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The Mad Professor's Shooting Bible
Part VI

This continuing series takes a look at craps from a professional Precision-Shooters point of view…MINE. 

For five or six hours a day, and five days each week, I play craps for about 44 weeks each and every year…THIS is what I do. 

I’ve been using Precision-Shooting as my sole source of income for the past fourteen years, and fortunately I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  My game continues to evolve, and my profitability continues to improve to this very day.  In this on-going series, I’ll show you some of the ways of HOW I do it.

The Basics Determine How FAR and How FAST You Go

To get a good basic on-axis roll; it all starts with the Set and Grip; then culminates with the Release.

If you can set and keep the dice together SEAMLESSLY, and hold them in a nice, comfortable, FULLY-balanced grip; then release them so they maintain that near-seamless pairing throughout their entire flight and landing; then you are likely to get them to come to a stop at or near each other in a similar (as-set) outcome.   In a nutshell, THAT is how you end up with a steady and predictable stream of on-axis, primary-face dice results. 

The concept is easy; but the flawless execution is difficult.   This article is all about making the implementation and realization of that goal much easier.

I am going to show you a number of things that MOST PLAYERS DO NOT KNOW.  Then I’ll show you how to incorporate them into your game for improved, measurable, and more profitable results.

We are dealing with the basics here, but the impact that they have on the consistency of your results, and your ability to make reliable profit is a long, LONG way from basic.

So let’s agree:

Once you get the dice to leave your hand together, fly through the air together, land together, and come to a full and complete stop together; then the dice-results will usually end up being on-axis in their primary-set,  together.   

That is what we define as the “Holy Grail” of Precision-Shooting.

Once you have a properly balanced grip, and you unleash the dice with a properly aligned release; then you’ve mastered the first and most important aspect of Precision-Shooting.  The balance of dicesetting success will flow from there. 

This is basic stuff, but without it, your consistency will NEVER, EVER get to reliable profitability.

The fundamental basics like Set, Grip and Release will generally determine HOW FAR and HOW QUICKLY your Precision-Shooting advances. 

If you master the basics, you can master the profit. 

Obviously it also takes discipline, money-management, perseverance and dedication to achieve that; but without mastering the basics, then you’ll never get into a position to master the profit.

So let’s start with one of my own methods to IMPROVE your on-axis percentage, INCREASE the appearance of primary-face outcomes, AND REDUCE the number of double-pitch 7-Outs.

Stand Still

I want you to stand up and let your arms RELAX by your side.  

Really relax then.

Now glance down at your shooting-hand, and notice that the palm of your hand actually faces your leg.  It does NOT face backward like it does when you are shooting the dice.  Notice also that you can turn your hand so that the back of it faces forward and the palm faces rearward, but as soon as you relax your arm and wrist muscles entirely; your palm finds its way to facing your leg again.

What does that tell us?

Well, it indicates that the at-rest, relaxed neutral-position for the palm of our hand is that it faces the side of our body, and when we turn it rearward, we do so under “muscle control”; which is to say that we have to think about it to hold it in that position.  It also tells us that as soon as we relax it entirely, our hand will return to its neutral position.

Why is it important to know that?

It’s important because unless we are thinking about it, our hand and wrist tends to favor a neutral position.  The moment we consciously stop thinking about it (or inputting brain signals that make it turn that way), our hand starts to “zero out” or neutralize the inputs that we sent to keep it in that position.  Therefore, as soon as we stop thinking about it (or our brain stops sending signals to it because it is distracted by other more important or overriding signals) our hand tends to just naturally return to its neutral position all on its own.  So let’s agree on one more thing: our hand has a natural tendency to seek and return to its neutral position.

How does this relate to dicesetting?

When we set and grip the dice, we TRY to align our arm, wrist, hand and fingers in the same direction that we plan to send the dice down to the other end of the table. 

Since the dice will be shot forward, most players reason that they should set the dice and angle their arm/elbow/wrist/hand and fingers to line up with the backwall of the table.  It’s not a natural type of set-up, so we have to twist our hand and fingers (and to a lesser degree, our wrist, elbow and shoulder) so that they hold the dice square to the backwall.  Although it LOOKSright” in terms of lining our fingers up just so; in fact, it unintentionally misaligns (because of torque) our arm, wrist and hand, and therefore our toss often ends up landing totally misaligned. 

Oh sure, SOMETIMES we’ll get it right.  When we are really focused and the earth, moon and stars are all aligned, then our dice-toss is too.  Oft-times though, we’ll get one or two “good” tosses followed by a couple of off-axis results, and then a couple of perfect on-axis throws, only to see the off-axis inconsistency return right before we get the dice back on-axis for a perfect double-pitch 7-Out. 

This problem plagues most aspiring dicesetters, and the solution is SO simple, yet the answer appears to be VERY counter-intuitive.

It ALL Starts With The Grip 

Regardless of the grip that you use (see Irishsetters Grip page here), it is very important to align the dice in such a way so that your MAJOR muscles (which control large “power” movements) aren’t fighting against your MINOR muscles (which control your fine-motor movements). 

