Pacing your Play

I often say that playing craps is like stepping onto a battlefield. It is you against the casino. Unless you are a skilled shooter, every wager on the layout has you at a disadvantage. The casino has unlimited ammunition in the form of its bankroll, while you are limited to the money you bring to the table. Sooner or later exhaustion will set in and you will start to make poor decisions. Meanwhile, the casino brings in a fresh crew and the battle continues. They have you out-manned and out-gunned.

To be an effective player you must maintain a certain pace. In fact, P.A.C.E. is an acronym to help you remember the steps to winning the craps wars.

Plan . . . your play
Accept . . . the fact that you may lose everything you brought to the table
Control . . . your emotions and fear by visualizing success
Execute . . . your plan without stopping or looking back once the action begins

To be an effective player your session begins long before you step up to the table. Before seeing any live action the General makes elaborate battle plans. You must plan your play before you hit the tables. The General weighs risk versus reward before putting his soldier’s lives at risk. In the same manner, you must decide just how much you are willing to risk for the opportunity to win. Like the General, you must control your emotions and fear in the heat of battle. You must execute your plan flawlessly, without looking back once the action has begun. If you planned to run a six and eight progression from $12 up to $120, then commit and do it. Should you decide in mid-progression that you want to take the bets down you can always do so. But make sure you are doing it for a legitimate reason. Perhaps the shooter is a DI who has been interrupted by the cocktail server. Someone may have placed their action in his landing zone. The box may be giving him heat for missing the back wall. These are legitimate reasons to amend your play.

With that thought in mind, remember that there are two ways to fight a battle – defensively and offensively.  Let’s think about the defensive fighter. The enemy attacks and he uses everything he has in an effort to save home and heartland. He may ultimately win after a long pitched battle, but often home and heartlands are destroyed in the process. He is left to bury his dead and survive on the dregs of war. On the other hand, the offensive fighter is the master of lightning-fast attacks. He quickly takes advantage of every opening and opportunity wins the day handily and emerges with all the spoils of war.

To win at casino craps you must strike quickly when there is an opportunity, taking advantage of every opening while accepting the fact that at any moment you may be struck down by the enemy. The reason so many players fail to do that is that they cannot accept the possibility of loss. They are afraid to lose, so they play not to lose. They play defensively instead of playing to win, and opportunity passes them by.

Here are five of the primary P.A.C.E. targets I look for when observing a DI tossing the dice:

1. The shooter sets the dice and executes an obviously practiced toss.
2. The shooter makes his first Pass and gets beyond the second toss of his second hand. Just about every monster roll starts with that first Pass decision. But all too many hands end with a quick Seven-Out after the second point is established.
3. Any inside number repeats during a shooter’s hand. Let’s say the shooter tosses a Five, followed by a Six, then another Five. At that point, if I do not already have a bet on the Five I will get one.
4. Multiple naturals on the Come Out. One thing all great craps hands have in common is that the sevens roll at the right time – on the Come Out. To me this is a powerful indicator of a potentially hot hand.
5. Multiple hardway numbers roll during a shooter’s hand. While the hardways are high vig bets, they are a good indicator of a hot hand. Watch the prop box as the hand progresses. If you decide to play the hardways set aside a small portion of your bankroll for this type of action. If you lose that portion of your bankroll – you’re through betting the props.

Interestingly enough, many of these “indicators” are often cited in strategies sold by system sellers as ways to qualify a shooter. Do they work on random rollers? Probably not. But when a DI has the dice it’s not a bad way to go.

The important thing to remember is to have a plan – a track to run on – then set a pace that will see you through the race.