Five Incorrect Craps Beliefs

Craps is a wonderful game where the player has a great chance to beat the house.  Craps is simultaneously a horrible game where monstrous house edges eat away at a player’s bankroll until it exists no more.

How can the same game be both glorious and forbidding? Because craps has so many different bets, some few which are good but most which are bad, that many craps players, not understanding or appreciating the math of the game and its impact on their bankrolls, will jump into the deep end of Lady Luck’s pool without a life jacket. None of the following are advantage bets:

Stupid Craps Strategy # 1: See a Number bet that Number!

Unfortunately unwary craps players, sadly adhering to foolish schemes such as numbers predictably getting hot promulgated by craps know-nothings, will go up against edges in the double figures. Such Everest-like edges are as great as or greater than slot-machine edges!

So why do craps players, many of whom are bright in their non-casino lives, make such foolish bets as the one-roll Horn bet (the numbers 2, 3, 11, and 12) after seeing a Horn number appear? One answer has to do with how the house edge actually works. In the short run play of the game certain streaks will happen that can blind the player. One or several Horn numbers might have just hit and the player thinks, “This is a streak that will continue!”

The player in this case is absolutely wrong. The streak might continue or it might not continue. In a random game there is no predictability, only probability. The Horn numbers have six ways of being made, which is about 17 percent of the time. In the long run that 17 percent give or take a fraction will be how often that Horn appears. And the house will take a nice fat cut when the Horn actually does appear. How much of a cut? Well, 12.5 percent. So if you bet $100 on the Horn every time a Horn number has just appeared you can expect to lose $12.50.

But players see a “winning hit or a winning streak” and have no idea that the house is grinding them down slowly but surely. The best way to think of gambling edges is to realize that every time you make that Horn bet you are losing 12.5 percent of your bet – whether you win the bet or lose the bet! The house edge works on the total amount wagered, not this or that win or loss.

So a player buying into this stupid strategy will lose. If he bets a Horn every time he sees a Horn, given a craps game with 120 decisions per hour, our bettor will see a Horn number appear 20 times and then bet on half of them. If our bettor dumps $10 on those 10 Horns his expected loss is $12.50 per hour. That’s too heavy a loss indeed.

Stupid Strategy # 2: Place Bets are Better Than Come Bets!

After the shooter has established his point and the player wishes to get up on other numbers, there are two ways to do this – he can make Come bets, where he puts his wager in the Come box and waits for the number to be established by the shooter’s subsequent throw or he can simply Place the number directly.

Many wacky gaming “authorities” believe that Place bets are better than Come bets because you can go up on whatever numbers you like, whereas the Come bet’s destination is solely in the hands of the shooter. Unfortunately the Place bets have such high house edges that selective betting does not overcome the low house edge of the Come bets.

Let’s see how this works.

A Come bet has a house edge of 1.41 percent. The Placing of the 6 or 8 has a house edge of 1.52 percent. The Come bet will lose a $10 player 14 cents each and every time he makes it. However, the player who places the 6 or 8 must place these numbers in multiples of six dollars. Thus, a $12 Place bet will lose the player 18 cents.

From there it gets worse. The placement of the 5 and 9 comes in with a four percent house edge. Our $10 Place bettor will lose 40 cents on each of these numbers. The placement of the 4 and 10 comes in with a whopping house edge of 6.67 percent so our player now loses about 67 cents for such placements.

Would you rather lose 14 cents or would you rather lose 18 cents, or 40 cents, or 67 cents?

In a random game, Place betting is far worse than Come betting; which is the end of the story.

What about the idea that you can take down your Place bets and that makes them superior? Sounds good but I have never seen a player take down his or her bets enough times to make Place betting superior to Pass and Come betting.

Stupid Strategy #3: Bet with the House and Beat the Game!

 There are some misguided players who believe that they can actually beat a random game of craps by betting the “don’t” or Darkside of the game. Here a player is betting that the shooter won’t make his point or number and will seven out – in which case the Darkside player wins.

