By Mike in Hawaii
Since the DI crowd are going to apparently read
DI into every point I try to make about Craps, I thought I should quit trying to
random walk around the subject. So here is what I think based on a lot of time
spent on the subject. In fact it was Dice Control on Beau's website
www.dicecoach.com that revived my
interest in Craps. I started out determined to debunk the entire subject and
reveal it for the toxic snake oil it obviously was. But it did not turn out that
First let's define terms. I hate the term Dice
Influence. Sounds like telekinesis. Now I am much in favor of telekinesis and
would love for it to exist, but sadly the reproducible scientific evidence for
it has proven evasive. So let's mark that off the list of things we are talking
So I am going to call it Dice Control.
There is a well established method of Dice
Control known as the "Army Blanket Toss". It is cheating. I would not be
surprised if you could be prosecuted for it. Most likely it would be detected in
any casino almost immediately and you would at least be ejected. One or both
dice are not actually thrown, but skimmed across the surface so they just slide
down in the same orientation they started. Can be learned with practice, is
effective, but cheating. So let's mark that off the list of things we are
At this point I spent some time working on a
simple concept. If Dice Control exists, there must be some physical explanation
for how it works. Surprisingly, I came up with one.
It should be possible to throw the dice in such
a way that they proceed through the air in formation, without yaw, perhaps with
axial rotation around a single common horizontal axis, strike the felt squarely
enough and hit the pyramid rubber soft enough to preserve some information about
how they were initially orientated, some percentage of the time.
The numbers on the horizontal axis would thus be
"disallowed" and the 36 possible outcomes would be skewed some percentage of the
The next question was "would this matter?" Would
the effect be uselessly scattered about, or would it focus on a useful subset of
numbers? Would the level of control required to give a useful percentage
enhancement be within the realm of reason, something a person could learn and
After some time and lots of spreadsheets and
tests and further thought and C programs, I came to the conclusion that simple
axial dice control was a learnable skill. I was lead to believe dice control
could be mastered to a level where it would usefully influence certain aspects
of the distribution of the 36 possible outcomes in a potentially exploitable
Overall I figure one can be looking at 1% to 2%
de-randomization of the results. Given that house advantage on the Pass Line is
about 1.41%, that is worth thinking about.
Next time I will give examples of calculating
given levels of dice control on some example dice sets. It is tricky to go from
a statement like "I can control the dice one out of every ten rolls" and
translate that into its effect on the distribution of the numbers that really
count, the total on the top of two dice. For now suffice it to say that when I
am talking about 1% to 2% de-randomization of the results, it is going to take a
lot more than controlling 1 or 2 rolls successfully out of every 100 throws. It
is not that easy.
From here people get a bit crazy on the entire
subject. Sets and their mystical properties abound, along with facial control
and more voodoo than your average new age crystal and aroma therapy store.
I was prompted to work on set analysis because
much of what I saw written about dice sets and their properties seems to just be
made up and not really computed out based on reasonable assumptions. It is very
important to know exactly what a given dice set is going to do with a given
amount of control. If you don't, you have no way of knowing how to adjust your
betting pattern to profit from such control.
But, clearly, Dice Control has a potentially
sound physical basis. It is clearly a learnable skill. It can de-randomize the
36 total possibilities in ways that can be exploited, probably in the 1% to 2%
range. Even allowing for all the problems with points digging into the felt and
sending dice wildly spinning and flipping off into space, impacts with chips and
overly enthusiastic encounters with the pyramid rubber, it is still possible to
believe that, some percentage of the time, the dice will be de-randomized.
So let's take that as read.
One thing you must realize is even the best Dice
Control artist is a random roller. Viewed over time, their performance from roll
to roll will be a "random walk" around a baseline same as everyone else's.
What do we mean by a "Random Walk"?
Suppose you begin a session of Craps and you
start making bets. On each throw of the dice you may win, lose or be unaffected.
