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Shooting From The Don’ts…A Journey of Opportunity - Part X


Guns and Knives and Uzi’s, Oh My…A Detroit Road Trip

When a heated payout dispute breaks out at one of Detroit’s craps tables, I half expect it to be resolved in a gun battle.

Thankfully the shootings, stabbings, muggings and beatings have so far been restricted to the parking lots and entrances of Detroit’s three casinos, while the in-casino problems are generally restricted to just brandishing weapons and not actually discharging them.  I think it’s a sign of urban-gangsta respect that they wait until stepping outside the gambling-temple before anyone is actually killed or maimed. 

Now before anyone gets upset and tells me that more than 640,000 Americans have been shot with illegal handguns since John Lennon was killed; I have to tell you that I am NOT against the right to bear arms. I'm just against the idea of discharging them at any of the craps tables that I happen to be at.  Welcome to Detroit.

Before we jump into the Darkside shooting that I did on this current trip, I want to rewind to one of my previous Detroit sessions where I was shooting as a Rightsider.  To my mind, it sets the stage and the tone for this segment of my gaming-expedition.

“Dass Ma Beh”

I was already forty-five minutes into my hand at Motor City Casino, and the dice were conducting themselves like a pair of perfectly behaved twins.  My buy-in had more than doubled and the crew was working harder than Santa’s little elves.

My next roll was an Easy Eight.

"Hey man, I had hoppers on the 3/1, 2/2, 2/3, 2/6, 4/1, 2/4, 3/5, 4/5, 6/3, 4/6, and these three bro's here only had Hops on 3/1, 2/3, 3/3, 4/5, 6/3 and the 5/5, so why you payin’ him with MY money.  Where's my 3/5 that's 'spose to be there man?  Dass ma beh…PAY my Hoppin 3/5 NOW before I get my gat and pop one in your ugly ass!"

I looked down at the other end of the table where the cascade of venom was coming from.  I suppressed a smirk at the fact that the victim of the missing bet could stuff the word “mutha” into a sentence even more than I could.  He opted for using it in between each and every word, whereas I usually prefer to use it for mid-sentence emphasis and end-of-statement punctuation.

Did I mention that I had been tossing for forty-five minutes by this point?  While the time element is true, the actual number of rolls was not really reflected in that.  Since there was such a delay between nearly every roll, I had time to count all of the Hop and Prop wagers on the layout.  It was averaging anywhere between 80 to 110 hops and props that had to be set up and/or replaced and/or “tapped” (as a sign to surveillance that they had been re-bought) after each and every throw.

Still though, I probably had a good thirty-five rolls under my belt by that time, which reflected the truly staggering efficiency of the crew.   Once the dispute was settled without bloodshed, I managed to toss out another ten or eleven numbers before the REAL mo-fo showed up to end the hand.

I mention that scenario because it is illustrative of the game-pace that you’ll often run into during various times of the day and night in Detroit. 

Okay, let’s fast-forward to my current Shooting from The Don’t excursion.

A Brief Introduction to Detroit Casinos

Michigan’s legislature approved casino gaming in 1996. Three winners were selected in a contentious multi-year process that still rages in the state’s court system today.  All three casinos opened in what were supposed to be “temporary” locations, however, all of them have expressed strong interest in keeping and expanding their current locations instead of building afresh in new locales.


Located in the cavernous former IRS Building near the mouth of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, this casino is the classiest and the largest of Motown’s three casinos.  It also sports the widest number of tables, the biggest range of bet-minimums and the best choice of restaurants.  Although it’s not always easy to get in on a $5 game; and $10 tables are the norm; you’ll have very little problem getting enough personal comfort space at a $25 or $50 layout except on the weekend evenings. 

Although MGM Grand has the least prop and hop action of the Big Three, it does have the most professional and efficient of crews in town.


