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There is a lot of controversy in the game of craps when there are claims about dice control or dice influencing which is the ability to make certain numbers on the dice appear more often or less often because of the skill of the dice shooter. On this page we will examine the issue including the legality of such a skill or ability. If you have comments about this, and would like to see your comments included in future articles, please send them to Alan@AlanBestBuys.com.

WHY MOST PEOPLE DISMISS OR DON'T BELIEVE IN DICE INFLUENCING

Update June 5, 2016  If you are reading this, it's probably because you have some interest in the subject of dice influencing or dice control. The critics of DI or DC aren't likely to read this because their minds are already made up and they say DI or DC are impossible. I have to agree with them to a certain extent because I believe DI or DC are impossible for most people because they lack the fine motor skills for dice influencing or dice control.

Unlike throwing a baseball into a strike zone, and throwing a dart to the bullseye of a target, or rolling a bowling ball into the 1-3 pocket for a strike, or putting a golf ball into the clown's nose at mini-golf, handling two cubes and tossing them in a controlled manner is probably more difficult. It's probably a lot more difficult.

I've played casino craps for about twenty-years and in all that time I've played with no more than three "shooters" who I think were true dice influencers.

Think about the fine motor skills that are involved in being a DI. While anyone can set the dice into an arrangement such as the "hard-way set" or the "3V set" it takes fine motor skills to gently throw the dice so that they travel together without rotating too many times, hit the table surface together so that they have a gently bounce that carries them to the back wall where they again have a soft hit so that they don't bounce off the wall in some random way. That takes not only a lot of practice but a lot of skill and hand-eye coordination as well as a knowledge and "feel" for the bounce of the table surface.

Anyone without such fine motor skills could easily be a critic of DI because DI is outside of their own ability.

What if you don't have the fine motor skills necessary for DI? Well, I wouldn't give up. I have said this over and over again: if throwing the dice is by definition a random act and craps is a game of random dice, then attempting to influence the dice can't hurt. So the bottom line for me is simply it can't hurt to try and I would rather play with a shooter who at least tries to get a favorable result with the dice than someone who doesn't make the effort.

Actually everyone has some level of dice control or dice influencing. Most players are able to control the dice so that they hit the back wall and stay on the table. Some players have a bit more skill and they can throw the dice so that they gently hit the back wall. And then there are a few players who throw the dice so that they appear to rotate together until they gently hit the table and then roll to the back wall. More practice and better motor skills could lead to a player who can not only set the dice and throw them to rotate together and gently hit the back wall together, but after hitting the back wall they bounce off the back wall or stop at the back wall without addional rotations.

HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE AN INFLUENCED OR CONTROLLED THROW?

Update April 2, 2016  A craps player from Houston, Texas who frequently plays craps in Las Vegas sent me an email asking for help evaluating his throw. He wants to know if he has an influenced or controlled throw and what could be done to improve it. It's a good question because winning money playing craps is not enough information to tell you if you have any influence or control over the dice. The reality is even random shooters win money and some random shooters can win a lot of money. 

I think the dice have to hit and react to the table in a particular way to be considered influenced or controlled. I think the dice must be thrown softly and bounce softly and hit the back wall softly and bounce off the back wall softly for starters. I also think the dice must first hit the table on their edges or flat faces and not on their points or corners.

It is very important that the dice hit on their edges or on their faces because if the dice hit on their points or corners they can bounce in any direction. Only if the dice land on their faces or edges do you have a chance of having any kind of influence or control on their direction.

It's really easy to find out for yourself if your dice are hitting on their flat faces or on their edges and you don't need an actual casino table or a practice rig to find out. All you need to do is put a sheet of aluminum foil on a bed and standing about six feet from the aluminum foil toss the dice as you would on a craps table so they land on the sheet of aluminum foil. Then examine the foil and if you see impact points from the corners your dice are not hitting flat or on their edges.

Dice thrown onto sheet of aluminum foil.
webassets/20160401_232452nopoints.jpg
They hit flat so there are no points or punctures.

