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 Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter     

Volume I : Issue X - Abridged

March 2002

First, allow me to apologize for the tardiness of this month's newsletter.  I've been a bit overwhelmed, first in preparation for the March 23rd event, then trying to recuperate from it.  More on the dicesetter.com /Sharpshooter weekend later in the newsletter.   In other news, I seem to have lost my web site re-designer, so the re-launch of the site has been delayed.  I believe I've found someone else to do it so hopefully by the summer, you'll have a new site to navigate.  In the meantime, I'll continue to maintain and update the site as often as possible.

I'll be rolling out a new contributor in April, so keep an eye out for that.  It's a name you'll recognize and he has a unique perspective I think you'll enjoy.

Sharpshooter - Dicesetter.com Weekend In Las Vegas!
craps.jpg (44645 bytes)
A Retrospective

"The Weekend."  I'm not sure it could have been any more of a success.  It was an honor and a privilege to meet so many of you who I'd only previously known as a moniker or email address.  Prior to leaving I told a friend of mine some of the nicknames of those attending, Heavy, LongArm, Billy Parlay, Dominator, Engineer.... He said that it sounded more like a mob gathering than a dice class.  Anyway, one of the biggest surprises was that yoscooter could pass as my twin brother.  

Heavy was the guest speaker on Saturday.   His HOW TO TURN A $13 LOSS INTO A $313 LOSS, was fabulous.  I laughed, I cried...I thanked the lord I was ahead.  Seriously though. It was a magnificent lecture on an important topic.  One of the high points of the weekend.   (I just wish he'd written it down so I could post it for everyone to enjoy.)

Even after a long day of classroom instruction, once class was dismissed many of the participants stayed and practiced their throw in the practice boxes under the watchful eye of several of the Team Coordinators.   There were definitely some dedicated shooters in attendance.

One last note from "The Weekend".  Sharpshooter's book is available for pre-order!


A Dicey Situation
A roundtable discussion about dice with Heavy, Engineer, South Shore Swamie, Billy, Just Mike F & Mad Professor


I also prefer the sand finish.  Seems to me that they "stick" to the table better with the old 'dead cat' drop.  I think many casinos prefer the gloss/clear dice because it's easier to spot a gaffed die.  You may not be aware of this - but in addition to the serial number printed on the outside of the dice, many of the clear dice have a "key" hidden inside.  Isle of Capri, in particular, uses keyed dice.  The key is generally a letter or number written on the back/inside of one of the spots on the dice.  You have to peer through the die to see it.  The most common placement for the key is behind the middle pip on the three-spot.  Flip a clear die over with the four side up and look through it - you may find a key there.  Anyway, this is another tool casinos use to make sure dice have not been switched out by players.  
There are also different edges available on casino dice.  You can get the razor edges or feathered edges.  I have not run across the feathered edges anywhere - so I cannot speak to how they interact with the felt.  
Then you get into the differences in the pips, themselves.  Most common is the flush pip.  The dice are drilled slightly and then the hole is filled with paint of the same weight/specific gravity of the dice.  The other two types you are likely to run across are the birds-eye and fish-eye spots.  For what its worth - one of the worst sessions I ever had was at an Indian casino using very old and worn birds-eye dice.  Absolutely nothing worked.  
Now, of course, I don't know if it had anything to do with the dice - or the fact that I was tired and couldn't seem to get it together.  But since I had such an unfortunate experience I have mentally programmed myself to avoid these babies in the future.   
The mind is a powerful thing - and will find a link even if there is none.


Now I would not pay that much attention to the die myself. Not a lot you can do about it. I'm sort of stuck between two casinos who both use die's that I swear are some kind of metric measurement. My practice die are 3/4 inch just a bit smaller than the ones I play with in the casinos.
I did notice one night a boxman take out a large fresh batch of die and use a ballpoint pen to mark each one by firmly pressing the ballpoint tip between the two rows of threes on the six side of the dice marking each one with a small indentation.

Engineer -  
The dice actually come in three different sizes.  The 3/4" side is preferred by setters because they are easier to grip and control.  Smaller dice are not only more difficult to control - I think they interact differently with the back wall as well.   
There is a guy who collects casino dice who has a lot of info on dice manufacture, etc on his web site.  It is www.diceman.net

South Shore Swamie

Is there web site that you don't know of that has something to do with dice, gambling, Vegas, craps etc? It truly amazes me how you rattle off all these different web sites, I'm assuming off the top of your head..

One question thou: About 6 months ago you posted about dice and you explained what the pin prick (in usually the 4 side) meant, does that mean these dice are retired?? I'm figuring. I can't remember


Usually the pin-pricked dice are found in a bin with a sign that says "authentic" casino dice.  Authentic casino dice are not usually dice that have seen casino play.  They are dice that did not get through quality control at the dice factory.  Many times these dice never even made it through the final stages of production.  Some flaw was found and they threw them in the cull bin - painted on the pips and whatever logo they happened to be stamping - then stick 'em with the pin so they're recognizable as cancelled dice.  Look closely and on some of these dice you can see the scaling where they were being machined - but were discarded before getting the final polish.  
And I read all about that stuff on that same web page - diceman.net. Pretty interesting stuff.  There's another guy - a consulting engineer some place - who has a bunch of dice fu on his web page as well.  Similar stuff.  For the most part these guys are collectors - not players.  
And I can come up with those web pages easily because I've got most of them bookmarked.  I just right click on the bookmark, cut and paste and url.  


