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  Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter

Volume II : Issue XI

May 2003


In this edition:
Casino Heat.  What's Real?  What's Imagined? - A Roundtable
Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
Chairman of the Boards (redux)
Upcoming Seminars
Mad Professor's Mini Tub Tour - continued

Casino Heat.  What's Real?   What's Imagined
A roundtable discussion


After not playing at a local casino I stopped by one early am as I had heard there was a change in management. I was having a really nice hand and this suit with an casino ID comes and stands at the end of the table and intently watches every toss. I had no clue as to who he was and he was making me uneasy. He finally left when I sevened out. I asked the dice crew who he was and they replied "Oh that's Charlie the poker room supervisor". I don't think he was heat.

Some things to think about that may seem to be heat but aren't really are certain operational procedures that occur in casinos at the dice tables.

Crews of dealers are changed at various shift changes that may or may not be the same as the other table game shift times. Usually the shifts are: 2am till 10am (graves), 10am till 6pm (days), 6pm till 2am (swing). Some joints use 3am-11am, 11am-7pm, and 7pm-3am. Just ask they will tell you when the shift are

There are four dealers to a crap crew. Three are at the table and one is on a twenty minute break. When the break dealer comes back he (on the hour, twenty after and forty after the hour) taps the stick person on the shoulder and replaces him . No, they don't wait until the point is made or the shooter sevens out before they come in. The stick person goes to 2nd base (to the right of the box person) and the 2nd base dealer goes to 3rd base (to the left of the box person). For some craps crews the base dealers are on duty at the same base for 40 minutes. This means the stick person will first relieve the 2nd base and the next stick person will relieve the 3rd base dealers

Shortly before the shift changes the box will have a count of the bank. This count is overseen by a pit supervisor and pit boss. This count will stop the game and all dealers will “bring it in”. The count is verified by all three money counters and the game is allowed to continue. Sometimes this count will trigger a fill. At or shortly after the time of the count the security personnel will change the drop box where they stuff the money..

Another informal count will occur when a box person is relieved to go on break. This count is usually just of the high value cheques.

Another item to look for when the shift changes at most casino dice tables is the change of the dice. A new stick of dice (usually 5 dice) is brought into the game by the box person and the prior dice are removed. The new dice have been measured by a micrometer (miked), examined, checked for square, spun on a spinner by two opposing corners, and each die marked by a pin prick in the same location (on the five center spot, above the ace spot or any unique location) to identify them as being placed into the game by the casino personnel. When brought into the game they are generally placed in service after a shooter sevens out. The box person is fairly subtle about the change.

You can tell when the dice are changed by noting the numbers that are on the current set of dice and checking from time to time to see if they change.

Do new dice make a difference?? I think they do. Heavy and I were having a struggle during an early morning session and at about 2am and were ready to give it up. I made the comment that we should wait for the dice change. We did and our next few hands turned the session from a losing proposition to a very profitable session.

Fills are at the whim of the box and pit supervisor and could be heat. Watch the bank to tell. If you can see lint and dust the fill is legitimate. Down to one row of red stacks it is OK.

Dice dealers get bored. It comes with the job. Here are some comments that might make them cease. To entertain themselves they will have batting practice with the dice being the ball (Who do you think you are Babe Ruth??). They also use the stick as a flyswatter ( I didn't realize there were horses close by). They also talk to the other dealers and to the box person (known as crossfire). They hold the stick like a rifle with the butt of the stick in front of your face as you line up to shoot (How long did you carry a gun in the infantry??). Placing odds on their line bet and asking a dealer to refrain from the offending activity sometimes works. If they don't refrain remove the odds or any other dealer bets as well as yours and try for the seven.


Well, Roadrunner didn't leave a lot for the rest of us. Irish and I had this discussion on the phone last week. I was telling him the story about the "leaner" I had at one of the local joints I play. The left die did a dead cat bounce and landed with the three up. The right die caught a corner when it landed and took a hard right to the wall. It was leaning against the rail with the four showing up and out. The stick man called seven out, but the box immediately intervened, saying "Give the dice a chance to decide." He then stood up and bumped the table with his leg. And the leaner bounced off the wall and landed with the six up. "Nine's the call," said the box.

Now, that's about as far from "heat" as you can get. Personally, I think we could take the good customer oriented calls like that and put them on one end of the scale - and the true heat cases and put them on the other end of the scale - and come up with a pretty fair representation of the Bell Curve. Some small amount of "perceived" heat - say 10% - is in fact heat from the casino sweating the money. Some other small amount of good customer service - say another 10% - goes totally unrecognized by the players. They're just oblivious to it. Meanwhile, 80% of the time it's just business as usual.

We often talk about those chip refills as being distractions designed to cool off a hot table. We point to the fact that the seven showed up soon after the chip refill as proof. But in fact - most of the time they're refilling the chip rack as a direct result of a hot hand or two. It's just coincidence when the seven shows.

