Second only to blackjack card counting is the so-called mythical art of dice control in the game of craps. Just as card counting involves careful observation of the deck to determine when the odds are in the player’s favor, dice control is the art of consistently throwing the dice roll after roll in an attempt to skew the results so fewer 7s show than is mathematically expected – quickly eroding the already small house edge on the game.
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Efficacy of Dice Control
“Dice control” is a bit of a misnomer, because even the most dedicated proponent of the technique will say that reliably rolling a particular number or numbers is next to impossible; the preferred term is dice setting, as the goal is to set the dice in a particular way before and during the throw so they land in a way to minimize 7s.
The house edge on Craps is already small by casino standards: the best bets on the table are the pass line and come bets at 1.41% house edge, followed closely by the 6 and 8 place bets at 1.52%. For that reason, even a small skewing away from the normal 6-in-36 distribution of rolling 7s can send the odds squarely into the player’s favor in the long term.
Dice control has long been thought a myth by the most prolific gamblers. Even if it was theoretically possible, they said, no human can ever become consistent enough to produce reliable, observable results. But only recently the tide has been changing. Known gambling wizards like Stanford Wong have even come around to believing there may be more to the idea of dice setting than it gets credit for.
It is rarely disputed that influencing the roll of the dice is possible on level surfaces. Known as the “army blanket roll” for the environment such techniques can normally be employed in, the lack of a table to bounce the dice off of makes the overall behavior far less erratic.
The casinos know this, too: it is for this reason that every casino will require the dice to hit the back edge of the table on every dice throw or else require them to be thrown again. The “egg carton” rubber pyramid lining is specially designed to make the dice bounce unpredictably when they roll off of it.
Fixing the Set
Every controlled throw will begin with setting the dice, or how you affix them in your hands before letting them fly. The best configuration will depend on who you ask, and you will need to use different sets depending on if you are on the come out roll or the going for the point. Since most rolls will be for a point, however, the primary objective is to delay rolling a 7 for as long as possible. To this end, the most commonly used set is what is known as the 3-V set.
The 3-V arranges the two dice with the 3 facing up and the pips meeting in the bottom center, so they appear to make a V. This configuration gives the hard 6 on top (two 3s, of course); the easy 6 on the front (5 and 1); the easy 8 on the back (6 and 2); and hard eight on the bottom (4 and 4).
Notably, no sevens are showing anywhere on the dice with this set. Different people may find more success with different sets, in different casinos, or in different situations.
Perfecting the Throw
The release is undoubtedly the most important and the most difficult part of dice control. You can meticulously set the dice to whatever orientation you want every throw, but if you chuck them in such a way that they would hit the other end of the casino if nothing got in the way, all that effort is for naught anyway. The goal is to abide by casino rules and hit the back of the table, but not in such a way that they jostle the dice too much.
The Dice throw needs to be consistent and smooth. You want the dice to rotate only on the forward axis – remember how you arranged them so no 7s are showing anywhere on the pair? This means a very stable throw without much force. In a lot of ways, a practiced throw is like a good golf swing. You should work on making it as consistent as possible, and always follow through during your release. The dice will ideally land near the back of the table without much speed to them. They will make contact, but only roll back a couple rotations. And hopefully, they won’t be showing 7.
Practice, Practice, Practice
There is a reason dice setting was thought to be a gambler’s myth for so long: it is incredibly difficult, and while the tide is moving toward it being a reproducible technique, it is a long way from being as accepted a method of beating the casino as card counting. Just as no one can have a golf swing as consistent as Tiger’s without a huge amount of practice, so can no one have a dice throw consistent enough to be relied upon without a lot of work put into it.
In the end, remember that the goal is not to win every single roll and predict the dice as if you have a crystal ball. Craps, like all gambling, is a game of odds, and even a sizable shift of those odds in your favor can be occluded by the sheer randomness of the game. But with enough practice, and enough time, you just might see a very profitable pattern emerge.