Shoot the Moons

This article was posted on December 1, 2008

Shoot the moons is an interesting dice-based game that DiceArena offers besides Dice Holdem. This game has nothing in common with Holdem, although that is not to say its strategic side is shallow. Its rules are extremely simple to get your mind around, the strategy to follow is less so.

In the lobby of the DiceArena software, you’ll be able to choose between Dice Holdem and Shoot the Moons. Shoot the Moons games are available in FL, NL and PL formats and you’ll be able to register for and play in MTTs and STTs just like in the Holdem games of your favorite poker room.

The lobby will certainly make it easy for you to locate the right type of game. Shoot the Moons can be an extremely fast, yet strategically profound experience.


Here are its rules:


Players sit around a table and post an ante (which is about €0.1 in a FL game in which the bet size on the first two rolls is €0.2 and on the last one €0.4) to begin the game. Each player then shoots two dice which are added up (the pip numbers) and their sum is displayed only to them. The other players cannot see your pip count at this stage. A betting round follows in which players can bet, raise, call or fold, as they deem necessary. After the betting round is completed, another two-dice roll follows for every player. The sum of the first shoot is now displayed next to your avatar visible for all other players. The sum of the second shoot remains concealed until the second betting round is over.

The third two-dice shoot is a special one. If you shoot a pair of 3s here, you win half the pot right away. The sum of the first two rolls is displayed next to everyone’s name, as the sum of the final roll remains hidden during the last round of betting. The player who makes the biggest sum after the third roll wins the pot.


Where does the skill element seep into this game? – you may ask. In order to be a consistent winner in Shot the Moons, you need to read your opponents based on their calls, you need to have strategic foresight (assess the situation from their perspective) and you need to be able to calculate probabilities on the spot, based on the value of your hidden dice and the pre-existent situation.

In a heads-up game, the situation is rather simple, as you’ll only have to keep an eye on one opponent, so I suggest you play heads-up only until you get the hang of it. Let’s see an example of calculating the probability of you beating your opponent. If you’re on the second roll and you possess a 2 point advantage, you’ll have to add that up to your hidden dice value.

Now then, you have to view 7 as the tipping point of the scale. If you hit 7 on your first roll (or hit 5 on the second with a 2-point advantage, which is essentially the same as shooting 7 having started off of even footings), you stand a 50% chance to win. Essentially, whenever you’re above 7, you have a more than 50% chance to win, which means you have positive EV and you should get money into the pot. Whenever you’re under 7, you have negative EV.

In order to find out your real odds however, you’ll have to compare the pot odds to your odds of having the higher hand. It sometimes makes sense to call a bet with negative EV on your sum, if the pot odds justify it.

When there are more players at the table, the situation becomes much more complex. This way, Shoot the Moon strategy can be developed almost infinitely.

The more you play, the better your grasp will be on the actual odds, and the more you’ll have increased your chances to become a successful Shoot the Moon Player.



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