Located in the party-central area of Motown, Greektown draws the youngest crowd which also happens to be the drunkest crowd, especially on the weekend.   Though they may not know how to play the game as proficiently as many old-timers might prefer; they more than make up for that shortcoming with enthusiasm and verve. 

If you are still playing when the club-goers from G-T’s Club Rapture descend on the casino, prepare to be ensconced by countless numbers of barely 21 year-old, fully lathered Detroit dolls.  Try as I might, I couldn’t find the actual assembly-line that manufactures them…but they sure did produce a lot of those svelte-chassised hi-revving 1994 units!

Greektown Casino also has a Crapless Craps table that has been continually kind to the Mad Professor ever since they first opened it in late 2002.  I’ve frequently used Greektown as my northern garrison during the still-unfinished on-again, off-again Crapless Craps Tour Across America.   They also offer the high-vig Fire-bet, but as with many other casinos; action on that particular wager continues to decline precipitously, so don’t be surprised if it disappears completely.

If you do most of your Detroit-area table-raids before the gang-bangers get out of bed at the crack of noon or before the party-crowd arrives after 9 pm; then you’ll often find only semi-crowded conditions at Greektown.

Their high-end VIP Pantheon Club contains an outstanding craps table that is usually set at either $25 or $50.  That layout offers some of the lowest-energy backwall rebounding that I’ve ever experienced on a regulation table.  I love it and its neutral rolling characteristics are nothing short of amazing.   If I was going to do a North American tour of all the high-end VIP craps tables; the Pantheon Club layout would be the place to start…and finish…it’s THAT good!


On average, you’ll find the most $5 tables for the longest periods of time at Motorcity.  By the time both MGM and Greektown have long since raised their limits to $10, $15 and $25, you’ll often find at least one or more $5 games still going strong at Mo-City.

As expected, with those low limits comes high crowding, and the most hop and prop action that I have seen anywhere in the Continental United States.   Yes, that statement includes Gary and Hammond and Joliet and Elgin.  As far as I can judge, Detroit’s Motorcity Casino is the undisputed Hop and Prop capital of the universe.

You will find craps tables on the second, third (non-smoking) and fourth floors of this place.  The 4th floor Signature Club craps table is usually set at either $25 or $50.  On the weekend evenings, it often ratchets up to $100 by 8 or 9 pm.

M-C also has some of the noisiest craps table north of the Mason-Dixon line with nearly every Passline, Field, Place-bet, Hop and Prop winner being celebrated by numerous players doing impromptu mock sound-effect bursts of Uzi’s firing into the air.   It’s like being at a Jamaican wedding.   I kid you not!

In General

I didn’t run into a speck of heat from any of the crew, boxmen or pit-dwellers.  However, be prepared for a lot of players getting carried away with interminable voodoo mumbo-jumbo schooling of the dice.  The cheaper the table, the longer it takes.  The higher the bet-minimum, the faster the dice move around the table.  You don’t need two guesses to figure out which tables that I gravitated towards.

Where We Left Off Last Time

In Part Nine of this road trip, our Casino Windsor escapades saw us garner:

      An average profit of $178 per hand (a 54.7% return-on-investment) from the $25 Don’t-Pass with 12x ($300) Odds bet.


      The $290 All-Across-Lay bet generated a net-average of $101 in per-hand profit for a 34.8% return-on-investment.


Here in Detroit, I wanted to focalize my attention on eliminating the two specific numbers that had been most instrumental in reducing the net-profit from those across-the-board lay-wagers.

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

By primitively tracking which box-numbers were most frequently showing up unintentionally, thereby bearing the primary responsibility for most of my lay-bet losses, and then eliminating them from my All-Across Lay-wagers; I figured I could reduce inadvertent mid-hand Lay-bet losses by about 70%.

Here’s how I did that primitive lay-number-loss in-casino tracking at Casino Windsor:

      I laid six $1 chips face-up and side-by-side in my rail space to represent the six box-numbers.


