Conquering Ultra Bouncy Tables
Let’s tackle a problem that many players are running into on a much more frequent basis these days. ... Conquering Ultra Bouncy Tables
What We AREN’T Talking About
Now before we dive right into this subject, let me first say that we are NOT merely talking about tables that are moderately bouncy or ones that provide a little extra rebound and jounce when the dice make their initial contact with the table. Most of the mild-bouncy or medium-bouncy layouts can almost always be easily conquered by using my conventional Low, Slow, & Easy Toss.
Instead, we are talking about the new breed of ultra-bouncy trampoline layouts as found at WYNN-LV, Borgata-A/C, a number of Illinois boats, and LV’s Southcoast, to name a few.
The Why, What, and How of Ultra Bouncy Tables
Ultra bouncy tables are an intentional by-product of a new type of foam underlay.
In most cases the old-style open-cell ¼-inch foam-rubber that numerous casinos have experimented with over the last couple of decades, has given way to a newer high-density closed-cell foam of either 1/4-inch (.250”) or 1/8-inch (.125”) thickness.
This new type of underlay is similar to the stuff that high-tech electronics sometimes come wrapped in. Its surface is relatively smooth (with no open pores or cells), very dense, and provides little “give” when pressed lightly.
Our friend, The Lion, has been doing some outstanding research on this particular subject over the last couple of months. If fact my discussions with him during that time have led to some very satisfying improvements in my own shooting on these trampoline-like tables.
Without getting into the behind-the-scenes cloak-and-dagger inquiries and investigative research that went into learning all we could about this relatively new D-I adversary; suffice it to say that most of this padding is supplied to the casinos by GPI (Gaming Partners International, which is the combined operations of PaulSon, Bud Jones and Bourgogne et Grasset); and it is quickly gaining popularity among casino executives as a way to protect the felt from cuts, the wood from spilled drinks, as well as providing a side benefit of perhaps impeding attempts at dice-influencing.
I have found that the best cure for ultra-bouncy trampolines is my recently refined…
ULTRA Low, Slow & Easy Toss
Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you that most players who THINK they are using a LS&E toss are actually using more of an Egg Toss Lob (as discussed here:Shooting Bible, Part 5); which when used on a bouncy table makes the initial touch down angle WAY TOO STEEP. So even though they are throwing their ersatz Egg Toss Lob slowly and with very little forward-energy, their initial landing is still way too steep for super-bounce, high-rebound tables.
Obviously that is NOT what the basic LS&E is all about, and that is certainly not what my recently refined ULTRA LS&E is all about either.
Instead, the ULTRA LS&E is in essence, a much L-O-W-E-R, much S-L-O-W-E-R, and much E-A-S-I-E-R (gentler) throw than the conventional LS&E toss.
It employs a much lower release-height that the LS&E (by 50%), and much slower throwing-force (about 40% less throwing-energy that the LS&E), and a much more gentle and easier spin-rate (using either backspin or forward-spin, although ideally I like to use about two or three full-rotations-from-release-to-initial-target of forward-spin).
The reason the ULTRA LS&E works so well on super-bouncy tables is because it takes a proven on-axis, primary-face performer like the LS&E, and modifies it just enough to provide a satisfactory degree of toss-outcome reliability despite the seemingly extraordinary reaction that conventionally-influenced tosses suffer through on the very same surface.
Should We Even TRY To Tackle Trampoline-Like Tables?
Many players feel that tough, hard-to-beat tables should be avoided at all costs; and to a degree I can see their point, especially in jurisdictions where multiple casinos offer multiple tables with multiple kinds of layouts. However, many people don’t have the luxury of choice, and I see a day on the horizon when a wider number of casinos will be installing these trampoline-type layouts; so it makes sense to at least know how to deal with them if you ever do encounter one.
The dice-grip that you choose for the ULTRA LS&E toss doesn’t really matter as much as the evenness and balance of the release itself.
