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The Mad Professor's Shooting Bible
Part IV

Today I want to cover an often talked-about, but frequently misunderstood subject in Precision-Shooting:

The Dead-Cat Bounce

What Is It?

The phrase is derived from the biggest gambling-joint in the entire universe; the stock-market world of Wall Street. 

In their definition, traders describe the phenomenon of a rapidly falling stock to slow just before hitting a new low or “bottom”.  It’s when the downward spiral finally hits the point when market-forces even out  (the number of buyers equal the number of sellers) and the fast descent or rapid drop suddenly stops with barely a moan or whimper.

The analogy is based on throwing a dead cat out of the window of a skyscraper.  Even though completely dead, the cat will slam down solidly, with a barely perceptible rebound.

In the Precision-Shooting world, a Dead Cat Bounce occurs when the dice land and stick (stop) without any further movement.  If you threw a dead cat across the table instead of a pair of dice, we can expect that the cat would just land and stay wherever it first hits.

Now to be completely honest, I have never ACTUALLY hurled a dead cat or any other mammal (dead or alive) across a craps table, and the Port au Prince Casino in Haiti has been closed since ’91, so even the voodoo practice of hurling dead chickens has been curtailed somewhat.  In any event, I don’t have irrefutable proof that a dead cat will do what I have described that it does, but I’m pretty sure that it’s a fairly accurate description.

Some people also call the DCB effect, “Glue Dice” because they “stick and stay” as soon as they touch down.

How Does it Work?

The physics are pretty simple to understand, but the actual “doing” part is quite difficult to repeat consistently time after time after time.

The physics work like this:

Four different forces meet with the same amount of energy, all at the same time.  Those different forces are:

       Forward Speed

       Rotational Speed

       Trajectory Angle

       Descent Speed

Four Forces, One Result

This is essentially a vector (a coming together or convergence at the same point) of four dissimilar (or unlike) elements.  Again, you have to keep in mind that all four forces come together with the same amount of energy, or equal amounts of opposing energy (offsetting energy) all at the same time. 

The simplest explanation would be to imagine four vehicles all approaching an intersection from different directions at identical speeds.  To get the perfect collision, you’d want all four cars to concurrently hit each other.  The energy from each vehicle is offset by the opposing energy from each of the other cars.  As a result, they all end up in a twisted pile of metal, pretty much in the center of the intersection where the four of them first came in contact.

To execute the Dead-Cat Bounce properly, you want all four toss-characteristics to achieve the same level of force or stopping power, at the same time and at or near the point of contact with the table.

This offsetting of energies (or extinguishing of momentum) results in dice that tend to stop and die as soon as they hit the felt.  That is the perfect Dead Cat Bounce.

Elements of Success

I’ve made this explanation complicated enough, so I’m not going to get into long equations.  I’ll try to keep this simple. 

Forward Speed

       This is the amount of energy that the dice carry as you throw them forward.

       Of course, the harder you throw them, the more forward speed they will carry.

       The lighter you throw them, the less forward speed they will carry. 

       How hard you have to throw them depends on where you are standing at the table, and how far away the backwall is.

       Ideally, all of their forward speed would be exhausted by the time they touch down.  While this is not the case, we use some of the other factors to counter-act or offset any remaining forward speed that are left in the dice when they hit the felt.

Rotational Speed

       This is the amount of “spin” that you put on the dice.

       Backspin makes it easier for the dice to stay on-axis as they fly through the air.

       In some cases, certain tables demand substantial amounts of backspin, while others demand very little or no backspin at all (a knuckleball type of throw).

       Needless to say, the further you are from the intended touchdown target, the more backspin that you can safely employ.  This factor ties in to the trajectory angle of both your launch and the dice-landing.

       When you are nearer to your target area, you can get away with much less spin.  Of course, this also ties in to the trajectory, distance and landing-angle factors.

       You gauge, control, and input as much or as little backspin as required to maintain on-axis travel, and to slow dice movement upon impact to an absolute minimum.

       Depending on the amount of backspin, the dice will either slow down rapidly once they hit the table, or they will take a forward hop or bounce.  The size (length and height) of the bounce ties in directly to the amount of forward speed (energy) that was remaining when the dice first made contact with the felt.

       You have to be a keen observer to determine how much to recalibrate each throw compared to the outcome of your previous toss.  Simply put, if the dice just did what you wanted them to do; then throw them EXACTLY the same way again.  If the dice did not do what you wanted them to do; then recalibrate your next throw to achieve the desired effect.

       Ideally, you only want enough spin on the dice to keep them on-axis while they are in the air, AND have some counter-rotation left to offset any forward speed that hasn’t been exhausted by the time they touch down.  In this way, rotational speed is used to counter-act or offset whatever forward speed remains. It is the equaling-out of these to forces that leads to the termination of further movement.

