERVES, you know how eagerness to succeed and performance-anxiety can conspire against any Precision-Shooting skill that you may have developed at home.

By realistically replicating the casino-experience at home, the more conditioned, accustomed and acclimatized you will be for the real-thing.  It DOES make a difference, and the results should be readily apparent.

You and Your Practice Rig

Let me touch on this somewhat controversial subject. By now you probably think that I believe every serious player should have an authentic mini-casino set up right in their basement.  That isn’t what I think…but then again …it’s not a bad idea either!

Seriously, while your practice sessions should be as realistic as possible, I know that for most people, that is just not practical.  So here’s my recommendation.  Practice on anything.  As your shooting improves, make an investment in yourself.  There are some excellent articles and “how-to” plans here on Irishsetters site.   They are easy to follow, and they aren’t very expensive.  If you have to justify the cost; then think of it in the form of lost wagers.  How much money have you lost on your last ten casino visits?  Take just 10% of that loss-figure, and you probably have the entire cost of a new practice rig covered.

I can tell you this.  With a decent practice table, you should see at least a 10% to 30% improvement in your shooting within a very short time.  If you don’t; then you are doing something radically wrong.  We’ll talk about how to diagnose and fix shooting problems later, but for now let’s stay on the “practice table” subject for a moment longer.

The practice table permits us to:

       Learn how to set the dice in the shortest, most nonchalant way.

       Experiment with different dice-grips.

       Select target areas on the table, and evaluate our sighting-accuracy.

       Develop a NICE, SMOOTH, LOW-ENERGY arm-movement and release.

       Determine how accurate our target-sighting is, and make corrections.

       Simulate casino-betting methods.

       Determine our own Signature Numbers.

       Adapt our betting methods to reflect out current Signature Number trends.

       Evaluate our stamina, breathing-patterns, and our mind-set as our rolls progress through each hand.

 

The practice table lets us do almost all of the same stuff that we do in the casino, but we eliminate the bankroll-stress from the equation. 

That way, we can concentrate on the physical aspects of our Precision-Shooting.  The value that all that “free” fine-tuning has is usually realized when we step up to the real-world casino table.  The dividend that an at-home rig provides is priceless.  I only wish that I hadn’t waited so long to use one.  Thanks to Ms. Mad Professor, an early Christmas present of a real 14-footer, was exactly what Santa ordered.  When Ms. MP was sitting on my lap, that craps-table-Christmas-present idea was the second thing that popped up!

An Enlightened Exercise

Here’s an exercise that may prove as valuable as it is frustrating.  It takes courage to try this.  I know that some of you have already used this approach, and found that it really shines a light on your current abilities.

The practice rig forces our ego to recognize our dice-throwing shortcomings.  It is up to us whether we make the necessary changes to our game-play, or whether we continue our money-losing betting methods in hope that we will eventually improve. 

Your betting-method has to reflect your current Precision-Shooting skill-level, not the hope that it will improve and “catch up” with your betting methods and “crazy crapper” bets.

Here’s what I want you to do.

Once you have your practice rig set, use poker chips or various denomination coins to represent what your “real-world” bets would be.  You can bet in real-time as your hand progresses.  It gives you a real feel of what actually happens in the casino when it is your first turn to shoot the dice.

If you don’t have poker chips, you can use everyday coins.  Pennies represent $1 chip, while nickels and quarters represent $5 and $25 chips respectively.  Use them as you would in the casino.

The results should be charted just as you would record them in the casino.  Making these kinds of simulated bets has a way of sharpening your focus.  It should give you plenty of ideas on where your game could be improved.

It does one more thing.  If you usually start each hand with some kind of high-cost, low-probability bet like a hopping Hard-8, or a $25 YO, it has a way of either validating the bet as a good one that has frequent pay-offs, or it shows itself as a low-hit, profit-eroding superstition that adds little or no value to your game.  If you don’t want to be honest with yourself about either the profitability or “bankruptability” of each of your bets; then you are probably shortchanging your game plan.  It also indicates that you are not really as serious about making a consistent profit off of this game as you think you are.

