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Dodging Bullets as a Darksider - Part 2

"Statistics are like bikinis: what they show is important, but what they hide is vital." Anonymous

The Calm After the Storm

I’ve intentionally held off in presenting the second part in this series because of the continued interest and discussion regarding Part I. I’ll readily admit that no single article of mine has ever garnered as much E-mail, Instant Messages, and Message Board discussion as that particular piece did.

No sooner had the furor died down here the Dice Institute, then it re-ignited with an even greater firestorm on other forums..

So before we move on to the next phase of how to actually dodge MORE bullets, I want to flesh-out the merits and the shortcomings of my Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method.

Some Perspective

I usually try to present a balanced view of things in a casino-context. Of course, my opinion is always colored and influenced by my own experience, knowledge and skill. When you look at a betting-method, and I’m talking about ANY method, including (and especially) mine; you should look at it from every possible angle. That’s exactly what I do before I venture my own money on any concepts that come down the pipe, and I strongly suggest that you do the same. That is precisely why I recommended that if you are interested in my darkside methods, that you run it through some choppy table simulations on bug-free software like WinCraps.

How To Evaluate a Betting-Method

To properly evaluate a gaming approach, you have to not only look at the “math” of the idea, but also appraise it’s value and suitability to real-world situations. You have to ask yourself whether it is applicable only in certain “perfect” situations where all the planets and stars have to line up, or whether it can work in a variety of circumstances that you are likely to encounter again and again and again at actual casino tables.

Moreover, you should look at the “cautions” or warnings that accompany one method or another. If the author tells you that it will only work if the table is icy cold, then you are putting yourself and your bankroll at risk if you choose to ignore the advice. Likewise, you should “dry run” any new radical approach against either a roll-simulator like WinCraps, or use real roll-data that you or others have gleaned directly from the tables.

You already understand that no single method will work every time that you play, nor will it fit every situation. There is NO betting-system WHATSOEVER that will beat a negative-expectation game in every situation.

The Math-Guys One Size Fits All Testing-Method

The problem with appraising any betting approach is that the math-guys run their simulations over millions and millions of rolls and refuse to acknowledge that there are certain betting situations that provide triggers to either start or stop a betting sequence.

Likewise, they discard the concept of loss-limits or exit-points because they look at the “long run” of the game, and refuse to acknowledge that a player can begin betting or stop betting at any point of his choosing. Their view is that you can only properly evaluate a method if you set it up to run for millions upon millions of rolls, and you cannot say, “Wait, I have made enough money today”, or “I’ve lost my limit for today, I want to stop now”.

Instead their way of evaluating any betting-method is to disallow any stops or starts, and say that you have to run the trial until your ideas are debunked. Obviously, if you run any method through that never-ending, “you cannot stop until you are broke” meat-grinder, NO betting-approach will EVER work. That is how the math-guys PROVE that a negative-expectation game can never possibly be turned around, and in that context they are always correct.

Clearly there are some betting-methods that will work much better than others. When you run those billion-roll trials, the low-vig bets like PL with maximum Odds, or DP with full-Odds obviously will have the best results (lowest losses) overall.

To their mind, streaks and trends have no place in the game, and such events can only be viewed in hindsight. To the math-guys, ANY method that even recognizes them, much less bets into them are doomed to total and abject failure.

Leaving the Theoretical Lab and Entering the Real World

Needless to say, my view of the game is slightly different from that of the math guys.

       I say that streaks and trends not only exist at the craps table, but that seasoned players recognize them and bet into them with a better than average outcome.

       I say that you can start betting at whatever point that you choose and that you can stop betting at an equally opportune time.

       I say that loss-limits and discipline are key factors in determining how much of your money you’ll be able to keep, and also how much profit you’ll be able to make.

       I say that you can use “triggers” or key indicators to determine when to start a betting-sequence, and contrary triggers that indicate when you should stop betting.

       I say that this isn’t voodoo or hocus-pocus; it’s just a matter of recognizing a betting opportunity and betting into it, or acknowledging a streak or trend where you choose to keep your betting-dollars safely stowed in your rail.

I make the lion’s share of profit from my own skill-based Precision-Shooting. Waiting for the dice to cycle back around to me is usually time-consuming at busy tables, so I wanted a betting-approach that would have low-risk, low-volatility, and a high expectation of profit.

Tables are Choppy More Often Than Not

Since most tables are choppy about 60% of the time, it made sense for me to look at possible avenues to pursue when I was waiting for the dice to come back to my shooting position, especially since the tables where I mostly play (about 200 different casinos across North America) are generally choppy at least 60% of the time.

While it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to take maximum advantage of a searing hot, or a frosty cold table, it seems to take almost super-human strength t
o even hold on to your money when the table is choppy, let alone make ANY MONEY at all.

That is where my Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method comes into play (see Part I if you are unfamiliar with it).

