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dice control

Basics of Dice Control

dice control

The Key to Attaining a Real Advantage at Dice Control

The Dice Control Revolution is in full swing. It is now an accepted fact that craps players possessing the skill of dice setting, gripping and throwing the dice so that they travel side-by-side in orbit, at the same velocity, and land softly with minimal “splatter,” can overcome the house edge at casino craps.

Dice Control can be defined simply as the skill of throwing the dice more than the random 6 times including the seven-out in the point cycle. The statistics speak very loudly in this low, house-edge game: If you can roll 6.14 times in the point cycle, you break even; roll eight times including the seven-out and you have a double-digit edge approaching 17%.

Before I get to the key to learning how to control the dice, let me review the simple 4-step process of dice control:

Dice Control Step 1: You set the dice to move the losing sevens out of the way, to the hubs or ends, with hardways showing on all four faces. The Hardway Set is just one of the many sets you can use, but it has proven itself over the years as the very best set for newcomers to dice control

Dice Control Step 2: You grip the dice lightly to minimize skin contact (drag) with the surface of the cubes. If you are just starting, I recommend the one-finger front grip – middle finger placed near top of crack with thumb behind. You can find other grips defined in Sharpshooter’s excellent book, How to Control the Dice.

Dice Control Step 3: You pick up the dice while observing your projected landing area about 6 inches in front of the back wall.

Dice Control Step 4: You launch the dice into orbit, perpendicular to the sides of the table and parallel to the back wall.

It is this fourth step that we are concerned about in this article. To secure an edge over the house, your objective is to launch the dice at the optimum angle to accomplish a “soft landing” and minimize the random motion of the dice after they collide with the back wall pyramids and come to rest.

Sharpshooter has stated in the Sharpshooter/PARR Dice Control Course that this optimum launch angle is 45 degrees. The dice should leave your hand at the required 45-degree angle, rotating side by side at the same rate of speed.

This 45-degree angle is key to your control, your soft landing with minimal random “splatter” and, thus, to your edge over the house.

The Question is: How can you be sure that you have launched at 45 degrees or as close as possible thereto?

The answer is contained in simple tables published with the Sharpshooter/PARR Course showing Table Length (12, 14, 16 feet) in Column 1, Throwing Distance for Stick Left, Stick Right and Table End in Column 2, and, most important, Height above the table in feet for each table length to achieve the desired 45 degrees.

Setting The Dice Is A Key Element For Dice Control

To have any chance of being successful, you must deliver the dice so that they leave your hand at the same time and perform identical gyrations through the air, landing and bouncing together. To facilate that delivery it is important that the dice are set in a specific configuration to avoid the 7.

Here are some of the most effective dice sets

The Hardways Set

This set gives you maximum protection against the dreaded 7, but still relies on a consistent method of throwing the dice. This set is suitable for an intermediate level dice shooter with a smooth and consistent delivery. The rank novice would also use this set, but should not expect any kind of an edge until he is able to further develop his throw.

Just as the name would imply, you will set hard ways combinations all around the dice. For example, you could set 5-5, or the hard 10, on top with either 3-3 (hard 6) or 4-4 (the hard 8) on the front. The 2-2, or hard 4, would then be at the bottom. If you prefer, you can position the hard eight, hard six or hard four on top. What matters most is that hardways combinations (2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5) are found all around the dice before you pick them up. There are 16 different ways out of 1,152 that the Hardways Set can be formed.

In the casino, the stickman will bring the dice in front of the boxman for visual inspection. After the stickman slides the dice over to you to throw, place them side-by-side and form hardways combinations on top and front. A good point to remember is that opposite parallel faces of each die will add up to 7. Grab a die and look at it. If a 3 is on top, then a 4 has to be on the bottom face and likewise with the 5-2 and 6-1. This fact will help you to position the dice more efficiently.

3 V and 2V Sets

The 2-V Set is as powerful at avoiding the 7 as is the 3-V set is, but the 3-V Set is more powerful at sniping out inside numbers (all primaries and several secondaries). These inside numbers have a higher frequency of occurrence and lower house edges than the outside numbers do. Those facts make the 3-V set (hands down) the most powerful set for someone who has mastered the Perfect Pitch Delivery System.

