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 Dice Setter Precision Shooter's Newsletter

Volume IV : Issue V

December 2004/January 2005

Happy New Year!   Welcome to the December/January edition of the Precision Shooter Newsletter!

In this edition:
Superstition and Rules To Play By
2004's Top 3 Books!
Shooting From The Don’ts…A Journey of Opportunity - Part V
Maddog's Journey - Part 8
Crapsfest 2005!
Upcoming Seminars


Superstition and Rules to Play By
By Steve “Heavy” Haltom

What the heck is up with crapsters and this superstition thing?   You know what I’m talking about.  The presumption that there is a cause and effect relationship between certain events that occur during the course of the game.  Take that “dice off the table” thing, or “see a horn bet a horn” for example.  Is there really anything to that? 

Occasionally connections between two apparently unrelated events are discovered after careful study, but most of the time these apparent connections are found to be mere coincidence. This is especially true in random games of chance such as casino craps.  Consider for a moment how these superstitions come into being. 

Early psychological behaviorist Ivan Pavlov demonstrated it quite nicely.   The work that made Pavlov a household name in psychology actually began as a study in digestion. He was looking at the digestive process in dogs, especially the interaction between salivation and the action of the stomach. He realized they were closely linked by reflexes in the autonomic nervous system. Pavlov wanted to see if external stimuli could affect this process, so he rang a bell at the same time he gave food to his dogs. After a while, the dogs - which before only salivated when they saw and ate their food - began to salivate whenever the bell rang, even if no food were present. This became popularly known as a conditioned reflex, and the learning process became known as "conditioning."

Meanwhile, back at the craps table, where some gamblers think they can anticipate the future outcome of the roll based on past events.  In truly random games such notions are nothing more than superstition that grow out of conditioning.  Just as an example, let’s consider the belief that “if the dice go off the table the seven will roll next.”   In fact, based on a pure random roll the seven WILL roll approximately 17% of the time – no matter when the dice are tossed.  Let’s say one person at the table believes in the superstition and calls his bets off.  If the seven does not appear the next toss nobody really thinks much about it because it has no effect on their own wagers.  But supposed the seven does roll next?  Everyone playing the right side of the game would lose their wagers while the “superstitious” player’s action stayed up.  A bell has rung.  Ring it often enough and an association will be made.  And when that association is made one more person begins to believe. 

The greater question is whether or not subscribing to these superstitions does any harm?  With superstitions that prompt the player to turn his bets off – the answer is no.  In the “dice off the table” example, the player turned his bets off.  On the next roll of the dice he could not win – but neither could he lose.  And if you follow the math of the game that means he will ultimately lose less. 

There are times when superstitions can become expensive.  The old “see a horn bet a horn” belief is a good example.  Like the all-powerful seven, a horn number will roll about 17% of the time.  But that means it will NOT roll 83% of the time.  Toss out a $4 horn bet and lose it and it’s no big deal in most players’ minds.  Toss it out and win $27 on the roll of a twelve and it IS a big deal.  The player remembers the big wins – but his mind skips over the losses.   But we know for a fact that if you bet the horn at this level over the long haul you will lose $24 for every 36 wagers.  Over a series of sessions that can add up to a substantial edge you’re giving up to the house. 

Many precision shooters use superstitions a bit differently.   They use them, along with knowledge of which sets are being used, to read the table and the shooter.  If, for example, you see a player setting the V-3, then tossing an ace-deuce craps you know he’s had a three-face shift of the dice on axis.  You also know that if he does not correct the grip or toss issue that caused the excess rotation of one die that there is a likelihood that the ace-deuce or yo will show again.  So, you toss out $2 on the ace-deuce/yo or a $4 horn and look for a lightning strike.  It happens all the time. 

My advice for players looking to play the hops and props – dedicate a very small portion of you session money for this type of play, then set some very firm rules regarding when and how you’ll play that action.  Oh, and save that salivating for the steak house.

2004's Top Three Books

For the second year running, the top three books for 2004 (purchased via dicesetter.com) are as follows.  