      Each time I inadvertently threw one of those box-numbers and knocked off one of my All-Across lay-bets, I put an additional $1 chip onto its corresponding pile.


      I was accidentally hitting and unintentionally knocking off ~1.4 Lay-bets during each hand. 


      At the end of each of my eight Casino Windsor sessions, I tallied up the unmeditated hit-rate for each box-number. 


      If you use this method, and one or more of your lay-bet-loss tracking-piles gets to be five white-chips high, then simply replace the five white $1 chips with one $5 chip and continue to add on $1 chips until the stack gets to represent ten inadvertent lay-bet-loss hits for a particular number, in which case you would remove the five additional $1 cheques that are currently stacked on the $5 chip and simply replace them with another $5 one. 


      At the end of your session, make a note of how many of each box-numbers you inadvertently hit.  When you tabulate those totals across several sessions, you’ll get a pretty good sense of where the majority of your Lay-bet losses are going to.


      Of the 66 unintentional Lay-bet box-number losses that I incurred over eight Casino Windsor sessions; the Lay-6 and Lay-8 accounted for almost 70% of them.  Clearly something had to be done about that!


I therefore decided to eliminate those two biggest Lay-bet culprits from my All-Across bet regimen, UNLESS one of them became the PL-Point, in which case I would simply change my dice-set to specifically reflect the fact that either the 6 or 8 was now my anti-PL-Point 7-Out target.

For example;

      If my PL-Point is 6 or 8, then I now use the Parallel-Sixes (P-6) set which only has one each of either of those numbers on-axis.  Combined with it’s O/A compliment of four 7’s, I knew that my chances of registering a 7-Out win before knocking off either my PL-Point or it’s Lay-bet twin, was greatly enhanced. 


      My arrangement for the P-6 set is to arrange them in an All-7’s configuration (6/1, 3/4, 1/6, 4/3).


      Whereas, when my PL-Point is 5 or 9, then I use the Straight-Sixes (S-6) arrangement in its own All-7’s (6/1, 5/2, 1/6, 2/5) configuration. 


      With no On-axis 5’s or 9’s on the S-6 set, it usually makes quick work in terms of finding a 7-Out before I can do too much unintentional box-number damage to my lay-bets or my DP-Point. 


If the PL-Point is neither a 6 or 8; then,

      I take all the money that I formerly laid against the 6 and 8, and instead, heap it on the Lay-5 and Lay-9.


This does two things:

      First, it reduces my chances of unintentionally hitting those two O/A 6’s and 8’s with the same S-6 set that have thus far reduced my profit by accounting for nearly 70% of my Lay-bet losses.


      Secondly, it simultaneously increases my net-profit on the two box-numbers that I know I can avoid the most with the S-6 set; so I make the Lay-5 and Lay-9 become my primary power-wagers.


Thus my Darkside betting for the three Detroit area casinos shaped up like this:

      I kept my Don’t Pass line-bets at the $25 base level for this entire segment of the road trip. 


      Likewise, I used maximum Odds no matter what my anti-Point was.


      I modified my $290 All-Across-Lay into what I would dub the Mostly-Across-Lay.


For this portion of my Darkside shooting experiment, my Lay-bets were now re-configured as follows:

      Lay $50 each against the 4 and 10.  At 1:2, each number pays $25 when you 7-Out.


      Lay $90 each against the 5 and 9.  At 2:3, each number pays $60 when you 7-Out.


      To reflect my wanting to avoid as many unintentional lay-bet losers as possible, I foresaked betting against both the 6 and 8, except when either of those was my DP-Point.


      If either the 6 or 8 became the PL-Point, then I backed my DP line-bet with full-Odds as well as laying $60 against its sister number and immediately switching to the P-6 dice-set to beckon a quick 7-Out.  At 5:6, each $60 lay-bet against the 6 or 8 pays $50 when you 7-Out.


