Over the past three years, I’ve debated whether or not to even write about this particular subject with any kind of specificity and detail.
Two of our dice-influencing friends, QBinUT and Bearish will confirm that I have long resisted the urge to publicly discuss or explain what I consider to be, one of my primary dice-influencing weapons.
Underhand Tossing and Forward-Spin
Normally I only talk about using underhand (palm-up) tossing and forward-spin in hushed tones with a few other Board Members (through IM's and e-mails) because the entire subject seems to not only upset the womenfolk and unnerve the dicesetting community’s livestock, but it also flies in the face of accepted conventions, traditional doctrine and orthodox teachings.
My sense of it is that underhand dice-tossing and forward-spin both have a significant and very worthy place in Precision-Shooting.
Does it work on every table?
Heck no, but it works incredibly well on most of them, and it works exceptionally well on tables that most dice-influencers have branded as "unplayable".
I'll give you a quick example:
The tables at Wynn-LV, Harrah’s in Joliet and Detroit’s Greektown (to name a few), have each been described as being tough to beat because of their seemingly erratic trampoline bounciness and harsh backwall rebounds.
I have found that an underhand (palm-up), ultra Low, Slow & Easy Toss with moderate forward-spin turns each one of those untamed tigers into lovable little kittens.
Can forward-spin be successfully used on most tables?
I say it can.
I've found that it works even better on tables where I've traditionally done well on while using a more conventional overhand (palm-down), backspin landing.
➣ In most cases, forward-energy decay can be controlled much more easily without having to resort to high-angle trajectories or any uncomfortably-slow throwing-motions.
Now that sort of talk has almost always been dismissed in the past as blasphemy simply because it contradicts the normal palm-down backspin tenets of dice-influencing; but frankly, if you can get the dice to do what you want them to do more often...and with a higher degree of control...and with an enhanced level of on-axis, primary-face consistency; then who's to argue with success.
Again though, the strongest foundation for any kind of consistently predictable and exploitable success using ANY TYPE OF THROW; is often best built up by one toss and one inch at a time.
How To Do It
For me, the easiest way to impart forward-spin is to take any conventional grip and turn it over and make it into an underhanded release.
That is, you can set the dice and grip them exactly the same way you normally do now...but instead of throwing them palm-down and with backspin; you turn your palm up and throw them underhanded to produce forward-spin.
At first it might feel a little strange.
➣ For example, you’ll find that you don’t have to release the dice quite so high in your toss-motion arc as you did when using backspin.
➣ If your grip is as balanced (equal in finger-pressure) as it should be; then the dice should release as smoothly underhanded as they do when you release them with palm-down backspin.
➣ The principal advantage to forward-spin of course is that you avoid most of the hopping, popping, skipping, jumping and off-axis splattering that often results from excess backspin on bouncy tables. On “normal” tables, you’ll mostly discover that you can turn a good consistent overhand (palm-down) toss into an “Ohmigawd, I can’t believe how talented I am” underhanded throw.
The only overhand (palm-down) grip that I know of where you can impart consistently controllable amounts of forward-spin is with the Pincer-Grip (where the dice are held principally by their side-axles...and only lightly stabilized on their front faces.
Needless to say, forward-spin has not yet gained wide acceptance within the dice-shooting community; however to my findings, it does deliver almost-too-good-to-be-true consistent on-axis, primary-face production when combined with a L, S & E toss, especially on those hard-to-tame layouts.
Why Forward-Spin Works So Well
With backspin, the dice have to transition from spinning backwards to rolling or tumbling forward once they make their initial contact with the table. The shock, impact and violence of their initial contact with the layout is often enough (about 30% to 55% of the time) to upset their on-axis orientation as well as their facial correlation.
Further to that, their initial impact with the table is usually quite forceful and intense although we don’t actually see it with the unaided eye.
➣ That first impact at the far end of the table is what forces backspin to transition into forward tumbling.
➣ When they first touch down, the reversing-motion shock, especially on some types of layouts, often causes disarray to our pre-arranged die-faces, and the resultant outcome is NOT a pleasant one (again, about 30% to 55% of the time).
➣ Equally, a wide range of trajectories when coupled with backspin, cause all sorts of erratic and unexpected aftermaths. However, with forward-spin, the range and severity of those problems are dramatically reduced.
➣ If you take some of the shock, impact, upset and violence out of the initial landing, you enable the dice to transition much easier and much more fluidly into their next “event” (their impact with the backwall).