Dice Control For Casino Craps
Yuri Kononenko
Still "the bible" for dice influencers.
Axis Power Craps!
Heavy Haltom
Precision Shooting PLUS Money Management and Strategy
John Patrick's Advanced Craps
John Patrick
The first name in Money Management

These three were head and shoulders above the rest of the field in sales.  Scoblete's overhyped Craps Underground made a slight splash early in the year but was resoundingly panned by the average dice influencer.

Shooting From The Don’ts…A Journey of Opportunity - Part V
by the Mad Professor

I have a love-hate relationship with the two casinos in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

       I love playing there, and the tables are fantastic as far as consistent on-axis performance is concerned.

       I love the dealers, most of the box-people and Table Game Supervisors, along with a lot of the Pit Managers, Casino Hosts and Shift Bosses…they treat me incredibly well.

       I love the incredible profits that I’ve pulled off of the Niagara tables over the past half-decade since dice games were legalized there.  When I look at the total sum, it staggers the imagination.

What I HATE about both of those casinos are the crowded conditions that continually plague them.

Winning money off of the Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Resort tables is relatively easy…and obviously I love that; but making money fast enough, even at their $25 or $50 tables, is somewhat problematic, and I hate waiting around for another shooting-opportunity.

It’s not that their dealers are slow…far from it…rather, with so many players and so much betting-action; the dice usually take an excruciating amount of time just to make one lap around the table.

Making decent money on the Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview tables is a test of patience and it’s a test of discipline.   These layouts pay a huge dividend if you can show some controlled tolerance and mature restraint, but they charge an equally hefty fee if you are impatient, intolerant, impulsive or overly fervent.

Niagara Fallsview Resort

The casino here is fairly big (about 10,000 square feet larger than LV’s MGM Grand or roughly five times the size of the Golden Nugget casino).   It’s only been open since April of 2004, so it still has that new car smell to it.

       It was built to augment Casino Niagara which has been open for a little more than ten years (although craps has only been allowed for just over half of that time).

       Fallsview has all the casino games that you’d expect…and a few that aren’t as widely known.  Needless to say, their 3000+ slot machines outstrip the number of gaming tables (~150) by a 20:1 ratio. 

       Though their all-suite hotel is relatively small, their run-of-the-mill Players Suites are on par with Mandalay Bay, Beau Rivage and Borgata, but they seriously lack over-the-top gaudiness if that is what you are looking for.

       Their Galleria Shoppes have the usual array of high-end retail from Swarovski crystal and Philippe Artois shirts to Dolce & Gabbana shoes and Havana cigars.  If you’re looking for cheap and tacky souvenirs, you’ll find plenty of it in other areas around the city, but you won’t find it here…well, at least not for under $100.

       In-house entertainment runs the gamut from Wynona, Neil Diamond and the Doobie Brothers to REO Speedwagon, Shania Twain and Bob Dylan.

       There are innumerable things to do and see around the Falls (in addition to exploring the caves that are under the cataracts), like the countless museums and attractions that line Clifton Hill and the Niagara Parkway, or the seventeen wineries that are minutes away, or the Seneca Casino that is located within walking distance on the American side of the Falls, or the many wildlife attractions that are within a five-minute driving radius.

However, we’re here to play craps…and in particular, to shoot from the Don’t-side of the dice.  Let’s take a look at what we’re up against:

The Fallsview Tables

       All eight (8) of their tables are "short" 12-footers, meaning the nominal end-to-end throwing distance is 10' 8".

       The sub-surface is cabinet-grade 1 & 3/4" plywood with a melanine-bonded/arborite-type wood-grain veneer.

       The unpadded felt is an 80%/20% wool/polyester blend with no underlay.

       All their tables respond well to most types of throws from Low, Slow and Easy (<15 degrees of landing-angle)...all the way to a high-trajectory (80+ degree landing) Dead-Cat Bounce.

       Table-bounce is moderate, but definitely NOT lively. The table absorbs quite a bit of descent-impact energy, but is less absorbent of forward-moving energy.  The obviousness of that statement is revealed most forcefully by the fact that “at-the-wall” type steep landings give very little rollback, while landing-zones that are further out require a significantly higher modulation of throwing-force.