When dealing with super-bouncy tables; the height at which you release the dice, the amount of spin that you impart at the point-of-release, the descent-trajectory angle that they first impact the table with, and the target-area at which they are thrown to, is what makes all the difference between a highly-reliable outcome…and a truly horrific looking random result.
Now that’s not to say that your grip doesn’t matter.
Rather, it just means that your basic grip, no matter which one you use; will usually suffice if it already delivers pretty consistent results on traditional layouts. On the other hand, if your grip is lousy to begin with and you are getting inconsistent results on normal tables; then it isn’t going to magically cure itself and turn you into a golden arm of proficiency when you audition it on a bouncy table.
Components of Victory
As I mentioned a moment ago, the height at which you release the dice, the amount of spin that you impart, the descent-trajectory angle that the dice first impact the table with, and the target-area at which they are thrown to; is what makes all the difference on trampoline tables.
Those four elements are the keystone components of victory in terms of conquering this type of table.
The flatness of the cubes flight-path in a very low, very flat parabolic trajectory is a critical part of the bouncy-table solution, as is the maximal-reduction (in absolute terms) of the amount of release-energy that you expend when the dice are released from your hand.
If it can be said that my now-conventional Low, Slow, and Easy Toss uses the least amount of throwing-speed and release-point height amongst the “traditional” D-I tosses; then it can be said that my ULTRA LS&E uses about 40% to 50% less of each of those directional inputs.
My conventional Low, Slow & Easy Toss is released about 6 to 8 inches above the table surface, but by the time you fully extend your arm in its follow-through motion, the dice are only about 4 to 5 inches off of the felt. That means that they are sent on their way in a relatively flat downward trajectory towards their initial touch down target.
On the other hand…
My newly-refined ULTRA Low, Slow & Easy Toss is released about 4 to 6 inches above the table surface, but by the time you fully extend your arm in its follow-through motion, the dice are only about 2 to 3 inches off of the felt. That means that they are sent on their way in an even flatter trajectory towards their initial touch-down target.
Please note that the dice are not BOWLED or ROLLED down the table. They are THROWN in a flat-trajectory to the initial target-area.
That means that there is very little descent-energy and therefore, very little opportunity for the high-density closed-cell foam underlayment to impart a high degree of jounce or rebound, and so the dice are more likely to continue on towards the backwall in an undisturbed on-axis facially-correlated manner.
The LEAST opportunity you give to the HDCC material to disturb the initial touch-down in any way, the better your chances of a high consistency outcome.
In other words, you have to minimize the rebound shock that the dice initially encounter on their first impact with the table in order to maximize their continued axial integrity.
The less energy and the less undissipated descent-speed that the dice impact the table with; the more likely they are to end up with a result that we intend instead of the random-rebound hopping, popping, and scattering that high-density closed-cell foam normally inspires.
The Function of Spin
As many players have discovered, these next-generation super-bouncy tables are very touchy especially if you use what at first blush intuitively calls for a no-spin knuckleball toss.
Unfortunately that usually worsens the situation.
The fact is that a flat no-spin knuckleball landing will often result in a surprisingly high rebound accompanied with astonishingly unpredictable uncorrelated forward hopping, near-vertical popping, and sideways splattering. The fact is though, you really shouldn’t be surprised because the descent angle of most no-spin knuckleball tosses invite and encourage the HDCC foam to dispense that kind of random-inspiring response.
Why is that?
If the dice land flat with a no-spin knuckleball on a conventional hard-neutral surface, you often end up with a dead-cat bounce; however on the super-bouncy layouts that we’re talking about today, the dice will often times bounce right off of the table.
For that reason, I have found that these tables need A LITTLE BIT of spin instead of a no-spin knuckleball. Again though, when I say “a little bit” of spin, I DO MEAN a LITTLE bit.