➣ With forward-spin, there is essentially, no transition simply because the dice are continuing to do what they were doing instead of having to reverse their backspin motion.
➣ With an underhand toss, the dice are spinning forward as they fly through the air, and they will continue to tumble or roll forward once they touch down.
➣ By throwing them with forward-spin, you aren’t asking them to stop doing one thing (spinning backwards) and start doing something new (rolling forward). Instead, you are helping them smoothly maintain their on-axis stability as well as their primary-face integrity, by assisting their undisturbed course of action instead of disrupting it.
➣ By avoiding the entire transition process (from backspin to forward rolling); the dice are more likely to maintain their straight-tracking direction as well as their axial and facial integrity.
➣ As a result, you achieve a much higher degree of on-axis, primary-face outcomes.
➣ Add that to the fact that facial-correlation becomes much more coordinated and predictable, while double-pitch avoidance increases; and you have a situation where your exploitable betting-opportunities increase not only in breadth, but more importantly, your strongest wagering plays become even stronger.
The biggest adjustment that you’ll have to make when using an underhand forward-rolling toss, is to the speed at which you throw.
➣ Since the dice are no longer having to endure the violent transition from backspin to forward-roll, the energy that they used to expend in doing that, is no longer consumed.
➣ Therefore, you will almost always find that you have to reduce your throwing energy (the force with which you toss the dice) to much lower levels than you are used to.
➣ The second biggest adjustment you’ll have to reconsider is to the trajectory with which you normally throw them. You may find that some of the high-trajectory, high-apogee, high-zenith throws that you may have used in the past are no longer required quite as often.
I’ll quickly add that the one place you will probably find much more success while still using a high-trajectory underhanded forward-spinning throw; is when you are trying to execute a perfect at-the-base-of-the-backwall Dead Cat Bounce.
Again, since the dice don’t have to transition from backspin to forward-roll, there is less upset and disturbance to their as-set primary-faces upon landing. Because of that, many players find that a high-trajectory underhand throw will cause the dice to settle and halt right at their initial touch down spot…which produces the stopped-dead-in-its-tracks Dead Cat Bounce.
Controlling Forward-Spin Revs
The same tenets of controlling backspin generally hold true for forward-spin too. I divide spin-control into three broad groups:
➣ Natural Spin
➣ Wrist-Snap Spin
➣ Finger-Roll Spin
This is the amount of rotation that happens when you release the dice without adding any last-second point-of-release movement(s) from your fingers, hand or arm.
Therefore, the amount of spin that is imparted to the dice is a product of your forward hand-and-arm speed, instead of any intentionally increased or decreased wrist or finger movement to induce more or less spin as you release the dice.
Depending on the arc of your arm-movement and where the dice are released in relation to that arc, as well as how smoothly your release transitions to a same-arc or different-arc follow-through; determines the amount of spin that will be naturally transmitted and contributed to the dice.
Further, the direction and speed of release from your fingertips (how quickly or slowly you open your fingers and thumb), and where your fingertips were pointing to or arced towards at that release-moment, will also influence how much "natural" spin the dice receive.
Just as the name implies, this spin is controlled by the speed difference between the arc of your lower arm and that of your wrist as it unfurls at the point of release.
If you gracefully move your wrist from a "demure swan" position (wrist curled in) to a fully extended and straight-aligned fingers/hand/wrist/lower arm configuration (aimed directly at your target-area) at the point of release; then the amount of spin will obviously be controlled by how quickly you make that transition and how quickly you unfurl or snap your wrist. Less snap = less spin, more snap = more spin.
To accomplish wrist-snap with a palm-up throw, you can still use exactly the same grip and finger-alignment as you always have. The only difference is that your pre-release wrist is cocked up towards the inside of your elbow instead of being curled under backwards and facing the near backwall of the table.
A different way to accomplish underhand wrist-snap, is to keep your wrist cocked backwards until the final few moments before you release the dice when you quickly pivot your hand with a fast forward-sweeping motion.
Your release-point can also impart more forward-spin if the dice are held fractionally longer in the upward extending throwing-arc than if they were released sooner and more directly (in a straight line) towards the backwall. That is, a dice-release that is flatter and more inline with the table surface will tend to have less spin than one where the dice are released when your arm has started to arc toward the ceiling. Again too, the speed of that arc-movement at the time of release will also impact the spin-rate of the dice.