Additionally and also very importantly, the dice must also be synchronized. That is, they must pitch, or rotate horizontally, at the same rate and side by side. The right die should be the mirror image of the left die. This includes parallel trajectories, alignments and spin rates (they should be doing the same things at the same time). Under these ideal and well-practiced circumstances, you are, indeed, better served using the 3-V (for inside numbers) or the 2-V (outside numbers) dice sets.

If the dice roll or yaw just one face off and you are using the 3-V or 2-V sets, you may be staring at a seven-out! The Hardway set gives you 100% protection if you are only “one” face off in any rotational direction. You must be two faces off before you see sevens with the Hardway set.

Other Sets

There are many other dice sets that can be used to expand your ability to control the dice. Some players who have completed the Sharpshooter/PARR dice control course have developed their own sets which have become part of the training.

The In-line Six set (on the left) should not be confused with the Hardways set above. This set is a specific set used mostly for the come-out roll, as it tends to result in a lot of 7s.

The Six-T set (on the right) is also used for the come-out roll. It also has the advantage of hitting many of the outside numbers provided your delivery has been refined through practice.

Additionally, there are other sets like the “Super Set” which are explained in detail in the Sharpshooter/Parr Course.

Gripping The Dice

Important Conditions When Selecting And Working On Your Grip

Keep in mind that two different people attempting the same grip may have slightly different results because of different hand sizes, finger widths and lengths, etc. You may have to experiment a little.

The dice must remain in equilibrium while you are holding them. That is, they are not shifting or moving while they are in your hand. Any shift, however small, will be greatly amplified by the time the dice travel down the table. This may destroy the initial dice set relationship that you established.

You should apply just enough holding force to keep the dice in equilibrium and no more. Excessive clamping force will induce shifting and may even cause the dice to “squirt” out of your hand in a less than controlled fashion.

You will want a grip that has little or no release drag. In other words, the dice are easy “to get out of.” Both dice should exit the hand at the same time, with the same rotation and with as little force as possible.

The grip that you finally settle upon should be comfortable. A comfortable grip will feel natural, and a natural grip will be much easier to duplicate trial after trial. Consistency is very important.

Remember that we want just enough force to loft the dice from the starting point to the initial landing point. Also, remember that it is not necessary to put a lot of spin on the dice as they pitch. My experience indicates that a moderate amount of spin is fine, but too much will cause the dice to react more violently once they touch down.

The Grips

The Three-Fingered Front

The index, middle and ring fingers are placed across the far upper edge of the dice as they sit side-by-side on the table. The pinky finger is kicked out to the side and out of the way. The thumb should be situated about halfway down across the two near faces, pressing about 50/50 on each die and directly opposed to the middle finger.

This grip should be light, but not loose. You should have minimal contact area between the fingers and the dice. Minimal contact area equates into minimal release drag. The three fingers are evenly situated across the front of the dice.

If you were to draw a line connecting the tips of the fingers, this tangent line would be parallel to the table surface. The fingertips should be parallel because the dice will wrap around them when they are released. The fingertips will act as a fulcrum, which imparts a slight backspin to the dice. If the fingertips are not aligned, then the dice will not come out of the hand together and in parallel trajectories. You may have to rock your hand slightly to the right or left to create this situation.

This particular grip is more difficult to master because there is an issue of timing and balance, just at the moment that you grip the dice. If your timing is off slightly, the dice will tend to splay apart in front, as they press against the thumb. If you encounter this situation, practice placing your thumb and fingers down at exactly the same time when you grip the dice. If you still have trouble with this, use the One Fingered Front for the next 10 or 12 hours of play or practice. It is much easier to balance one finger and the thumb. Once you have become accustomed to this grip, you can try gently.

One-Fingered Front Grip

One finger, usually the middle finger, is centered in front and directly opposes the thumb that is placed on the back. This grip requires little clamping force and is easy to release out of. It may be a little tough to keep the dice from shifting, but overall it offers good control. Gently grab the dice one-third to one-half the way down and toss. If you get too much lateral rollout, consider another grip. One idea would be to grab the dice initially as shown, but then gently bring down the index and ring fingers on either side of the middle finger.

This can actually be used as a prelude to mastering Sharpshooter’s grip. . . the Three-Fingered Front. In fact, I use this technique to help students getting comfortable with the tougher-to-master Three-Fingered Front grip. You may find that this grip, on its own merit, works; however, Sharpshooter/Parr students have found in Dealer School coaching sessions that the One-Fingered Front Grip can easily be transformed into the Three-Fingered Front Grip with the aid of our instructors.

