Card counting has been around since the 1950s when the Four Horsemen used this blackjack strategy to beat casinos. Edward Thorp further refined card counting and presented it to blackjack players through the 1962 book Beat the Dealer.
Improvements to counting systems and the introduction of team play have only made this advantage gambling method more dangerous.
Casinos have worked to combat card counters ever since the 1960s, and they’ve become quite good at it. Gambling establishments normally ban any skilled card counter whom they catch.
In short, counting cards is a verifiable advantage-play method. Players have proven successful with this technique, and casinos fear them.
Dice control, like counting cards, has become more popular throughout the years. This technique is used by craps players to perfect their dice tosses and gain an edge over the casino.
The idea of controlling one’s craps tosses and winning profits from the casino is an appealing one. And we could very well be witnessing the next card counting in the making here.
But dice control (a.k.a. controlled shooting) isn’t widely accepted like card counting. This leads me to wonder whether controlled shooting is nothing more than an elaborate hoax staged by gambling authors and coaches.
I’m going to explore this topic and get to the bottom of whether dice control truly works. And I’ll start by discussing exactly what this advantage-play method is for those who are new to the matter.
What Is Dice Control and How Does It Work?
Dice control is the process of holding and throwing dice in a consistent manner to produce desired results. Players seek to limit the rotation of the dice and “kiss” them off the back wall.
Dice control experts contend that they can change the odds in their favor by limiting randomness involved with normal craps tosses.
This is a controversial topic because official craps throws must bounce off a diamond-patterned wall. Many players find dice control hard to believe, given that it seems impossible to control randomness when dice are hitting the diamond pattern.
Of course, controlled shooting proponents argue that this can be done if people put enough work into the matter.
Goal of Dice Control
One common way that dice control masters measure skill is by Sevens: Rolls Ratio, or RSR. This refers to the ratio of rolls that produce a 7 versus those that don’t.
A normal player produces a 7 on one out of every six tosses (6:1 odds). This comes from the fact that six out of 36 possible dice combinations form a 7.
Any player who can roll fewer sevens than the 6:1 odds, or 16.67%, can improve their chances of winning. Here’s an example using the place 8 bet, which wins if an 8 is rolled before a 7:
- The place 8 payout is 7:6.
- Your true odds of winning are 6:5 (house edge = 1.52%)
- An 8 is rolled five times for every 36 rolls (36:5) on average
- A 7 is rolled six times for every 36 rolls (36:6) on average
- You bet $10 each time
- You earn $11.67 for every win
- You win $58.35 on every 36 rolls (5 x 11.67)
- You lose $10 for every loss
- You lose $60 on every 36 rolls (6 x 10)
You’re only $1.65 away from breaking even in this situation. Now let’s look at what happens if you could improve the number of times you roll an 8:
- An 8 is rolled 5.5 times for every 36 rolls (36:5.5) on average
- You bet $10 each time
- You earn $11.67 for every win
- You win $64.19 for every 36 rolls (5.5 x 11.67)
- You lose $60 on every 36 rolls (6 x 10)
- Your theoretical profit is $4.19
You now hold a 3.37% edge (4.19 / 124.19) on the casino just by improving the frequency of 8s by half a roll. And you can see why this is an attractive gambling strategy in theory.
Setting the Dice
Controlled shooters refer to the unique way in which they hold the dice as “setting.”
The purpose of setting dice is so that they begin in the same position every time before your toss. You also want to cover up (face together) the combination/number that you don’t want to roll.
You can use dozens of dice sets, based on what number(s) you’re hoping to toss. It’s best to stick with one or two sets in the beginning so that you don’t overload yourself.
One good set for tossing a 6 or 8 (place 6 and 8 bets) is the V-set. Here’s how this works:
- 3s form a V at the top (better chance of tossing a 6)
- 5 and 1 are side by side and exposed (also for 6)
- 2 and 6 are side by side and exposed (better chance of tossing 8)
- 4 and 4 are side by side and exposed (also for 6)
Again, the way that you set dice depends upon the bet you’re making and what numbers you’re trying to toss/avoid. In this case, you want combinations that can form a 6 or 8 to be showing.
Practice Your Throw
Setting dice is only the first part of controlled shooting. The next step is to practice your dice toss so that you can produce consistent results.
No dice control expert can produce consistent losses on a regular basis. But the goal is to slightly change results, such as the earlier example, where the 8 frequency improves by half a roll.
In theory, this is like a basketball player perfecting their jump shot or a pitcher working on their curveball. The hope is that you improve your craps toss with repetition.
Of course, not everybody has a regulation craps table sitting around their house. This means that you must either purchase a table or rig one up yourself.
Most craps players don’t have the money and/or space to justify getting a regulation table. But the smaller versions at least give you a craps felt to practice with and work on your throw.
Another point worth making is that you want to stand in the same position every time. This goes along with the idea of keeping your mechanics the same on each toss.
You also want to move your arm and wrist with the same motion every time. This goes back to the part about the athlete who works on repetition to improve their craft.
Many controlled shooters toss the dice with soft pressure so that they hit the wall softly. If everything is perfect and the dice stay on the same axis together, they won’t kick off the wall as hard and be totally randomized.
