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The When, Where, Why, What and How of Signature Numbers
Part Four

Luck or Skill?

If your Precision-Shooting skill has generated a steady SRR (Sevens-to-Roll Ratio) higher than 6:1, then it follows that you are better than most of the other players at the craps table.  In a totally random game, a 7 “should” appear on average, once every six rolls of the dice (as figured over the long term).  That being the case; then it makes sense for you to shoot the dice as much as possible, while concurrently avoiding most “right-side” bets on all but the luckiest of random-rollers?

At first glance, this appears to have nothing to do with Signature Numbers, but the overall concept of avoiding most right-side betting on random-rollers, certainly does figure into your overall approach to the game.  It most certainly also contributes to the overall profitability that you derive from craps. 

Considered another way; the less money that you waste on random-roller losses; the more money you will have to take advantage of your own improving skills.  This brings us right back to the idea of focusing most of your actual bets on your top three or four Signature Numbers.

Restricting Your Bets Can Bring Unrestricted Profit

Lets take a look at the reality and potential profitability of the concept:

       A random-roller has a Sevens-to-Rolls-Ratio of 1-in-6 tosses.   For easier understanding, we express the SRR as 6:1 as the benchmark upon which we try to improve our own Precision-Throwing efforts.

       Many dicesetting teachers fix their students success-objective at 8:1.  This is a 25% improvement over "normal", and is therefore seen as a substantial improvement beyond random-rolling.  When considered into the context of the entire game, this represents a player advantage of approximately 3.5% over the casino.

       A 3.5% player-edge is HUGE when considered OVER THE LONG RUN.  However, for a regular player with a modest bankroll; skew and volatility still make it a risky session-to-session proposition.

That brings us to Signature Numbers. 

       If an 8:1 SRR player was to restrict his principal bets to his current Top Three or Four SN's; then his edge over the house would likely be much, much higher than 3.5% (on the selected bets that he makes), and his bankroll would be much less susceptible to the up and down unpredictability and risk that relatively “weaker” bets would provide. 

       By restricting your bets to your CURRENTLY STRONGEST Signature Numbers, you take a lot of the "gamble" out of the entire casino gambling process.

That being the case; let's address the threshold at which a player can make sustainable revenue at the craps table.

       You can make decent money at the 8:1 SRR level, but your bets have to be focused on your strongest numbers, and you have to eliminate most higher-risk wagers from your betting-diet.  Most recreational players refuse to do that, and therefore they remain “marginally profitable” (at or near break-even over the course of the year). 

       By working to gain a substantial advantage over the house through all of your Precision-Shooting efforts, and then to turn around and give back that advantage through high-erosion (unprofitable and money-draining bets) is usually where most aspiring semi-serious recreational players give back their profit.  

       THAT is the reason they remain in the limbo of break-even status.  Even though they have a substantial advantage over the house, they quite willingly give up their edge over the house, plus a little more, (thus turning it back into a negative-expectation game) with their betting.  In cases like this, their non-profitability has NOTHING to do with their shooting skill, and EVERYTHING to do with their betting skill (and perhaps says a lot about their ego and attitude at the same time).

Life-Changing Profits Require Game-Changing Adjustments

To make sustainable and consistent money off of Precision-Shooting, it means that you have to make changes to your game.  Simply, the things that are diminishing your profit have to be eliminated, and the things that are generating the profit have to be stepped up. 

As your shooting-talent increases, you actually have to be MORE disciplined so that your skill-generated profit is not eroded by your actions in the betting arena.  This includes not only a strong monitoring and regulation of the wagers you make on random-rollers, but it also included those made on other skilled (or semi-skilled) shooters; and above all it includes HOW you bet on YOU.

To my mind, a player would have a hard time making LIFE-CHANGING profits if his SRR was lower than 12:1.  I'm not saying that it can't be done, but rather it is DIFFICULT to do it below that mark, because most players constantly struggle to accurately adapt their betting-methods to match their CURRENT Signature Numbers, and to survive past all of the random-rollers that they may choose to bet on. 

       The more random-rollers that you bet on, the better your own shooting has to be to overcome game-volatility and betting-risk.  