Two-Fingered Front Grip

The middle and ring fingers both oppose the thumb front-to-back, which is centered about both dice. The index and pinky fingers oppose each other laterally or side-to-side. Usually the person using this grip will bear down with his fingers all the way down to the table felt, totally enclosing the dice.

The gripping force is minimal; however, this situation creates a great amount of release drag. Quite often, the shooter will compensate for this by snapping the wrist or arm harder than normal to get out of the dice. The dice may not come out together and will have excess spin or rotational energy to burn off.

A variation of this grip would be to lift both the index and pinky fingers out and off the sides of the dice. The drag is then reduced, but the dice may splay out from the thumb. If your fingers are larger or thicker than average, this grip variation may work for you. I would recommend not bearing all the way down on the dice.

The biggest problem with the Two-Fingered Front Grip is that there is an individual finger on each side with the thumb opposing on the back straddling both dice. This causes the dice to splay apart in the front (separate from each other), which cause an unwanted effect. As the dice are thrown with this side a tendency to separate and go in two different directions. This highly undesirable effect ruins the possibility of keeping the dice together and on axis.

The Ice Tong Grip

Another grip that can be used when the dice are side-by-side is the Ice Tong. The thumb is placed on the right side (right-handed) and one finger, the index, middle, or ring finger is placed on the opposing side, laterally. No other fingers are used. Very little clamping force is needed and it is moderately easy to release the dice together.

You may encounter the dice shifting relative to each other, because there is no fore / aft support. Uneven perspiration from the finger to the thumb will present different coefficients of friction on either side. This will also cause the dice to shift somewhat during the release.

This grip is easy to master, but yields a moderate amount of control at best. For this reason, this grip is discouraged.

The Delivery

Comfort, Control and Consistency

When selecting a delivery style, the “Three C’s” should weigh heavily in your consideration: Comfort, Control, and Consistency. You want to strike an optimal balance with all three of these.

Of the Three C’s, I would lean in favor of control. The simpler the execution, the fewer things that can go wrong! A simple but effective delivery is easier to duplicate with less opportunity for error.

Another argument for the simpler execution would be the ability to perform it in a more confined space. As the length of your roll increases and the excitement mounts, the table will fill up quickly (if it wasn’t full to begin with). What stance will you use when you throw and how will your body be situated? It is important that your body is comfortable, and balanced. Are you well supported while in your stance? Can your throwing arm swing freely and can you easily see your landing area? Your body should be stable and well supported. Everything should be situated in a particular way – from the positioning of your feet and legs right up to your back, neck and head. Your non-throwing, or support arm will be stationary and should provide additional support. Your throwing arm should swing freely (no obstacles) and naturally (without straining). You should have three minimal points of support to form a tripod, or at least one point and one line of contact. No part of your body should be overly strained or become fatigued.

If you are 5’6″ to about 6’4″, the average craps table will probably suit you fine. Plant both feet firmly on the floor and lean onto the arm rail with your mid-section and support arm, set the dice and go. Sometimes your hip may contact the drink rack if you stand sideways. If you do throw with your body sideways to the table, this extra support will help to stabilize you. If you are taller than 6’4″, both of your feet should be flat on the carpet. Your abdomen will contact the arm rail. Reach down with your non-throwing hand and grab the arm rail securely, but not too tightly. This arm will help support your upper body weight as you lean over to grip and throw the dice. Make yourself as comfortable and stable as possible while you execute your throw.

Use your height and reach advantage to lean out over the table and cut down the throwing distance.

If you are under 5′ 6″, you may have to be satisfied with just one foot on the floor. As you try to gain elevation by pulling yourself up on the arm rail, the other foot will be raised and may kick out a bit. Your stomach or even your lower chest may be up on the arm rail. Use your non-throwing arm to clamp yourself under the inside arm rail edge. This should give you enough support and free up your throwing arm. You may be a little uncomfortable, but at least you can execute a delivery.

Table Position

Taken From The PARR Online Information Library

Walt aka “The Sage” Wrote

Everyone has a “natural throwing distance” – the distance that their body “wants” to toss the dice. For most people, the S-2 position (second position to right of the Stickman) is the “body mechanics preferred” position.

I have moved quite a few people to S-2 and their SRR’s and on-axis performance has immediately jumped, along with many of the typical problems disappearing instantly.

The reason for this is that despite the math and physics, if you are throwing a distance that is shorter than your body wants to toss the bones, then you are REQUIRED to make an otherwise unnecessary correction to your toss to shorten it down to the distance you are imposing on yourself.

