Dice Control:  Calculating the Player Advantage . October 2001

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Dice Control:  Calculating the Player Advantage

by Jerry Patterson

A young engineer who called himself "Sharpshooter" came to my attention in one of my blackjack update seminars.  He had been doing research on dice control for a number of years and explained it thusly:      

"If you could simply set the dice on the desired result without having to throw them, you have controlled the dice 100%. If you could set the dice and just slide them a few feet carefully down a teflon surface, you would have the desired result, maybe 90% of the time.  Now envision the dice being lightly tossed through the air into a sandbox. As they land, they sink into the sand slightly and do not bounce.  Under these circumstances, the dice can be controlled about 70% of the time."

We both agreed that in the real world of casino play, you must take into account the table surface that the dice must bounce and tumble over and the back wall with its diamond-like protrusions the casino requires you to hit. 

So gaining an advantage is no slam dunk, but, by learning how to set the dice, to grip the dice and to throw the dice, and then by repetitive practice, you can attain a measurable and substantial advantage over the house.

Sharpshooter and I have since gone on to form a successful partnership to continue our research and to organize and manage craps teams.  Much of our work is taught in a comprehensive dice control course.  Our dice control methodology is introduced in a book we co-authored called Casino Gambling.  So what you are reading here is not just fuzzy theory; it has been time-tested under the fire of casino play for over five years.  

Before we get to calculating the edge a skilled shooter gain over the casino, let's review the basics of dice control.  First, you need a consistent delivery system. You can compare a controlled throw to playing just about any sport.  Much like the basketball player working on his three-point shot or the golfer working on his swing, the "rhythm roller" practices his or her dice sets, develops a carefully balanced grip and executes the controlled throw with a soft release.

After you release the dice at about a 45-degree angle, ideally they should travel side-by-side and go through identical motions; they should land together, hitting the table flat, with minimal bounce, just grazing the rubber pyramidal backing and quickly coming to rest. 

For the skilled rhythm roller, it looks as though only one die was thrown along the length of a mirror, and the second die is just its reflection. The key is to get the dice going through the same motion.  You are developing and using your "muscle memory" to achieve the consistency needed to overcome the house edge.

Sharpshooter's formula  for calculating the advantage of a skilled rhythm roller is as follows:  Player Advantage (%) = (Actual Payoff – Correct Payoff) times Probability of Outcome times 100 percent

Now let's plug in some numbers to compute the Player Advantage for the 6 and 8 place bets assuming the skilled player throws 6 sevens every 48 rolls instead of the 8 sevens which is random:

(7/6 – 6/7) times 7/13 times 100% = 16.67% where 7/6 is the actual casino payoff for the 6 and 8 place bets, 6/7 is the correct payoff and 7/13 is the probability of outcome or frequency of occurrence. 

To understand the above calculation, you need to look at a new frequency distribution of 48 rolls instead of the standard 36.  In this 48-roll sample, we are assuming that the skilled rhythm roller only throws the 7 six times (instead of the random eight times), while the 6 and 8 are each thrown seven times.  Therefore, the "correct" house payoff for this altered game should only be $6 for each $7 bet instead of $7 for each $6 bet.  This is because the player now holds the advantage, not the casino.  The Probability of Outcome of either the 6 or the 8 is 7/13; i.e. throwing the 6 or the 8 before the losing seven shows.  To understand the 7/13, note that you have seven chances of throwing the 6 and 8 in 48 rolls but only six chances of throwing the 7 in 48 rolls; thus the probability of outcome is 7 divided by 7+6 or 7/13.

 So there you have it.  Can you achieve this 1:8 sevens-to-rolls ratio (6:48 = 1:8)?  It all depends on your commitment and motivation to practice.  But it can be done and many of my and Sharpshooter's students will attest to this fact.  If this 16.67% player advantage is too hard for you to believe, remember that an advantage can be achieved by surpassing the break-even sevens-to-rolls ratio of 1 to 6.14.  You could shoot for an SRR of 1:7 and command an advantage of about 9%!

Learning how to set the dice, which I discussed in my last article, is just the first step in becoming a skilled rhythm roller.  The other two key factors are the grip and the throw itself.  I use a "pincer" grip with my pinky finger and forefinger acting as pincers, one on each end of the dice with my two middle fingers resting gently on top.  You need to experiment to find the grip you're most comfortable with.  As for the throw, there are many different styles starting with overhand versus underhand.  Choosing your own throwing style leads to another key decision – table position:  Where is the best spot to throw from:  Table end?  Hook?  Next to stick?  These factors and decisions are all part of your learning process.  I'll discuss them in my next article.  In the meantime, practice your controlled throw at home on the kitchen table or in the bedroom by throwing into an open dresser drawer.  And look for other rhythm rollers on your next trip to the casino.


Editor's Note:  For more on dice control, pick up a copy of Jerry Patterson's book – Casino Gambling: A Winner's Guide to Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Baccarat and Casino Poker