There are a lot of dice throwing techniques that you can practice using your bed. Arrange the pillows and your blanket like a soft wall that will trap the dice when you throw them. You want to see if your dice rotate in unison as they travel through the air. To determine if your dice travel in unison set your dice and note how the faces are arranged.  I use the cross-sixes set with the 5 and 4 on the front and the 3 and 2 on the back. The bottom of the dice show aces. See the photo below.

Cross Sixes Dice Set
webassets/20160401_231533crosssixes.jpg
5-4 front, 3-2 back, Aces bottom


When I throw my dice into the "wall" created by the pillows and my blanket I want the dice to come to rest showing 5-4 or 3-2 or 6-6 or 1-1 which would indicate that the dice are traveling in unison once I release them. If the dice should be absorbed by the soft wall showing any other combination that is a good sign the dice are rotating and my release is not steady with a uniform release of both dice. In the photo below the cross-sixes set is preserved.

 

Dice thrown to the wall of pillows on a bed.
webassets/20160401_231916bedtest.jpg
See if the dice keep to the arranged set.

I honestly think there is no need for anyone to buy a craps practice rig or even a table to practice their throws. In reality no two dice tables are the same. While they might appear to be the same with the same dimensions every table has its own unique bounce. You might be getting perfect results on a home table or a home practice rig, but when the dice are bouncing on a casino's table the results can be totally different. This is why I think practicing the fundamentals of dice influencing -- the grip, the toss, and how the dice are hitting (faces and edges but not points or corners) -- can be accomplished just with the bed you sleep on.

There are other ways to monitor your throw. If you can, have someone shoot a video of your toss to see if the dice are rotating when they are released from your fingers. Most of the new cell phones shoot video and this video is good enough.

There is another test of influence and control that you can perform by throwing dice onto your bed: place a quarter on the bed as a target and see if one die or both dice hit the quarter.

These do it yourself tests at home can help you see just how much of a controlled throw you have. Dice influencing starts with a controlled throw. 

WHAT IS THE "SRR" AND DOES IT MATTER?

Update March 27, 2016  One of the basic concepts of dice influencing or dice control is knowing what your SRR is. The SRR is the seven to rolls ratio that you have when throwing the dice. It is like a batting average in baseball. It is like your performance at shooting free-throws in basketball. It is like your average golf score. The SRR of a random roller is 1:6 meaning one out of six throws. This means that the dice shooter is (on average) rolling one seven out of every six rolls. This falls in line with the normal distribution of outcomes given two six-sided dice. There are 36 possibile combinations on two six-sided dice, and six of those combinations will add up to a seven. That's why the standard SRR is one seven out of six rolls.

Suppose you have a SRR of 6 out of six? This means you are always throwing Sevens and in that case you can't lose if you are a passline bettor. If you have a 6:6 SRR it means you are getting a passline winner on each and every throw. It also means you never set a point. You just win and win and win on the passline. What a magnificent dream that is. What a magnificent skill that would be to have.

The reality is that nearly everyone has a SRR of 1:6 because everyone is an average shooter with no particular skill and can't control or influence random dice. The dice schools and supporters of dice influencing and dice control claim that if you have a SRR of 1:6.5 or 1:7 which means you are throwing a 7 less than the normal one out of six times you should be making money as a right-way or shooter. (Note: a darkside or wrong-way player wants more sevens than one out of six throws.)

I have to question the idea that having a SRR of 1:6.5 or 1:7 or even a SRR of 1:9 will make you a "right-way winner" because an SRR like that does not tell you what numbers your dice are showing and if you are betting on those numbers.

Suppose there is a shooter who throws the dice an average of twenty-times before he sevens-out each time he plays. If that shooter is throwing "good numbers" (meaning the numbers you are betting on) you can make a lot of money. But if that shooter is throwing numbers you are not betting on, that SRR of 1:20 won't help you at all.