Unfortunately, you cannot beat craps by betting the Darkside either. The very first placement of the Don’t Pass or Don’t Come brings the house edge hammering on your head because you will lose this first placement eight times and win it only three times. While the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come are actually good bets, the stupid notion is that somehow these bets are making you play on the casino’s side, guaranteeing a win.

Not so – the casino doesn’t need you as a partner, doesn’t want you as a partner, but prefers to take your Darkside money too.

Stupid Strategy #4: Increase Bets When the Table Gets Hot!

 Let me put this in flaming terms: The table never gets hot. Now in icy terms: The table also never gets cold. The table is just a table. Random shooters who have just hit 100 numbers without the appearance of a 7 have a 17 percent chance of hitting that 7 on the very next roll. They also had a 17 percent chance of hitting that 7 on the first roll, the second roll, the 40th roll, and the 73rd roll and with every other number up and down the line.

Every time you increase your bet because of what you just saw a random shooter do is simply losing you more money. If you had a Place bet of the 6 for $12 and you increased that bet to $24 because a 6 just hit a couple of times, the casino is going to extract 36 cents from that $24.

One more time: It is the total amount you bet that the house edge works on – whether you win or lose the bet is irrelevant! Therefore, increasing your bets into a random shooter will just lose you more money in the long run.

Stupid Strategy #5: In the Short Run All Bets are the Same!

 No, they aren’t. The following bets will give you a much lower chance of winning on any given session: the Any 7 (16.67 percent house edge), the 2 or 12 (13.89 percent), the Horn (12.5 percent), the 3 or 11 (11.11 percent house edge), Hard 10 or Hard 4 (11.11 percent), Any Craps (11.11 percent), Hard 6 and Hard 8 (9.09 percent) and on down the line it goes.

If you want to be a smart craps player then limit yourself to the good house edge bets like the Pass and Come or Don’t Pass and Don’t Come. Take the maximum in odds behind these bets and you will be giving the house a tough game – and giving yourself a decent chance of coming home a winner.

Even in the short run, bad is bad and good is good. Keep that in mind the next time you think of making a stupid craps bet.

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

 

 

 

 

This Man Needs Advice

 

FROM NOT-KING-COLE: Do you have any wild ideas about gambling? I’m looking for a real escape. I mean it, I don’t mean just following the math of the games as you do but something really weird and wacky that is perfect for a night at the casino. Drinks, flirting with waitresses and just going wild; that’s what I am talking about.

I am sure you have heard of wild ways to play. Give me an example.

I have a boring job, a boss I hate, I mean I really hate this guy, and an overall dull day-to-day life. I’m miserable. Help me! Help me! I’m looking at the casino as my escape route. Come on, help a guy out. Give me the best advice you got for me to have some fun in order to put all the other BS in the back for a while.

Maybe with some fun in the casinos I can forget about things for a while.

Sign me Not-King-Cole!

FRANK RESPONDS: Not-King-Cole, you need more than just “wild” gambling advice. You need to fix your life and I don’t mean your betting life. Thinking about gambling is the last thing to do.

I know most workers are not in love with their bosses and some hate them as you do. You can look for another job or you can just accept the fact that your boss is your boss and you hate him but he is not in charge of your inner life. That life is yours and yours alone. Make good use of that. Don’t be the drunken guy at the end of the bar whining and moaning until he passes out. I’ve seen too many of those – lost lives often ranting and raving over things they have no real knowledge of.

So you have a dull life? Read books; watch some good documentaries; take yourself out of yourself for a while. Join a club or society that does some good things. You make your life dull or not dull. No one else does.

You have more free time at home than at work. So that time is precious. Make use of it. Gambling is not a savior for anything; not for anything at all. It is just entertainment, hopefully in a life that has more meaning than just letting it all hang out drinking and flirting with waitresses who will be annoyed at guys who leer at them.

I am not going to give you any gambling advice. You seem to be – based on your short letter – someone who could use gambling in the worst possible way.

Please take care of what really needs to be taken care of. And I wish you the best.