       For greater clarity, that means that if you land the dice at or near (within 2-inches of) the base of the backwall with a steep-descent low-energy throw; then the dice tend to stick-and-stay…with minimal rollback, if any. 

       If they land further out and roll into the backwall; then you obviously have to regulate their forward-momentum quite a bit more in order for them to achieve the same result.  Both types of tosses work…it’s just that the at-the-backwall-landings tend to require a lot less effort and energy-input modulation to achieve consistency on these tables…but of course, your mileage may vary.

       On these layouts, excess backspin causes high-energy deflection (like a stone skipping across the water) WITHOUT causing the dice to slow down enough before they hit the backwall.  In other words, the tables do not bleed-off enough energy if the dice are carrying too much backspin. 

       Three of the pro’s who play here regularly use a no-spin knuckle-ball type medium-angle lob.  They target the dice squarely at the crotch of the table where the felt meets the backwall rubber.  To watch it when their aim is accurate is a thing of shock, awe and profit…but to watch it when their aim is off by just a little bit, is to witness what appears to be a random-rollers convention. 

       As is best advised when contemplating wagers on ANY shooter (even skilled ones who make their living off of this game); it is important to gauge their right-now targeting accuracy BEFORE you pony up your money on the layout.   If they are hitting their mark…then I pile on the shekels.  If they aren’t, then my kruggerands stay right where they should be…safely out of harms way and in my rail.

       The table-rails are about 1.5 inches higher than the industry-standard height of their brethren at Casino Niagara, but the rail-width is ~1.0 inch narrower, so that makes up for some of the difference if you are used to resting your hip or belly against the rail when you shoot.

       Table minimums are $10, but expect a number of layouts to be set at $15, $25, and possibly $50/$100 depending on the time of day/week/month and season.

       In the early morning, not all the tables will be open but you should be able to find at least one $10 game. Additional tables open at 12:30 pm (noon). Some of those MAY be $10, but that's hardly ever the case during the late spring, summer or early fall.  In the winter you are more likely to find more $10 tables more often.  Obviously on the weekends and during holidays (even during the winter) $15, $25 and $50 minimums will be the norm.

       There is a significant lull at most of the craps tables between 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm.  That period offers a good opportunity to select from multiple open, but sparsely populated tables.  It is also the appropriate time to ask the Pit Manager if he’ll lower the price of a high-denomination table or at least let you play at it (solo) for a less-than-posted bet-amount until other players join in.  We discuss this approach in much greater detail in the upcoming Creating More Shooting Opportunities – Part Three.  

       Normally you'll be limited to a $2000 max-bet, but they will raise the limit on a player-specific basis. That is, the table sign will still show either a $1k or $2k-max, but they'll allow you to go to $5k or $10k with prior consent first being had and obtained.  If you are on good terms with either of the two senior Executive Hosts; then they’ll do all of the legwork…you just have to show up with your money or Line-of-Credit.

       In the Salon Prive high-roller room, the $50 (daytime) table allows a $5000 (and sometimes up to $25,000) max flat-bet with corresponding full Odds.   At night (from ~8 pm onward), this layout usually turns into a $100 table except during mid-winter, mid-week blizzards when they may actually lower it all the way down to $25.

       Odds offered at all tables are of the standard 3x, 4x, 5x variety.

       By the time you read this, they will be in the process of installing the Fire Bet layout on their tables.  Obviously a skilled shooter will have to recalibrate his throw-dynamics to compensate for the felt w/slightly padded-backing change.

click here for the rest of the article!


Maddog's Journey
by Maddog

Part 8: Taking a Class

(part 1 was in the  Feb/March Newsletter, part 2 was in the April Newsletter and part 3 was in the May/June Newsletter and part 4 was in the July/August Newsletter and part 5 was in the September Newsletter and part 6 was in the October Newsletter part 7 was in the November Newsletter)

Damn it was cold.  Of course it’s always cold this time of year.  The sun would be up soon and hopefully that would take some of the bite out of the winter chill.  I don’t know what I was doing up this early anyway.  The flight wasn’t scheduled for departure for several hours yet.  Jeeze, this was just like a kid on Christmas morning or something.   Overcome with excitement and unable to sleep.   A head full of anticipation for the surprises that waited and the hopes for that one special and expected gift under the tree.