Here is an example of how a great SRR of 1:20 could cost you dearly:

You have $25 on the passline when this great shooter with a 1:20 gets the dice. His first throw is Aces, craps, so you lose your $25 passline bet. His second throw is Boxcars, craps, so you lose another $25 passline bet. His third throw is Ace-Deuce, craps, so you lose another $25 passline bet. His fourth throw is a 4 and that becomes the point. You put three chips behind your $25 passline bet as odds and you now have $100 total "invested" on the 4 hitting again. You also bet $60 on the 6 and $60 on the 8 because placing the 6 and 8 have low house edges. Our shooter continues.

On the fifth roll there is a 10, then an 11, then another 12, then another 11, then another 3, then another 2, then a 9, then a 5, then another 9 followed by another 9 followed by another 9, then a 10, then an 11, then a 12, then a 5 and then on roll #20 -- he rolls a 7-out.

Yes, our shooter once again demonstrated a 1:20 SRR and you lost $295 and never had a single payoff. The point of this is simple: having a great SRR means zip if you aren't betting the numbers being hit.

Unfortunately, the "DI community" doesn't discuss this much at all. The DI community will talk about great SRRs but you need to know if the great SRR includes the numbers you are betting on.

Clearly, if a shooter does have a great SRR and is hitting horn numbers or outside numbers, and you bet on those numbers, you will win money and you can win a lot of money. So you have to be aware of the numbers that a shooter is hitting and if you believe it is because of the shooter's ability to influence the dice, you bet accordingly.

I started this article saying that the SRR in casino craps is like a batting average in baseball. But that's not the whole story. In baseball getting on base is always good but the key to having a great SRR is by betting on the numbers being rolled in that great SRR.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE DICE CONTROL OR DICE INFLUENCING?

Update March 13, 2016  The idea of legally influencing or controlling dice shooting through setting the dice and a predetermined throw has been around a long time and in the late 1990s several books and websites were published about the concept and soon after schools opened up which claimed to be able to teach craps players the skills of DI (dice influencing) or DC (dice control).

One basic question that keeps coming up is how do you measure dice control or dice influencing? Obviously the most basic measure of success at DI or DC is if you are winning. Another measure might be if you are hitting the numbers you are betting on. However, these aren't true measure of DI or DC because even random shooters who pick up the dice and hurl them without any "dice set" or any attempt to limit the bounce and speed of the dice can have winning sessions and they can hit the numbers they bet on.

So what measure can you use?

Some suggest the Sevens-To-Rolls Ratio (SRR) is a measure of DI or DC. With fair dice thrown randomly, over the long term the math of the game dictates that a 7 should be rolled one out of 6 times. Proponents of DI and DC therefore try to have a SRR that is either greater than 1 out of 6 (if they are playing the Don't Pass) or fewer than 1 out of 6 (if they are playing the Pass).

Unfortunately for the DI and DC school of thought even random rollers or random shooters can have a SRR that is great for Don't Players or for Right-Way Players.

What about measuring the frequency that your bets are paid? Obviously if someone says that they are a DI or DC and they can influence or control the dice they want to be hitting the numbers they bet on over and over again. Yet again, random shooters or random rollers can also have a high repetition rate for hitting certain numbers.

Quite frankly, I don't know how you would measure DI or DC in a manner that would show that setting dice and throwing them in a particular fashion can absolutely prove it works when random shooters can have equally good or even better results when they throw the dice.

Does this mean that DI and DC are no better than random rolling or random shooting? The answer is yes and no.

The answer is yes that DI and DC are no better than random rolling because random rollers can have great rolls. The answer is no when DI and DC shooters have their own great rolls.

If the answer can be both yes and no then should anyone bother with DI and DC? My answer is simply this: if craps is a random game by definition it doesn't hurt to try. Even if no one really can influence or control the dice and craps is a random game to begin with, there is no harm in trying.

Casinos give players the dice to throw them and as long as the dice throw is a legal throw and meets the definitions of a legal throw, why not try to influence, control or have the dice hit the numbers you are betting on?

DICE CONTROL: IS IT LEGAL? 

Update February 29, 2016  This subject comes up from time to time in magazines, books, and especially on the Internet in discussions about casino gaming.  Is it cheating to be able to set the dice in certain combinations and to throw the dice in a manner which limits the appearance of certain numbers or produces a better chance that certain numbers will show?  In simple language, is dice control legal or illegal?  In short, dice setting and dice controlling is not illegal but players who can influence the dice may find some resistance or pressure at some casinos.  At other casinos there is no objection to any player who attempts to set and throw dice a certain way at all.
 