Taking that knowledge in a different direction; you can also use a downward arc that starts directly over your dice pick-up position and then angles the throwing motion downward on a shallow bowling-ball like glide-path towards your intended initial touch down target.
If you grip the dice as you normally do, you'll notice that you can "rock" (sway, mildly wobble, or undulate) the dice within that grip by rolling your finger(s) forward or pulling them back...all the while using your thumb as the hinge (pivot or fulcrum) on which the dice can be rocked back and forth. That rocking variance within the same grip can be used to add or subtract spin right at (or just before) the point of release.
The quicker you rock the dice or unfurl your fingertips when you release them, the more spin you will add. If you unfurl them slower than your forward-moving hand-speed, then less spin is imparted and you end up with a spin-rate that is much slower than your arm-movement throwing speed would suggest.
Therefore, some players use this method to retard forward-spin or to eliminate it altogether.
Conversely, some players rock the dice or unfurl their fingertips faster than their forward-moving hand-speed, and obviously more spin is imparted and you end up with a spin-rate that is much faster than your arm-movement throwing speed would indicate.
Using an underhand forward-spinning toss virtually eliminates the one huge problem that most players suffer from when they use this kind of fingertip release in a overhand backspin toss; and that is their tendency to "push" their thumb into the dice seam and therefore split the dice in an outward off-axis wobble. The underhand variant of this release pretty much eradicates that thumb-push/split dice-seam problem.
When you add that to the fact that the dice can now smoothly ROLL off the tips of your properly-aligned fingertips without having the troubling last-second contact of your thumb playing havoc with a fluid release; you end up with less at-release agitation, disarrangement and misalignment.
However, having said all of that…
An underhand toss CANNOT take total credit for a perfect on-axis primary-face outcome, nor can it take total blame for a totally random result.
➣ The trajectory of your throw...
➣ The energy (speed and force) with which you throw...
➣ The "squareness" of the dice on their landing (in relation to the table-top and the backwall)...
➣ As well as the speed of forward-spin rotation...
…ALL individually either contribute to or serve to eliminate any off-axis influence that their impact with the felt and the backwall have. Each of those elements has to be adjusted and metered to suit not only the particular table you are at, but also the initial landing-spot that you target on the layout.
Initial Landing-Zone Targets and Additional Spin-Control
When I want to add more forward-spinning revs to an underhand release, I simply don't extend my arm towards the target (touch down/landing area) as much; or in the alternative, I could choose to shorten my dice release-point and increase the speed of my throwing-motion. Either change means that the trajectory of the dice has now changed and therefore I will need to make adjustments to my initial touchdown target too.
➣ By shortening my follow-through/arm-extension, the dice will come off my fingertips with slightly more forward-spin.
➣ If my initial landing-zone is quite a distance from the backwall (like 16" to 24"); then they'll need more forward-rolling momentum to get all the way to the backwall (while still maintaining their axis and facial correlation).
➣ My normal landing-area while using an underhand, forward-spinning toss, is about 6" to 10" from the backwall. Ideally, the dice will only carry just enough momentum or forward moving energy, to hit the flat (non-alligator) portion of the backwall rubber, and then slightly rebound straight backwards by no more than 3" or 4".
➣ The table itself will dictate any adjustments that have to be made as far as moving my initial landing-area closer to or further from the backwall, as well as indicating if more or less forward-revs or throwing force energy is needed.
Reducing Throwing-Force and Rebound Energy
We've talked about dialing-down your throwing-energy many times before, but many guys still have a hard time doing that from the close-in SL/SR 1 and 2 positions.
In trying to reduce their throwing-force and the amount of rebound energy they get when the dice hit the backwall, their slowed-down throwing-motion ends up looking like a herky-jerky slow-motion claymation (think Pokey and Gumby) cartoon.
The reason for that is because the slower you try to move your arm below a certain speed, the more you are going against what I would call the "natural speed" of your normal toss. As a result, the throw becomes kind of ragged looking...or at least ragged resulting.
When your throwing-motion loses its smoothness and fluidity, you can't really expect the dice-outcomes to be a thing of beauty either.
What's the cure?
If your throwing-motion lacks the required smoothness and finesse to achieve consistently flat and square on-axis landings when you are at a SL/SR 1 or 2 position and you are getting way too much rebound energy off of the backwall; then simply move back a couple of feet or one or two table positions. This isn’t heresy or blasphemy…it’s just COMMON SENSE.
A Real-World Example…Spongy Layouts
Let’s talk some more common sense before I jump in and describe how I handle trampoline-type layouts.