If you plot your results for each roll, one after the other, you will be taking
a "step" forward with each roll. If you win, you will step forward and up, if
you lose, you will step forward and down. If you are unaffected, you will step
After the session when you look at your plot it
will be a "random walk". Hopefully you will take more steps upwards toward the
profit side than you do downward towards the loss side. You may wander off
towards the down side a fair amount, and then turn around and wander back into
positive territory. Or you may wander positive a bit, only to take a turn for
the worse and start relentlessly marching negative.
Just like someone taking a field sobriety test,
you will be trying to walk down a straight line we call the "baseline". That
line represents the long term average expectation. If the game were totally
square, if all bets were even money, the baseline would be flat. In fact it
would be heading off towards infinity right at zero. Such games are called "zero
If there is no dice control involved, the
baseline will slope downwards at a rate determined by the type of bets you are
making and what their composite house advantage is. If you are just making pass
line bets without odds, that downward slope will be minus 1.41%. If you walked
forever, infinite steps, you would wander away from this baseline in both
positive and negative directions, sometimes just a bit, sometimes rather far
away. But when the long term average was computed, you would find, on average,
that you have drifted 1.41% negative, to the loss side.
In a good session, you will take a couple of
nice steps in the positive direction and get above the baseline. Then you will
implement a money management scheme to ensure that if your results start to
wander back towards the baseline, giving back all your nice profits, you will
quit, while you are ahead.
In a bad session, you will take an unfortunate
excess of steps in the negative direction and wander off towards ruin. Again a
decent money management scheme will catch you at your preset loss limit and
demand that you quit while you can still afford the loss. Leaving you with
bankroll to play another, hopefully more positive, day.
The Dice Control artist is a random roller just
like everyone else. They will random walk around a baseline. But if they
actually have Dice Control, their baseline will not only be determined by the
composite house advantage on the bets they are making, but also on how their
Dice Control is affecting their personal advantage on the bets they are making.
Thus their baseline may have a flatter slope, or
even one that rises slowly from roll to roll. They may even have a steeper
downward slope if they have not done their homework and matched their dice
set to their personal control, and then matched their betting strategy to how
their personal control combines with their dice set selection to change what
really matters. What really matters? The distribution of the numbers, the sum of
the two dice from roll to roll.
The steeper the positive or negative slope of
the baseline, the quicker your random walk is going to drift, on average,
positive or negative. The more you risk on each bet, the bigger the steps
positive or negative you are going to be taking on each roll.
If you make bets with lousy house advantage,
your baseline is going to slope downwards more sharply than someone making bets
with lower house advantage. You can still win, but you must overcome a larger
negative bias than someone focusing on the lower house advantage bets.
If you can adjust your bankroll to account for
the increased average size of your bets, and start taking single or double odds,
you can flatten out your baseline relative to just betting the pass line by
itself. It is entirely possible that changing to taking double odds on your pass
line bets could flatten out your baseline, remove more of its negative slope,
than weak dice control can offer in the way of an advantage.
Plus dice control only works when you are
shooting, whereas a change in your betting strategy to change the slope of the
baseline by reducing the composite house advantage on the bets you are making is
going to work every time you bet.
So let's examine the article on “Free Odds
Fallacy”. (Dice Setter Newsletter – October 2006
http://www.dicesetter.com/newsletter/2006/newsOctober_06.htm) The point was
that when you take odds, you change the amount of money on average, which you
are putting at risk. Your random walk will take bigger steps. The point I was
trying to make was you absolutely had to increase the size of the area you were
going to walk in by increasing your bankroll appropriately or you would greatly
increase the chances that you would bust out before your fortunes could wander
back into decent positive territory.
That is, you have to now allow for bigger
negative excursions during a session by having a bigger bankroll to start with.
The dip you may have to outlast to get back into winning territory may be
The Dice Control artist has the same problem.
