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Current Practice…Future Profitability

There’s been a lot of recent discussion about the relative merits and benefits of practicing your dice-influencing skills.

To my mind, it’s fairly simple:

       You have to develop your skills somehow.  If you do it at the casino tables, then it can be fairly expensive.  If you do it at home, then it’s not quite as costly.

       Once you develop your dice-influencing skills, you have to keep them in shape.  Though it might LOOK similar to riding a bike, as far as picking it up again at will and immediately throwing like a wizard even if you’ve been away from the game for a few months; it’s nowhere near that easy.

After a fairly long layoff…

       …You may still be able to ride a bike even if you haven’t been on one since Jimmy Carter was in office, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to ride it like Lance Armstrong…especially if you couldn’t ride it like him in the first place.

       The longer you are away from any pursuit, whether it be Precision-Shooting, lovemaking, or bike-riding…the more out of practice you will be.

For consistently profitable dice-influencing…

       …You first have to develop a keenly honed edge over the game. 

       Skill-development practice where you assemble and adjust all the different dice-influencing elements will get you there.

       Once you get there, you have to keep your skill-set razor-sharp in order to stay there. 

       Maintenance-practice where you continually fine-tune the mechanics and minutely perfect your muscle-memory will keep you there.

       For most players, even a few days away from the dice is enough to put a rusty haze on any of those skills.

So is practicing important?

Well, it’s only important if you want to make consistent money off of this game…otherwise, it’s not necessary at all.

Where I’m Coming From

I like to joke that I learned how to make steady money from this game at the most expensive dice-shooting academy in the world…at the real tables…with real money…and with equally real losses. 

The fact that I can joke about it today doesn’t hide the fact that it was probably the most inefficient way to develop my self-taught skills.   It also doesn’t hide the fact that it cost an incredible amount of money that went directly from my rack into the various casino-corporation chip-bank coffers.

I never used to practice at home at all. 

I figured that I’d never be able to replicate the real-world conditions at one table, let alone the myriad layouts that I was actually playing on, so to my mind at the time, it made no sense to even try.

I subsequently found out that I was not only WRONG in thinking that way, but I was still missing out on the opportunity to fully develop a properly-structured on-axis, primary-face dice-throw simply because I didn’t want my in-casino experimentation to be too radical and possibly end up costing me even more failed-trial money than it already was.

Little did I know at the time, but some of my biggest throwing-dynamics improvements would come from a few of the more radical experiments that I subsequently carried out outside of the casino environment.

The main problem at the time was that I was still developing my basic grips, set-permutations, and dice-tossing dynamics right at the real-money tables instead of on an at-home rig; so obviously it was a very expensive and frustrating way to develop and fine-tune any of my Precision-Shooting techniques.

Still, I stuck with on-going, but less drastic in-casino experimentation and continued to eschew the thought of using at-home practice.

Thankfully in the interceding years, I’ve matured a bit as a human-being and improved a bit as a Precision-Shooter.

Though I made some fairly decent money during the first two years of pro-play, my success was clouded by the continual frustration of knowing that I SHOULD be earning more from exactly the same skill-set.

I KNEW I had the skill, but the money wasn’t accumulating as quickly as it should have been.  In this case, knowing that I had the skill, and being able to predictably turn it into cash, was two very separate concepts.  At the time, it seemed like those two things would never be in total synch with each other.

The next five years saw dramatic improvements in my net-profitability, but STILL I knew that there was way more earnings-potential in my still-improving abilities.  Again, skill versus earnings-efficiency dogged my mind, and provided more than its fair share of frustrating distraction.

What I thought I knew about the best way to make money from dice-influencing fourteen years ago was surpassed by what I learned in the first two years after I turned pro…and THAT knowledge was further outstripped by what I learned over the next couple of years thereafter.  Subsequently, my evolving knowledge has continued to grow right up to this day.  

My knowledge of what it takes to make consistent money from this game keeps on advancing and expanding even as I dictate this article for you today.