When you combine a little bit of two-or-three-full-rotations-between-release-and-initial-impact spin with an ultra-low and ultra-flat flight-path trajectory; you end up with an amazing level of axial and facially-correlated integrity…and that is what dice-influencing is really all about.
Why Use ANY Spin At All Or Why Not Use MORE Spin?
If the dice land with improper amounts of directional input (either too much or too little); then the axially-and-facially upsetting reaction imparted by the table-surface itself contributes to the randomness of subsequent movements.
In other words, we know ahead of time that the table will react differently to the impact of the dice depending on the trajectory it is hit with. We also know that that reaction will be dictated both by the force with which the dice impact the surface, as well as the angle-of-incidence (the steepness or shallowness) in which the dice hit it.
As a result we have two seemingly contradictory impact-elements to deal with. On one hand, we want to minimize the high rebounds that are caused by steep descent angles, while at the same time, we want to maximize the directional stability as well as maintaining axial and facial-correlation integrity of the dice.
To accomplish all of that in synchronous harmony, we need to input a little bit of spin on the dice to maximize the directional stability as well as maintain their axial and facial integrity when they make their first impact with the table, but not with excessive spin so as to cause a high and erratic rebound off of either the table or the backwall.
Equally, the flight-trajectory of the dice has to be low enough to the table itself and shallow enough in arc so that axial disturbance and facial disruption is held to an absolute minimum.
Needless to say, adjustments have to be made to your throwing speed in order for the dice to exhaust all of their unspent energy just after impacting the backwall (and hopefully at the smooth, non-alligator lower portion of the backwall). That means the dice should be rapidly slowing down (decelerating) on their initial touchdown, and just after they hit the smooth lower margin of the backwall rubber, they should have almost completely run out of steam as they gently rebound and come to rest on-axis, and hopefully on one of their four primary as-set faces.
Without a doubt, you will have to put considerable effort into properly calibrating just how much or how little throwing-force you can get away with. My rule of thumb generally holds that you can reduce your throwing-energy by 30%, 40% or even 50% on most of these super-bouncy layouts, and still have a nice gentle on-axis impact with the backwall…
…or to put it another way…
If both of your dice are ending up further than 4 or 5-inches from the backwall or from each other when they come to rest; then you can still dial-down your throwing-energy in order to better subjugate this sort of table in a consistent enough way and still live up to the casinos obligation to hit the backwall with both dice.
Since we’ve already covered grip, throwing-motion, spin, release-height, throwing speed, and descent-trajectory for the ULTRA Low, Slow, and Easy Toss; let’s tackle landing zone target-areas and how to troubleshoot your landings before finally dealing with backwall rebounding.
Trampoline-Table Landing Zones
The Landing Zone is the initial target area at which you throw the dice, and it is the spot where the dice first make contact with the table.
Your landing zone is determined by a number of factors, the first of which is how bouncy the table is, and how low in trajectory your actual throw is.
Generally, the lower and shallower the flight-path trajectory is, the further away from the backwall you can throw the dice on these super-bouncy trampoline tables.
For example, if you release the dice at the height that we previously discussed; then you can land the dice about 12” to 18” inches away from the backwall because their initial contact with the table will not decelerate the dice as much as a higher-trajectory landing would, and therefore the dice will maintain more of their forward-speed while still usually maintaining their axial and facial integrity.
The big benefit to the dice in terms of using an initial landing zone that is comparatively further away from the backwall (than traditional target areas on hard-neutral or soft/low-bounce tables); is that (because of their still on-axis but unspent forward-energy) their second contact with the table will be at the smooth lower non-bumpy margin of the backwall instead of up into the random-inducing alligator-pyramids.
Needless to say, you have to experiment a bit to determine exactly how close or how far from the backwall your initial Landing Zone should be in order to move their second contact-point lower down right to the base of the backwall.
If for example, the first bounce launches them high into the backwall alligator bumps; then obviously you can reduce your throwing energy as well as moving your initial landing zone quite a bit further from the backwall.
