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How Good Is Your Precision Shooting?
Part I

I get a fair bit of e-mail from readers who want to determine just how good their Precision-Shooting is.  They want to compare it to benchmarks to determine how much progress they have made, and just how much further they have to go.

To me, Precision-Shooting is more of a journey than an actual destination.  I’ve been playing craps professionally for more than ten years now.  I’ve got to tell you that I am STILL making progress and improvements to my game on a weekly basis. 

That’s right.  My improvement is continuous and ever-evolving, and I think that’s the way it is supposed to be.  Just as Tiger Wood’s game gets better and better with each outing, so should ours. 

Now that doesn’t mean that every session will be a guaranteed winner for us, just as every tournament doesn’t provide a guaranteed winner for Tiger.  Instead, we make continual refinements to our betting methods, to our discipline, to our money-management, to our attitude and approach, and especially to our Precision-Shooting.  All those improvements lead up to an ever-increasing and more consistent profit-picture. 

Sure, I could tell you that I play the game for the fun of it, and the excitement and the entertainment value.  But honestly, if it wasn’t for the money, well, playing craps would be a very occasional bit of recreational entertainment that I would only seek out maybe one or two times each year.

Folks, don’t kid yourself…I’m in this for the money!

I play craps for the profit that it generates.  It has provided me with a lifestyle that I enjoy and that I am comfortable with.  At the same time, I am always tweaking it with improvements, upgrades and enhancements.

Over on Irishsetter's excellent Message Board forum, we had a chance to discuss the subject of how to gauge our progress.  For our purposes today, I thought perhaps that we could go into it in a little more detail.

I’ve listed some points of reference for you to compare your current shooting abilities to.  These are way-points that seem to mark significant milestones along the way to improving your game, and with the right skill-set, perhaps helping you become a professional craps player, or at least a serious recreational “craps-profiteer”.

You will notice that I have specifically left out any reference to average-roll-length or sevens-to-rolls-ratio.  That is not what these milestones are all about.  Instead, they measure the surest indicator to progress that I know of, and that is…profitability!

Phases of Precision-Shooting

       The “Open-Minded Random-Roller” Phase

       The “Inquisitive Beginner” Phase

       The “Unpredictable/Unreliable” Phase

       The "Lower-Losses" Phase  

       The "Break-Even" Phase

       The "Inconsistency & Frustration" Phase

       The "Redemption and Confirmation" Phase

       The "Decision" Phase

       The “Professional Player” Phase


       The Open-Minded Random-Roller

Not much to this phase, although some players stay in this one for their entire casino-lives.  This phase consists of betting for or against nearly every shooter.  These players base a lot of their betting methods on superstition and gambling-fallacies.  While they are open to new ideas, they rarely change their casino-ways.  If they see someone having success with a particular method, they may try it for a session or two.  Eventually they will revert to their usual losing ways. 

On the other hand, even though they may have never tried Precision-Shooting; they have seen enough smooth-shooting rhythmic dice-setters to convince themselves that there may be something to this whole Precision-Shooting “thing”. 

The “open-minded” random roller is a completely different animal than the meaner-spirited “closed-minded just-pick em’-and-toss em’ random-roller”.  That fellow thinks that Precision-Shooting is a huge, steamy pile of crap, and will not consider any thoughts or ideas to the contrary.

Consistent losses interspersed with the occasional wins are the hallmark of players in this category.

       The “Inquisitive Beginner” Phase

This is an interesting place for the craps player to be in.   When I say “beginner”, I am not talking about starting out to play craps.  I am talking about starting out to learn about Precision-Shooting. 

Remember that we ALL started in this phase at one time or another.   The Inquisitive Beginner may have read or seen something about Precision-Shooting somewhere.  He wants to improve his game and reduce his casino-losses, and is willing to read and learn as much as possible on the subject. 

Irishsetter has devoted countless hours in making this portion of the learning process as easy and economical as possible with his website.  Learning as much about a subject as possible, is the first step in mastering it.  On the other hand, it is the first step in a long, arduous journey that takes tremendous amounts of discipline, maturity and dedication.