The Dawn of Realization

In my early years of pro-play there were some casinos where I was spending way too much time trying to figure out how to beat their tables, instead of putting the time in on already-diagnosed layouts where I knew exactly what it took to extract a steady stream of money.

In those cases, my ego was as deeply invested as my bankroll…and both of them would take a beating when I tried to force my will and my skill upon every single craps table that I came upon.

I was going into some real Las Vegas dumps like the old Continental, the Jolly Trolley, the Marina, Little Caesars, the Landmark, the Paddlewheel and Vegas World…all in an attempt to beat every single craps table in town.

It was a situation where I was winning tons of money at some casinos where I knew precisely how to toss the perfect on-axis, primary-face outcome; but then giving much of it back at other places where I was still auditioning for master-of-the-craps-universe on the tough-to-beat ego-invested layouts where I was hell-bent on winning at all costs…and losing miserably in the process.

For some people, it takes a lot of losing to learn how to win, and back then you could certainly count me among those souls.

Did I mention that this whole “I don’t believe in practicing because no table can replicate all the layouts that I’m trying to conquer” philosophy was costing me a TON of money?

Did I also mention that I was spending considerable dollars just trying to get into a warmed-up dice-shooting groove as each new casino-day dawned?

At the time, I knew without a doubt that my Precision-Shooting skills were giving me an overall advantage over the house, but I hadn’t yet figured out why those skills were so wildly unpredictable.  Although I knew that I wasn’t always able to bring that talent to the fore when and where they were needed, I knew that I could usually win more sessions than I lost. 

Unfortunately my first hand of the first session of each new day was always a volatile hit-or-miss affair.

Sometimes I’d fire up a great first hand right out of the gate, and other times I’d sputter and stumble with a couple of incredibly quick honeymoon-type “This won’t take long...did it” 7-Outs.  Since I didn’t know whether a given days first hand would be a good one or a bad one, I’d bet the way I HOPED it would be. That is, I’d bet as though my dice-tossing would be dialed in from the get-go, even though I was wrong just often enough to make it a VERY frustrating and costly ordeal.

What was even more exasperating, was that the times when I was right and my first hand of the day was a stellar one; were also the times when I’d hesitate to send in the big money out of reluctance from the previous days first-hand loss.   Conversely, the times when I’d had a good hand on my first try the previous day, I’d pump up the bet-volume on today’s first hand…only to see it get wiped out with a quick and deadly 7-Out.

I quickly found out that turning pro and acting like a professional are two completely different things.  That’s when I realized I had to do something about the emotional struggle that I went through at the start of each new day. 

A stellar first hand on one day generated false hope and expectation the next day.  It almost drove me crazy. 

A first-session loss often set the tone for the rest of the day. 

If I could start off each day with a better-than-even chance of winning, I knew that I was more likely to end each day on a winning note too.

Instead of letting it drive me crazy, it drove me to practice. 

That was when I decided that I NEEDED to at least warm-up at home or in my hotel suite immediately before hitting the tables.  I figured a bit of warm-up to get my throwing-motion dialed-in would give my first hand of the first session a much better chance of success.

Needless to say, I saw an immediate and dramatic improvement.

Once I started warming-up, I noticed a direct improvement in my first-session profitability, as well as positioning me with a much better attitude for the rest of the day.

By the time practice-tossing had become an integral part of my pre-casino routine, I also started using it if I got into a bit of a shooting rut during the day.  Instead of heading off to a different casino if I wasn’t able to do anything with the dice at the gaming-house I was at; I would retreat instead to my hotel to readjust my shooting.

That single decision saved me thousands upon thousands of dollars that previously would have been flushed right down the casino drain.

In most of the cases where I beat a hasty retreat from a non-winning table, I would immediately validate what I had just re-adjusted about my toss during my practice-to-conquer-a-specific-layout session, by returning to the exact same table that had prompted the edge-honing practice-session in the first place.  That way, I knew immediately whether my fine-tuning had worked or not.  If it did work, I could add one more table to my “conquered” list, and if it didn’t, I’d move on to one of my more favorable layouts so that the tough-to-beat table didn’t become a money-draining distraction.  In fact, I’d intentionally stay away from it until I was mentally prepared to take a clear-headed fresh attack on it at a future date.