Verities versus Bullshit

The only thing you know for sure in craps is that every shooter will eventually roll a 7.

We don’t “expect” the 7 to show up once every six rolls as it mathematically “should”. In fact, we know that there will be long periods when it will disappear off of the radar screen. What we do know, is that VERY FEW players will make six Pass-Line Points in a row, and we know that at a cool or choppy table, that concept seems to prove itself out even more so.

We know that once in awhile, a random-roller will come along and throw a hand that will take us to our Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method $285 session loss-limit (on a $5 table). Although we may not necessarily applaud his excellent luck, we accept that loss because we realize that we are in a casino, and we are indeed still gambling.

My Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method only seeks to eke out a profit on the random swings, flux and gyrations of what the dice will do at any particular point in time. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share my personal experience with this method thus far.

My Current Results

Does the Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method work, and if so, how well?

Yes it does work, and it works especially well on cool or choppy tables. Let me give you my own results when using this method over the past 18 months or so:

       In that time I have put in ~2300 hours of play.

       At ~100 dice-rolls per hour (90 to 120 rolls/hour is the North American average), that means that I witnessed ~230,000 rolls.

       As a side note, it would take a 40-hour per week player about fifty (50) years of full-time play to witness the minimum 10-million dice-rolls that the math-guys say are necessary to validate or debunk any method.

       In those ~2300 hours of play, I was able to find 9470 qualified betting situations where a player made their first PL-Point winner (during a choppy-table or cool-trending dice-cycle) which triggered the C-T/S-L Method into action.

       Keep in mind that I DO NOT include the results of my own Precision-Shooting into whether or not the table is trending cool or choppy. I take my own skill contribution out of the equation, and only consider how the random-rollers or unqualified dicesetters are fairing with their own throwing efforts.

       Of the 9470 times when I began betting against the shooter (after they made their first PL-Point), it bombed-out (the shooter succeeded in throwing at least five more PL-winners) 312 times.

       That equated to 312 times when I lost $285 (my session loss-limit for this method on a $5 table) for a total loss of $88,920.

       Of the remaining 9158 times when my C-T/S-L Method won, it generated $119,512 in winnings.

       Overall, I had net-profits that totaled $30,592.

       That works out to a net-win of $13.05 per shooter that I bet against.

       The “break-even” for this method is ~22 shooters. That means that you need to bet against and win on ~22 players between each session loss-limit where a shooter does make all six PL-winners in a row.

The Deputy and The Sheriff Sometimes Get Their Man

As you can see from my above-noted results, one of the shortcomings of my method is that the strength and tenacity of the Sheriff (the Come-Out 7) and his Deputy (the Come-Out 11) do work against you, and sometimes contribute to its downfall.

I would guesstimate that of the 312 times that it failed (out of 9470 attempts), the principal reason was that the shooter threw a number of Come-Out 7 and/or 11 winners (losers for us).

I stated this in the first Dodging Bullets article, but it bears repeating again. Sometimes the random-roller will throw enough Come-Out 7 or 11 winners, that it will knock us out of the betting process by hitting our $285 loss-limit.

HOW it Works and WHY it Works

The entire basis of using this Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method is that there are very few times when a random-roller will be able to throw six PL-Point winners in a row, or intersperse enough 7 and/or 11 Come-Out winners that it will knock us out of the game. Yes, it DOES happen, but it doesn’t happen often…and on a CHOPPY or COOL-TRENDING table, it seems to happen even more infrequently.

       A Pass-Line player has about a 40% chance of completing his first Point, and only a 16% chance of completing his second Point. If he is still holding the dice at that juncture, he has a 7% chance of making his third PL-Point in a row, and then a ~2.8% chance of making his fourth, etc. That "diminishing-probability" is the entire basis for this method. While each roll is independent, we have to look at the totality of the series that we are currently in, and judge whether it is a viable betting situation.

       Now the math-guys will confirm that a shooter does indeed have a 40% chance of making his first point and only a 16% chance of making his next point in a row, but then they go on to state, "We CANNOT say that just because he made his first point, that he only has a 16% chance of making the 2nd. You can only say the shooter has a 16% chance of making two points in a row BEFORE he starts a series of throws...once he picks up the dice all bets are off as far as predicting what may happen."

       They acknowledge the numbers, yet say the diminishing-expectation (40%/16%/7%/2.8%/1.2% and 0.5%) of a long hand no longer continues to be true the moment a hand begins; and it is therefore IMPOSSIBLE for those numbers to hold true simply because these figures only apply “in theory”. Therefore they opine, you cannot look at the “big picture” or at a string of rolls, simply because it is made up of numerous, yet independent throws.

