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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Does the Golden Arm exist?

6 February 2015

Dear Mark: I have read about people who are selling info about how to set dice. Is there anything to someone's ability to set dice and to throw them a certain way to improve their ability to throw desired numbers? On the other hand, are you convinced no matter how you "set" the dice that you will have a completely random roll? I think there must be something to dice setting, as some casinos do not let you set them. Wade J.

Setting dice on a crap game has been practiced forever and is typically not considered illegal. Dice setting rules or decisions come under each individual casino’s policy. Where it is allowed, the only problem dice setters might run into is that they could take some heat from a boxman for holding up the game by taking too long to find their set.

The superstitious player might not like seeing a seven or a craps facing them once they take delivery of the dice from the stickman, so they rotate the dice – set them – until they have their favorite number on top.

Then there is the dedicated community of craps players who believe in "controlled shooting" which goes far beyond simply setting the dice to their liking before a roll. These shooters feel that by gripping and tossing the dice at the correct angle, they can limit the rotational characteristics of the dice. By doing so, they will be able to control the results, hence, the game’s long-term odds in their favor.

So, Wade, can dice shooters set the dice in a particular way and alter the conventional odds of the game? I fly on the side of gaming folklore, and hold that “it ain't so.”

Others in the gaming business disagree. A favorite gambling author of mine, Frank Scoblete, penned a very enjoyable book called "Golden Touch, Dice Control Revolution." I’m not saying “no dice” to his belief, but it’s just that after spending 18 years on the inside, umpteen on the out, that I have to see it to believe it. And I haven’t seen it yet – with an officially permitted toss, that is.

As for a player setting, then sliding the dice across the table to get a specific result, sure, how hard is that. You can do that on your dining room table all day long. But you can expect to see craps dealers, a boxman, the pit boss or the eye in the sky go bonkers when some dice charlatan tries to illegally manipulate the cubes in a manner where a random outcome won’t occur.

Cheating at craps is illegal, and there could be some substantial consequences not if, but when you are caught. Dice must be thrown across the table with some degree of oomph. They cannot be pushed, “trickled” or slid across the table by the shooter.

My personal take, Wade, is that the chance of affecting the dice after they have bounced off a surface of rubber pyramids on the back wall of a 12-foot craps table are slim to none, no matter how you set them, or what axis the dice were on in flight before they hit. Now playing cup-free, laissez-faire Yahtzee with my wife — well, that's a different story.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “The dice goad like hooks and prick like whips; they deceive and torment. They are coated with honey.” – Bettor's Lament, Rig Veda Hymn
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.