In the cases where my practice-tweaking worked on a particular trouble-table, I’d make clear, concise and easy-to-replicate shooting-notes about exactly what worked best on that layout.  That way, the next time I played on it, even if it was days, weeks or months later; I’d still be able to make the same money-winning tosses again and again.

When I saw how dramatic the retreat-in-order-to-beat throw-honing practice was improving my subsequent profitability…I just naturally started doing it more often.

That led to…you guessed it…even MORE practice.

The more I practiced…the more profit I gained. 

The more profit I gained…the more that practice took on even greater significance in my overall advantage-play approach to winning.

Today, I always practice before setting out to conquer the tables, and I also almost always do some tossing after a casino-session in order to either correct what went wrong or to lock-in what went right during my just-completed session.

Yeah, you could say that I believe in practicing now.

Experimentation-and-Development vs. War-Game Simulations

There’s a big difference between the practice sessions where you are experimenting with and developing various sets, grips, stances, and throwing-motions versus the sessions where you are more precisely grooving-in a tossing-method and simulating casino-conditions where you already know what works, but are further establishing your muscle-memory while concurrently fine-tuning your bet-sequencing and wagering-plateaus.

       Still-improving players need to use a good portion of their practice time to properly analyze their toss-mechanics; recalibrate their grip-tightness and individual finger-placement; as well as taking a critical look at their body-position, foot placement and mid-to-upper body movement during the throw.

       You have to look at each individual component and determine if it is helping your on-axis consistency, or whether it is the source of any off-axis yaw or skew.

       You also have to look at whether some components when used in combination with others are conspiring together to affect your on-axis reliability.

If you find any off-axis defects, then a majority of your immediate practice time has to be spent on resolving it.  Cure it before moving on to the next element.

Roll-Tracking and Note-Taking During Your Practice-Sessions 

When you are still developing your toss and experimenting with various grips and stances, as well as constructing a consistent throwing-motion; then your toss-results will probably be all over the map. What happened during last weeks practice will have little bearing on what you are working on this week, and therefore any roll-tracking results will likely be inconclusive and erratic. 

In fact, it could be downright misleading.

       When you're doing all of those set, grip, stance, and throwing-motion alterations and variations; the last thing you should be doing is recording your throws UNLESS you use an approach that is similar to the late Micky_D's method which tracks HOW each of those changes individually and collectively affect your current toss.  See his Notes, Notes, Notes article as well as his Chasing The Perfect Throw, his Observations piece, as well as his Back To Basics article for better insight into this step-by-careful-step process of on-axis improvement.

       Keep in mind that that type of note-taking, critical observation and performance-evaluation is for tracking DEVELOPMENT of your toss-mechanics and NOT for figuring your SRR’s, Signature-Numbers or Box-Number ratios.  You definitely don’t want your practice-toss results to be skewed with a bunch of throws that were experimental in nature instead of being preparatory (like a full-dress rehearsal) for actual in-casino play.

       Most times you’ll have to do a lot of experimenting, researching and testing before you settle on a refined throwing technique that best suits your personal preferences and physical abilities.

       Many players misunderstand the function of their Practice Sessions, or at least the function of the Roll Recording part of it versus the experimentation-and-development segment.  Therefore they AVOID further grip-pressure, finger-placement, toss-mechanics, and throwing-motion experimentation and development out of fear that it will screw up their Roll-Stats.

Unfortunately, doing that generally stalls out any significant Precision-Shooting progress, and they keep getting the same old unprofitable results because they are locking unproductive repetitiveness into their muscle-memory and letting the constraints of wanting to maintain their SRR stand in the way of fruitful advancement.

Again, that is NOT how we develop better on-axis dice-throwing consistency. 

Don’t be afraid to find out what doesn’t work for you.  On the other hand, don’t be too quick to discard a throwing technique that shows promise but isn’t as easy to use as some of the more conventional methods.