We know that the tendency is for the brain is to automatically re-align the hand, wrist and arms to their more natural, relaxed state as soon as we stop sending the proper “signals” to the nerves that control our fine-motor skills.  In each case, our muscles fight against those nerve-impulses because they can’t wait to return to their more neutral and relaxed state. 

In one way, our muscles appear to be lazy.  In reality, they don’t mind doing the work, however they just want to be comfortable as they are doing it.  They LOVE to be exercised, but they want to be exerted in a natural, non-contorted way.  In fact, the more comfortable your muscles are in their under-pressure, but non-contorted state; the better you are at exerting MORE control over what you asking them to do.

How does this muscle-group/brain-signal resistance affect our toss?

It means that either we have to maintain TOTAL muscle-control concentration during the entire Set/Grip/Release process (which we should do anyway), OR we can reduce the AMOUNT of control and concentration that we have to exert on the dice during the Set and Grip portion of the process.  That is, we intentionally Set and Grip the dice in a more comfortable, more neutral and more natural way BEFORE throwing the dice down to the other end of the table.

Remember, we are trying to increase on-axis, primary-face outcomes, and we are trying to reduce on-axis double-pitches.  One way is to set your grip in such a way as to work WITH our fine-motor muscles, and not AGAINST them.

Now that you understand the way your body wants to return your muscles to their at-rest position, let’s use that knowledge to gain a bigger advantage (more control) over the dice.

A more NATURAL grip on the dice means more NATURAL control over your muscles. 

More NATURAL control over your TOSS brings more consistency to your PROFIT. 

So let’s take the next basic step in this process...

The Conventional Approach is NOT Always the BEST Approach

If you read most gambling books, they’ll tell you that a Pass-Line bet with Full-Odds, followed by two Come-bets backed up with Full-Odds is the best way to play this game.  On one hand (to the math-wiz side), it makes perfect sense.  On the other hand (to the “Holy Shit, where did my money go” side), it isn’t always the best approach.

Likewise, with the way we set the dice, there is the “conventional” way; then there is the “better, more consistent results” way.

This part of the discussion is NOT about which dice-set (3-V, 2-V, X-6, HW, S-6, P-6 or some other variation) works better.  What it IS about is how you align the dice as you pick them up.

Please understand that I AM NOT GOING TO CHANGE YOUR GRIP. 

You can continue using the grip that you currently use.   I AM going to show you a way to set your grip in a more natural way, so that the small muscles in your fingers are not fighting against their larger counterparts in your arm, shoulder, torso, and legs.  Instead, we’re going to make them work TOGETHER in the same way that we want the dice to leave our hand together, fly through the air together, and end up together in the same set that we first arranged them on.

Now stay with me on this one, because, as I said before, this is COUNTER-INTUITIVE, which means it may not initially make sense to you; but your improved on-axis results WILL bear me out.

Most people set up the dice side-by-side prior to picking them up.  I agree with that.   What I DON’T agree with is WHERE the dice are FACING when you set and grip them.

Most people will align them side-by-side in the direction that they are going to be tossed.  At first blush, that makes a lot of sense.  Unfortunately, it also forces you to usually grip the dice in an unnatural, misaligned manner. 

Oh sure there are LOTS of neat tricks you can employ to get your fingers to fit just so over the dice-faces, but all the while, your muscles are fighting and straining against what feels “normal” and comfortable to them.    

       Yes, you can twist your hand and wrist. 

       Yes, you can re-angle your upper arm, then elevate and “point” your elbow. 

       Yes, you can contort your shoulder, rotate your forearm and twist your hips. 

       Yes, you can align them all so that they are square to the backwall.   

       And yes, sometimes the dice will remain on-axis after you throw them. 

Unfortunately most players have an incredibly difficult time achieving, and then maintaining anywhere close to a 50% on-axis result using this conventional Set and Grip method. 

Now a 50% on-axis average is quite commendable. 

In fact that is significantly better than the expected 44% on-axis results that you’ll see from a random-roller.  However, you CAN do much better, and most importantly, you can do it MORE CONSISTENTLY with just a few minor changes.

Aligning The Dice My Way

Let’s cut right to the chase.

I DO throw the dice side-by-side down to the far end of the table, HOWEVER, I align them as though I’m going to throw them side-by-side at the boxman (towards the other side of the table if I’m standing at SR-1).

Why in the world would I do that?

Simply, I grip them as my body is facing the far-end of the table, and while my hand is in a neutral and relaxed state.

My set and grip STARTS OUT comfortable and natural, so it is MORE LIKELY TO STAY IN ALIGNMENT when I turn and target them to the far end of the table.  

Since I haven’t gripped them in a contorted manner, my body (the major and minor muscle-groups) fight less, and don’t require additional brain-input to keep them in a perfectly balanced alignment prior to their release.   That means I won’t accidentally over-tighten my grip, or apply uneven pressure through one or more of my fingers to either or both of the dice.