       In addition to that, it all depends which actual numbers make up your Top Three or Four SN's.  For example, if the Outside Numbers (4 & 10) or the Horn Numbers (2, 3, 11 & 12) are part of your most repetitive results; then your profit potential MAY be higher than a player who tosses a lot of Inside Numbers (5, 6, 8 & 9).

       On the other hand, the Horn Numbers are one-roll proposition bets that are “decided on” with each and every roll.  Besides, if that same player makes Power Press moves and continually parlays all or most of his winnings without locking-up a profit along the way; then it would actually take some truly spectacular shooting to overcome his own greed. 

       In most cases, a player runs low on bankroll LONG BEFORE he's able to parlay a casino to its knees.

       Most wanna-be pro's give back so much of their actual shooting-skill "edge" by making bets that are at once ego-gratifying when they pay; yet corrosive and detrimental to their bankroll when they don't. 

       In that case, their shooting has to be so much better just to keep them at the break-even point of profitability.  That is why I mentioned the SRR of 12:1 earlier.  If you are going to make bets that cost you money, you have to be that much better, because you not only have to beat the house, you also have to overcome your own additional self-imposed disadvantages.  In other words, you have to beat YOU!

       Many players are mesmerized by the lure of lofty payouts on the center-bets, but fundamental parts of their skill-set remain undeveloped because of their pursuit of the "easy way".  Unfortunately, most of them find out when it's too late that there really is no easy way to achieve consistent profit without first having ALL of the fundamentals down cold.

       In this case, “fundamentals” include the on-going exercise of honestly calculating which bets are paying off with NET PROFIT, and which ones generate splashy headlines in your after-session beer-bash, but are in fact net-losers for your bankroll.

       In addition to all of that, even professional Precision-Shooters constantly struggle with their personal discipline-demons on a daily basis.  In some ways, the guy who plays frequently has to monitor his resolve and discipline even more closely than a casual player; simply because the enticement of the casino, the temptation of the game, and the greed of his soul, is always there, easily accessible, and enticingly and seductively standing in front of him.  

       If your SRR is lower than 12:1, a seasoned player can still make plenty of consistent profit.  However, if your Precision-Shooting isn’t combined with Precision-BETTING, then the benefits of a sky-high SRR may continue to elude and frustrate you.

       In fact, if your SRR is VERY low, like in the 3:1 range, but your top two or three Signature Numbers still show up on a reliable basis; then you can nonetheless still make reliable profit from your own shooting. That subject is covered in two articles that I can heartily recommend.  They are, Can Frequency Compensate For Shortness? and Matching Bets to Your Shooting Ability .


A Low-SRR Does NOT Have to Mean LOW Profit   

If you’ve had a chance to fully absorb those two above-noted articles; then you know that you can still generate sustainable profit from your own Precision-Shooting efforts even if your SRR is LOWER than random.   If that statement comes as a shock to you, then perhaps a re-read of those pieces are in order.

Even if your SRR is an unbelievably low 3:1, you can STILL make money off of your seeming bad fortune.  The first way would be to bet against yourself, but there are ways for you to derive decent profit even if you bet WITH yourself on the Pass-Line.

       In other words, even if you are 100% WORSE than a random-roller, but your Signature Numbers are steady; then you can still make a fine profit from your own Precision-Shooting.  We covered the ways and means of exactly how to do that in those articles, but let me add some additional thoughts.

As far as the Pass-Line is concerned when you are the shooter:

       If your PL-Point is in your Top Three or Four SN's, then full Odds should be wagered.  If it's not, then you should consider using considerably less Odds-money to back it up.

       Remember that a Precision-Shooter is using an altered dice-expectancy in figuring out which bets are best for him.  In some cases, that may mean "going bare" or restricting your initial PL-Odds to 1x or 2x on your NON-Signature-Number Points.

If you choose to Place-bet all four of your Box-number “dominants”, then a steep regression after one paying-hit, will usually bring in the dough.  By sticking with steep regressions and VERY conservative betting-methods, a low SRR can still effectively bring in the profit.  Though it may require the elimination of most, if not all, higher-risk bets from your gambling-diet; the alternative (steady LOSING) isn’t quite as fulfilling to your wallet or your ego.