If on the other hand, their first contact sees them barely dribble in and almost fail to make contact with the backwall; then obviously you can move your initial target-area a bit further down the table and closer to the backwall.
Equally, the higher and more parabolic (mortar-like in shape) your flight-path trajectory is, the nearer you can throw the dice to the backwall.
For example, as we discussed a moment ago, a super low-trajectory throw with a low spin-rate can generally be landed further away from the backwall simply because the dice will seem to skip over the surface after first making contact with the table; and therefore they will travel a greater distance while still maintaining their axial-set than a pair of dice landed from a greater (steeper) descent-trajectory angle with the same or lower spin-rate.
Because of that, it can then be said that if you are using slightly more height with your throw (and it has a somewhat steeper descent-angle trajectory when the dice first impact the table surface); then you can land the dice much closer to the backwall. Again though, you’ll have to reduce your spin-rate even further because, as the descent-angle increases (in a more mortar-like parabolic trajectory); the dice will have a tendency to “jump” higher as the spin-rate increases.
Less spin almost always equals less HDCC rebound, and that is especially true as you move your initial landing-zone contact-point closer and closer to the backwall.
Troubleshooting the ULTRA LS&E Landing Zone
If you have trouble using an ultra low flight-path trajectory that is mere inches off of the table surface throughout its flight; then you can stick with a slightly higher toss-height elevation but land the dice much closer to the backwall.
In experimenting with the ULTRA Low, Slow & Easy Toss, I found that you could land a perfect Dead Cat Bounce right at the base of the backwall and the dice would die a nice on-axis, primary-face death.
Unfortunately though, on super-bouncy tables and especially where the high-density closed-cell foam (HDCC) underlay is covered with a super-slick micro-fiber layout instead of conventional wool or wool-blend felt; that particular DCB toss is unbelievably sensitive and requires a perfect square-to-the-backwall, perfect flat-and-parallel-to-the-table-surface landing; otherwise you’ll see the dice do some acrobatic maneuvers that would have a Quebecois contortionist from Cirque du Soleil drooling with envy.
On the other hand, if the super-bouncy tables that you play at have a traditional wool or high-ratio (80/20) wool/polyester felt surface overtop of the HDCC; then you may find that you can move your initial landing zone target area much closer to the backwall (about 2” to 5” away), but you have to stay fully cognizant of the fact that you do not want the dice to be vaulted high into the backwall alligator-bumps (thus creating rebound splatter). Instead, the idea is to either get the dice to die at the base of the backwall or to gently make contact with the smooth non-lumpy margin in order to achieve an on-axis facially-correlated rebound.
You'll find a full discussion and explanation of the Dead Cat Bounce here:
Shooting Bible, Part 4
In dealing with trampoline layouts that have a ton of spring and bounce, we not only have to look at controlling the inbound flight and initial impact of the dice on the table, but we also have to fully consider the outbound reaction and travel-distance after they hit the backwall.
Back Wall Rebound Distance and Straightness
Think about all the times you've throw on bouncy tables when the inbound dice-flight looked absolutely perfect. Both cubes flew through the air in perfectly matched mirror-like formation and continued that way even after they first hit the table. In fact, think of all the times when both dice emulated each other in faultless synchronicity and impacted the backwall together in what looked like a flawless textbook throw…only to witness each of them ending up with an entirely different rebound path and distance from the backwall (and to each other)…and with a totally different, facially-and-axially-mismatched random outcome.
Let’s try to resolve the rest of that bouncy table dilemma right now…
Upon release, both dice should be flat and square to both the table-surface itself as well as to the backwall.
That means the dice should be perfectly horizontally level with the table and vertically square with the backwall. There is an excellent discussion of precisely how to do this on each and every toss that you make on your practice-table at home and how to accurately transfer that skill to the real-world tables. You’ll find it here:
Current Parctice: Part 3
By hitting the backwall squarely, the dice should roll STRAIGHT BACK.