To discover what works and what doesn’t work, you have to do a lot of tinkering, fiddling and general messing about in your on-axis explorations.  As a young-ladies Mom will sometimes remind her daughter, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”  Those test-throws and experimental trials should not figure into your overall Sevens-to-Rolls ratio-tracking simply because you have your “I’m a mad scientist that is experimenting with different formulas in search of the unknown” hat on instead of the “I’m a serious shooter who is simulating a casino-session” fedora on your head.

       One of the keys to developing your Precision-Shooting skills is to understand what elements of your shooting are working, and which ones aren’t.

       Sometimes you have to temporarily suspend further work on the ones that are working, in order to cure any underlying flaws and compellingly deal with any remaining off-axis instigators.

       When you build a strong fundamental throw, then it’s easier to shape, assemble and contour the more nuanced elements of your Precision-Shooting.  

       Without a strong foundation, it makes absolutely no sense to even try to work on refining the advanced elements, because you’ll eventually have to undo and disengage all of them when inconsistency forces you to go back to RE-develop a properly built foundation.

       It’s much better to build those solid underpinnings NOW, and then work on the far-more-difficult-to-master advanced components later on.

Then, and ONLY then does it make sense to closely track your session-to-session rolls in order to determine your SRR or your most dominant Signature-Numbers or your Inside-Number ratios.

At that point you can also run some casino-simulation sessions where you “war-game” various betting-approaches and explore different wagering-scenarios.

       One of the ideas behind war-gaming is to help you deal with all kinds of situations that can occur in the heat of casino-battle.  In doing so, these exercises help you manage and contend with any given situation more assuredly and without undue consternation when it happens for real on the green-felt battlefield.

       It teaches you to make tiny, on-the-fly adjustments if you’re not getting the dice-results you want. It also teaches patience, perseverance and subtlety in terms of not making too radical of an adjustment in order to cure a minor problem.

       The more acclimated and accustomed you are in dealing with various situations, the better able you’ll be in handling and adjusting to it when you run headlong into it in the casino. 

       The more comfortable you are in dealing with various situations, the less likely you are to mishandle them during your casino battles. 

       If you find yourself making too many bone-headed errors or weak-discipline plays in the casino; then these simulation-sessions are invaluable for engineering those problems OUT.

       Moreover, your casino-simulation sessions build positive muscle-memory that is more easily recalled when you get to the real-world tables. 

       Repetition of properly executed throw-dynamics during your casino-simulation sessions is what builds the muscle-memory that you’ll need in order to get roll-after-roll-after-roll on-axis consistency when you have your money in play on the real-world tables.

Some Further Thoughts About Roll-Tracking and Practice Sessions

       Your Sevens-to-Rolls Ratio is a measurement tool to be used as personal development information, and not for bragging rights. Therefore, honesty with yourself is critical if that data is going to be useful as a learning and training gauge.

       Your at-home sessions can also be used to help develop the discipline that you should be using in the casino. That is, if you find yourself in a hole when you are losing in the casino...THEN STOP DIGGING!  If you run into a rash of 7-Outs when you are recording your Practice Tosses at home...then STOP RECORDING...and START TWEAKING and defunkifying your throw!

       Many players think they should be keeping track of EVERY at-home toss. That is NOT the way to develop your toss...that only reinforces your toss if it is already near-perfect.  

       If you split your practice sessions into casino-simulation time and experimentation-and-development time; you’ll more likely reap tangible and verifiable results from both, while avoiding that “stalled-out” feeling from either.

Structuring Your Practice Time

Each Practice Session should have at least one casino-simulation war-game scenario in it.  For example:

       Part One could be a "cold start" casino-simulation session whereby you walk up to the Practice Rig just like you walk up to a casino table. The dice come to you and you immediately make your Come-Out toss (no free throw "warm-ups" allowed).

       From that point, you continue until you 7-Out.

Should you be recording THOSE tosses, or at least counting the number of rolls you are getting and the number of Signature Numbers you are hitting?

Hell YEAH!