       Their logic is to “Ignore the rainstorm and just consider that it is single droplets of water that are flooding your basement. It doesn’t matter if it is pouring cats and dogs; a storm is only made up of individual drops of water. Therefore, storms only happened in the past-tense, and whatever is happening now can only be considered as individual raindrops. You have to overlook and disregard the totality of the deluge, no matter how much damage is being wrought”. Obviously, their logic is just plain FLAWED, and they don’t use the brains that God gave dogs, to have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

       They will tell you that streaks are only something that we can look at as a past event, and that if someone throws twenty or thirty 12’s in a row, it would be absolutely foolish for anyone to make a bet on the 12, simply because the odds are still 1-in-36.

       They opine that what has happened in the past, even the immediate past, and what is happening right now, has no relevance or bearing on what may happen on the very next roll. Therefore, their best bet is for you to keep your money safely tucked in your pocket, and that betting on a streak or a trend is, well…gambling. I’ve got to tell you that since we are in an actual casino, we do acknowledge that there is some element of risk in each bet that we make. Our task is to minimize that risk in relation to the reward that we are seeking.

       While everyone agrees that each roll is separate and distinct, craps veterans will tell you that you can bet into a trend or you can stay on the sidelines. They know that streaks happen, and the very fact that you are in a casino indicates that you are prepared to take some chances with your money. To my mind, this is as good a time as any to make a wager on that streak. Although it doesn’t guarantee success, it sure seems like an appropriate time to put some money into action.

       What my method does; is to recognize each individual roll, but also view each throw in context to what is happening at the current time. We then match our bets to best suit the situation, by recognizing the overall strength and likelihood of a possible 7-Out. We maintain that perspective, and we continue matching-our-bets-to-the-relative-likelihood-of-a-7-Out as a particular hand progresses.

       The math-guys will also tell you that you cannot look at a string of sequences (dice outcomes) no matter how long or short, and that if you consider the effect of anything more than one roll at a time, it is just utter nonsense and complete foolishness. To their way of thinking, you must restrict your view to each separate roll as though nothing came before it and nothing will come after it. It is with this myopic and narrow-minded view that they want you to appraise any and all bets, and they will tell you quite candidly that to do anything contrary to that advice would be quite foolhardy on your part.

       However, some astute craps players including myself; look at the game as a whole. Instead of just considering individual and independent rolls, we look at how they are strung together. We look at the big picture of trends and streaks instead of the minutia of each separate roll. That being the case, we consider the overall expectation of the 7, and integrate it into a workable betting-method.

The Strength of the Seven

       Everyone readily acknowledges that each roll is independent, but seasoned craps veterans also know that the dice are inexorably drawn to the 7. My Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method seeks to take advantage of that. The dice are not drawn there (to the 7) by way of magic, magnetism, or mysticism. They are drawn to it by the math. There are more possible 7’s on a pair of dice than any other combination. We simply take that fact into consideration, and we apply it to choppy tables (through my Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method) with the hope (and VERY high likelihood) of making some money.

       Please understand that progressive betting methods are nothing new, and I certainly didn’t “invent” any of them. Rather, I looked at what the chances of any random-shooter throwing six PL-winners in a row were; then I applied a low loss-limit to a method that works quite well, especially on those frustratingly annoying choppy tables. It’s not voodoo, it’s not magic…it’s just a reasonable prospect of winning.

       My Short-Leash Choppy-Table Method takes the expectation of the 7 into consideration and says, "Hmm, the table has been choppy, and 7-Outs are occurring with some frequency...I think this may be as good a time as any to venture some of my money...but I also want to limit my exposure in the event that this random-roller gets really hot."

       When there is a 1-in-6 chance that any one roll will present a 7, no one in their right mind can say that it doesn't figure into the game, nor that a bettor cannot take advantage of the fact that only 1-in-200 shooters will make six PL-Points in a row.

       Yes there is a chance that any player, on any given day, in any particular casino, may throw six PL-Point winners in a row; however the odds are 200-1 against it happening. Personally, I LIKE those odds.

       As craps players, we cannot ignore the fact that long hands are few and far between. The reason we don't see that is because of the power of the 7 is such that the math prevents it from happening very often. Yes, we will occasionally see some long hands where a player does make at least six in a row, but the math of the game is strong enough that we won't see it VERY OFTEN.

       In fact, we won't see it often enough to turn the Choppy-Table Short-Leash Method into a losing approach when we employ it at cool or choppy tables. Don’t take my word for it. Prove it, or DISPROVE it for yourself.

       While everyone agrees that each roll is indeed independent, if the dice weren't mathematically skewed towards the 7, then we would have many more long hands in the 100 to 800 roll-range, without EVER seeing a 7. At the tables that I play at here in this craps-universe, they are choppy about 60% of the time. The choppiness of the tables at your end of the solar system may be skewed somewhat differently, so I suggest once more that you run my method through numerous trials BEFORE you venture dollar-one of your own money on it. Don’t take my word for it, I WANT YOU to prove it to yourself.

