Before I get too deep into this article I’ll ‘fess up and tell you I’m entirely too dependent on a roll tracking program developed by my buddy Maddog called BoneTracker. BoneTracker did some wonderful things for me. First off, it simultaneously compared my EV on dozens of different dice sets, allowing me to choose the set that was most productive for me. Secondly, it enabled me to play with an edge without continually trying to “fix” a persistent – yet consistent – flaw in my grip. Suddenly it didn’t matter if my ring finger was an eighth of an inch too far down the front face of the right die – as long as I kept it down there every time. A one-face shift into a mutant V-3 produced a huge theoretical advantage – and excellent wins at the table. Using that particular set I tossed three hands that stretched beyond the one hour mark last year. So kudos to Maddog and BoneTracker. With it I was able to develop a set that was essentially invisible to the casino – they were always on the lookout for the V-3. But recently the heat has been cranked up on all dice setters – even the random rollers who set, shake and fling. That means it’s time to sharpen up your under-the-radar setting skills.
For this exercise I’d like you all to take out a pair of casino dice and a copy of my Axis Power Craps Dice Set Reference Card. You say you don’t have one? Well, it’s your lucky day. Click on the Dice Setting tab on this website’s menu and you’ll see a copy of one side of it about midway down, and the other side at the bottom of the article.
Back when I first came up with the Axis Power Craps card it confused the heck out of some folks. The descriptive terms we used to refer to the sets had not yet fully evolved. Take the straight sixes set, for example. Some camps referred to it as the 6-6 2-2 set, meaning the sixes were on top and the twos were facing you. Others called it the 6-2 6-2 set, identifying the left die first, then the right die with the numbers up then the numbers facing you. Being the “axis” guy, I called it the 3-4 3-4 set, which referred to the pips on the lateral or axis faces of the dice. The three is on the left on both dice and the four is on the right. Hence the designation 3-4 3-4 beneath Straight Sixes dice set on the card. Makes perfect sense, right?
Well, agree or not, memorizing the lateral faces of the dice is one of the easiest ways to learn to quick-set the dice. Why? Because when quick setting the dice we don’t concern ourselves with which particular variant of a pre-set arrangement we’re using. We simply want to get the dice on the axis we want in order to optimize out chances of achieving a successful on-axis result.
Let’s say it’s the Come Out roll and you want to maximize your chances of tossing a natural on the next roll while minimizing the chances of tossing a craps number. As a bonus, you’d like to set the six or eight as the point if possible. Which pre-set arrangement would you use? If you say the All Sevens or Hardway Set you’re on the right track. Whatever variant you use, the 1-6 1-6 are on the lateral faces of the dice. So when the stickman sends a full selection of dice to you it’s a simple matter of picking two with the aces or sixes in plain site, adjusting them to make sure the 1-6 1-6 sides are on the axis, then pick them up and toss them. Again, we’re not concerned with what faces are “up” and “facing” on the dice. We’re simply concerned with getting the dice on the correct axis and that there is no seven showing on the up and facing sides. And adjusting the dice to get the seven off those faces should not give you any heat. If it does – simply tell the box that the stick sent the dice with the sevens facing you and that you’re superstitious.
Let’s say your point is six and you want to toss the V-3 set. Watch the dice as the stickman takes them to the center of the table, rakes them over, then sends them to you. You’ll be able to see three faces on the dice at all times. If you can see three faces then you automatically know what the other three faces are. Let’s say the five is up on the left die and you can see the one and three pips. The other die has the four up and the six and two are visible. As you rake the dice to you turn the left die so that the one pip is on the left and the right die to that the two pip is on the right. You now have a “mutant” V-3 set with a 180 twist on the right die. Go ahead, set it up on a pair of dice, then pitch the right die forward one face so that you’re looking at the V-3 and the 5-6 eleven is on top. See what I mean?
Let’s consider all of the potential variants of the V-3 using the 1-6 2-5 axis.
That’s sixteen possible combinations of the dice – or mutant sets. You can “twist” one die 180 degrees, but your on-axis results will still come from this bank of numbers. Your off-axis results may change, but when quick setting we’re not worried about off axis results.
There are, of course, other memory keys you can use to help you find your set of choice. Wild Child was the first guy I heard use the term “kissy faces” when referring to dice sets. To him a crossed sixes set was a 4-5 kissy face, for example. Interestingly enough, the whole “kissy face” concept was eventually adopted for use in a strategy taught by a craps system seller a few years back.
Are there occasions when I’ll take my quick setting a step farther? Sure. The particular mutant V-3 set I use has the 5-2 on the axis faces of the left die and the 6-1 on the axis faces of the right die. It’s still a V-3 set – just backwards from what many of you are used to. If the dice are presented to me with the wrong die on the right I’ll discreetly turn the dice 180 degrees on the rake. With practice the boxman will never even notice.
Does “pitch” factor into the results of the toss at all under these circumstances? Of course it does. But about the only way you can use pitch to help you when quick setting is to have perfect pitch and score more primary face hits. Shooters with a high percentage of primary hits will clearly fare better whether quick setting or setting in the open.
If I’m playing in a casino that really sweats the money I’ll simply quick set the dice to any point cycle axis. It’s simple to make sure you don’t have the same numbers on the lateral faces of both dice.
Bottom line – like anything it takes practice. I suggest taking about a dozen pairs of dice, cropping them on the table, then quick-setting them a pair at a time. Again, we’re focusing on the axial set only, without regard to what numbers are on top or facing.
Is quick setting for you? Maybe you can still play heat free where you are. But the golden age of being able to do whatever you want with the dice is in the rear view mirror. It’s time to learn how to adapt for the future.