I can only recall a handful of times where I've actually gotten heat from the casinos over my actions. Once was in a small backwater casino in Mississippi. The box man got upset because I would not "rattle" over the pressure he was applying. He ultimately decided to crank it up by calling security and having them stand behind me while I shot the dice - watching for any evidence of cheating. Yeah, that was heat.

I've been in a couple of joints where I was repeatedly told to "just pick them up and throw them" by the box. I repeatedly ignored the instructions. In one case the box threatened to pass the dice to the next player. I told him that was his call - there was another casino right next door. He left me alone after that.

In Vegas last year I played one session where - after about 20 rolls - the box started criticizing every toss. One roll was too easy, the next too high, the next didn't go straight down the middle, one die missed the wall on the next. It just went on and on. This was a clear case of the house sweating the money.

But sometimes it's not about heat at all. Next to men's room attendant, Box Men have the worst job in the casino. They spend eight hours a day sitting on a stool watching the dice roll back and forth from one end of the table to the other. They're not really management but they're not really one of the boys either. The dealers think they're lumps. Management looks at them as a necessary evil. And management will fire one of them at the drop of a hat for little or no good reason. Yet these are regular guys just like you and me. They have wives with maxed out credit cards, kids who can't get along with their teachers, a neighbor who won't keep his dog penned up, and a headache from dealing with people who are at their absolute worst - drunk and losing. So maybe it's not heat you're getting. Maybe the guy just found out is teenage daughter is turning tricks out on Rancho Drive.

And maybe that heat you think you're getting is all between your ears.


I find I am starting to discount message board reports of heat. You never know how someone handles themselves at a table. Also, Roadrunner made excellent points about how some routine happenings in a game are sometimes mistaken for heat--or that interest in practiced throw could be innocent. Case in point: a couple weeks back there was a message about heat in Reno. While the poster never came back and clarified, I was in Reno over the weekend...not one bit of heat, even on throws that were decidedly short.

I suspect that some people, especially newcomers, have a push-pull relationship with heat. First of all, they're very sensitive to anything that could be perceived as heat, because they're not quite comfortable setting at the table yet. I definitely found that to be the case when I started setting.

Secondly (and I really hope I don't fall into this camp), I think on some level some setters WANT heat. Heat to them can be an ego gratification...confirmation that the casinos see you as a threat. Just like I've heard people in LV brag about being thrown out for card counting, despite the fact that if they really could count, they would never see being barred as an honor.

Mad Professor

This is an excellent topic, because part of it is based on perception, while the other part is based on legitimate concern by both the player and the casino.

The perception part was covered quite well by Roadrunner.

Operating procedures sometimes interrupt a hot roll and people notice it because they think it is being done to disturb the shooter or the rhythm of the game.

When those same things happen at a choppy table, most players look at it as just part of the normal business of running a craps table or just a minor annoyance.

However, if they start doing the:

~stick-man leaning over the table or swinging at the dice with his stick routine.
~chanting their endless “hit the backwall HARDER” mantra.
~“short-sticking” you to make you s-t-r-e-t-c-h for the dice.
~“no-betting” your action just to piss you off.
~encouraging new players to squeeze in beside you when the table is filling up.
~bringing in an often un-needed chip-fill, or changing-out the dice in mid-hand.
~hurrying your shooting to try to break your rhythm.
~having the stickman re-arrange a Prop or Hardway bet just as the dice are leaving your hand.
~having the boxman tell the stickman to “reduce your working stacks” by having him hand in a full-stack (20 cheques) to the box, just as you are about to throw the dice.
~having the stickman “recall” the dice just before you pick them up so that they can be “re-examined”.

In those cases it MIGHT be considered "heat", while the casino considers it "game-protection".

Heavy mentioned a while back about befriending dice-personnel, especially Pit Bosses and Floor Supervisors. This is an EXCELLENT idea that I have been using for a long time. It makes you money in the long run, and it saves you untold aggravation all the time.

When you walk up to the craps pit, you should feel the warmth of the welcome. If you are known as a frequent tipper, they will make rule exceptions for you; they will extend courtesies that they wouldn't offer to their own family members, and they will generally accommodate your shooting needs within the expanded bounds of reason.

If it sounds like the consistent-tipping Precision-Shooter can be treated like the return of the prodigal son at most, if not all casinos; that is not far from the truth.

It never ceases to amaze me how a good attitude, a few jokes, and a reasonable amount of tokes will take you in the consistent-profit universe of Precision-Shooting.

In the gaming business, like in life, money talks and in the casino it speaks loudly, clearly and it speaks with ever-increasing authority.

The larger the bankroll that you are willing to expose to the casinos money-grinder; the more they will accommodate your play. It may not seem fair, but it is nonetheless true.


Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
by Heavy Haltom

Imagine stepping up to a beautiful new craps table in your casino of choice. None of that Formica and plastic junk - this baby is all hand turned and rubbed mahogany with solid brass trim. The layout is new and clean and soft as a baby's behind. You buy in, place a single unit on the line plus a buck for the boys, carefully grip the dice, pick-up, release, follow-through. The dice float through the air - big and fat and mirror images of one another - two rotations of back spin then down to the table, landing perfectly square . . . and one bounces left and crashes into the puck, while the other does a crow-hop off the end of the table. What, you ask, was that all about?

It could be that the dice did exactly what casino management wanted them to do. Even now it is rumored that casinos are stepping up counter measures against precision shooters. And one of those measures is devilishly simple - the casino simply varies the underlay beneath the layout.

Step into the back room with me and take a look at this Frankensteinian tabletop. Peel away the layout and behold the monster. It is not a solid sheet of plywood as you have been led to believe. There is no simple layer of foam beneath the felt. What you see is an ugly, checkerboard affair - a patchwork quilt cut and stitched together from hardware store cast-offs. There's a 12X12 inch square of sheet metal, four 6X6 inch squares of foam, cork, ceramic tile and carpet. There's a bit of cardboard, an old newspaper, and a piece of an old rubber shower mat. Then there are strips of plastic that stretch the width of the table - speed bumps, pot holes, paved roads and gravel. It's all there, beneath that smooth, sleek new layout. Yes, I hear this table is out there already - lurking - waiting to kill you.

They've got you figured out, right?


Because you've practiced and practiced and practiced under a variety of conditions. You have several practice boxes at home and change the surfaces weekly, putting place mats and linoleum and blankets and towels and triple layers of felt down in anticipation of this moment. It takes a few tosses in the casino - but then you find it. The dead spot. Perhaps it's just a tiny 4X4 square in the hook. You may even lose forty or fifty bucks before you find it. But it's there. And once you find it you bang the dice in there over and over and over.

Yes, beauty is only skin deep. But beauty can be found even in the ugliest of monsters. You only have to look deep enough.

Chairman of the Boards (redux)

As announced last month, Heavy's Dice Heaven message board is open and is already a huge success! Now, for you dark side players, he's now officially opened  Wrong Way Craps.  Whether you're a dyed-in-the-wool wrong way bettor, or are simply seeking some tips for when the tables go cold, this is the forum for you.   Stop by and swap dark side theories with several of the best "wrong side" minds on the web!

These two new boards, along with Heavy's hugely popular Axis Power Craps Message Board makes him Chairman of the Boards!  Many thanks to Heavy for creating great places for crapsters to gather, learn and share.  Best of all, all three forums are free!  

Upcoming Seminars!

There are several seminars coming up in the next few months.  Click the links for more information.

33 Years of  Craps - With Dicecoach and Michael Vernon - June 6 - 8 In Las Vegas

Hot Summer Dice In Chicago - Join Heavy in Chicago, June 20 - 22.

Dicecoach, Heavy Do Vegas - Three Hot Days.  July 11- 13.

Mad Professor's Mini-Table Craps Tour with the Vegas Ghost
- Part VIII

(Read Part I , Part II, Part III or Part IV or Part V or Part VI or Part VII)  


Dear John,

I have been unable to sleep since I broke off our engagement.  Won't you forgive and forget?  Your absence is breaking my heart.  I was a fool - nobody can take your place. I love you, I miss you like crazy and I want you back.

All my love,

Belinda xoxoxoxxx

P.S. Congratulations on winning this week's lottery.

On the Drive

As we turned north on Las Vegas Boulevard, and drove away from Circus Circus we passed the Sahara Hotel.  I was with my buddy, Mel.  He’s the raconteur I like to call the “Vegas Ghost” because he has haunted virtually all of the major LV hotel-casinos as an executive over the past four decades.  His knowledge of the business, and his stories from “inside the Pit” gives a juxtaposed perspective to my own profit-driven Precision-Shooting.

I asked Mel if he had eaten at the recently restored-to-original ‘60’s icon, House of Lords steakhouse at the Sahara.   He replied that he hadn’t yet, but was planning to bring the fourth “Mrs. Vegas Ghost” for dinner there in the near future. 

What the Rat-Pack Ate

I asked him what the Rat Pack (Frank, Dean, and Sammy, et al) would typically have for breakfast.  He made a silent chuckle as he asked, “Well, it all depends how you define “breakfast”.  You gotta remember that these guys weren’t really “morning people”.  They’d only be up and about around 4 or 5 in the afternoon.”  

“Dean Martins first few hours of the day were always fueled strictly on coffee, smokes and maybe four or five stiff drinks, oh and a couple of broads, but most of them weren’t in the “edible” category if you know what I mean.  He hardly ever ate anything before a show, maybe just a smoked meat sandwich, or a meatball hoagie or something like that.” 

- mini table tour continued here

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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