CASINO-OLOGY: Control Freaks

There are some proponents in the casino world of a “controlled throw” of the dice at a craps game. But what is considered a controlled throw? Casino ops expert Bill Zender explains how you could be vulnerable.

CASINO-OLOGY: Control Freaks

Anyone who has played craps and thrown the dice believes they can somehow control the outcome of the dice. Some shooters blow on the dice, some talk to the dice, some employ twist of the wrist when throwing, and some throw so the dice will bounce off a specific place on the table. Do any of those techniques provide the shooter with a better chance of winning?

In order to claim that one can profoundly influence the outcome of the dice, the person would have to use some external element that would provide them with a long-term positive mathematical outcome. Many dice blowers and wrist twisters have achieved financially successful outcomes in the short run, but none have been able to sustain those victorious results on a consistent basis.

When we separate the hopers and prayers from people who could possibly alter the mathematical probabilities of tossing two six-sided cubes down the craps table, we come out with only two possibilities; one that is dubious and another that borderlines on illegal.

Rhythm Rolling

Is dice controlling—known as “rhythm rolling”—becoming the wave of the future? Can this method change the game of craps like card counting did to the game of blackjack? Rhythm rolling can be described as a technique of setting and throwing the dice that will allegedly allow the shooter to alter the odds of the game. The shooter attempts to alter these odds by reducing the number of roll results of “seven” after the shooter has established a point. By reducing the probability of seven combinations the shooter can thus gain a mathematical advantage over the casino. Note: There are other combinations as well, but for this article the description will stick with reducing “sevens.”

By reducing the number of sevens rolled the shooter would benefit by the higher percent of “numbers” rolled and passes made successfully. Out of thirty-six possible rolls of the dice, six combinations result in a roll of “seven.” In other words, a seven can be expected to appear once every six rolls of the dice (1:6). Since the house advantage on the pass line bet (without odds) is calculated to be 1.41 percent, once a point has been established, the rhythm shooter only needs to reduce this ratio to one seven every 6.2 rolls (1:6.2) to nullify any house’s estimated mathematical gain. By reducing the ratio to 1:7 the shooter would not only eliminates the house edge but also achieve a 4.4 percent edge over the house.

To conduct a “rhythm” throw, the dice must be set in a specific configuration before they are tossed. The two dice cubes are place together with the “ace” face touching the “six” face. One die is rotated until a hard way combination appears on their top sides (2/2, 5/5, 3/3, or 4/4). This positioning of the dice known by Rhythm shooters as the “hard-way set” would help facilitate the elimination of ace-six combinations of seven while increasing the possibilities for eventually rolling 4, 6, 8, and 10s.

Before the dice are thrown the shooter must use a specific grip to lock the dice together. One of the grips recommended is performed by positioning three figures in the front of the dice with the pinkie hanging in the air, while the thumb is firmly placed on the back side. When the dice are released, they are thrown in a manner that allows them to leave the hand together and rotating with a slight backspin on the ace-six axis.

The rhythm shooter tries throwing the dice so that they stay together while in the air and rotate evenly together. The shooter wants the dice to land on a face surface or straight edge as much as possible, absorbing most of the energy from their flight both horizontally and vertically, so they will “glance” off the back wall. It is the Rhythm shooter’s desire to toss the dice with the least amount of expended energy possible. The dice are supposed to “float” through the air after leaving the shooters hand. If the dice land correctly, they should lightly bounce off the back wall and roll back towards the center of the table on their ace-six axis with both dice rotating equally.

Unfortunately, there is not enough empirical information available that can either confirm or reject the authenticity of these claims of players being able to alter odds with a controlled dice throw. So far this technique for controlling the outcome of a dice thrown in the casino environment cannot be confirmed. Personally, I do not consider this technique valid so I cannot categorize it as a skill or a cheating scam.

Dice Scooting or Sliding

Most gaming industry people still believe dice “scooting” or “sliding” consists of the craps shooter sliding two dice down the length of the table, always face up and never turning or rotating. This is not true. First, a “throw” in this matter would be easily identifiable, not only by the casino employees, but by the other players at the table. The dice slider does not want the “slide” to look obvious and wants to conduct the sleight-of-hand-scam without detection. Based on the properties of physics, a die that slides with absolutely no horizontal rotation, travels across the felt layout in a very unstable manner and will tend to “trip” or turn over. The more the die rotates or “spins” the more stable its journey down the table, and if it hits an object such as chips or the point marker (puck), the die will not tip over.

From my experience, the dice slide must have an element of deception, while at the same time provide the slider with a high degree of outcome accuracy. In almost all cases, the slider attempt to control only one die. The second die bouncing and hopping randomly, transfers some of the attention away from the die that is not. In addition, the more successful slides incorporate a slight-of-hand manipulation to “spin” the die. The die is spun by the slider through a” finger snapping” method. This creates spin which greatly increases the die’s stability as mentioned previously. It adds an element of deception to the die’s appearance as well.

If the shooter attempting the slide can successfully control one die, how does it influence the outcome of a wager, and how do players take advantage of this situation? The game of craps is based on a two-dice outcome of 36 possible combinations. When a dice slider controls or “kills” the side of one die, he or she cuts the roll possibilities down to a total of six outcomes. Although any side of the controlled die can be “killed”, the most common side is the “six.” When killing the six, the dice rolls will be 6/1, 6/2, 6/3, 6/4, 6/5, and 6/6. The shooter will wager on all or a portion of these numbers when he attempts to control the dice. Anytime the shooter bets these one-roll numbers, or bets on the area of the layout that covers a portion of these numbers such as the “Field,” the dice slider has a sizeable advantage over the house. Note: Betting is usually conducted by a “team” of players. These players may also be used to distract the attention or block the view of the craps game dealers and supervisors.

It is apparent from the details given in this article that the dice “slide” does gain a long-term advantage over the game of craps, but is it considered an advantage play “skill” or is it considered cheating? Actually, it is considered both. While some jurisdictions in North America consider it obvious cheating, the state of Nevada has deemed dice sliding cheating only if the dice slider employs a second individual to purposely block the view of the dealer positioned at the stick. It is a lower court’s decision (upheld in Nevada State Supreme court), that the stick dealer is tasked with calling “no roll” anytime the dice appear to be unnecessarily influenced anytime during the throwing, and if the stick dealer does not call “no roll” the toss is considered valid. In this situation it constitutes a legal “advantage play.” However, if the shooter has someone who purposely interferes with the stick dealer’s view, the casino has the right to call the local authorities and have them hauled off in handcuffs.

Articles by Author: Bill Zender

As former Nevada Gaming Control Agent, casino operator, professional card counter and casino consultant, Bill Zender has been involved in various areas of gaming and hospitality since 1976. In the past, Zender has instructed courses on game protection, card counting, advantage play and gaming operations at various colleges and institutions throughout the country. As a member of JMJ, Inc., Zender was an owner and operator of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino and has additional operational experience in card room casinos in California and is considered an expert in Asian gaming. Besides his practical gaming experience, Zender holds a bachelors in hotel administration and a masters in business. As a gaming author Zender has penned seven non-fiction books on gaming including Card Counting for the Casino Executive, and the Casino-ology series. Owner/consultant of Bill Zender and Associates, Zender spent was general manager at a major California cardroom casino from 2018-2019. For more information, visit WilliamZender.com.