There Ain't no "I" in TEAM

Being the ramrod of the Axis Power Craps Forum and an assortment of other websites, I frequently get reports from other players who either want to start up a pro craps team OR have already put together a team and they’re having problems.  Most of the time, but not always, those problems come down to egos.  How pro football and basketball teams go about managing player egos is beyond me.  My answer is pretty straight forward.  Check your ego when we walk into the casino.  If you can’t do that you’ll probably be invited to leave the team.  But before I go down that route – let’s back up a minute and define exactly what a team is.

Team.  (tēm)  n.  A group on the same side, as in a game.  A group organized to work together.  Example:  A team or engineers.  A football team.
v.   To harness or join together so as to form a team. To form a team or an association. Often used with up.

There are dozens of acronyms for the word TEAM.  The “T” might stand for truth, trust, or training.  The “E” may represent education or enforcement.  The “A” could mean acceptance or action.  The “M” might stand for mentor, manage, or motivate.   All of these are good but the somewhat clichéd acronym I like best is this:  “Together Everyone Achieves More.”  And, of course, the next thing you’ll hear coaches say is “There is no “I” in TEAM.”

The team concept as applies to casino craps – or any other form of gaming – is relatively simple.  There is a certain synergy that comes when the right group of players comes together.  Their total combined talent exceeds that of the individuals.

A team may consist of as few as two people – or dozens of players.  Their play may be limited to one, two, or more tables.  They may even divide their action among several casinos simultaneously – or over the course of a specific time period.  They may work in shifts with different “specialists” serving on more than one “squad.”  Team action is limited only by the imagination of the team members.

Two Person Craps Teams:  In its simplest form a pro craps team consists of just two players.  In most instances both of these players are skilled shooters who rotate tossing and betting assignments between them.  However, some such teams operate with only one shooter and one betting specialist who passes the dice.  They may play the right side of the game or the wrong way.

Generally the shooter takes up his preferred shooting position and limits himself to a Pass or Don’t Pass Line bet when tossing the dice.  The other team member runs the wagers according to a pre-determined betting strategy.   After one shooter has his turn with the dice the players roles are reversed.

In the event that only one of the players is a designated shooter the second player should take up a position straight out in order to defend the shooter’s landing zone.  In this case the shooter plays a Pass or Don’t Pass bet with odds.  The other team member runs place bet strategies and does not play the line.  This reduced the chances that the dice will hit a chip, generating a random roll.

In some cases a shooter may prefer to shoot from the straight out position instead of from near the stickman.  Some stickmen will deliberately interfere with a player’s toss from stick left or stick right.  Generally this is not an issue when shooting from the straight out position.  It is also easier to toss the dice on a straight-line vector to the back wall from straight out.  The trade off is that the dice are more difficult to influence as the length of the toss increases.

There are two ways to play with a partner if you prefer shooting from straight out.  The first way is to play at the same table with each of the team members occupying a straight out position and serving as landing zone blockers for one another.   Betting would be handled the same as mentioned before – with the shooter playing Pass Line or Don’t Pass only and the blocker running the pre-planned place betting strategy.

The other two-person strategy is to play back to back on separate tables.  By playing on separate tables the two shooters effectively double their opportunities to catch a hot hand tossed by another shooter.  If one table gets hot it is relatively easy for the partners to advise one another and make room for each other on the hot table.  While betting on random rollers is discouraged, there are many skilled shooters out there capable of tossing hands you can profit from.

Three and Four Person Craps Teams:  With added team members come added opportunities.  With four players, any of the two-man team techniques can simply be doubled and played on different tables.  You may have two two-member teams playing at different tables where all of the shooters are positioned at stick left or stick right.  You may have one table set up with stick left and stick right shooters while the other team sets up from straight out or on back to back on adjacent tables.  You may even choose to have one team playing the Right Way and the other team playing the Wrong Way.

Splitting a four man team into two two-man teams makes sense from a cover viewpoint as well.  Today’s modern facial recognition software not only looks for players in its database, it searches for unusual recurrences, such as the same two or three players hitting the table together on different dates.  A four man team can reduce the instance of this by simply setting up a rotation that reduces the number of times team members play on the same table.

Of course, the most common configuration for a four-person craps team is to place all four players at the same table.  Two of these individuals are generally designated as shooters and are typically positioned at stick right and stick left.  The other two team members are designated as landing zone blockers and stand straight out.  Betting responsibilities differ from team to team.  The majority of such teams limit shooters to Pass Line and odds bets only.  One of the straight out blockers runs the team’s betting strategy – generally through Place and Come Betting.  The other straight out blocker frequently fulfills the role of the distracter and may play a single Don’t Pass wager combined with some small proposition bet strategy.

Five and Six Member Teams:  The most effective way to utilize a fifth or sixth team member in a one-table team is through the addition of a second stick-left shooter.  Other team members fulfill the standard roles.  When the team’s bonus shooter gets the dice the stick left player steps back and provides him with additional room to shoot.

A six member team may opt to split up and work two tables simultaneously.  In this case the two shooters would typically set up at stick left and stick right, or both might choose to shoot from the same side.  The third team member serves as a landing zone blocker and runs the team’s primary betting strategy.

Every Team is Different:  All teams are comprised of individuals with different talents.  Team A might have two strong stick left shooters and no stick right shooters.  Team B might have only one strong shooter.  Team C might consist of a straight out shooter and a stick right shooter.  Team D might have a shooter who is extremely proficient at tossing sevens.  Team E might have a six and eight specialist.  Team F’s shooters may only like to play early morning sessions.  Team G might have a preference for a specific casino or table.  The list goes on and on.  And all of these facts must be taken into consideration when establishing the team members’ role, table position, and ground rules.

Is team play for you?  Maybe it is.  But make sure you are playing with people you can Trust.  You might even want to designate one team member as the “auditor” who tracks all of the bankroll and betting while the team is at the table.  You’ll probably want to establish rules about alcohol or drug use while playing.  Obviously there should be no freelancing.  Be sure you Enforce the team’s ground rules for play.  Account for all winnings or losses at the end of every session.  Manage your emotions at all times.  And remember – while there ain’t no “I” in Team – there ain’t no “U” either.  Together Everyone Achieves More.  Live by it.