Controlling the Dice – IS IT FACT OR FICTION?
by Henry Tamburin
The hot topic in gambling these days is dice control and whether it’s possible for players to influence the results of their rolls to gain the advantage over the casino. To get some answers about this controversial topic, I interviewed Dan Pronovost, president of DeepNet Technologies (www.deepnettech.com) and the developer of the revolutionary blackjack advantage playing system, Speed Count, which Frank Scoblete and I teach.
CP: What was your opinion of dice control before you began studying it?
DP: I was highly skeptical and reluctant to even get involved at first. Dice control is a pariah subject in some circles of gambling authors and experts. The game of craps tends to attract more scam authors and “system hawkers,” who peddle betting methods and other voodoo to “win.” As with all casino games, there is no way to get a long-term and sustainable advantage simply by using an uninformed betting system, regardless of the progression or regression. But after I saw Frank Scoblete and other experts throw the dice, it was clear something was going on, because of dice control.
Can you describe in layman’s terms what’s involved in controlling the dice?
It is about finely controlling the throw of the dice such that some numbers appear more (or less) than expected in the long run. Generally the shooter tries throwing the dice so that they are square to the table, do not wobble, stay together in the air and rotate together evenly. Dice controllers want the dice to land on a face as much as possible, absorbing most of the energy so that they barely graze the back wall and land softly. With a good throw, the dice controller is hoping to control undesirable pitches and rotations, providing enough of a deviation from random to yield a positive edge.
What’s the difference between a “random” versus “nonrandom” dice shooter?
Most shooters pick up the dice and fling them down the table. The dice hit the back wall hard, bounce around and finally come to rest. This is a typical random roll, and in the long run we know mathematically how many times each number will be rolled (e.g., the 7 will be thrown once out of every six rolls on average). As long as the dice behave in a random manner, the casino will always have the edge over players. The rolls of dice controllers, however, are nonrandom in the long run because they can influence which numbers appear on the dice. Skilled dice controllers, because of their nonrandom rolls, have altered the nature of craps.
Is it possible for an average player to learn how to control the dice?
Yes, but it isn’t easy. Unlike advantage play in blackjack, dice control is a physical skill rather than a purely mental talent. Even worse, since the influence is marginal and inconsistent, assessing dice control properly is a challenging statistical process. From my own experience, I estimate that six months or more of weekly practice (five hours a week) is required to be able to acquire sufficient skill to get a positive edge and prove it.
How can a player prove that he or she has enough control of the dice to have the edge over the casino?
This was a difficult problem. Players were using the seven-to-rolls ratio (SRR), which measures the average number of tosses it takes for one 7 to appear. However SRR is very imprecise statistically and can require 5,000 or more rolls to say anything meaningful about your dice control. More importantly it doesn’t provide any mathematical basis to optimize dice sets and calculate maximal player edge. This was one of the reasons I developed my Smart Craps software.
Can you describe your Smart Craps software and what it does?
The most useful aspect of Smart Craps is Pro Test, which is a precise and mathematically sound way to statistically measure your dice control skill, determine your edge and optimize your dice sets. You can record a set of rolls and enter the results in Smart Craps, and compare your data using Pro Test to a truly random shooter. If there is less than one percent chance of a random shooter replicating your results across one or more of three statistical measures, then there is ample evidence you are influencing the dice. Then, Smart Craps uses that influence to determine how you bias the outcomes, and then cycles through all the possible dice sets to determine which set is optimum and finally computes your edge over the casino based on which wagers you make. Smart Craps is also a very powerful software simulator that can even let you program your own betting systems if you want. Users can test and experiment with virtually any craps scenario. It took my company over one year to refine the mathematics, write the program and complete the testing of the software.
Have you tested anyone for dice control using your software and have they passed the Pro Test?
Yes. I tested a number of instructors at a Golden Touch Craps course, and have since looked at data from many early users of the software. Passing Pro Test gets easier as you add more rolls, but several have passed in as few as 100 or 200 rolls. This represents a very high and rare level of skill… 500 to 1,000 rolls to pass is more typical of well-trained dice controllers.
How much of an edge can a dice controller have over the casino?
This varies depending on skill. With Smart Craps you can “tune down” your Pro Test results before calculating an edge. This is similar to election polls when they say the results are within a margin of error. With this conservative “confidence interval” reduction, I’ve seen positive player’s edges for dice controllers from 0.5–15 percent with wagers on the pass line and/or place bets on the six or eight.
Players must hit the back wall when they throw the dice. Doesn’t this prevent shooters from controlling their throws?
It certainly makes dice control much harder! Even the best-controlled throws will not necessarily come out “right” every time they throw the dice, just like a skilled pitcher in baseball doesn’t throw strikes on every throw. Controlling the dice is an incredibly difficult skill to master, and passing Pro Test is challenging on real tables with diamond-backed walls. But not impossible… many Smart Craps users have passed Pro Test.
Does the way a dice controller bets influence how much of an edge he or she has?
Absolutely. I’ve seen controllers with verified skill still playing at a loss because of poor bets and nonoptimal dice sets. Bets in craps range from a 1 percent house edge all the way up to 15 percent or more. Dice control is a difficult and marginal skill at the best of times… making foolish bets is still a good way to lose money, as with all casino games.
What would you recommend to readers who might be interested in learning more about dice control?
My favorite two books on dice control are Get the Edge at Craps by Sharpshooter and The Craps Underground by Frank Scoblete. The former is a good technical treatise on dice control, while the latter is a very entertaining insider look at craps from a seasoned profitable expert. Since dice control is a physical skill, taking a hands-on course such as Golden Touch Craps is a good investment (worked for me!). And of course I recommend our Smart Craps software (www.SmartCraps.com) to help dice controllers test and fine tune their skill!
Dr. Henry Tamburin is a casino gambling expert and teacher of “smart gambling” to players everywhere. For details on his two-day Golden Touch Blackjack course featuring Speed Count call 866/WIN-BJ21. To order copies of his books and tapes at a 30 percent discount, visit www.smartgaming.com. To receive a free subscription to his Blackjack Insider Newsletter, visit www.bjinsider.com. For a free copy of his Casino Gambling catalog, call 888/353-3234.