The debate becomes serious when some people look at the exact language of various State gaming regulations and make their own interpretations of that "legal text."  What appears to be the "law" or the "rules of the game" might not be the law or the rules even if you read them in black and white.  Take for example, the regulations of the State of Nevada.  The definitions of "cheat" according to Nevada gaming regulations are spelled out this way:
 
"Cheat" means to alter the elements of chance, method of selection or criteria which determine:
(a) The result of a game;
(b) The amount or frequency of payment in a game;....
 
From this statement, there are those who contend that dice control is a way to "cheat" because dice control can alter the results in the game of craps (from non-random results), and dice control can alter the amount of frequency that certain bets are paid off (for example if a "shooter" can avoid throwing a "7" then that bet would not be paid as frequently as with a random shooter).
 
Well, it certainly might appear that dice control including setting the dice for certain combinations and the skillfull throwing of dice to avoid certain numbers or results is a form of cheating based on the language of the Nevada regulations.  But after several conversations with regulators in both Nevada and Michigan (which uses similar language as Nevada to define "cheating") the regulators all agree that attempts at dice control including "setting" are not cheating and is perfectly legal providing other conditions are met.
 
Regulators from both Nevada and Michigan have told me that "dice control" and controlled shooting and dice setting are legal as long as the following conditions are met, and these conditions are vital for a legal throw:
 
1. The dice are tossed in the air, above the table surface, and
2. The dice bounce at least once on the table surface, and
3. The dice hit the back wall of the table, and
4. No artificial methods are used to limit the rolls of the dice or their movement including glues or paste.

Clearly altered dice including dice with magnets or weights are not allowed. But this is not a discussion about altered dice, this is only a discussion about the art of dice control, or an artful throw of the dice to influence the results of the "throw" or toss.

Some players have mastered an "illegal" throw called the whip shot or slide. This is also an artful "throw" but is not considered legal and is not tolerated by casinos or regulators. In the "slide" the dice actually do not roll or turn over and are whipped down the table with the same face or numbers always on top.

I have seen the whip shot or slide used on rare occasions, and because it was used rarely (and probably surprised casino personnel) the "toss" was not challenged. But, it could have been. Below is a demonstration of a dice slide which I performed on a mini dice table.

 

The former Chief of Enforcement of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Keith Copher, has given extensive interviews on the subject of the legality of dice control. He has called setting the dice and "controlled shooting" an "expected part of the game" and a legal way to play.

I spoke with him shortly before his retirement several years ago.  Here are some exact questions about dice control and his answers:

Q: "Does the Gaming Commission recognize the efficacy of so-called 'dice setting' by gamblers as a means to reliably produce non-random results of dice throws, in the same way it recognizes the efficacy of dice sliding?"

A: "Sliding (dice) is illegal because in sliding they don't bounce or roll the dice, and the dice don't bounce off the back wall. In sliding the same numbers are always known, and that's cheating. But if the dice bounce and hit the back wall that's okay and they can set them (the dice) any way they want to. The difference with a controlled throw is that there is still a bounce and the dice are in the air."

Q: "Does the Gaming Commission then consider 'dice setting' to fall under the definition of 'cheating'"?

A: "No, as long as the dice fly in the air, bounce on the table, and hit the back wall. In some cases the casinos are lenient about the dice not hitting the back wall, and these are still legal throws, no cheating."

Q: "Why is dice sliding banned, but dice setting not banned, if both are considered effective means to alter the random outcome of dice?"

A: "Dice sliding is a method of cheating, but as long as dice fly in the air, bounce and hit the back wall it doesn't matter how they are set. It's not cheating as long as the dice fly in the air and bounce."

If you are a dice controller, the determination of the gaming authorities might be of little help to you if a casino challenges your "dice control." There are numerous reports of casinos that have told "shooters" that they cannot "set" the dice, or that they must "pick 'em up and throw them."