      Obviously too, when either the 6 or 8 became the Point, I reduced the 5 and 9 back to their normal levels of $60 each.


To cover all those numbers except your DP-Point, you’ll be looking at putting out either $190, $230 or $280 on the layout (depending on your DP-Point) plus a vigorish ranging from $4 to $9 to cover the commission. 

It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

So I’m wheeling my Newport Pagnell chariot into MotorCity’s parking lot with Bowling For Soup using every one of the 800 watts that it takes to do aural justice to “Ohio…come back to Texas” when I pull in beside a quartet of Fiddy-cent look-alikes from 8-Mile Road as they bail from their spinner-equipped first-gen Escalade. 

For a second, I’ll admit that I considered looking for another parking space…in a different zip code…but when one of them flashed a brand-appreciative diamond-toothed smile, I realized he had more value riding in his mouth than I had parked on my set of Avon rubber, so all five of us headed towards the casino entrance together while discussing the not-so-nuanced differences between ostrich, alligator, armadillo, and stingray upholstery versus traditional Bridge of Weir leather. 

It turns out that two of them were engineering-majors who could intelligently discuss the latest developments in foamed structural amorphous alloys and multi-transitioning composites, not to mention the fact that all four of them were craps players too; so the afternoon turned out to be a conversationally serendipitous one as well as being advantage-play profitable.

“This Man Knows What He’s Doing…I’m Betting What He’s Betting”

The only uncrowded table at Motorcity was set at $25.  All five of us joined two other players who were already in action there. 

      My first hand was okay.  It took four post Point-establishing rolls before I 7’d-out.  Three out of those four rolls belonged to the 6 and 8 (the other was a double-pitched S-6 set 12-midnight).

      My second hand took slightly less rolls, and again the only box-numbers that showed up were the 6 or 8.  My decision to eliminate those two numbers from my Mostly-Across lay-bet play was already showing its efficacy.

      My third hand ran a bit longer than the first two hands combined, but most of those point-cycle outcomes fell into the “trash” (2, 3, 11 and 12) category, so the Lay-bets against my now-narrowed range of box-numbers (4, 5, 9, and 10) were left unharmed.

I quickly started to like the reduced frustration and increased profitability that my newly narrowed range of Lay-bets offered compared to the amount of money that I would have lost to inadvertent hits against the Lay-6 and Lay-8 bets if I had stubbornly clung to the All-Across-Lay method.

It took a couple of rotations around the table before my 8 Mile pals realized what it was I was aiming to do with my active darkside wagers.  After getting their Do-side bets whacked for the fourth time, one of them piped up and said, “This man knows what he’s doing…I’m betting what he’s betting”.  With that, all three of his accomplices followed suit.

The mood almost immediately changed.  I 7’d-Out on the next roll as if on cue.  As the dice made their quick lap around the table, they asked a stream of questions related to Darkside betting and I obliged with answers while steadily reminding them that we were still in a casino after all, so any type of betting still involved considerable risk and there was always an overriding threat of loss for any money that was ventured on the table.

After another two or three dozen quick DP wins, the two original players left in search of warmer climes since they ardently refused to switch over to take advantage of what was clearly manifesting itself as the mother of all cold streaks.

To their credit, they each tried their hand at darkside-shooting.  Though it proved to be only marginally successful (as they continually knocked off most of their Lay-bets before finally 7’ing-Out), they understood the idea of using the most powerful number (the 7) to clobber all the other numbers on the layout.  I studiously avoided betting anything on them for the most part, but I did make a token DP line-wager every time the player to my immediate right got the dice.   It wasn’t absolutely necessary, but I didn’t want it to become an issue.  The pit-guys were showing very little interest in the game other than to do a quick chip-rail check every once in a while.

Our session stretched right up to the casino’s evening shift-change before all five of us headed off to a fully comped dinner at M-C’s Iridescence.  They were a great bunch of guys; I mean, an appreciation for fine cars, fine women, fine food and the fine game of craps; what more does it take to make for good dinner conversation?