What Evidence Do We Have That Dice Control Works?
The best evidence that we have on controlled shooting working is a small collection of gambling experts who swear by the method. This includes noted authors/coaches like Chris Pawlicki, Frank Scoblete, Dominic LoRiggio, and Stanford Wong.
Pawlicki (a.k.a. Sharpshooter) has written multiple books on the subject, including Get the Edge at Craps. This work dives into how a dice controller can gain an edge on the casino through math, physics, and muscle memory.
Wong is an all-around gambling expert who was initially skeptical about dice control. But he tried the technique and became convinced that there’s validity behind controlled shooting.
He later wrote a book called Wong on Dice, which discusses how players can develop sets and practice dice control.
Nobody is more renowned in the controlled shooting field than Scoblete. He’s written multiple books and numerous articles on the matter.
Scoblete owns a mini-empire with LoRiggio called Golden Touch Craps. Golden Touch consists of seminars, books, and videos that teach players how to become controlled shooters.
Why Do Many Consider Dice Control to Be a Hoax?
The biggest red flag regarding controlled shooting is the fact that casinos allow it. This isn’t like card counting, where casino dealers, pit bosses, and security are constantly looking out for advantage players.
Instead, controlled shooters can set the dice and use their preferred toss every time. If casinos feared dice control, it seems that they’d do more to prevent players from controlled shooting.
Jim Klimesh, a director of casino operations for Indiana’s Empress Casino Hammond, was once interviewed by CasinoCityTimes’ John Brokopp about the matter. Klimesh didn’t say that he believes dice controllers can develop an advantage through legal throws.
But he said that the only way craps players can control dice is through illegal throws. This includes the army blanket roll, where players set dice on an axis and slide them down the table.
A regulation craps throw, in contrast, requires that the dice hit the back wall on the fly. Illegal throws require that somebody distracts the dealer and stickman, while an accomplice executes the army blanket roll or another technique.
Players can be arrested for deceptively making illegal throws in many gambling jurisdictions. Argentine poker pros Veronica Dabul and Leonardo Fernandez were arrested for making $700,000 with such a scam in 2011.
Michael “The Wizard of Odds” Shackleford did a controlled shooting experiment with dice control coach Beau Parker. Beau had Shackleford test for rolling a winning 7 or 11 on the come-out roll.
The Wizard of Odds admits that he didn’t have a very big sample size. But Shackleford ultimately concludes that his results were close to that of a random player.
One theory I’ve seen across the internet is that experts who push controlled shooting are only doing so to make money. For example, Scoblete and LoRiggio are charging $1,595 for a two-day dice control seminar in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Memphis, or Shreveport.
This doesn’t necessarily prove that Scoblete, LoRiggio, and others are scam artists. But that’s a lot to charge for seminars on a technique that’s drawn so much skepticism.
Why Is Card Counting More Believable?
Card counting is a believable advantage-play method for three reasons:
- Casinos ban players who successfully count cards
- Card counters have won fortunes from casinos
- We have indisputable proof that card counting works
Beginning with the first point, casino personnel is trained to spot card counters. In fact, some pit bosses will back-count shoes when a player spreads their bets wildly.
If a casino believes that somebody is successfully counting cards, they’ll ban them from the property. If this happens at MGM, for example, you’d be blacklisted from all their properties.
Outside of Frank Scoblete’s stories, I’ve never actually heard of a casino sweating or banning a controlled shooter. In contrast, numerous card counters have been blacklisted.
The most famous example is the MIT Blackjack Team, which often had to replace team members who were added to Griffin Investigations’ black book.
Moving to the second point, legendary card counters have become rich through card counting. This includes Al Francesco, Peter Griffin, James Grosjean, Tommy Hyland, Arnold Snyder, Thorp, Wong, Bill Zender, and the MIT Blackjack Team.
This is another area where I’ve never seen any verifiable proof on controlled shooters winning big profits. These stories mainly come from people who are selling books and courses.
Finally, we can verify that card counting works through math. Players gain an advantage when there are more aces and 10s in the deck because they have a better chance of getting a natural blackjack and winning 3:2 or 6:5 on their original bet.
Pawlicki’s Get the Edge at Craps makes some convincing arguments on the physics of dice control. But I need to see long-term research to be convinced that controlled shooting truly works.
In summary, I’m not convinced that you can gain an edge in craps through dice control. My biggest problems are that there’s no true proof or successful craps pros to make this is a legitimate advantage-play technique.
I don’t think that controlled shooting is the next card counting, because nobody can verify that it works.
Maybe dice control experts believe that they can truly control the dice. Or maybe some of them are scammers who only want your money.
Just like dice control itself, I can’t prove whether these experts are scammers are not. And what if they can really control dice to some degree?
I think that the only way to prove controlled shooting works is for the best dice controllers to perform a long-term test. An independent third party could record results and show that these experts can truly produce desired results more often than random throws.
But I can’t just take somebody’s word on dice control, especially if they’re selling books and high-priced seminars. Again, I would love to see these pros put their skills to the test and offer a large enough sample size to prove that controlled shooting indeed works.