Regardless of your SRR or Box-Numbers-to-Sevens ratio, most pro’s build a regression into their Place-bets as a way of guaranteeing “early” profit, while still maintaining the prospect of even bigger wins with still active and easy-to-progress (and totally paid-for) Place-bets.

What Ratio of Regression Works Best?

Let’s take a look at what it would take for one hit on a primary Signature Number Place-bet so that it will cover the combined total of your Pass-Line bet, Odds-bet, and the value of your newly regressed Signature Number Place-bets.

       Let’s say that you are at a $5 minimum-bet table.

       We’ll assume for a moment that your Signature Numbers are the Inside Numbers (5, 6, 8, & 9).

       You want your $5 Pass-Line bet to be backed up with at least 1x Odds.  That portion of the total wager totals $10.  This assumes that our PL-Point is NOT one of our primary Signature Numbers, otherwise, we would be wagering full Odds behind the line (or in an amount at least equal to our usual Place-bet wager on that power-number).

       You want to end up with a regressed Place-bet total of $22 Inside.

       That means that we plan to have $32 in action AFTER one of our Signature Numbers hit.  For some players, that is a rather ambitious amount of money to have out on the table, especially since we are talking about the total wager AFTER we have regressed them.

       However, you have to look at this portion of the game with a casino-gaming perspective.  Yes, we are in a casino.  Yes, we are gambling.  But we want to minimize our risk, and we want to do it over the shortest possible exposure period.  We also want to make money.  We realize that we have to take SOME risk, and we want to do it in a calculated and business-like manner.   That is, we are willing to take some risk for a justifiable amount of expected profit.

       So to figure out the level that our INITIAL Place-bet on our top tier Signature Numbers have to be; we need to look at the standard payouts for any one of the four Place-bets that we are making, to ensure that they give us SOME net-profit after covering our remaining regressed bets.

       To accomplish that, we require a single Place-bet win to generate ~$32.  In this case, our initial Place-bets would be $110 Inside ($25 each on the 5 & 9, and $30 each on the 6 & 8).  This wager pays $35 on any one hit, and immediately upon that happening, we regress out Signature Number action down to $22 Inside.

       At this juncture, we have all of our remaining action on the layout totally paid for, plus we have a tiny $3 profit safely locked up on our rail.  From this point forward, we could simply rake in the ultra-conservative (and ultra safe) profit on each subsequent S-N hit, or we could semi-conservatively Press on each alternating payout, or even increase the Odds on our PL-Point with the added revenue that streams in from each succeeding S-N win.

Remember, to get to the point where we are comfortable making initial bets that are in the green-chip $150 spread-action range, we MUST know the current strength of our Signature Numbers, and we must be sufficiently bankrolled to afford that level of betting. 

If you are not in a position of strength on either count, then my recommendation to you is to stay home and practice (and build up a bankroll) until you are in such a position, or to significantly scale back the range of bets that you make.

If you play at cheaper (lower-minimum) tables, then obviously your bankroll requirements for the correspondingly smaller bets will be lower.

In addition, with a limited bankroll, you could also scale back the breadth of your S-N bets.  Instead of covering the Top Four, you could choose to cover only your Top Two strongest Signature-Numbers.   Likewise, if your PL-Point is not one of you current Top Four S-N’s; then you might choose to “go naked” and not wager ANY Odds behind your Pass-Line Point.  While this accomplishes the goal of lower money being exposed (and a lower percentage of your bankroll), you are also enduring the reduced chances of an early hit. 

You have to be the best judge of your abilities versus the amount of risk that you (and your bankroll) are willing to take.  My counsel is that you should not go anywhere near a casino unless and until you have a sufficient bankroll to make the kind and type of bets that your current Precision-Shooting skill requires.  Otherwise, you are putting undue strain on your skill-set and undue risk on your hard-earned money.