Since the grip is set in a more relaxed manner,, the dice leave my hand in the same relaxed and controlled manner.  That way, they are MUCH more likely to have a nice, comfortable, unstressed, on-axis, mirror-image flight as well.  A smooth release, a smooth flight, and a smooth landing usually means a smooth, undisturbed (on-axis, primary-face) outcome.

LESS contorted-muscle stress equals MORE dice-control.

Let me put it another way. 

If you try to align your fingers and grasp the dice while your muscles are under an unnatural, contorted stress; then your muscles are more likely to rebel against the grip rather than work with it.   Remember that the dice are lightweight objects that are quite sensitive to even minute differences in force, pressure and torque.  That often leads to an unbalanced release and/or unequal forces on each dice as they leave your hand.

Let me tell you one more thing that most aspiring dicesetters don’t realize. 

One of the chief reasons for ONE dice going off-axis, while second one lands perfectly, is because of uneven finger-pressure AND the side-twisting (torque) forces that are caused by angling your fingers so that they APPEAR to be equal. 

While your fingers may APPEAR to be equal, they are each exerting differing amounts of pressure and torque against the dice.  The more you contort your arm, wrist, hand and fingers to LOOK right; the more likely you are to accidentally apply differing amounts of pressure and unwanted torque to the two separate dice.

Your body WANTS to do the right thing, so why fight its natural tendencies; use them to your advantage.  Instead of twisting and over-torquing your small muscles; simply set the dice USING YOUR NORMAL GRIP, but do so while your hand is in its totally relaxed state. 

To do that, you simply stand, squarely facing the target-end of the table, and the dice are side-by-side, facing ACROSS the table from you.  You set them beside each other (like a freight-train headed down the length of the table), and grip them while your hand is relaxed and your arm, elbow and wrist are NOT contorted or under stress.  From there, you simply rotate your wrist and throw the dice in the same manner that you always have.

If you start out right with a properly-balanced and comfortable grip, you’ll have a much better shot at your dice-toss ending up with the right result too.

If you align them in a nice comfortable neutral grip from the start, there is a MUCH higher likelihood that they’ll leave your hand in the same way. 

When there is LESS conflict and MORE cooperation between your MAJOR muscles, your MINOR muscles, and the amount (intensity) of signals that your brain has to send (and continue sending) throughout the entire Set, Grip and Release process; THE MORE CONTROL YOU WILL HAVE. 

It is based on simple concepts like this that I attribute the reliability of my own on-axis, primary-face results.

Pressure, What Pressure?

Part of the cause of double-pitch 7-Out results is caused by unequal grip-pressure on the two dice. 

The more you contort your hand and fingers to “line them up properly”; the more you will have to apply differing amounts of grip-pressure to them. 

In fact, the more contorted and unnatural your grip is; the higher the likelihood that each finger and thumb will exert varying amounts of pressure and torque from toss to toss. 

The more unnatural your grip and finger-alignment; the more that individual finger and thumb pressure will CHANGE during the entire Set, Grip, Tossing-Motion and Release process. 

That is one of the reasons we see so much variance from toss to toss.  Your brain and your body WANTS to do the right thing, but because nothing is working in harmony, it makes it more difficult for them to work in concert and with consistent and reliable synchronization.

More contorting leads to more pressure-variance amongst your fingers and thumb; and the less likely you’ll be able to maintain and exert the same balance of pressure from one throw to the next.

Setting The Grip

Like I said, I am NOT recommending that you change your grip.  

I’m merely suggesting that you SET your grip in a neutral position (in relation to your body) with the objective of KEEPING the dice in proper alignment, and to help you maintain a more EQUAL pressure on both dice throughout the ENTIRE Set, Grip, and Release motion…and then allows you to continue doing so with each and every subsequent toss that you make.

A comfortable, neutral grip and alignment will do that; while an unnatural, unbalanced and contorted one WILL NOT!

I simply set the dice so they are facing ACROSS the table from me, and NOT facing the target-end of the table.  Remember, my BODY is facing the far-end of the table, so my palm naturally wants to face the side of my leg.  Okay, so I set the dice that way, and use the naturalness of the grip to exert a more balanced, equal pressure on the dice.

Once I set them and grip them in a nice neutral, comfortable way; then I turn them in the intended direction of my throw (to the far end of the table) and start my launch process by using either a pendulum or from-the-table send-off.

Like I said, this may appear to go against current common-thinking, but in fact, it makes perfect sense to your brain, to your major and minor muscles, and it will also make perfect sense to you once you see the improved results.  

At first, my set and grip approach may seem unnatural too, because you’ve been setting the dice to face the other end of the table for so long that you will need to retrain your body and brain with this opportunity to do what it just naturally wants to do anyway.  The “retraining” shouldn’t take long, and the worthwhile results should be noticeable very quickly.

Give your brain and your body a chance to work in HARMONY WITH the dice, and not in CONFLICT AGAINST them.  The results are definitely worth the effort.

We’ll continue this discussion in Part VIII.  Until then,

Good Luck & Good Skill at the tables…and in Life.

The Mad Professor

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