Helpful Tip on Shooting From Table End

Walt gave me some pointers about shooting from the end of the table. I think the most positive information he gave me was to let my body relax and my arm just hang naturally over the end of the table. From that position, I just loft the dice. I have been doing a lot of practice from that position, both underhand and overhand, with positive results

Betting TIPS

Betting Tip For The Come Out Roll

On come out roll – lay $40 against the 4 and 10.

I do this on the come out roll. When I say to the dealer, “I want to lay $40 against the outside two” I mean I want to lay $20 against the 4 and lay $20 against the 10.

I set the “no 4 10 seven set,” when I roll a seven (which happens quite often). I get paid even money on my pass line bet and $20 -$1 vig on my lay bets.

I will do this over and over for as long as I am on the come out portion of the game. When I roll a point number, I take the lay bets down. If the point is a 4 or a 10, I lose the lay bet which is on that number. Otherwise, I take them down whenever I establish a point.

A 4 or a 10 on the come out is the only way I can lose this bet and then I lose only the $$ on that particular number. I never ever lay during the point cycle.

I must roll a seven at a rate of 17.04% of the time to beat the House Advantage (2.44% with a 5% commission, 1.952% with a 4% commission) on these bets. Random is 16.667%. A shooter that can hold a rolls-to-seven ratio of 1:5 on the come out has a huge advantage over the house on these bets.

Ideas For Betting In The Point Cycle

I’d like to introduce two concepts that have always been out there in craps theory, but that I believe we need to bring more to the forefront. One is the concept of “hit and down” and the other is the concept of regression. Hit and down is simply hitting a given number of place bets and then taking down your original bets. It is a conservative approach that is designed to produce a small, steady profit on the short to medium hands, and minimize the drawdowns that can occur while waiting for the monster hand. Regression is the concept of pressing your winning bets during a good hand to a certain degree, but then dropping back down to your starting unit size before the inevitable 7-out. It, too, is designed to put more profits in your chip rack, and not leave them on the table.

Think about your play sessions for a minute, whether practice at home or the real thing.

How many times has this happened?

You’re throwing reasonably well, numbers are repeating, but just not the ones you’re on. I’ll throw a medium hand of 8 or 10 rolls and won’t really have anything to show for it. This can also happen with place betting. In this also common scenario I’ll throw that same solid, if unspectacular, hand, of 8 to 12 rolls. Sometimes two or three of these in succession. Nothing dramatic, but I’m definitely throwing better than random. But whether I’m flat betting or pressing my place bets modestly, when the 7 comes after these 8 to 12 rolls, I only have a unit or two in profit, tops. I’ve left my initial investment and most of my wins on the table.


So here’s my plan to combat this. It is designed to get us ahead early in the game, enable us to play with the house’s money, and then either go for the kill, or if we’re not lucky enough to get the monster roll, at least take home a worthwhile profit. It involves steps which have always existed, but for me, at least needed some more structure.

This all assumes you’re already warmed up. This is quite basic, and is always stressed, but I know that I’ve often tricked myself into thinking I’m warmed up because I’m throwing numbers, but in reality my tosses are still random. So I’ll remind everyone here that unless you’ve got a hotel room and a traveling PARR box that gets you warmed up before hitting the casino floor, start slowly. Just a minimum pass line bet with no odds. The number of hands needed to warmup will vary. For me, I used to need 20 throws or more, but now I only need 6 to 12. Just know how many you need before jumping in with real money at risk.

OK, now on to playing for real

Step 1: All I’m suggesting here is that before jumping right into either come or place bets, you go with one or two hands of “three hits and down.” This involves taking the place bets down after three hits. Whether you just like the 6 and 8, or all four inside numbers is up to you.

You 3-V shooters can probably make the 6 and 8 work. I’m a hardways set guy, and I’ll often throw lots of 5s and 9s before the 6/8s kick in. The point here is it’s early in the session, we’re not fully grooved in yet, but we can still take down some profits. In this case, I’m risking three units by placing the 6, 8 and either the 5 or 9 for one unit each. If the point is one of these, the other three place bets are obvious.

If the point is 4 or 10, I’ll go with just the 6,8 and either the 5 or 9. On the first hit I’ll use the profits to place the missing inside number. Then it’s just two more hits, and I say to the dealer, “Take all my place bets down.” I’ve just made four units plus profit. I’ll continue my throw and now I don’t care if I throw numbers like crazy. I’m just relaxed and getting myself really grooved in.