       My Choppy-Table Short-Leash does not try to “beat expectation with fluctuation." Instead, it uses the EXPECTATION of the 7 over the random FLUCTUATIONS of each independent roll.

       By waiting for a player to make his first PL-Point, the darkside bettor has a leg-up (based on expectation) that the shooter only has a 16% chance of repeating his second PL-Point, and a 7% chance of repeating his third. There will always be FLUCTUATION with a random game, but sooner or later, the 7-Out will appear.

       My method says that only 1-in-200 players will get to complete six PL-Points. If you only start betting against that player after he has made his first Point, you are deeper into the expectation-curve than someone who randomly bets against any and all players who picks up the dice.

       The universal crap-players question is: “Can you capitalize on those numbers, knowing ahead of time what the dice are expected (but NOT guaranteed) to do?” My answer is that, on a cool-trending or choppy table, the answer is, YES YOU CAN!

My Short-Leash Choppy-Table Method is NOT a never-fail approach to the game. Instead, it is one approach that usually pays off handsomely; and when it fails, it does so to a degree that its losses are easily outweighed by its consistent wins.

The whole basis of my approach is that when properly applied to choppy tables, the wins generally outweigh the losses time and time and time again. That is how I accomplished the above-noted results, and how I continue to profit from choppy table situations.

A Mechanical Example of How This Method Works

Let me give you an analogy that will perhaps make it easier to understand:

       Let's say that you have a simple mechanical machine.

       It has one moving part, and that part has a failure-rate of 60% for every one hour of use. That means that there is a 40% chance that that machine will still be working after one hour.

       Now let's say the same machine has two moving parts, and each part has the same INDEPENDANT 60% failure-rate. That means that there is only a 16% chance that that machine will still be working after one hour. Of course there is an 84% chance that it WILL NOT continue to work.

       If we add one more 60% failure-rate moving part to that same machine, it means that there is only about a 6.5% chance that that machine will still be working after one hour. In the U.S. Air Force they call this declining rate of reliability, Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).

       If we add another similar 60% failure-rate moving part to that same machine, it means that there is only about a 2.5% chance that that machine will still be working after one hour.

       When we add five unreliable parts (each with an INDEPENDANT 40% reliability rating), we end up with a machine that only has an approximate 1% chance of making it through one hour of operation.

       When we add the final sixth unreliable part to an already very undependable and erratic machine, it lowers its Mean Time Between Failures to a wholly untrustworthy 0.4% chance that that machine will still be buzzing along after one hour.


Now let me ask you this:

       If that machine was the aircraft that you just bought a ticket on, how safe do you think you would feel?

       If you knew that your one-hour flight had less than a one-half of one-percent chance of successfully making it to its destination, just how safe would your ass be?

       Is that the kind of aircraft that you would send your wife and children on? Wait don't answer that...the MATH-GUYS are CONFIDENT that it WILL make it to it's destination because EACH part has a 40% reliability rating and NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would consider the overall reliability of the sum of all the parts...that would just make too much sense for them.

       So would you happily and blithely put your family on that plane because each moving part has a 40% chance of making it to their destination? To do that, you have to completely IGNORE the fact that it really only has a 1-out-of-200 chance that it will actually make it there because you have your sight firmly locked on to each individual piece that is independently reliable 40% of the time.

       If you were a frequent flier, how many times do you think you could actually dodge the bullet and continually make it safely to your destination?

       The math-guys call that way of thinking the Gamblers Fallacy. Okay, but what do you call the guy who thinks that he's going to make it safely to his destination on that wonky 99.6% failure-rate aircraft. Now THAT is GAMBLING!

A Final Thought and a Challenge

If you have a copy of WinCraps I would challenge you to try this out for yourself. Simply define what you would characterize as a choppy table, and then start running the dice-rolls manually. When the outcomes satisfy your definition of what a cool-trending or choppy-table is; then apply the first phase of my C-T, S-L Method (after the player completes his first Pass-Line Point) and let the dice roll.

Don’t just run the test once or twice. Really PROVE it to yourself whether it works or not. Then you can make an informed decision as to whether or not this betting approach holds any merit for you, and whether it might figure into your future wagering-methods.

Coming Up…

In Part Three of this series, we’ll return to where we left off in Part One, and take a detailed look at:

       How Progressive-Thinking can beat Progressive-Betting.

       Why Betting More to Win Less is not right for everyone.

       How Progressive-Odds can figure into your game-plan.

       How Odds-Only bets affect your likelihood of winning.

       And as they say…much, much more.

Until then,

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

Sincerely,

The Mad Professor

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 10, 2007 11:38 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Mad Professor's Mini-Table Craps Tour with the Vegas Ghost - Part 10.

The next post in this blog is Craps Tournaments…Seize the Lead To Seize the Gold - Part 4.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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