Consistent losses interspersed with the occasional wins are the hallmark of players in this category, but he has recognized the potential that Precision-Shooting offers.  He is willing to make short-term sacrifices to his casino-playing time, while increasing the amount of his at home practice-time.  He begins to think on both a higher abstract and a higher practical level about money-management, betting methods, mental conditioning and discipline.

       The “Unpredictable/Unreliable” Phase

This is one of several “frustrating” stages that we, as Precision-Shooters, have to endure on our way to consistent profit. 

Do you wonder why I always highlight or underline or “bold” the word “CONSISTENT”? 

It’s because we will all have some profitable runs with the dice.  What really separates each one of these phases of progress, is the increasing levels of consistency that our Precision-Shooting brings.  As we get better and better at it; then the profit becomes more consistent. 

It is that CONSISTENCY that really determines our progress in this game.  Everyone can get lucky sometimes.  We are looking for consistent SKILL to pay the freight for nearly every session that we play.  If we happen to get lucky too…then all the better for us.

       The "Lower-Losses" Phase:

This is when we use proper betting methods and money-management techniques to minimize our losses.  Our shooting may not be great, but we have realized that it shows a lot of potential.  We practice until we puke...and then we practice some more!

Just as importantly, we become more conservative with our betting.  We start to become quite selective on who we are prepared to bet on.  We also become more conservative with our betting methods.  We shed as much of our “superstitious” and “old-school” betting methods as our ego will allow, and we replace them with sound betting-methods and approaches that get the job done without imperiling our bankroll. 

This is also the phase where we “grow-up”.  We put our childish impulsiveness and immature betting methods behind us.  We shed the bad parts of having a huge ego and we end the childish betting where we try to suspend reality in pursuit of “just one more roll…p-l-e-a-s-e!”  We come to the realization that we have to lock up an early profit at every conceivable opportunity.

During this phase, we still incur losses, but they are more tolerable to both our ego and our bankroll.  We realize that small losses are much easier to recoup when the winning hands do come along.   With a much shallower hole to dig ourselves out of, we get an increasing level of satisfaction that “we are finally getting somewhere with this Precision-Shooting thing”.

       The "Break-Even" Phase:

This is where we have reduced our betting on random-rollers to a fair degree, and our own Precision-Shooting sometimes produces good results and it sometimes results in quick 7-Out losses.  

Our practice sessions have now taken on a life of their own as we refine our throwing techniques.  We have realized that every craps table has it’s own special set of characteristics that we have to adapt and adjust to.

We have also tracked our progress in our practice sessions as well as our real-world casino play.  In each case, we make good “actionable” notes that help us to focus on what we are doing right, and what we need to work on for further improvement.

In addition to all of that, our shooting has produced identifiable “signature numbers” that we tend to throw over and over and over again.  We continue to refine our betting methods to coincide with those personalized signature numbers.

Our session-wins now equal our session-losses in either number and in sheer dollar values.  We implement tighter loss-limits, and also lower-but-stricter win-guarantees and realistic profit break-through points.  Our confidence increases with almost every casino outing, because we can see the continual improvement that all the endless practice time has endowed us with.

       The "Inconsistency & Frustration" Phase:

This is when our Precision-Shooting is yielding such disparate results.  Sometimes we have stellar hands in the 20 to 40-roll range, and the next time we pick up the dice, we get to keep them for a grand total of 40 SECONDS.

This is the stage where most players "stall out" with their game.  They can't or won't take the necessary steps to move up to the next level.  Our mind correctly tells us that we have made SO MUCH progress, but our ego also tries to tell us that we have the Precision-Shooting thing SO dialed in that we don’t need to practice as much as before…what we really need is to have some great rolls at the table to pull us out of any current slump.  That is usually the last thing that we, or our bankroll needs to pull us out of a shooting-slump.