We had what seemed like an endless stream of Lobster Martini’s until the Atlantic Ocean called to let us know they were running short, so we dug into the main course of coffee-bean dusted and cognac splashed Stockyard rib-eyes, and then finished everything off with Marsala-drizzled pannacotta and Ambr Charente.

My dinner-mates wouldn’t even let me contribute to the generous 30% tip that was left for the wait-staff.  They insisted that there was no way they were going to let me spend any of my profit after providing them with so much of theirs.  I didn’t put up too much resistance to that kind of logic.

Detroit Casinos 5-Day Trial

Here’s a summary of how I did with my modified Mostly-Across-Lay experiment:


Experiment Duration:

Five days

Total Playing Time: 33.6 hours
Sessions Played: Fourteen (14)
Average Session Duration: ~2.4 hours
Average Dice-Cyclic Rate: ~20 minutes for the dice to cycle around back to me, however this number is very misleading in that I moved around from table to table very frequently and I often had a spot “saved” or reserved at two, three or more tables at the same time.

If I had to patiently wait for the dice to cycle around at one table, then the cyclic rate would have been just over one hour per shooting opportunity. 

In addition, I mostly sought out the highest denomination table in these casinos simply because they were the sparsest populated.

Type of Bets: $25 Don’t Pass w/Full Odds and

$190, $230 or $280 Mostly-Across-Lay

Total Hands thrown:  Ninety-eight (98)
Unintended Point-Repeaters: Six (6).  In each case, I retained the dice, and replaced my DP line-bet along with full Odds against the second PL-Point. There were no occasions during this experiment when I unintentionally repeated the anti-Point twice.
Adjusted DP-Point Hands

One-Hundred & Four (104)

This accounts for the total number of times I had a DP-Point to beat.  That is, the 98 original Points plus the 6 times I unintentionally repeated the Point and inadvertently caught a second Point to defeat as well.

Total Win from DP w/Odds: $11,775
Avg. Win from DP w/Odds: $113  (based on 104 total hands)
When averaged over the actual 98 dice-handle-hands that it took to generate this income, the average increases to $120/turn-with-the-dice.
Unintended Lay-Outcomes Forty-two (42)
This is the total number of times that I threw an unintended box-number during the point-cycle which knocked off that particular Lay-bet.  I did not replace any lost box-number lay-bets during a hand.     If I didn’t have an active bet on a box-number that just rolled, then I did not count it as an unintentional hit.

I kept track of these numbers as set out above.

Avg. Lay-Losses/Hand: 0.43 Mostly-Across box-numbers per hand.
This figure does not include the six times when I accidentally repeated the PL-Point, nor does it include the 98 initial point-establishing rolls.  Instead, it specifically includes any mid-roll point-cycle outcomes that extinguished any of my active Mostly-Across lay-bets.

This represents a substantial reduction from the 1.4 box-numbers per hand that I was inadvertently throwing in Windsor.

Avg. Loss/Lay-Bet: $65 including vigorish
This was my average loss-per-bet where a Lay-bet gets unintentionally knocked off. 
Avg. Lay-Bet Loss/Hand $28 including vigorish
This was my average Lay-bet loss-per hand and accounts for the fact that on average I only knocked off 0.43 Lay-bets per hand.
Total Net-Win from Lay-Bets: $12,446 (after commission)
Avg. Lay-Bet Win/Hand: $127
By eliminating the lion’s share of unintentional lay-bet losses (by mostly eliminating the 6 and 8 from my betting regimen unless one or the other was my DP-Point); my win-rate came much closer to its theoretical perfect-world potential earnings.
Combined Bet-Strategy Win: $24,221
This is the total net-win from my DP w/full-Odds income when combined with the $190, $230 or $280 Mostly-Across-Lay-bet revenue.
Avg. Combined Profit/Hand: $247/turn-with-the-dice



I won’t get into all the places that I eat at when I’m in Detroit, but here are a few highlights worthy of mentioning:

      Greektown’s Alley Grille Steakhouse has some extraordinary charbroiled Kurobuta Porkchops that raises the act of eating swine to a whole new level.