If they are moving IN ANY OTHER DIRECTION than straight back, then they are NOT hitting the backwall squarely, or they are hitting the wall too far up into the alligator-pyramids and letting it RERANDOMIZE your up-until-now-DERANDOMIZED throw.
If the dice are rebounding at any other ANGLE than straight back, then the dice are not IMPACTING SQUARELY in relation to either the table surface or to the backwall...or both.
In most cases the cure is pretty simple:
The bottom-plane of both dice have to be thrown perfectly horizontal to the table surface.
If the dice are tilted to the left or right to any degree; then their first impact with the table is going to send them towards the backwall in an off-kilter orientation (if both of them get there at all). Then, once they hit the backwall, that orientation will almost always be random or at least they won’t be facially or axially coordinated (which in my book is as close to random as “damn” is to swearing).
Equally, both dice have to be thrown square to the backwall and they have to be released from your hand in a perfectly square manner too. That means that one die cannot lead or lag behind the other, and they both have to have exactly the same spin-rate as the other.
As well, both dice have to follow the exact same flight-path trajectory. If one die is flying slightly higher or lower than the other, then its initial touchdown point will be a little different from the other, and by the time both dice hit the backwall and rebound from it, they will be completely out of synch, and therefore they will no longer be acting in mirror-like formation to each other…and the outcome will most likely be random.
Tied in with all of that is the amount of throwing-energy with which the dice hit the backwall. If the dice are bouncing off the backwall then rebounding and traveling more than 4 or 5 inches from the backwall or from each other; then you are throwing them WAY too hard for my ULTRA Low, Slow, and Easy Toss to work properly or perform with any level of consistency.
The idea behind the ULTRA LS&E is to TAME a bouncy table with refined subtlety, so a hard throw that tries to beat it into submission simply WILL NOT WORK.
Acute finesse is the rule, not the exception in terms of conquering these layouts.
Trust me, you will not lose your virility nor will your patriotism be called into question if you use a nice and gentle toss…especially if it produces some winning payouts.
A low-energy, low-trajectory, low-spin toss that is horizontal to the table-top and square to the backwall is what most super-bouncy tables need…and REWARD.
Mistakes Are Magnified, But Uniformity is Rewarded
When players first encounter any of these super-bounce, ultra-jounce trampoline tables, they are almost always surprised to find that a slight toss defect that they could normally get away with on a regular hard, soft-neutral, or unresponsive-dead table; is magnified and exaggerated on these ones.
For example, if your dice-release normally imparts a tiny little bit of wobble (that is almost imperceptible unless you practice with a laser or DiceDoc’s two-dice-glued-together DiceBarrel); many less-bouncy table-surfaces are somewhat forgiving and the dice will still remain on-axis and in-phase to each other despite your slight release-point defect. However, that very same toss on these bouncy tables may see one die fly off in a totally unexpected direction as soon as it hits the table or rebounds from the backwall, while the other one goes into a death-spiral spin that lasts for what seems like minutes; or before it even hits the wall, it just flops over dead like a Hollywood stunt dog.
Needless to say, ultra bouncy tables magnify your mistakes and turn small errors into what appear to be major throwing blunders. These tables will either force you to get back to the very basics of what dependable dice-influencing is all about…or they’ll drive you completely nuts.
The choice is entirely up to you.
Though you can get away with a fairly sloppy toss on a lot of tables, especially the dead, neutral and unresponsive ones; bouncy tables will take you to task on each and every toss that isn’t near-perfect.
There’s a benefit to that though.
To my mind, bouncy tables can make you a better, more technically-honest, more consistent dice-influencer in that you have to ensure that every toss is flat and horizontal to the table-top, and square and parallel to backwall.
Bouncy tables teach you how to meter, gauge and regulate every element within your grip-pressure and finger-alignment, your muscularly-harmonious toss-motion, your smoothly-coordinated release-point and follow-through, your spin-rate, your throwing-energy, your flight-path trajectory, your initial target-area, and the proper vertical and horizontal orientation of your entire toss.