In fact, lets talk about trampolines themselves. The way to get the best rebound from an actual trampoline is to go to the softest part of it and start jumping up and down. The more “give”, the better.
Okay, let me ask you this.
➣ If you merely flexed your toes on the trampoline, even on the softest parts; how high would it propel you? Not very high, right.
➣ How about if you slid your feet across it by a couple of inches or so. How high would it propel you? Again, not very much.
➣ Well, the same can be said for the trampoline layouts that seem to perplex a number of players. If you jump onto a trampoline from a high height, then obviously it’s going to give you a high rebound; but if you merely walk across it, sure it will “give” somewhat, but you aren’t going to be propelled into the stratosphere like you would if you landed on it from a great height.
Even if you try to gently plop the dice down with a no-spin knuckleball on a spongy trampoline-like layout; the dice just naturally have to rebound with contrariwise popping and oblique splattering simply because that is what your toss is INSISTING the surface do to them. You may not KNOW that that is what you are asking for, but by throwing the dice with backspin from a medium to high trajectory, or with a plopping no-spin knuckleball medium to low trajectory landing; that is exactly what you are going to get from a trampoline-like layout.
A forward-rotating throw is far easier to control on these types of layouts than any of their backspin cousins.
➣ As Precision-Shooters, we ideally want the forward-moving energy of the dice to decay at a rate that will see them lightly and squarely impact the backwall and then have each die roll back an equal number of rotations (to maintain their as-set primary-faces).
➣ Equally, we need the dice to make their initial landing on the felt in such a way that they don't jump or pop too high. Therefore, the initial touchdown area has to be far enough away from the backwall that the dice make their second touchdown ON THE FELT and NOT into the pyramids of the backwall.
➣ Once they make their second touchdown on the felt, then they can easily roll into the smooth backwall margin while still maintaining their axial and facial integrity.
By the way, to my way of thinking, that applies to ALL tables and not just bouncy/spongy ones. Again, that may go against conventional teachings, but I'm looking for on-axis primary-face outcomes on each and every roll. I want the dice to roll into the smooth bottom-lip of the backwall and then rebound squarely from there.
➣ To fit all of those actions into your conventional throw from your conventional close-in throwing position on spongy layouts, you'd probably be strongly tempted to radically increase the trajectory and spin-rate of your toss, but that is where most of the off-axis hopping, popping and scattering problems lie.
➣ If you increase your trajectory on spongy layouts, then the dice tend to pop and scatter in a wholly inconsistent way.
➣ Likewise, if you add more backspin revs, the dice won't scatter nearly as much, but they will tend to jump higher...and into the backwall alligator at an angle-of-incidence that almost always guarantees a low-to-moderate reliability outcome. That sounds too much like random gambling to me. I'd rather increase the influence on my influenced toss.
So how best can we utilize an underhand, forward-spin toss on these super-bouncy Sponge Bob Square Pants layouts?
➣ S-L-O-O-O-O-W the dice down. If that means moving a little further away from the backwall...so be it. You will not go to Precision-Shooting hell just because you aren't in the “required” SL/SR 1 or 2 position. That way you can still use your usual throwing-motion AND your usual throwing-speed, yet get results that are near to or even better than you achieve on conventional neutral layouts.
➣ R-E-D-U-U-U-C-E the amount of spin. SPIN and SPONGE do not go together. Whoops, there's a bumper-sticker slogan that's going to end up in somebody’s next book. A little forward-spin is necessary, but too much often proves itself to be ridiculous…and money losing.
➣ M-I-N-I-M-I-Z-E the trajectory. However, it is critical to understand that trajectory alone IS NOT the solution. If you use the shallowest of trajectories but maintain your normal throwing-speed and spin-rate from your normal table-position; then the dice will likely skip like a stone across water into the backwall alligator-bumps with undiminished energy.
A combination of low trajectory, low-energy and low-rotations is what I find will provide the most satisfactory on-axis primary-face solutions for super-spongy layouts. I hope you will too.
Summary of Underhand Forward-Spin
By eliminating the transition from backspin to forward rolling, an underhand toss helps the dice to endure less axial trauma and less facial-correlation disturbance.
By supporting their fluid forward-spin transition from mid-air flight to in-phase forward-rolling; you enable your pre-set dice-arrangement to maintain a higher degree of integrity and correlation.
Less disturbance and agitation means more on-axis, primary-face outcomes.
Good Luck And Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.
The Mad Professor