It’s Easy To Be Blinded

It is very easy for an aspiring Precision-Shooter to be blinded by the prospect of huge riches that can be made off of Prop and Hop bets.  When aspiring dicesetters read or hear about obscene profits that others players are making off of quintuple parlayed Horn bets, or back-to-back-to-back-to-back Hopping 9’s; they forget that the basis of Precision-Shooting is firmly anchored in a fairly narrow advantage band over the house. 

That is, they go in “for the kill” on all the center-of-the-table Hops and Props, yet they under-bet their strongest Signature Numbers.  

To their mind, those Place bets don’t provide enough thunder, lightning, excitement, and immediate gratification as the high-paying center bets do.   Their focus is distracted by their pursuit of the “quick and easy money”, and generally leads to a steady erosion of their bankroll.   While it may be exciting to be able to talk about the time you hit 37 Horn numbers in a row, it doesn’t happen all that often (even for the most accomplished Precision-Shooters among us). 

The temptation for neophytes is so strong, especially when bolstered and encouraged by those who live by the quadruple parlay.  Yes, those sorts of bets do provide huge profits when they hit, but most times, especially for not-quite-there-yet dicesetters; it usually spells a diminishing bankroll, and an EVEN MORE determined pursuit of quick-fix, quick-profit Prop and Hop-play because Place-bets no longer provide the thrill or (now) much-needed quick comeback for the quickly diminishing bankroll.

I’m not saying that I don’t make prop bets.  In fact, I DO usually make a significant number of Prop bets during each and every session. 

What I am saying is that you should first determine if those Hops and Props are reliable enough “earners” before you wager a disproportionate amount of your bankroll on them.  When your shooting is “off”, the speed at which your bankroll will shrink can be multiplied and accelerated by Prop and Hop-bet losses.  If, on the other hand, those bets are your source of profit and salvation; then bet away.

If You’re Good, Then You Can Also be Great

We started out this discussion today by talking about the merits of a skilled Precision-Shooter getting his hands on the casino dice as frequently as possible, and avoiding random-roller betting as much as practical.

Let’s take that idea one step further and evaluate what it means to you in dollars and cents (sense too).

       Let’s say that your point-cycle SRR is 8:1.

       For this example, we’ll say that you use the X-6 (crossed-sixes set) for your point-cycle tossing.

       We’ll assume you are at a $5 table allowing 3x, 4x, 5x, Odds.

       If your Pass Line bet is one of your Top Four Signature-Numbers, you’ll back it up with max-Odds; otherwise you’ll only wager 1x-Odds (if any at all).

       Given that Crossed-Six (X-6) set; the Inside-Numbers (5, 6, 8 & 9) constitute 50% of your on-axis probabilities, while Field Numbers (2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 & 12) also constitute 50% of the on-axis probabilities.  There is an overlap/overlay on the “9” which holds a place of honor in both categories.  The “7” makes up for that overlap with it’s own 2-out-of-16 (1:8) probability.

       In that case, a strong argument could be made for the following bet:

         $25 Place-bet on the 5.

         $30 each Place-bet on the 6 & 8.

         $30 bet on the Field.

       With an SRR of 8:1, this yields an expected ~$8.12 profit per roll.

Based on that set and a modest SRR of 8:1, you can expect that each roll of the dice (that you make) will, on average, bring in just over eight bucks.  You’ll notice that there is nothing fancy, exotic or unduly risky about those bets that I just mentioned.  You’ll notice that they don’t require quadruple parlays or power-presses.  In fact, all it requires is nice, steady tossing on your part, and enough turns with the dice to make it worth your while on an hourly basis (depending how often you get your hands on the cubes).  

Now here is my question for you:

How much solo-shooting or frequent-shooting should you be seeking out, versus the time and money that you spend betting on random-rollers in your pursuit of profit?

That being the case;

If your current SRR is at or near 8:1, yet your average net-profit per roll isn’t in line with those numbers (or isn’t in proportion with the size of your current average bets); then it ISN’T your shooting that is holding you back, IT IS YOUR BETTING.

Think about that before you casually toss out your next bet.

Until then,

Good Luck & Good Skills at the table…and in Life.

The Mad Professor

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