Do this at least two times. Depending on whether you’re making your points or not, this should get you to plus 5 to 8 units ahead fairly quickly and easily in a minimum of two separate turns of the dice. If you have a quick 7-out, don’t despair. It’ll just take an extra hand or two at this level to get that money back, plus that slight profit.

Step 2: This is simply regular come betting! My difference here is that I’m already ahead a few units with little risk, and am now hopefully more grooved in. I don’t have the tension of throwing 6 full units out there (pass line with double odds, come bet with double odds) and worrying about a quick 7-out.

I’m now more likely to throw that classic hand of repeating numbers. PARR’s Signature Trend Strategies allow a PARR player to achieve two or three quick wins and be profitable on an average roll of only six or seven tosses of the dice. The long roll is not necessary.

My problem with this has always been that the added muscle tension in my throwing arm that comes with having nearly one-third of my session bankroll at risk in a single hand is too much for me to throw well. Step 1 eliminates this tension for me.

Step 3: Now my goal is to get to a “magic number” of plus 12 units or so. This will happen with at least two turns of “three hits and down” in Step 1, and just one medium Step 2 hand of 8 to 12 rolls. Now I’m really relaxed, hopefully fully grooved in, and ready to go for the kill. The important thing here is that I now “lock up” 10 units of profits in my pocket, and only risk whatever is left. A 12-unit profit at this point now gives me 2 units to play with; if there are more, all the better.

Now I’m just going to proceed with those 2 units at risk. This might simply be a pass line bet and a come bet, with no odds on either. Or it might be just a place bet on the 6 and 8 and down after a hit or two.

If my throws remain good, these two units will grow slightly, and I can relax even more, return to normal come betting, and just sit back and have fun. And this is where the monster rolls are especially likely to occur! This is where we really have the chance to enjoy those twenty-, thirty-, or sixty-minute rolls that are the stuff of PARR legends. But here’s the kicker. If we should 7-out quickly in Step 3 and lose those 2 units, I’m ready to close this session with a 10-unit profit. Nothing dramatic, but enough to make the whole session worth my while.

This is where the synergy of these three steps together really works for me.

Shooter Selection Secret

How Do You Really Know If A Shooter Can Control The Dice?

How do you really know if a shooter’s dice control form – set, grip, pick-up, and throw really gives the shooter an edge over the house?

With the dice control books, websites, schools and articles increasing the popularity of this latest fad for turning the tables on the casinos and grabbing the edge over the house, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of craps shooters who think they know how to control the dice and avoid the losing 7 during the point cycle.

But most are Johnny-come-latelies; they may think they can control the dice, but watch out in betting on them because it’s possible that their dice control form may actually be worse than random, not better.

The Shooter Selection Secret Is Consistency

Consistency in the Soft Landing is key. You want to see the dice land softly, a few inches from the back wall, one bounce, two at the most, gently touch the back wall and repel straight back, softly, with little or no sideways movement.

Watch at least three rolls of the dice; if you see the dice landing softly in each, you are most likely observing an advantage shooter who is definitely worth your normal wager in units that you would risk on yourself.

To gain more confidence in your shooter, begin your observation when the dice are pushed back to him by the Stickman.

Look for consistency in the set; if you can see the set, you would like to see the shooter set the dice the exact same way for every roll.

Look for consistency in the grip if you can see it. There are many different grips, so look for the shooter to grip the same way for each roll.

Look for consistency in the backswing and release of the dice into orbit. The dice should be launched at a 45-degree angle and travel in orbit together, side-by-side, or “on axis,” as we say in the trade. The line of flight should be perpendicular to the back wall.

And finally, look for consistency in the shooter’s demeanor. This may be the most important of all the variables. You want to see the shooter stay calm, cool and collected. If he is chatting with the dealer or friend, if he is distracted by the other players, if he is into the spirit of the game and yelling and shouting as he rolls point numbers, this is NOT the consistency you want to see.

We call it The Zone. If the shooter is throwing winning number after winning number, his chances of continuing the consistency of his soft landings may well rest on his ability to maintain his mental state of mind. So keep an eye on him and watch his landings. If they start to exhibit any chaos, it may be time to “take me down.”

There is more to Dice Control than what I have described above. You’re in the right place to find it. Enjoy the site.


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