The center or baseline of their random walk may be a bit flatter, but not by
much. And if they start taking odds, they will take the very same, larger steps
due to the increased size of their average bets. If they do not increase their
bankroll appropriately, they will run the same significantly increased chance of
busting out before getting ahead.
Remember Dice Control artists only get to
control the dice when they are shooting. And there are typically more than a few
people around a Craps table. So they only get to use their talent a percentage
of the time in a given Craps session. When they do use their talent it only
changes the slope of the baseline around which they are random walking. And not
by much. Even with Dice Control, Craps is still a game of chance.
Everyone should learn Dice
However, I am prepared to state flatly that
every serious Craps player should learn dice control. They should learn the
technique and practice a decent throw. Preferably they should be shown and
coached by an expert at least once.
It is essential to have a smooth, practiced and
reproducible throw. It is worthwhile to think about each throw of the dice. It
is worthwhile to observe other shooters to see if they show signs of having
It keeps your head in the game. It keeps you
focused on business. And that alone is an important thing.
But, and this is a big BUT, it is vastly more
important to learn and use money management including setting win goals, loss
limits, using reserves and lockups to ratchet forward any winning session.
It is more important to know house advantages on
individual bets and composite house advantages on positions (groups of bets made
in parallel). All other things being equal, a strategy based on lower house
advantage bets will usually financially do better.
Of course the Dice Control specialist would
point out that when they are shooting they get an even flatter baseline or even
one that rises slightly due to their de-randomization of the dice. I can agree
with that. But again, they only get to shoot a percentage of the time, so it is
more important to take care of the larger issues first.
It is more important to be involved in the flow
of the game and disciplined enough to quit if a table or session is going south
on you. Above all, you must never go on tilt and stray from a tight grip on your
If you don't do this, you will become worse than
a random roller, you will become a Casino's favorite thing in the entire world.
"A Random Gambler”.
Dice Control is like a good golf swing. Every
golfer needs to learn a decent swing. I cannot believe some of the hacking I
have seen on the golf course! I swear you cannot tell if they are trying to hit
the ball or kill a rattlesnake. Expensive clubs, fancy golf carts, and fat
green's fees, they have. But the ability to swing in a somewhat reasonable way
at a golf ball is a thing they somehow failed to invest in, along the way.
And now my favorite golf joke:
Three golfers were out playing on an Oklahoma
course one Sunday morning when a terrible thunder and lightning storm came up.
Lightning was hitting all around.
Two of the golfers dove into a shallow ditch and
curled up far away from their bag of metal shafted clubs. Suddenly they noticed
the third member of their party standing in the middle of the fairway holding a
long iron straight up directly over his head.
"Are you crazy? What are you doing?" they
"I am perfectly safe," their friend said calmly.
"Even God can't hit a one iron."
Back on track. Just like a decent golf swing is
just a part of playing par or better golf, a decent dice throw, with or without
significant dice control, is just a part of the overall approach required for
Perhaps that is a bad example. A decent golf
swing is fairly essential to a decent golf game. Fortunately, being able to hit
a one iron is not.
A decent dice throw is rather far down on the
list. Behind money management, knowledge of house advantage and betting
strategies, monitoring game flow and its associated discipline to act on what
you see and feel happening around you.
As I tried to show in my article, Distance
Between Sevens, (published October 2006, Playing 4 Keeps Newsletter
www.playing4keeps.com ) a given
Craps session is very likely to be aberrant and not follow long term
probabilities. It will be a small chunk of a random walk. It is very important
to try to figure out which way it is headed, and "what is wrong with this
picture". Then adapt your play accordingly, to match the direction that the game
Clearly there are lots of people on both sides
of the Dice Influencing question. But show me just ONE Craps shooter that does
not believe in trends, hot streaks and cold tables. Or even (cringe) Sevens
PS: I am absolutely mathematically certain there
is life on other planets.
Copyright 2006 Mike In Hawaii