Trajectory Angle

       This is the arc of your throw.

       We often hear talk about the “ideal” 45-degree trajectory.  In some cases this is correct, however in a lot of other cases, it virtually guarantees a perfectly executed off-axis RANDOM ROLL.

       The table length and bounce characteristics of the felt (plus the underlay and base-material of the table) are the chief factors in deciding which trajectory to use for a particular set of circumstances and table-conditions.

       If you put this into easily understandable concepts, then your ability to adapt to various table-conditions improves substantially. 

First, think about the trajectory (angle of release and flight-path) when you skip stones across a pond.  If you get the correct angle, the stone will skip and bounce many, many times, especially if you throw with a lot of force, and you throw it at the proper slant. 

Second, think about the trajectory when you are at a carnival trying to throw clothes-pegs into an aluminum milk-jug.  You need throw at a steep angle so that the object that you are throwing goes into the receptacle nearly vertically.

So we know that the dice have to land somewhere between 0-degrees (if we slide them illegally), and 90-degrees if we get them to plummet straight down.  The “ideal” range for the DCB is somewhat narrower.

While each craps table may call for slightly more or less trajectory (on the landing-angle) than others, the best range for the most consistent Dead Cat Bounce is between 55-degrees and 75-degrees when the dice hit the table.

       Remember that trajectory all by itself means nothing.  It is when we combine or counter-act each of the other forces when our efforts all come together to produce the DCB.

Descent Speed

       This is the force or speed at which the dice hit the felt.

       While this speed ties in with how hard you throw them in the first place, it also depends on how far the dice have to travel before they make their final descent to the target area.

       In addition, the descent speed varies with how far they have traveled from your initial release, and how much they have slowed down while in the air.

       Once an unpowered object  (in this case, a pair of dice) are thrown horizontally over a short distance, they tend to lose speed.  The lighter the throw and the longer the distance, the slower they will be going at their initial point of contact with the table, and vice versa.

       Ideally, all of their descent speed would be exhausted by the time they touch down.  While this is not the case, we use some of the other factors to counter-act or offset any remaining descent speed that is left in the dice when they hit the felt. 

Descent speed and counter-rotation (backspin) use up or exhaust some of the forward speed that the dice still carry from their initial throw.  In this way, descent speed and rotational speed is used to offset any forward speed that remains.

Again, it is the equaling-out of all of these forces that leads to the termination of further movement and results in the DCB.


If all four forces come together with the same amount of energy and they cancel out each other’s momentum at the point of impact; then the dice just die right there on the spot.  They may do a little death-rattle kind of shake, but mostly they will just shudder to a full and complete stop.

When all four ingredients mix together with the same amount of force or an equal quantity of offsetting energy at the point of impact; then you get the Dead Cat Bounce.

When properly thrown to a target very close to the backwall, the DCB outcome is amazing.  The on-axis, primary-face results (the same four numbers that you initially set them on) is a thing of beauty…and a thing of PROFIT!

The HIDDEN Factor

There is one unseen, latent element that you have to deal with on any craps table.  One way or another, the table-felt, underlay and sub-surface DOES affect the success of any throw.  After all, it is what the dice come into contact with after being hurled and spun through the air.

Some table-surfaces “carry” speed, and actually cause high rebounds due to recoil-energy, while some are “dead” in that they absorb almost the entire shock of impact.  Still others are “neutral” in that they don’t add any additional rebound or “spring” of their own, but they do provide predictable and expected dice-rebounding and roll-out.

The consistently successful Precision-Shooter has to adapt his throw to suit all of the various bounce characteristics for the wide range of tables that he will encounter in his pursuit of profit. 

Is it Hard to Throw?

Yes quite definitely, the Dead Cat Bounce is difficult to throw time after time after time.  However, if you’ve practiced your dice-tossing for almost any amount of time, you’ve probably accidentally experienced the Dead Cat Bounce in your own throwing.

What Precision-Shooters do, is to move it from the “ACCIDENTAL” stage, and transition it to the “INTENTIONAL” phase.  Once you can do it intentionally a few times, most people want to improve the rate of occurrence so that they can do it CONSISTENTLY.  That is where substantial profits are derived.

Putting it All Together

When the speed of the backspin cancels-out the speed of the dice's forward motion, and when the trajectory angle and descent speed nullify the “bounce effect”; the dice stop immediately upon impact.  That is how you get the Dead Cat Bounce.

To do it consistently however, takes a tremendous amount of practice, and an even greater amount of patience and fine-tuning. 

While all of this may sound like a lot of work (and it truly is), the profit is what makes all of the effort worthwhile. 

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


The Mad Professor

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