There’s a reason why many veteran craps players “chart” tables before placing a lot of action on the table. It’s because they have seen charter bus-load after charter bus-load of players run up to the first open spot at a craps table and throw down their first bet without once bothering to stop and look at the table before playing. They don’t care what they bet on or how well the game is going. They simply want to get in on the action. Which they do. If they are very lucky, they catch the table when it is trending in the way they bet. However, more often than not things are heading the other way and they end up losing their shirts. Playing in this manner shows a clear lack of self-control and discipline – two elements the precision shooter must have if he is to survive at the game.
In its simplest form, charting is nothing more than watching the game for awhile to see what the current trend is. Craps is a game of trends and patterns. Watch long enough and you will see them repeat. There will periods of quick seven outs followed by brief periods of points made. In between there will be long periods of choppiness where no trend is evident. But even then charting is useful. A particular number may be repeating with higher than normal frequency, or the hardways may be showing up more than usual. All of these are trends that can be capitalized on.
Watch the game and see how the players at the table are faring. Are points being made? Are box numbers being thrown between points? Or is the table dead except for a couple of wrong-way players standing straight out? Chat with the dealers about the current trend. They are acutely aware of it because as a rule, losing players do not tip very well. The key to charting is to determine the trend, then bet accordingly.
Charting the table has another powerful effect. It slows your entry into the game and positions you to make a rational as opposed to an emotional decision as to how to bet and when. Many veteran players do it sub-consciously, unaware that they are watching for a trend.
So how do you chart? First, it is a good idea to make up your mind what strategy you are going to play before entering the casino. Then, when you walk in the door you can find a table that is trending the way you want to bet. Let’s say you want to play the right way – perhaps with a Pass Line bet, free odds, and place bets on the six and eight.
Naturally, you would like to find a hot table, but there are varying degrees of “hot.” You may watch a shooter establish a point, then throw twenty-three numbers before sevening out. But if none of the numbers thrown were the six or eight you would have lost money on the roll. The numbers did not roll according to your pre-determined strategy of play.
The first thing to do is to chart a table that has a position open where you can play. Many players will go ahead and buy in at a table, but not place any money in action until they have charted the trend. Once you begin to chart the table take a look around at the other player’s action. Are there a lot of place bets on the layout? Which box numbers are seeing the most action? Which players have the most chips in their rack? How are they betting? All of these things are keys to the current trend.
If you plan to bet “right way” it is a good idea to chart until a player makes a pass. There is no point in playing the pass line if everyone is sevening out without making a point. Likewise, if you plan to place the six and eight it’s a good idea to chart until the shooter demonstrates that he can throw a six or an eight. Find at least two consecutive positive signs before entering the game. And then remember the old adage; “Don’t test the depth of the water with both feet.”
As the dice move around the table it is a good idea to chart the individual players as well. There are certain signs to look for when charting shooters. Does he set the dice and toss them with care or does he just “feed the chickens.” If you believe that some players can influence the outcome of the dice with practice, look for those types of shooters.
Another good shooter sign is when the player makes hop bets on a frequent basis and hits the point he’s hopping. This is a sure sign of a skilled shooter, and if he acts surprised when it occurs it is even better. He knows he is good and is just working on his act.
Did the shooter make a pass last time out? The first step to being a proven shooter is to make a pass. If he goes point – pass – so much the better. Even random rollers catch incredibly hot streaks. By charting shooters you can position yourself to take advantage of their streaks.
What if a shooter repeatedly goes point-seven? You have two options on these shooters. Either go with the trend and bet the Don’t Pass next time he shoots, or don’t bet at all. You want to chart for the bad shooters as well as the good ones.
Does the shooter have a particular number he repeats with higher than normal frequency? Often times the shooter is totally unaware of these tendencies. Yet definite signatures can develop whether they are aware of them or not. I once charted a shooter who threw an abnormal number of twelves over the period of about two hours. When the dice got back to him for his last roll of the evening I threw out a $5 world bet plus a $2 high low bet on his come out roll. Sure enough, he threw the twelve. In fact, he threw five twelves in a row, followed by an eleven and another twelve. As I have pressed my bets up on every hit, I won close to $1,500 before he ever established a point. I was the only player at the table who had any action on the twelve in this entire series. I just wished I’d parlayed the first hit instead of pressing it.
Charting the tables and the shooters is really about gaining control. Control of your emotions. Control of your bankroll. Control over when and why you play the game. Is it fun? Not particularly. But neither is losing.