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Dealer Signatures in Roulette

 

Casino dealers often get into the same easy rhythm when they deal and this is true of roulette dealers as well. They pick up the ball and spin it the same way every time, and they also give that ball the same “oomph” as well. The ball will tend to spin around the roulette wheel the same number of spins as it did the previous spins and it should therefore land approximately the same number of pockets from where the dealer picked up the ball.

If the dealer can actually achieve what I just wrote it is called a dealer signature; the dealers own particular fingerprint on the game. Obviously no two dealers would be alike in how they do this and thus no two fingerprints would be the same.

Is this really possible? Can dealers actually have such signatures? Or is this kind of thinking just wishful thinking; the same kind of thinking that leads players to believe in trend betting and the like? The opinion of experts is divided. A few say it is possible; more say it isn’t possible and the pains-in-the-neck experts say it is theoretically possible but probably not actually possible at a real roulette wheel.

I tend to lean more towards those who believe this is possible with strong reservations. However, if a dealer has such a signature I would think it is somewhat ephemeral and would not necessarily be manifested as often as players looking for it would like.

If a dealer’s signature were unconscious; that is, the dealer is really not aware of what he or she is doing, then it would take thousands of rolls of the ball with each of perhaps hundreds of experienced dealers to ascertain if the concept had any merit. There has never been a study such as this (as far as I know) because it would take the patience of Job to do it.

If the dealer’s signature were conscious then that would be a totally different story. Such a dealer would have the ability to make his friends, his family and himself a bundle of money over time – and if he were caught he’d be playing the uncomfortable game of prison roulette. So such a conscious talent might be used subtly to nail players the dealer didn’t like; help those the dealer did like; and maybe make some money on the side for an occasional friend or family member.

Roulette dealers disagree as to whether such a thing as a signature is possible. In fact, they doubt whether the unconscious or conscious creation of signatures exists at all. Very few dealers of the dozens of dealers I have spoken to believe signatures actually exist. They are more skeptical than the experts – actually, the dealers are the true experts here and they should probably be listened to.

However, if a signature study were done, could it successfully determine once and for all if the signature exists on the part of some dealers? Don’t be so quick to say yes because there are several factors that might make the study invalid or impossible to do.

Thinks of this: How could a person, notebook in hand, stand by a dealer’s table, then follow that same dealer from table to table, day after day, recording her spins without the dealer becoming uncomfortably aware of such a person? Maybe the dealer might at first think that the wheel was being observed for flaws, but this still might cause him to alter his spin to stop the player from determining what that wheel’s flaw is.

Anything that is dealer-dependent could be immediately changed when the dealer becomes aware of being watched. As in quantum physics, the observer interferes with the observed by the mere fact that he is observing. In such a case you can probably forget about ascertaining a dealer signature. I think the discovery of a dealer signature in real casino play is probably impossible if one wishes to have dealers followed for any prolonged period of time. Therefore, the dealer signature might exist but might not be able to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

There is also another problem in proving dealer signatures. Roulette wheels do slow down over time, so the movement of the wheel from time “A” to time “B” could be different enough to affect how many pockets pass the ball by as the ball spins around the wheel. The dealer might do everything the same exact way but with each ball-spin she is playing into a fractionally different wheel speed and dealer signatures would end differently around the wheel as the wheel slowed somewhat. A researcher would then be required to analyze the pattern of the signature over different wheel spins – an impossible task in my estimation.

If dealer signatures truly existed, they would be exploitable in short-term play, as the gradual slowing of the wheel’s speed would not affect the signature quite so drastically.

So what should you do?

If the dealer signature exists, then it will help you to win if you could actually figure it out. And if it doesn’t exist, you won’t hurt yourself anymore playing that way than you would hurt yourself playing any other way. You would face the same house edge we would have faced had you played any other kind of layout strategy. So have some fun and go ahead and see if you can figure out a dealer’s signature. It might be like searching for Bigfoot but it’s worth a try.

Frank’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

A Husband and Wife Talk Craps

 

They have totally different views about gambling. She doesn’t love it but she plays a little; he loves it and he plays a lot! His game is craps.

HIM: I make no bones about it. I love playing craps and we both go to the casino once a week.