Those are part of your "Casino Simulation" tosses, so you should be recording them because they'll tell you a LOT about what you could expect from your throw when you get to the casino to do your First Throw, First Session, First Day dice-tossing.  These are the rolls that are especially important to track and record because they closely mimic what you would be experiencing in the casino.

Part Two of your Practice Session war-game entails putting yourself even deeper into the casino-context.

       If you were in the casino after completing the first hand as you just did; what would you then do?

       Would you take a long break to count your winnings or lick your wounds?

       Would you immediately change tables to get the dice back in your hands as quickly as possible?

       Would you hunker down and wait until the dice cycle back around to your spot again?

Whatever you would do in the casino is what you could decide to do right now at your Practice Rig.  Immerse your mind into how you act in the casino versus what you normally do on the Practice Rig. 

       If your answer is to shoot again as soon as possible, then do so.

       If the answer is that you would normally take a break after such a big win or such a bad roll; then do so.

       If you want a portion of your Practice Sessions to simulate your Casino Sessions; then make it so.

Part Three of the war-game scenario is where we really separate the Casino Simulation part of our sessions from the "toss development" portion of it.

The experimentation-and-development tosses are the ones where you are testing, analyzing and investigating numerous ways to make your on-axis throw more consistent.  That means you’ll be making lots of mistakes that take you successively CLOSER to your goal.

Therefore, you probably shouldn't be recording them because you are TESTING, RESEARCHING and conducting EXPERIMENTS in your shooting-lab and NOT doing a simulated casino-session.

       When you are satisfied with some of that experimenting; THEN you can conduct another Casino Simulation session and, YES, you should record or at least track those outcomes.

Part Three of this exercise also entails betting the way you do in the casino. 

Actually, it entails betting the way you SHOULD in the casino. 

This is where you work on your betting as much as you work on your shooting.  Though it’s a little more complicated than walking and chewing gum at the same time…it’s not like it’s hyper-spectral radiography, quantum physics, organic chemistry and thermodynamic characterization all wrapped up into one.

       How many times have you finished up a great hand in the casino, yet hardly had any money to show for it?

       How many times have you looked back on a session and said, “I KNEW I should have bet differently…I would have had a ton of money right now”?

       How many times have you NOT made the wagers you KNEW were the ones you SHOULD be making instead of the ones that you WERE making?

       How often do you hesitate to increase/decrease or call off your bets even though your gut or conscience tells you to?

       How often do you tell yourself, “Just one more hit” when that decision doesn’t pan out versus the times when it does?

This portion of your casino-simulation war-game exercise lets you develop the confidence you need to make the betting moves that your skill-level deserves. 

       When your betting-skills keep pace with your shooting-skills it allows to you to benefit from the talent that you’ve developed, instead of depriving you of the dividend.  As a result, your frustration-level actually goes down while your profit-flow goes up.

       It also reduces your sensitivity to dealing with the higher bet-levels that we’ve been talking about in the twelve-part How To Get THERE From Here series.

       Experimenting with various betting-scenarios, fine-tuning your wagering-plateaus and regressions, as well as your bet-activation triggers and termination points during your at-home sessions; works to reduce and dispel your anxiety when you take your show on the road.

The purpose of all this of course, is to develop your precision-betting in relative lock-step with your precision-shooting.

Your Development as a Shooter

We talk extensively about this "Precision-Shooting is a JOURNEY and not a DESTINATION" concept quite a bit more in How to Get THERE From Here - Part Six, but the simple fact remains that we use our Practice Sessions to develop our skills, and the real-world tables to validate and profit from them.

       If we merely use our at-home sessions for practice-by-rote routines instead of actual development and improvement; then it's not likely that our Precision-Shooting performance will advance any further than it is right now.

With that in mind, I would recommend that you record your at-home Casino Simulation tosses, but use your development and toss-tweaking time as a non-rigid, non-recorded experimentation, testing and research opportunity.

Your current practice determines your future profit, so it’s pretty easy to see how and why the time you spend on your at-home rig today can pay bigger dividends at the casino tomorrow.

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


The Mad Professor

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