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Adapting to Tables
Part Two

I’ve long said that if you use the same one throw to the same target of every craps table the results will almost always vary.

What works great on one table, is a stone-cold loser on another. We initially explored this subject in Adapting to Tables - Part I

In our continuing quest to derive as much consistency out of this game, we have to adapt to the tables.  That may mean increasing or decreasing the trajectory of our throw.  It may mean lowering the speed of our toss, or it may mean relocating our usual target area.

You’ve read a lot about charting trends at a table.  We’ve all heard about charting different shooters.  You won’t hear me knocking either one of those concepts, but here is one more to add to your trend-charting inventory.  How about charting tables from a Precision-Shooters point of view.  

If you play at various tables in your local casino, you’ve probably figured out that you have some favorite target or “sweet-spots” to aim for.   Those are the spots that give you the most predictable, repeatable outcomes from your Precision-Shooting.  You may want to start keeping track of them as your shooting skills progress.

A reader recently wrote in to ask:

My fingers are sensitive enough to notice the weight of the dice.

According to the "Gamblers General Store" catalog, their "Precision Casino Dice 3/4" razor-edge dice weigh 8oz.  However, two different times (Palms & Fitzgeralds) the casinos were using the blue-polished dice, and they switched to the amber-polished dice.  When I picked them up I felt a lighter sensation; also the dice reacted different, more active and bouncier.  So anytime I see those amber dice I stay away.  Is this a mental thing or do the dice vary in weight, density or something.  I also noticed a different “bounce” between the polished red dice and the red sand-finish ones at the Suncoast Casino.

For example, MP, I was at Fitzgerald's using the blue dice.  I had a good roll going and the table filled up.  They opened the other table, so I went over so I could shoot again.  They had those amber dice, and couldn't do well, even after several different attempts in various locations.  In the meantime, the first table cleared, so I went back to that table.  They too had switched to amber.  I rolled the same and hit the same target as before, but had much different results. 

Mad Professor, what do you think, and have you experienced this?

My response to this obviously talented and very observant reader is as follows:

First, to realize that every casino and their respective tables present a unique set of challenges and opportunities is commendable.  To do so puts a player well on their way to improving their profit potential IF you can adapt your play to these varying conditions.

Let me also tell you here and now that this gentleman who wrote in, is indeed on the right track.  Those damned yellow/amber/clear dice at Fitzgeralds are some of the worst going. When you combine those with their very unforgiving long and unpadded tables, good rolls are a rarity at The Fitz.  Some people do well there, and that is great.  The fact that their two tables are THAT difficult, make it one place that I avoid playing at.  Although I will admit that when I’m playing downtown Las Vegas, I make it a point to drop into their little coffee-bar just inside the easternmost entrance off of Freemont Street for a flavored coffee from one of my favorite cuties.  However, even the strongest coffee in the world isn’t powerful enough to convince me to put my bankroll in harms way at this casino.  It’s a tough place to make money, and I figure there are plenty of much easier ones to pick from twelve of the other downtown casinos.

One further note about Fitzgeralds.  They are under new management.  The same dealers are still there, and they are a fine group of individuals.  I am told that their land-barge sized tables are going to be replaced with shorter ones.  Perhaps by the time you read this; they will already be in place.  You can be sure that I’ll re-introduce them back into my casino-rotation once their new furniture arrives.

Let’s talk about adapting to various dice for a moment.

When you have dice of the same dimension but of different weights, it means that the curing process and the resultant specific-gravity of the dice is different.   By varying the curing times and the compression pressures, the two main dice manufacturers (Paul-Son and Bud Jones) can give a casino-corporation custom sets of dice.  The only caveat is that ALL dice from the same cellulose slab have to be of the same specs.  They get about 1150 dice out of each serial-numbered slab.   The slab has it’s own “source” twelve-digit serial number.  Each slab is then cut into machinable 24-inch “wands”, where several sticks of five dice each are produced from it. Most, but not all five-dice sticks have their own unique four-digit serial number.

By the way, you will find that the red-colored and black-colored dice usually have the highest density and resultant weight; while the white, yellow and clear dice usually have the lightest weight and lowest density (specific-gravity).  The blue colored dice are somewhere in the middle of the pack, and there are light, medium and dark blue variants, just as there are clear, frosted and opaque versions available.  There are plenty of options that a casino can choose from when ordering their dice-lots. 

Weight differences are due to the varying amounts of curing catalyst that is used in the hardening/drying process.  If you talk to a professional auto-painter, they will tell you that red, black and dark gray paint has the longest curing times.  It is likewise with dice. 