This phase is where our brain will play the nastiest and most deceiving of tricks on us.  It is the same reason that most golfers will never break through certain handicap levels, or why skiers or other athletes will never break though self-imposed limits that our brains and sometimes our bodies limit us to.  It is the same reason that we will hit certain limits in our day-to-day jobs or occupations, and make us feel that we are “in a rut”.  It’s a combination of confidence and self-esteem, not false bravado.  It’s a combination of physical skill and mental conditioning, not physical limitation or mental weakness.  It’s a combination of discipline, hard-work, determination and commitment, not laziness or greed.

The Inconsistency & Frustration Phase is when we can let small losses turn into major setbacks to our ego.  I talk about maturity a lot, don’t I?  The reason is clear.  There is no easy way to accomplish greatness in this pursuit, or any other pursuit for that matter, if we aren’t willing to put all the necessary skills and mindsets together in a seamless, impermeable package.  When we encounter setbacks, it takes a certain level of maturity to pick ourselves up off the ground, brush ourselves off, and continue to tirelessly pursue our goal.  When we face further and greater obstacles, we have to overcome them.   That takes determination, discipline, commitment, and yes, my friend…that also takes maturity.

       The "Redemption and Confirmation" Phase:

Ah, this is when we finally get some good and reliable consistency into our game.  The profit-picture has improved to the point where our bankroll is showing steady increases.  Our confidence level is at an all-time high, and we can pretty much walk into any casino anywhere in the world, and adapt to the table and produce a consistent profit.

The single biggest danger in this phase is to start thinking that we are invincible.  It is now that we run the risk of over-betting our bankroll based on the performance of our last hand. 

I am a firm believer that every hand that we start has to stand on its own.  That means that it has to produce a profit before we start pressing our bets.  If we don’t lock up that early profit, our “ego-betting” can let things spiral out of control very quickly.  It also means that we don’t automatically assume that because we just finished a stellar hand, doesn’t mean that we will produce another one great roll right away on our next shooting opportunity.

Our profits from the Redemption & Confirmation Phase should fatten our bankrolls by significant amounts, but we are always on guard against over-betting our abilities. 

       The "Decision" Phase:

This is the point where Precision-Shooting is generating several times more money that most conventional jobs, and we have to decide what we are going to do with our skill.  Do we abandon the weekly paycheck in favor of a riskier but higher payoff, or are we satisfied to use craps as an income-augmentation pursuit?

Once we decide that full-time play is the way to go, a whole new set of considerations come into play.  In “normal” corporate jobs, we take our full medical and dental coverage for granted.  We take our paid vacation, company car, executive first-class travel benefits and all the other company perks for granted.  If we use Precision-Shooting as our sole source of income; then we have to replace all of those things with either our own money or with casino comps.  In either case, it is another decision and calculation that we have to make before we decide to play full-time.

Either way, our craps profit should be fueling the purchase of some of those items that have long been on your fantasy “wish list”.  It’s important to show our gratefulness to our spouses and loved ones who have encouraged and supported our efforts all along the way.  It makes it easier to justify the new “toy” that you bought yourself, if you have first shown your generous gratitude for the ones you love. 

       The “Professional Player” Phase

Once the decision has been made to make the jump to being a full-time Professional Craps Player, our journey is not over. 

Indeed, it really has only just begun.  You will notice that your game continues to evolve.  Since your playing time increases, so does your whole understanding about the flow of the game.  I touched upon this subject in the Raising Your Consciousness and Fattening Your Wallet series of articles.

Even now, my game continues to improve and evolve.  If you want a little more insight into it, I would suggest that you take a look at my  Lifestyles of the Precision-Shooter article.

Remember that Precision-Shooting is more of a journey than an actual destination.  Each of us can use a different map, and take a different route.   It is the progress that we make along the way that is a true measure of our advancement.

Okay, those are the different steps in the progression from beginner to professional.  In Part Two, we are going to look at how to transition from the “Break-Even” stage and progress to the “Small Consistent Wins” phase.

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


The Mad Professor

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