HER: I do play the slots for one hundred dollars and no more. He plays craps all day. If I lose that hundred, I am done. That’s my limit. I play the nickel machines and keep the amount I bet very low on each decision so I can last.

HIM: We get everything for free. A great suite; free gourmet meals. My play is rewarded by the house.

HER: His play is rewarded, if you call losing a lot of money over the fifteen years we have been playing. I have lost. I admit that. I’ve lost a little. You really can’t beat the slot machines but his craps play is off the wall.

HIM: I am what they call an “action” player.

HER: That’s one way to say it.

HIM: I like to really get into a game. I will bet the Pass Line but I enjoy my other bets much more. I place the six and eight for one-hundred fifty dollars each and I usually go with the five and nine for one-hundred twenty-five dollars each. I buy the four and ten for one hundred each. I don’t necessarily go up on all of them at once but if I take a few wins, then I go for it big time. I am in the game to make the most money I can and the only way to do that is to bet big and go with the flow. I do believe there is a flow to the game.

HER: Oh, yeah, the flow is usually his money going across the table to the casino’s tray.

HIM: Hey, I’ve had some big wins!

HER: He’s not telling it all. Action player means he makes some of the stupidest bets at the game. Come on tell them…honey.

HIM: Okay, okay, she is right. I love to bet the Hardways and occasionally I will throw out the two or twelve, but only for ten dollars each. I go twenty-five bucks on the Hardways. They have good payouts and if you get hot on them, you can really bring in a lot of cash.

HER: I know the percentages of these bets because I did research on them. The Pass Line is good, maybe too the placing of the six and eight, but those others? Phew!

HIM: Those others are where the big payouts are. You hit a two or twelve and you get paid a lot.

HER: He works twelve-hour days and he is very successful in his business. He would never approach business the way he approaches gambling. He is very conservative with his money but in the casinos he lets it all hang out, in the worst way.

HIM: I play to have fun. I don’t consider this a business. I’m letting off steam; once a week is my steam-letting-off time.

HER: Steam? I think it is fun to have a decent chance of winning. What steam is let off by losing? He rarely wins, and when he gets those big wins he wants, they aren’t anywhere near enough to be ahead or even close enough to being even in his playing career. How is that a loser of steam? I would think the steam builds up even more. If he just played the Pass Line and maybe a Come bet or two, he’d have a better chance of coming home with some money much more frequently.

HIM: She doesn’t understand the craps player’s mentality. The game is fast and the players are really into it. Most of the players are rooting for the shooter to hit numbers and to make his point – the players who aren’t rooting for the shooter are pains in the you-know-what if you ask me – and when the shooter gets hot, there’s nothing like it. It is like a jolt of lightning going through your body. I mean you really feel it. I used to play blackjack but in that game there is no electricity shared by all the players.

HER: I think if electricity like that happened the players would be electrocuted. They are kind of electrocuted during the game if you ask me.

HIM: I look at it this way too. She is right that I work hard and earn good money but I also want the chance to spend that money as I see fit. If I played craps the way she suggests it wouldn’t be as much fun. That I can tell you for real; the game wouldn’t be much fun to me. I don’t tell her how to play those slot machines.

HER: I have very strong money management tools. That means I use a little amount to play with and I stretch that money out over time. Most of the time I do not lose much money at the machines based on the way I play.

HIM: Her way would kill me. I play it safe in real life but at the craps table? Come on. The casino is telling you to come and get it – and I am coming and trying to get it! I recognize that I play a high risk way –

HER: Of course, he’s an action player after all.

HIM: But the reward of that risk is that I am having fun. What’s so wrong with having fun? She wants me to have fun her way. I want to have fun my way.

FRANK’S VIEW: In my opinion the wife has the better gambling strategy. Yes, the husband can play anyway he chooses with his money but his choice of bets is lacking an understanding of how fast and how much money he will lose even over a relatively short period of time.

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

A Night from Hell

FROM ROLLO: Help me Frank! I was on a cruise ship for seven days and played craps each night. I was playing with a bunch of “shakers and fakers” as I like to call the ones throwing the dice everywhere and making Field and Hard Ways bets. Then at the end of the table stood the Darksider, making Don’t Come bets and pressing all the Odds. His tray grew large while everyone else’s grew small.