It certainly wasn’t going to be all that big a deal, but, still here it was, the sun just coming up, the bag long since packed and sitting by the door, the wife thinking that I’ve gone off the deep-end and still several hours to kill before starting the trip to the airport.

Even with the necessary evil of airport security requiring all passengers to get to their flights early and the hour-long drive to the airport, there was plenty of time to try and find something to do.  The task of scrapping the frost off of the car windows had taken all of, oh…, 5 minutes and the morning introduction to the bitter February cold left any outdoor activities firmly crossed-off the “things to do” list.

Still, despite the numb sensation in my extremities, it was an exciting morning. After six months of self study and practice, the day had finally arrived.   The question still remained.  The question to be answered over the next few days was whether I had been putting in all this effort to productive use or had I been doing it all wrong?

Somehow the monotonous minutes ticked away and activities continued according to plan.  The long wait was over and the plane was in the air.  Next stop, the lovely town nestled in the eastern side of the Sierra-Nevadas.  Reno.  This was my destination and the location of the next Axis Power Craps clinic and my chance to learn the ins-and-outs of dice influencing.

As I suffered through the turbulence induced bumps and buffeting of the little prop-plane, I found it was difficult to focus on Heavy’s APC manual which sat in my lap.  I sure it has happened to you where it seemed that you’ve read and re-read the same few lines for about the umpteenth time.  The difficulty to focus was not due to the rough flight or the fact that I’d already read through the manual about a dozen times.  My mind was filled with thoughts of what would be happening this weekend and what it was that I hoped to learn.  And certainly not a few daydreams of possible “Monster” hands and picking up a few bucks off what I might learn over the few days.  Finally relenting to the distraction, I closed the APC manual and began making some notes about what it was that I wanted to accomplish over the weekend.


Why take a class?  I had received a email questionnaire prior to the class.  The little survey asked this very question, “What did I hope to get out of the class?”  I again contemplated what the answer to that question was for me.

After practicing all this time, why feel a need to learn any more?  Why was I going and what did I hope to accomplish?  For me, probably one of the biggest influences on making the decision to take the trip was a deep curiosity.   Who were these guys?  What kinda people are they?  Most of all, what could I do and learn that would help in improving the consistency of my dice influencing results.  In addition to my cat killing curiosity (or in spite of), I felt it important to established some specific goals that I wanted to meet by the end of the class.

~ My primary goal for heading out on this trip was to find out if my technique was good, and if not, what adjustments were needed to become successful.  My last few casino trips had been 50/50 propositions.  Some good results mixed with some not so good.  The dice influencing seemed to be coming along on the right track, but not with any real consistency.  Hopefully there would be a way to improve on the over all results and perhaps accelerate the success curve.

~ How do other people perform the controlled toss?  Specifically how do the “pros” do it and what would I need to do to emulate their activities.  It was my hope to learn if my technique was anywhere close to what others were doing and to do what ever was needed to with my grip or toss or whatever to progress.

~ And finally, but not the least important, I hoped to try and learn some betting strategies that go along with dice influencing.  I especially wanted to better understand Darkside betting strategies and even right/wrong/right transition moves.  I planned to learn and use at least one betting strategy that I had not tried before.

The Class…

I could probably fill up several pages on what went on during that Axis Power Craps clinic, but since I already wrote a pretty extensive trip report on that subject, I’ll stick with just a few observations:

The trip report can be found here: (you must be a member of the Dice Forum)

~ The class is a great way to really see dice influence in action.  Despite the many, many hours I’d spent standing around and playing at craps tables, I had never before had an opportunity to see someone performing a toss to influence the dice.  Even though I had spent a lot of time alone in my basement tossing the cubes, it was hard to know if there was any similarity in my toss and the “proper” toss technique.  I could read about it and I could look at pictures of people gripping the dice and I could try to imagine/envision how the toss must look, but without having any examples to see or compare against it is difficult to be sure you’re getting it right.  (Even if your results indicate that you are going in the right direction.)

