Dice Setting and Casino Craps
"Dice control" or "dice setting" is an advantage play technique used in craps to set and throw the dice in such a way as to make the dice more likely to land on certain numbers. Skeptics assert that controlling the dice in this way is practically impossible, but notable gambling experts like Michael Shackleford and Stanford Wong seem to give some credence to the notion that this might be possible. If so, then dice and craps could be elevated to a game of skill like darts or pool.
This section of our site tries to provide some basic information about how to set the dice in craps.
You don't have to be a certain size to succeed at dice control. Being left-handed or right-handed doesn't matter either. Age and gender simply are not factors either. And you can stand anywhere at the table and still succeed at dice control. With practice, anyone can become a winning shooter. All it takes is enough practice to perfect your technique.
The number of fingers used to handle the dice varies from shooter to shooter. One crapshooter might use 2 fingers, while another may opt for the 5-finger approach. And even if 2 shooters use the same number of digits, it's likely that the positioning of their fingers will differ.
Tossing dice can be broken down into 3 distinct elements. They are:
For illustrations of the various acceptable ways to grip the dice, check out one of the following websites:
Most dice control instructors will tell you that the less you actually have to touch the dice the better. In other words, hold the dice where you can exert maximum control over the spin, but also try to keep contact between your fingers and the dice to a minimum. Of course, you ultimately have to find the grip which is best for you and use it.
It is also important to be sure and place equal pressure on each die. This will take some practice, but it is crucial in establishing proper dice control technique. If done properly, the 2 dice in your hand should feel as though you are holding one rectangular object. If it feels like you are holding two distinct dice, then you aren't doing it right.
Make sure that the dice have no space between them when preparing to throw. If you don't, then the dice may fly off in different directions when thrown. If you're unsure of whether your dice are kissing each other, you can always turn your hand over and examine your dice from the bottom (it is best if you only do this during practice, as it will draw unnecessary attention at the craps table).
When aligning the dice, remember to do so with the lines on the craps table. This should allow you to get the proper alignment on the vertical axis.
Also keep in mind that the axis running the width of the table does not matter. This is also called the left-right axis. Before tossing the dice, it does not matter if they begin straight up, straight down, or tilted towards the target.
The axis running the length of the table, also referred to as the fore-aft axis, is very important. The heel-toe alignment of the dice needs to be parallel to the felt. To make sure that your dice are properly aligned, lower them down to the level of the table. If you're doing it right, the edges and faces of the dice should make solid contact with the table. With practice, this will become second nature.
To deliver the dice means to throw them against the far wall of the table. You are generally expected by the dealer to throw the dice in such a way as to assure that they will hit the opposing wall. This is done to make sure that the dice will bounce off the wall and achieve a truly random number. Of course, since dice control is about getting anything but a random number, you will want to try and deliver the dice in a way which will minimize the amount of dice reaction after touchdown.
The secret to this is achieving backspin while making sure that the dice do not move on any other axes. If properly delivered, the dice will stay together as they fly through the air, rotating only on their left-right axes.
During your delivery, you may choose to pivot with your shoulder, elbow, or wrist. Each shooter will have a different technique, and there is really no right or wrong way. It's all a matter of which technique works best for you.
If your throwing motion pivots on the shoulder, you may find that you tend to throw in an arc instead of a straight line. This can be fixed by rotating your wrist slightly to counteract the rotation of the shoulder. This may take a lot of practice to get just right, but it should become a natural motion with time.
Tossing the dice with a pivot of the elbow looks unnatural and may bring you unwanted attention from the powers that be. While dice control is not illegal, keep in mind that the casinos still have the right to bar you from play if they think you are simply too good for them. This type of throw also places strain on the elbow, which might especially be a problem for older players.
Be sure and watch out for your thumb when tossing the dice. If your dice tend to cross over one another after being tossed, then your thumb is more than likely the guilty party. Be sure and throw the dice fast enough that your thumb loses contact with the dice before the roll off your fingers. Otherwise, the thumb will tend to push the dice apart.
Backspin is placed on the dice to counter the forward motion of the dice and to keep them from landing on a random number after bouncing against the back wall of the table. Keep in mind, however, that backspin must always be accompanied by axis control. If not, you will still achieve random results.
Sweaty fingers can also become a problem when tossing the dice. To counter this, try placing a piece of chalk in your pocket. When your fingers begin to get sweat on them, just reach into your pocket and get enough chalk dust on your fingers to counteract the perspiration. You might also want to try antiperspirant, although some pros complain that it makes their fingers sticky.
When you throw the dice, they should rotate together in the air and their left-right axes should be parallel to the table. If one die tends to fly higher than the other one, then chances are strong that you have a problem with your grip. The dice should also bounce straight forward. If your dice are bouncing to one side, then you probably did not align them correctly.
It is also important to not draw too much attention to yourself before handling the dice. Have a good time, talk with the other players, and try not to tip off the dealers to the fact that you are an advantage player. For example, stay away from big buy-ins. You might even try fumbling with the dice a bit to give the impression that you don't spend every waking hour in your home practicing dice control.
When tossing the dice, try and make it look as natural as possible. If you are turning your hand upside down and examining the dice, this is going to tip off the dealers. And remember that casinos have the right to bar you from the craps table and even declare certain rolls void if they do not hit the back wall of the table. Just use a little common sense and you should be fine.
This article was intended to provide a basic overview of the proper things to strive for when tossing the dice. However, practice is the key ingredient. Practice enough and you'll be a precision shooter in no time. Then all you'll have to do is walk up to the craps table, place your bet, and watch the happy faces of the bettors as you roll 50 times straight.
This page was last modified on November 24, 2009.