      Greektown’s Grapevine Caf has the famous 16-ounce S.O.B burger, where if you eat it all; dessert is on them.  From personal experience I can highly recommend the free strawberry shortcake, the apple pie, the carrot cake, and the raspberry cheesecake. Did I mention that I really like burgers?

      Since some of the “classics” at MGM’s Brown Derby are so classic, a first-time visitor is almost obligated to try out the items that have made the Derby famous for all these years.   Starting with a Cobb Salad, intermezzoed with tableside Steak Diane and finished with Upside Down Grapefruit Cake; makes your visit complete, albeit, you’ll probably be too full to play with any alacrity at the craps table. 

Players Club Cards and Comps

 MGM Grand’s Players Club is now fully linked to most of the other casinos in the MGM-Mirage family.  That means comps are not only transferable between each of them; it also means that you don’t have to “re-establish yourself” at one of them even if you’ve never played there before.  Since your play-history is instantly reviewable, you can get the same level of comps here that you are used to getting at their other properties even if you’ve never visited Detroit before.

The basic Club Greektown players card is pretty much the same as you’ll experience at any other casino, while their Torch Club card gets you access the VIP Pantheon Club high-limit room from Sunday through Thursday as well as giving you priority cashier access and VIP valet parking.

Ultimately, you’ll want the Pantheon Club card in order to gain round-the-clock access to the Pantheon Club high-limit room and their premium free food P-Club Lounge.

Additionally, Greektown is a member of the Sault Tribe's Kewadin Casinos family, which includes five other gaming properties in northern Michigan (Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Manistique, Hessel, and Christmas).  That means that your players points are recognized and redeemable at any of their other properties, but just as importantly, you can use your rating at any of their other casinos to snag yourself some comps at Greektown even if you’ve never played there before.

Motor City’s basic Club Metro is your usual run of the mill players club.  However, once you receive VIP status, you simply swipe your card at their Caf, Buffet or Deli, and your food order is fully comped; so there is never a need to ask for a comp or wonder if you have enough accumulated play.  Once you reach that level, you just swipe and eat.

M-C’s Signature Club Elite status adds free Tigers, Lions and Pistons tickets to your entertainment and sporting event menu as well as the usual de rigueur premium offerings.  It also gives you access to a fine 12’ craps table in their Signature Club high-roller area.

A special note about Motor City’s Club Metro Coinless concept.  

As many casinos convert their slot machines to coinless operations, they adopt the TiTo ticket-in, ticket-out method.  At M-C, they are adding a ticketless feature to their coinless slots whereby your slot credits are credited right back to your P.I.N.-protected slot card.  The reason I mention this is because they are also considering converting some of their table games, including craps, to this cashless method.  Not only does it speed up buying into a game (because actual cash does not have to be counted down), and fewer game-interrupting chip-fills are needed.   We’ll keep an eye on this idea to see if and when it is adopted at the craps table.


I actually spent much more time in Detroit than I had planned to.

I originally budgeted just two days of my time, but all the tables that I played on were rolling so exceptionally well; that I extended the Detroit leg of this trip to three days, then to four days and finally to five full days. 

The Mostly-Across-Lay Method was generating money much more efficiently than I had anticipated.  While my daily profit was in line with what I was hoping for; the ease at which it came was not.  I thought I’d have to fight nearly twice as long at much more crowded tables to make anywhere near as much as I actually did.

I left Detroit in the rearview mirror with a renewed sense of profit-making enthusiasm.  The lower-population shooting opportunities that its high-end tables offered, suggested that a hasty return definitely needed to be scheduled in. 

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tablesand in Life. 


The Mad Professor

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