Through the weekend there were numerous occasions to see more then a dozen people attempting the controlled toss.  I was also able to see two of the best in action.  I was surprised how many different techniques that there are to tossing the bones in an influenced fashion.  Of course some techniques are more successful then others, still, there is certainly more then one way to skin the proverbial cat (and controlled toss). 

~ No matter what or how much I discover or think I know there is always more to be learned.  Even with study and understanding of several betting strategies including the betting strategies in the APC, Heavy pulled out a few more during the clinic.  And even though it turned out that I had the basic mechanics of the controlled toss down pretty well, pointed out some issues with my grip, positioning and follow through that I hadn’t considered and that help to improve my overall consistency.  He also taught me some of the true meaning of “concentration” and “focus”.

~ One of the quickest all day sessions I ever spent was in the APC Clinic.  There was so much material on so many craps topics to cover.  Include on that list the part of the clinic where everyone practices tossing and I found that when the end of the day rolled around it was a real surprise that the classroom time was gone and the time for in-casino sessions had come (hey, and I skipped lunch that day to practice bet moves).

~ I always find it amazing (and inspirational) how complete strangers from all over the country (and a couple out side the country) can come together and enjoy each others company.  Oh, sure, every one had a common interest and a built in point of topic for conversation in the game of craps, but even so, everyone was, how they say, “good” people and a pleasure to get to know.  A big part of the enjoyment of the session was going out to the casino with these new found friends and rolling the bones in this game we each enjoyed and shared. 

Yep, the craps clinic was a great weekend.  I learned many things.  I got a chance to see the influenced toss up close and personal.  I met and made new friends.  And maybe most importantly, I felt better then ever before about the time I had spent in practicing and training to be a Dice Influencer.

Had I met my goals for the weekend?  Yes and then some.  I even learned and got to try out a bet that I had not tried before; Heavy’s outside in power-press.  Not only did I get to try it out, I enjoyed the bonus of having some success with it (even though I never did correctly explain what I wanted to the dealers. LOL. Thank goodness the dealers often are better at reading our grunts and hand gestures then a cross between Helen Keller and Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent”).

I’d like to leave you with some personal observations from my journey that is specifically related to taking a dice influencing class:


I think it makes a huge difference and is a great benefit for the folks that do the majority of their grip and toss preparation before taking the class.   This is not to say that one has to be perfect, or that you can’t get a lot out of the class without prior experience or practice.   But, by going through the tossing and studying before hand, by practicing how to set the dice and trying out some grips before hand, you get the benefit of being ready to “hit-the-ground-running”.  By being prepared, your instructors can focus on the small tweaks needed to improve the issues in the grip and provide pertinent pointers on delivery and focus. 

The members of the class who had never previously attempted any kind of controlled toss spent the majority of time finding a grip and delivery that could be used as a starting point.  Any dice grip can be an awkward and uncomfortable thing the first several dozen times it is attempted.   Initially all of the dice grips feel like some form of freakish finger yoga.  But, any grip can become comfortable over time.  Like a new pair of shoes, the grip must be “broke-in”.  If you can get through the “break-in” period at home, then you’ll have more time to perfect the toss during the class.

Getting to watch it in live casino action…

One of the things I wanted to do was watch a “pro” in action.  Sometimes it can be difficult to stand at the craps table and just let the action go by.  Those damn tables seem to very much have a sirens call working its magic and drawing you into playing the game.  But to really get the full value of a session with the instructors it is a good idea to leave the game alone for awhile and pay close and serious attention to what the instructor is doing.  Sometimes the best lessons are taught, not during a lecture or in the telling of a story or the careful review of books and class materials, but in the observations gleaned during live action.

