I took a picture of Jessica's D10 set, laid out similar to pool, but missing the last row. I used a small rubber rubber as a tripod. You can just see all 10 dice in this image. I also had a go at noise reduction using GREYC's Magic Image Converter. This is using an enhancement called bilateral filtering, with spatial variance and value variance set to their default of 10 and 7 respectively, and iterations changed to 1.
I think I've now got a repeatable way to get this Optio doing the close focus thing.
Change to sMacro mode
Change quickly to manual focus, before the camera realises
Reduce focal distance (focus minimum limit changes from 0.18m to 0.03m)
The camera also seems to spontaneously end up in really close focus when it feels like it, which can get annoying if it's not what you want to do.