Casinos, can and do, set their own "rules of play." Casinos can decide not to allow dice setting or controlled shooting, just as they can block "card counters" from playing blackjack.

Card Counting is not illegal in Nevada and other states. In fact, various courts have upheld the legality of players using their skill (card counting) to win the game of blackjack. But the casinos, being private businesses, are not obligated to allow card counters to play in their establishments.

And so it is with dice controllers or "dice mechanics," as some are called. While setting and controlled shooting is legal the casinos do not have to let you play or shoot. They can say, "throw the dice our way or take the highway."

Casinos can also enforce the "back wall" rule differently. All casinos maintain that for a dice throw to be legal that both dice must hit the back wall; but this rule can be enforced and interpreted differently.

Some casinos will allow a throw when both dice end up short of the back wall by several inches or even a foot or two feet. But some casinos might call "no roll" when both dice fail to reach and hit the back wall.

I know of some casinos who maintain that the dice not only must reach the back wall but must bounce off of the backwall by at least several inches.  While a throw of the dice under government regulations must not bounce off the wall by any minimum number of inches, the casino can set whatever rules it wants for its tables.  I've been in casinos where the dice had to "bounce off the wall a minimum of six inches."  While there is no legal requirement for that, or rules published by the State of Nevada that demand a bounce off the back wall by a certain minimum number of inches, the casino could still enforce that rule -- but the casino can't say the player cheated or broke a law if the player's throw violated that "six inch bounce rule."

I've also heard of casinos who will declare "no roll" when the dice do not hit the back wall and a "winning number" shows, but will let the "short roll" count if a "seven out" or losing number shows.

If a casino abuses the rights of the consumer, then the consumer should lodge a complaint with the casino management. If the consumer feels the management has been unfair or has taken advantage of the consumer, then the consumer should take his business elsewhere.

Should you complain to gaming authorities? It depends on just how "one sided" the casino managment has been.

But as the strategy of "dice control" gains popularity and more players attempt it and some players master the skill, you might find that more casinos are less tolerant of short rolls and might even be less tolerant of dice setters and controlled shooters -- even to the point of blocking them from play.

I was intrigued to see this exchange between two craps players on an Internet discussion board on the subject of the illegality vs. legality of dice control.

The first comments came from a writer who suspects that dice control is illegal and cheats, and he wrote:

"Card counting is not criminalized because... it does not involve any manipulation, control, or influence upon the gaming device, in this case, cards. Same with looking for a dealer who, through sloppy procedure, inadvertantly flashes the dealer's hole card. Both are passive, and involve human observation only. Dice setting, were it to be demonstrated effective, is a different kettle of fish entirely, as it involves a conscious attempt to manipulate and control the gaming device through overt, intentional action. Its espousers allegedly 'teach' the shooter to remove randomness from the game, and that would be a crime...if it works."

This player continues: "The only fundamental difference between dice sliding (crime) and dice setting (not yet considered a crime) is that those who implement and enforce the law know that dice sliding works as claimed, affecting the outcome of the roll in objective and replicable fashion. I think however that we'll be seeing sterner countermeasures, including (God help us) throwing the bones (dice) from a cup, or requiring that the shooter shake and not set the dice, as opposed to criminalization. But if it worked, it could be deemed criminal conduct."

Another player, who says dice control is not a crime or cheating responded this way:

"But the most important thing you are overlooking is this: the dice are given to the player to throw. The casino is transferring the fate of the roll from a dealer to the player, and it is surrendering the control of the dice to the player. Now, it becomes an expected part of the game that the player will throw the dice so that he has an advantage. There are boundaries for what the player can do-- he can't substitute glued or loaded dice, or magnetized dice -- but when the control of the dice were transferred to the player the casino has surrendered and accepted that the player can have the skill to win his bets."

But is "dice control" possible?  Well, even the proponents of setting dice and controlling the throw do not claim that you can actually "control" the dice.  At best, you can "influence the dice."  Perhaps there is someone out there who can control the dice to a certain degree.  But once the dice hit the table even a skilled shooter loses all control.  You might control a toss until the point of impact with the table.  But at that point of impact a skilled shooter still might be able to influence how the dice will react with the table.  It is the "influencing" of the dice that can help a skilled shooter win at the game of craps.