I think you will be surprised by what can be learned by simply standing at the rail and watching what Heavy and Irish (or whoever is teaching your class) is doing.  Focus on how they prepare as the dice come around.  Where is their attention and where is it that they seem to focus.  How do they go about setting the dice to the numbers they wish to set?  Can you see them turn the dice, do they hide the cubes in their hand or do they move the cubes separately and openly?  How do they grip the dice and how similar or different is it from your own grip.  How do they set up the dice just before the toss?  Are the dice kept at the same place that they were set, or do they set them, grip them and then move them to a certain position on the table for launching?

These are just some examples of an entire routine to be studied and understood.  After all why else did you decide to sign up for this experience?  Surly we are not there just so we can say “Hey, I shook hands with one of the experts”.  No!  We sign up for these classes to learn.  It is really a tough trick to learn when your attention is diverted to playing the game.  There is no way you can watch the instructors perpetration routine if you are simultaneously attempting to count out chips and instruct the dealer on a place bet or set out a Come bet.  Relax, you’ll get a chance to bet but for at least a few rounds, pay yourself in even greater winnings by observing and learning.  (for some reason the “teach a man to fish…” thingy is coming to mind)

Yeah it might not be as much fun to stand and watch, but it is a priceless opportunity to learn as much as possible.  You will be able to play and bet anytime.  For now, focus on what is there to be learned.  Take the occasion to observe how they do it.  How do they prepare.  How do they execute the set and grip?  How do they execute the toss and what are their arm movements.  How do their dice land, and where do they land.  How do they handle betting, etc. etc.

I was there to learn from these guys.  I knew it would be stupid to go there and say “yeah I’m taking your class, but I don’t need to do it your way, I’d rather do it my way.”   Damn if that was what I thought, then why the hell waste the money and the time doing the class?  At the very least, why not try it their way as a reasonable way to get started?

Watch people around the table that know what they are doing.   Like anything there are subtle little tricks that make things easier.  Tricks that unless you do them all the time, you might not think to do while in the “thick” of it.  By watching and trying to learn we all have a chance to pick up on a trick or two.

Be patient, be disciplined, be observant, be receptive.   In a class, these are the keys to the kingdom.  The kingdom of DI knowledge. 

Until next time, keep your toss straight and your rack full.

Crapsfest 2005!

It's not too early to start planning for CrapsFest 2005!  Join Heavy, Soft Touch, Dice Coach, Michael Vernon and friends in fabulous Las Vegas, May 20 - 22, 2005 for three days of seminars, one-on-one coaching, and live casino sessions. (Keep up-to-date on Crapsfest plans and activities)

Here's what Crapsfest 2004 attendees had to say:

"The best time ever! I WILL be back."

"I'm signing my kids up for the next one - they lose too much money in Vegas."

"The Friday session was GREAT! I only wish I could have stayed over for the rest of the weekend."

"It's a long drive from Tennessee, but I'd go again next week."

"Thanks to some fine shooting by Irish, Heavy, Dice Coach and a few others, I walked away with one of my largest wins yet. Whoohoo."

"Was Crapsfest 2004, really worth it? You bet your sweet bippy, it was."

"Meeting you guys was priceless."

"Watch out! This dice thing WORKS!"

The agenda is still in the works, but it promises to be just as exciting and entertaining as Crapsfest 2004. Early bird pricing is as follows:


Friday Session Only: $159

Saturday OR Sunday plus Friday FREE: $459

Friday AND Sunday plus Friday FREE: $799


Friday Session Only: $229

Saturday OR Sunday plus Friday FREE: $799

Saturday AND Sunday plus Friday FREE: $1499

Contact the Dice Coach at 1-866-DICEMAN to register by phone with a credit card.

Register early and save!  See you in fabulous Las Vegas for CrapsFest 2005.

Upcoming Seminars

Dice Busters with the Dicecoach and Michael Vernon - Las Vegas, February 19-20, 2005

Biloxi Craps Clinic with Heavy - SOLD OUT! Biloxi, MS - February 25-27, 2005

Connecticut "Winning o'the Green" Craps Clinic - Join Heavy and Grits March 18-20 2005

If you have any comments or ideas for future issues, feel free to email me at ed@dicesetter.com

And as always, we are looking for contributors with a fresh perspective.

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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