Different dice manufacturers using different chemical compositions at achieve everything from "super-ball bouncers" to "dead-cat stiffs."   Likewise, different milling techniques, finishing (polishing) compounds and acid-etching all contribute to the final appearance of the dice.  The only thing they all have in common is that they package the dice in those foil-wrapper logs, and they all use corn-starch as an anti-sticking agent prior to packing.

There is a good discussion of this “dicey” subject in one of Irishsetter’s excellent Precision Shooter E-Newsletters.  It’s probably worth a re-read, because Heavy and some of the other contributors cover the subject quite well.

So don't worry, you are not imagining things.  Dice have different weights, different colored dice have various bounce characteristics, and of course, as the table felt ages, they all combine to produce a mixture of results. 

Yes, you have to adapt to all of these conditions, and you have to continue adapting as conditions change from shift to shift, day to day, and casino to casino.  

It doesn’t mean that you have to change your entire dice delivery method.  Your stance and set still remain the same.  What does change is SMALL, and I mean VERY small changes to the force in which you throw the dice, and to your target area as well.  In addition, the arc of your release and subsequent touchdown of the dice will sometimes have to be varied, but again the changes are usually VERY small and subtle.

Now I know that there are a number of proponents that will tell you to throw the dice exactly the same way EVERY time that the dice are in your hands.  That advice is not entirely wrong.  In fact, it’s darn well pretty much correct.  However, each table has to be “dialed-in” as to how the dice are reacting to your throw. 

If your “perfect” throw isn’t perfect on this particular table where you have real money at stake; well you can either adapt or perish.  That’s not a new concept. 

Dinosaurs are no longer here because they couldn’t adapt to a changing environment, but those animals and other fauna that DID adapt are still among us.  Go figure! 

Being huge and in charge of your territory like a dinosaur does not mean that you are necessarily right.  Just because you have the perfect pitch on your home practice layout, does not always equate to profitable success in the real-world casino.  We have to adapt to “their” casino-world, or you, and your hard-earned bankroll will soon become extinct.

If you don’t think that it’s necessary to “dial-in” your shooting to various tables conditions and dice variants; then prepare yourself for the eternal damnation of the casinos modern-day version of the dinosaur-swallowing tar-pit.  It’s called bankruptcy, and they’ll be more than happy to deliver your non-adapting dice-setting ass right to it.

The reader mentioned the Palms Casino in another of his e-mail questions. 

He said:

You already know that the new Palms Casino uses 3/4" dice with the smaller back-wall pyramids, and different textured felt as well.  Harrah's uses 11/16" dice with the larger pyramids.  Are these more little tricks for us to contend with?

Now The Palms a felt layout that is quite deceiving.  It’s not only made of a low-nap polyester/wool blend fabric; it also has diagonal stripes across it.  To some people, it lends a little eye-confusion to their shooting.  For others, the loud pop/rock music that was formerly only found in the Hard Rock Casino at such volumes can now be found here.  Music volume is “shift-dependant”, and can make “bet-calling” a little more difficult especially for those who are getting a little older or who listened to too much Humble Pie, Traffic, and Black Sabbath during the ‘70’s, man!  Music volume combined with the diagonal stripes may be one more thing that should factor in to your adapting to The Palms tables.

As to the subject of different sized dice, well, this one is a little easier.   For the smaller dice, the 1/16” difference can be compensated for by “closing up” your grip a little more.  Instead of squeezing the dice tighter, just move your fingers ever so closer together.  I think that you’ll find that this does the trick.

I have seen a trend in some of the newer casinos like The Palms and Green Valley Resort where they are using the “smaller” pyramid back-wall material.  What is most interesting about this move is that the material is also markedly softer than the more traditional “bigger” pyramids. 

The predominant thinking up until now, was to make the pyramid material nearly as hard and dense as possible to mirror the hardness of the table surface.   This newer “small” pyramid material is VERY soft and the amount of dice deflection and rebound is now MUCH lower. 

I haven’t had too many sessions at either of these two casinos, but my preliminary results are very promising, especially for getting a “dead-cat bounce” off of the wall.  As you know, bouncing the dice off of the back-wall is not my regular way to play.  However, if the table is affording me some good money-making opportunities by throwing the dice about six inches in front of the wall; letting them bounce onto the wall at about four inches from the table surface; and then finally having them fall dead about two inches from the wall; then so be it.  I’ll collect my winning Place bet or Pass Line bet just like every other player who is happy to be on the winning side of a wager.

I want to thank that reader for sending in such a well thought out set of questions.  He, and I hope you, are entering that rarified zone where very few people will ever enter.  When you start taking the game this seriously, serious profit usually isn't too far behind.

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

The Mad Professor

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