The debate continues. Some players challenge dice control as do some casinos.

The bottom line is that the casinos make the rules that fill in the gaps between what the gaming regulators and the courts say are the rules.

So this advice from "dice setters" and "controllers" I have come to know:

1. Don't be so obvious that you are setting the dice, and do it quickly.
2. Hit the back wall each and every time.
3. Do not delay the game with setting and throwing; practice at home so you can set and throw in a reasonably short period of time-- that's seconds.
4. Do not attempt dice control at casinos that are clearly opposed to dice controllers.

CASINO CRAPS: A GAME OF SKILL

Update February 29, 2016  There are several casino games that involve skill. There is blackjack where skills include counting cards or knowing basic strategy and simple addition. There is poker which has all sorts of skills in its mix including an analysis of the betting and motions of other players as well as knowing the math of a 52-card deck. Video Poker is another casino game where skill is involved including figuring the odds and pays of certain card combinations and the chance of drawing certain cards. Craps is also a game of skill but there are many who say it is nothing more than luck and is completely random.

The reason that craps can be a game of skill is that it is the player who throws the dice who determines the final outcome of the game. With craps there is no random number generator and there is no dealer shuffling cards. In craps the result that will be shown on the two dice depends 100% on how the shooter throws the dice.

While the dice table itself has obstacles on it -- chips, and walls with pyramids, and a felt cover on the table that may or may not impact the direction of the dice -- all of those obstacles are fixed. The chips that are on the table will not move around to hit the dice. The walls do not vibrate or shoot out currents of air to repel the dice. The pyramids on the walls do not move, and the table surface itself with the felt cover has no movement. Simply how the shooter throws the two dice will determine how the dice will interact with everything on the table and what the table is made of.

Because the craps table is a fixed object and the obstacles on the craps table are fixed, throwing the dice is much like shooting billiards. The billiards table is fixed and the success of the player in hitting the cue ball and the other balls on the table and sinking them in the pockets all depends on the player's skill.

Since all of the action and reaction of the dice depends solely on how the shooter throws the dice -- that is the skill of the shooter -- craps becomes a unique casino game. It is the only game in the casino where a player determines the outcome.

The point of all this is simple: since the fate of the game is in the hand or fingers of the shooter, every shooter should try to influence the dice. Since the casino is transferring the fate of the game from the dealers to the player it makes perfect sense that every shooter should try to set the dice and throw them in a way that the dice will come to rest showing the numbers that will benefit him the most.

While shooters should try to influence the dice to come up with favorable numbers this doesn't mean necessarily that you, me or anyone can do it. But the casinos give us the dice -- so we should try to do it. And when it comes to playing craps, I would rather play with a shooter who at least tries to influence the dice than play with a shooter who simply chucks them down the table.

A DREAM TABLE FOR A "DICE INFLUENCER" OR "DICE CONTROLLER"

The former Hacienda Casino near the Boulder Dam just a short drive outside of Las Vegas might have had the perfect or dream craps table for any player who thinks they can influence or control the throw of dice.

What made this table so attractive for throwing dice is that when there were few players, half of the table was shut down, and the casino placed a straight wall across the middle of the table to shorten the table.  The key element here was that it was truly a straight wall meaning that your dice would hit a straight, flat wall without a curve.  It is the curve or bend in the back wall of craps tables that can send pre-set dice off their axis and disturb an attempt at dice control or dice influencing.

We have a short video of this table and the straight wall below.

But keep in mind that this straight wall was added to the table only when there were few players and only one dealer was staffing the table without a boxman or stickman.

Yes, their casino personnel were very aware that some players would attempt to control or influence the dice using a short table like this with a straight wall, but they didn't seem to be very concerned.  Perhaps it was because there are so few true dice controllers or dice influencers out there who have mastered the art.  But again, for a buck on this $1 minimum bet craps table, you could test your skill -- or lack of skill -- at the former Hacienda Casino.

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