In Part I of this article, I spoke of several rather obvious issues, Mental and Physical Preparation, Attire, Grips and Nerves in respect to practicing your throw. In Part II I spoke about Tweaking Your Throw, Stance and Uniqueness. In addition, The Mad Professor has also written several great articles on practice recently, called Getting The Most Out of Your Practice Sessions.
Here in part III, I'll cover a few other techniques and musings. I understand that many of you may find some these a bit to "strange," but I urge you to at least try them.
See the Nine, Throw the Nine:
I not only do this in practice, but at the tables as well. Everything you do regularly in practice will become second nature in live play. I derived this technique from the book, The Inner Game of Golf by W. Timothy Gallwey.
As I'm preparing to throw the dice, I will say, "See the Nine, Throw the Nine." (or whatever number I'm trying to toss) No, I'm not trying to apply telekenetic power over the dice, I'm simply making a mental image of the dice rolling over to 5 and 4 in my mind. By concentrating on the mental image, I'm focusing my mind away from the physical task at hand and letting muscle memory make the throw. Through hours of practice, I've trained myself to throw, I'm merely allowing by body to do as I've trained it to do without mental interference. Frequently, shooters who've been practicing like mad, get to the tables and suddenly they cannot re-create in a casino setting the throw they've developed at home. If you've practiced, your body knows what to do. Focus your mind, and don't let the mental static (usually appears in the form of tenseness) interfere with your throw. Others achieve this same process by focusing on their "happy place." (the beach, the mountains etc.) Personally I prefer to concentrate on something related to the task at hand. Find what works for you, practice it at home so it's second nature, and apply it at the casinos.
This is directly related to See the Nine, Throw the Nine. I've developed a physical trigger which assists me in quickly focusing at the table. If you're ever at the tables with me, you'll see me run my fingers on my shirt just over my sternum in between throws. Most would assume that this is to keep my fingertips dry, but it's really a technique to quickly focus and get centered for the next throw. The more quickly you can achieve maximum focus, the less likely you are to be distracted by other things at the table. By developing this physical trigger, it allows me to quickly switch back and forth between focusing on the game (making wagers and collecting winnings), then almost instantaneously being prepared to throw again.
Hum A Little Success:
Just before I hit the practice table, I'll put a CD in the walkman and listen to a favorite song. Listening to music really relaxes me and helps take the edge off of the day. Then, when I get to the practice rig, I'll hum the song softly to myself as I'm preparing to throw. Similar to the See The Nine... technique above, I'm trying to divert my mind from the physical task at hand, allowing muscle memory to take over. If possible, I'll do this prior to a live casino session as well. It's amazing how well this works for me.
Give It A Break:
I've mentioned this on my message forum a bunch of times, but this is an obvious one that gets overlooked. As dice influencers, we frequently look at practice like it's weight training. "I've got to get to the practice rig tonight and get in 100 throws." Repetition IS good for muscle memory and stamina, but it can sometimes be a killer on your practice SRR. How many times have you been in the middle of a tremendous practice session, then you throw, a seven, another seven, another seven..... all back to back? It's a real morale killer. If you feel your muscle memory and stamina are not an issue, take a break in your practice session EVERY time you throw a seven. Most often, I'll give myself just a few minutes to relax and regroup. What's amazing is that it is a RARE occurence that I'll throw a seven on my first throw back from my "break."
One other similar technique is to set a "sevens limit" for a practice session. Often when I go out to the garage to practice, I'll mentally give myself a limit of five sevens. If my first five throws are sevens,(this has never happened) I'm done for the evening. Really though, whether it takes me 10, or 30, or 50 or 100 throws, it doesn't matter. I'll toss until I hit my sevens limit for the practice session.
Hit and Run Practice Sessions:
This is one of my favorite ways to practice. Ideally we'd all like to get some warm up tosses in the hotel before hitting the tables, but it's often not possible to do so. On the practice rig at home, you probably make a few tosses to warm up before you start tracking your results. Unfortunately, the casinos don't allow such luxuries. What I try to do at least a couple of times each week, is walk up to the practice rig, get focused, and play a hand just as if I've walked up to real table. I set a point, and try to make it. If I do, I continue. If I don't, I move onto something else and come back an hour or two later and do it again. I've had hit and run practice sessions last 45 minutes, and some last as little as two or three minutes. It is great training for developing your skill to focus quickly.
Practice SRR vs Live Play SRR:
Unless you're new to dice influencing, I think you'll agree that your live play SRR is higher than your practice session SRR. Why is that?
- You have a higher level of focus for every throw when money is at stake. Often as a practice session progresses, your energy level and focus will wane. Also, since you're throwing more decisions per hour at the practice table than can occur at a live table, literally you begin tp wear yourself out physically.
- The Law of Large Numbers catches up with you on the practice table. The more practice throws you toss, the more likely you'll be to have an SRR in the range expected by the distribution. The expected SRR of all seven avoidance sets is 1:8. (2 sevens for the 16 possible outcomes) As the number of practice throws grows to the thousands or tens of thousands, even the GREATEST practice session will have almost no effect on your SRR. Of course in a live session, we play in the short term. Let's say for 10 hands in live play you threw ten seven outs in 60 non come out rolls. Your live play SRR would be 1:6. Pretty average right? Now, for your 11th and final hand, you threw the seven out in 20 non come out rolls. Not a monster roll, but very respectable. With one "good" hand, your SRR jumps to 1:7.3. This is one reason I put very little value in tracking SRR in short term situations. Sure it's nice to say that my SRR for a weekend in Vegas was 1:11, but the reality is I could have had 24 lousy to mediocre hands, and one monster which skews it into the much-better-than-respectable range. SRR is a fine guage in practice, but when you get to the tables, the only thing that matters is whether a hand was profitable or not.
Of course this may not be the case if you're putting in more time at the casinos than you are at the practice rig.