I understand what your saying, and thanks for the link. Bigger is supposedly better for grip, and these are definitely larger. Not by much mind you, maybe a thumbnail thicker but larger when next to each other.
Really not complaining!
Then again, I actually think they're slipping in a loaded die when they check'em before handing them over. Maybe it's just me.
In truth our real enemy is cubism, I was always a surrealist.


Before our Vegas trip I did a small experiment with some of the dice I have at home. I know a guy that works for the pro bowlers assn. and I borrowed his durometer. This device is used to test the bowling balls of the pros for hardness so that they can be certain that no one has altered the ball. Bowling balls will test at levels of between 70 and 95 on this scale to give you a reference. I tested 15 different dice of different colors and finishes. What I found was that they ranged much like the bowling balls with a low of 69 and high of 81.By the way the higher the number the harder the surface.

For the most part the softer...translate to bouncier?...dice were the polished ones and the lighter the colors the softer. The darker colors and sand finishes were generally harder. As you can see the hardness varied 15% or so. I thought that there would be more disparity after tossing some dice that seemed very bouncy and others that seemed very dead.
I don't know how these numbers will affect my shooting or whether there is something else about dice that can make them bounce more or less. If someone has another idea of how to test them another way please speak up so I can do another test on the same dice.

Just Mike F

Billy, I wonder if the weight is more of a factor between the colors of dice rather than hardness.  The hardness might be just a result of added resin or type of resin for instance. I don't have all the different types to have them weighed say in a physics lab or chem. lab under controlled conditions.  I noticed that when I was in Vegas 6 mo. ago every where I went the casinos were using the frosted or opaque dice, but last weekend every casino that I visited were using gloss finish red or deep red dice. I believe you may find the frosted dice the lightest, the more clear red a little heavier, the darker red heaviest.  I don't have experience using blue and green.  


I have been looking for someone with a scale that is sensitive enough to weigh them but haven't found one. I do think you are correct in assuming that because of the resins that some will be heavier.

Mad Professor

The difference in weight and bounce is due to what is called the "specific gravity" of the cellulose resin that is used to make the dice.  Just as a mechanic will measure the specific gravity of antifreeze in a cars radiator to determine the strength of the mixture, so do the engineers at Paul-Son and the other dice manufacturers prior to pouring the liquid resin into the slab molds.
From that point, they use a predetermined amount of "catalyst", which is the hardener that forms and dries the dice into a solid state.  Varying amounts of catalyst determine the hardness of the dice.  In addition, the "curing" process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and from dye (not die) color to dye color.  As the uncut slabs of cellulose cure, they harden.  Different curing times add up to different hardness.  During this process, some manufacturers use curing ovens which vary the temperature and barometric pressure as the slabs dry.
The dye color which determines the color of the die is also a strong influence.  Ask any professional auto-painter, and they will tell you that the darker the color of the paint, the longer it takes for the paint to cure.  We are not talking about "drying time" which is determined by the amount of  "extenders", "reducers", "fish-eye" eliminators, etc.  that are used in the mix.  We are talking about the amount of time that the pain will remain "soft".
Finally, the "milling" or finishing process has an effect on how the dice react to dice table felt.  You are all correct when you think that the "finish" of the dice affect the outcomes.  If you are one of the non-believers then you might want to talk to a golfer about the amount and depth of all those dimples on golf balls.  They are there for a reason, and they determine to how far a ball will travel when hit by a player.  Ever wonder why a golf ball isn't perfectly smooth?  While we don't have to heave the dice 200 or 300 yards, we do have to send them through the air, then have them land and stay on axis.  Dice finish DOES factor into the equation.
So what does this all mean to you and I?
Well, I have to go along with Heavy on this one.  The "matte", "lapped", or "sanded" finish dice give you a lot more control over erratic bouncing over  their "smooth" or "diamond" finish counterparts.  On the other hand, if you use a lower-trajectory throw or the dice leaves your hand a little crooked more often than you intend; then the "glass" finish ones will be a little more forgiving and they will slide quite a bit more than their dull counterparts.
As you can see, it's a continual learning process and a continual adjustment to various playing conditions sort of game.

Let's Get Geographical..

It has been suggested that I open an area on the site where shooters can post contact information about where and when they regularly play and how to get in touch for potential team play.  Great idea!  So here it is!  Team Up Here!

Nextshooter.com update

Our friends over at nextshooter.com have recently updated their site.  They've added a message board, a newsletter and a free area for you to look over.  Craps from the unique perspective of the dealer!   Stop by and say hello.

If you have any comments or ideas for future issues, feel free to email me at ed@dicesetter.com  And as always, I'm looking for contributors with a fresh perspective.

If you know someone who would be interested in receiving future editions of Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter,  copy and send them this link. Subscribe to Dice Setter

Good Luck!

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