by Walter Diem, Jr.
It has the look and feel of the perfect throw; the culmination of months of intense daily practice. The dice appear to float down the table in precise, mirror-image lockstep. The rate of rotation isWalter Diem, Jr. has been a major contributor to the evolution and enhancement of the Sharpshooter/PARR Dice Control Course. This article, one of his many contributions, will be incorporated, with acknowledgement, into the new book – Winning Dice Control Techniques: Shooting Craps from the Zone by Jerry Patterson and Sharpshooter. Walter's website is www.sharpshootercraps.com
so slow that you can virtually read the pipe on the dice while in flight. They softly strike the table together right on your “sweet spot”, generating only one sound; then gently impact the pyramids on the end wall. Energy depleted, the cubes drop to the table in the proverbial dead-cat bounce.
As we are mentally congratulating ourselves and preparing to press our bets, we hear the Stickman call out: “Seven out. Line away, Don’ts to pay!!” We quickly glance to the other end of the table to confirm the stick’s words of doom. We note the specific seven our toss has resulted in; and back-track it into the set we had used for that toss, confirming that once again, our perfect pitch toss has transformed itself into a double-pitch seven out.
There are two primary causes of double pitching; one caused by the hand and one caused by the table. By double-pitch, we are referring to one die having rotated two faces or 180 degrees more than the other die prior to coming to rest on the table. For example, if we are using the Hardways Set with the 4/4 on top and the 5/5 facing, a double-pitch result would consist of either the 2/5 or the 3/4 sevens as the final result. The 1/6 seven would have been caused by a double roll or double yaw, but not a double-pitch.
First the hand-caused problem: This material is applicable to any controlled throwing method where the finger tips are utilized as a fulcrum or pivot point intended to impart rotation in the pitch axis (the axis which runs across the short side of the table, between the stickman
and the boxman
). A rolling motion is rotation about the axis which runs the length of the table, end to end. A yaw is rotation about the vertical axis. This first flaw does not apply to the Ice Tongs style of controlled throw. The “tongs” has its own challenges to overcome, mostly in the yaw department.
Most hand or grip caused double-pitches are the result of a staggered release of the dice. This problem may require some assistance from another person to properly identify as the dice will feel as though they have departed the fingertips at exactly the same time. After a further description of this particular flaw, some remedial or corrective actions will be recommended.
Consider the way that we employ the fingers of our dominant hand. The thumb, index finger and to some extent the middle finger are tasked with all sorts of tasks requiring manual dexterity. We write with these three fingers, button up buttons, etc, etc. The ring and little fingers are used either to help grasp an object or as a support to the rest of the hand. Therefore we have better manual dexterity and control of the thumb and first two fingers of the hand than we do of the ring and little fingers. One could say that the inside of the hand tends to learn more quickly than the outside.
This is good news for the beginning dice control
student. The temporary development of a tendency to double-pitch may be an indicator of improved skills. During my own learning curve, I suffered through at least 3 distinct periods of heavy double-pitching, lasting for a month or two. In this case, the double-pitch is caused by the hand developing dice control skills at a varying rate across the hand, resulting in a softer grip and surer release of the inside die than the outside one. (I am referring to the die in contact with the ring finger as the outside die.)
During my training, the only cure for a persistent double-pitch I was ever given was to “get softer”; but this is only part of the answer. There is a minimum level of softness below which it is impossible to go without the smooth motor control necessary for a perfect pitch delivery breaking down and becoming jerky and uncontrollable.
The thinking behind the “get softer” mantra is the idea that the softer the delivery, the less energy needs to bleed off by the table and the end wall. Less available kinetic energy translates into less possibility for undesired table-induced random motion. Also, the softer throw is accompanied with a slower average rotation rate of the dice. The slower rotation rate tends to minimize and rate differential between the two dice thus cutting down on the possibility of a double-pitch outcome.
The real culprit of the staggered release can be found in the relative curvature of the fingers at the moment the dice pivot over the fingertips. As we spend more and more time in dice control skills development, we become more relaxed and confident in the required motions of our chosen throwing method.
Let us return to the hand and the “normal way” in which we operate it. When the hand is relaxed, the ring finger naturally tends to curve a bit more than the index and middle finger does. This very slightly increased curvature is enough to cause the outside die to begin its pitch rotation a fraction of a second before the inside die starts. This fraction of a second’s more rotation of the outside die is more than enough to cause a double-pitch, despite the fact that after clearing the hand, both dice are rotating at exactly the same speed, and therefore look really good in flight. The damage has been already accomplished by the time we are able to visually check them in flight.
As previously stated, this particular flaw is virtually impossible to identify in oneself without some assistance from an associate. Many individuals will deny they are doing this, based upon the feel of the dice leaving the hand at exactly the same time. Get a friend who is knowledgeable of the style of toss you are using to closely observe your hand from the side as you release the dice. Better yet would be to obtain some video footage of your release and play it back in slow motion. Pay particular attention to the amount of curvature of the fingers, particularly the ring finger right when the dice are starting to rotate out of the hand.
[Editor's Note: Part 2, How to Prevent These Problems from Occurring, will be published on this website in early August.]
For more information including a special offer of just $195 for the Sharpshooter/PARR Dice Control Course, visit Sharpshootercraps.com