I try to remove as much of the “gamble” out of casino gambling as possible.  That is what Precision-Shooting is all about.  If you want to gamble, I’m sure there is a keno lounge, lottery ticket booth, or endless row of slot machines that would love to suck the life-blood right out of your bankroll.  Precision-Shooting is NOT about gambling, it is about generating CONSISTENT profit, while minimizing as much risk as possible.  Your practice rig is where you perfect your craft.

In any event, it is important to start each session with a few “money-on-the-line COLD bets”, because that is pretty much how it is in a casino.  Start the tossing and see what develops.  It is almost exactly what occurs in the casino.  The dice come to you, and you have to bet.  So throw the dice and see what happens.  It is my firm belief that EVERY practice session should start with this little exercise.  Keep track of the bets, and keep track of the outcomes.  Like I said earlier, this will form the basis for further improvement down the line.

Right Before You Play

I mentioned a while back, that if I only played craps one to three times a year, I could say, without a doubt, that I would be the worst dicesetting-wanna-be in the entire world.  BAR NONE!

With that small amount of actual in-casino play, my enthusiasm would only be outstripped by my anxiety to perform well.  I know that I would get discouraged if my results didn't live up to my expectations, and it would be hard for me to even get into the right frame of mind.

If I am away from a table for more than two or three days, it takes several full hands before I am back in a groove.   When I first get to a new gaming destination, I don’t immediately hit the tables.  Instead, I unpack and usually have a bit of a rest.  I realize that the eager-juices are flowing to get to the tables, but I have to temper that eagerness with patience and serenity. 

If my mind is calm, then my nerves are calm.  The one thing that I always do before heading down to the casino-floor, is to take a few practice throws across our hotel room bed.  If Ms. Mad Professor happens to still be in it…well…there always seems to be obstacles on the craps table too!

It may take as little as one or two easy tosses to determine whether my shooting “feels” right.  It sometimes takes a good ten or even twenty throws to get to that comfort level.  I’ll do it for as long or as short as it takes.  Remember, we are going to be playing for REAL money, so practice your throw until you get it grooved in.

Setting an ideal Practice-to-Play Ratio

So how much time should you spend practicing?  And what is the “proper” ratio of practice hours-to-casino hours?

Let me put it this way.  Your Practice-to-Play ratios should match your current abilities.

Under "ideal" conditions, I would suggest at LEAST 10 hours of practice for every 1-hour of actual in-casino play.  You should continue that regimen until your CONSISTENCY catches up with both your per-roll profitability and to your bankroll-discipline.  Please re-read that sentence until it makes perfect sense to you!  Dismiss it at your own peril, because your bankroll will continue to suffer until you do.

On the other hand, there is no “proper” ratio.  Instead, you have to gauge the amount of progress that your practice sessions are actually contributing to your in-casino performance.

Only after you have achieved profitable-consistency, can you reduce your practice hours-to-real casino-hours ratio.  However, DO NOT BE FOOLED. If you do not intersperse your practices with SHORT real-casino sessions; then you won't have enough real-world data and notes in which to fine-tune your practice sessions.  It's a real balancing act.

The practice rig forces our ego to recognize our dice-throwing shortcomings.  It is up to us whether we make the necessary changes to our game-play, or whether we continue our money-losing betting methods in hope that we will improve.  Your betting-method has to reflect your current Precision-Shooting skill-level, not the hope that it will improve and “catch up” with our betting methods and “crazy crapper” bets.

Oh, before I forget, I want to mention that I have completed a series of articles entitled “The Mad Professor's Precision-Shooting Bible”, it covers the various sets, grips, throws, sweet-spots, and targets that I use.  It covers pretty much every table situation and craps table-surface known to man or beast.  I mention that now because we’ll be taking a detailed look at how to make “actionable” session notes that WILL make a difference to your performance.

Remember, the practice rig is where you fine-tune and align your game; the casino is where you make your money.

In our continuing quest to get the most out of our Practice Sessions, “Part Three” of this article will cover:

v      Using a Craps-Roll Calculation Program

v      Other Tracking and Practice Methods

v      …and much, much more.

Until then, Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Lfe.

Sincerely,

The Mad Professor

 

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