In other words, bouncy tables can help you become a much better player…faster.
That is, you either master your grip-pressure, finger-alignment, toss-motion, release-point, spin-rate, throwing-energy, flight-path trajectory, initial target-area, and the proper orientation of the dice quickly…or you’ll continue to lose money nearly every time you pick up the dice.
Needless to say then, the side benefit of mastering your throw on these super-trampoline tables is that when you take your game back to a normal layout, I can pretty much guarantee that your basic toss will be flatter, straighter and technically purer than it ever was before you conquered these ultra bouncy tables.
A Little More Clarity
The high-density closed-cell (HDCC) foam which is the underlay material that a growing number of casinos are installing or having pre-installed by the table-supplier; is far removed from the old open-cell foam-rubber that has traditionally been used in the upholstery, automotive, and bedding industry or as an old-school underlayment in some casinos.
Rather, this new stuff is tough, resilient, and totally impervious to liquids.
In fact, the quickest way to determine if any foam that you are currently using is of the open-cell or closed-cell variety, is to see if it absorbs any liquids. If it absorbs any water (as you would expect most foam to do); then it is open-celled. If it totally resists water with no penetration whatsoever (because the cells themselves are closed with an almost plastic flat-mini-river-rock-like finish); then it is closed-cell.
…we’ve explored all aspects of my ULTRA Low, Slow, & Easy Toss.
Clearly it is sensitive to throwing-speed, release-point height, spin-rate, landing trajectory angle, initial impact-point, and backwall contact…just like any other dice-influenced throw.
What it offers on a super-bouncy table, is a way for you to tame the effervescence and random-inspiring liveliness that the HDCC-foam imparts and contributes to the dice upon their first (and subsequent, if any) contact with the table-surface.
Needless to say, this toss requires a fair bit of fine-tuning to get it to do your bidding on a steady and reliable enough basis, and I suspect that some people can’t or won’t be able to dedicate the necessary time or effort to do so. Still others may find that even after sufficient trial and effort, the Ultra LS&E still doesn’t provide the level of dependability that they are looking for on this type of high-rebound table.
For them I offer a significantly weaker alternative.
If All Else Fails...
What I have found to be quite effective on the super-trampolines IF my ULTRA LS&E doesn't work after prolonged tweaking; is to softly throw the dice in such a way so that they are gently trapped and stopped right at the crotch of the backwall/table-surface junction.
Essentially, it entails tossing a very soft trajectory-sensitive lob with almost zero-spin, and making a flat and square landing where the leading bottom-edge of each dice hits the 90-degree horizontal-to-vertical intersection that is formed by the lower backwall lip and the table-surface itself.
If the dice are thrown gently enough and they are landed flat and square enough to the backwall; then the impact stops both dice dead in their tracks. It's different from my Dead Cat Bounce in that the backwall/table-surface combo "traps" the dice without any bounce or rebound. In a way, it is similar to the “Trapshot” throw that our friend Operator was experimenting with about a year or two ago.
Without a doubt, this is a tough shot to make on a consistent enough basis and I would actively discourage players from even trying it on trampoline-like super bouncy tables unless they have completely exhausted all aspects of my ULTRA Low, Slow, & Easy Toss first.
This last-ditch effort trap-it-at-the-base-of-the-wall kind of toss is tough to master, and even tougher to get consistent outcomes with because it is so hard to get the landing-vector "just right" on a roll-after-roll-after-roll basis.
In fact, unless there is absolutely no other gaming-house choices for you to choose from; then I would recommend that if you can’t get the ULTRA LS&E to work on the super-bouncy tables in your area; then it might make more economic sense to save your money until you can travel a little further afield to gaming jurisdictions where they do have a less challenging range of table choices.
Good Luck & Good Skill on those super-bouncy tables…and in Life.
The Mad Professor
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