Not even the mighty 5-Count could help me on this dark trip; by the last night his side of the table was betting dark bets.

Please tell me there are other ways to win at a game I truly love when this situation is placed in front of me besides joining the dark one? It seemed like everyone sevened out at around eight or nine just in time for me to get a couple Come bets out there.

This was a trip from hell.

FRANK RESPONDS: You certainly did experience a trip from hell. I’ve been there too. If people are sevening out on the eighth or ninth roll, the 5-Count can’t protect you. I wish it were a perfect method but sadly in casino gambling there are no perfect strategies. Losing for seven straight nights can mess with your head. I’m glad you didn’t decide to jump overboard.

As for going on the Darkside, keep in mind that the streak you experienced does not predict what will happen next. You could have switched to the Darkside and suddenly seen the Rightside go on a winning rampage. If that were to happen you might feel that you were cursed.

You might consider betting less or merely going to one Come bet with Odds until you won a few times. I wish I had some magic formula to help you. I don’t.

FROM BIG BOY: I dispute your craps theory that Come bets are better than Place bets. The thing with Place bets is you get to pick the number AND you can take your bets down whenever you want to. That seems to make these the better bets in my honest opinion.

Okay, go ahead, defend yourself.

FRANK RESPONDS: What you’re saying is true. You can pick your numbers and you can take your bets down at any time.

Now for the bad news. So what if you can pick your numbers? Only the 6 and 8 come in with a decent house edge of 1.52 percent; the other Place bets are awful. You face a four percent edge on the 5 and 9; and a 6.67 percent edge on the 4 and 10. Why would you want to ever place bets with those house edges?

In a random game you can’t outguess the dice. There is no predictive factor that would allow you to know what streak is coming next.

Now, as for taking down Place bets; yes, you can do that at any point. But you’d have to take these bets down about 80 percent of the time. I have never seen a Place bettor do that in my quarter century of play. I have seen Place bettors take down or turn off bets but I’ve never seen one ever get to 80 percent.

I think your arguments, while they sound good, just don’t cut it.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

 

Naked in the Bathroom

He was naked. In the handicap stall. In the men’s room. Sitting on the toilet. At Bally’s in Atlantic City. You could see in the stall because the door was not flush. He was Asian. Naked.

The great dice controller Jerry “Stickman” and I were on our Odyssey in Atlantic City. The Odyssey is a single day where we pool our money, and go to all the casinos on the Boardwalk (now just five of them as opposed to the 12 in AC’s glory days), where we play one hand of Pai Gow Poker, two hands of blackjack, two hands of mini-baccarat, $40 in a $5 slot machine (one credit per decision) and we each take the dice two times at the casinos whose tables fit our criteria — we have to get our spots and we want 12-foot, standard-bounce tables. If we can’t get that we skip playing craps.

Naturally, except for craps, we are not playing with an edge at any of these games. We don’t wait for high counts in blackjack or find tables where we can get the edge banking at Pai Gow Poker and there is no way to beat mini-baccarat. We don’t bet much at these games, just $25 on each decision. Obviously, there is no edge to be had at $5 slot machines. So in games where no edge is to be had, our tactic is to play very, very few decisions and pray.

At craps we go with our normal bets, obviously far bigger than the bets we make at the other games. This trip we ended at Tropicana where we had a great meal at Carmines. This Odyssey also allows me to scout out the various casinos to see what’s what.

Did we win? Yes. Just barely at the games where we had no edge thanks to a hit on the last slot machine we played. That’s short-term luck. And the power of prayer.

In craps we both had consistently good rolls so skill won out on our Odyssey.

In fact our almost-week in Atlantic City saw me shooting damn well, consistently hitting repeating numbers (which is a wonderful thing). We basically played at 6 am and 9 am with a break in between for breakfast. We did not play evenings or afternoons (except once each when a table was open).

And what of the awesome Stickman, the great, amazingly great, the dice controller with the perfect throw? He wasn’t as consistent as I. Poor lad. All he did was explode several times for monster rolls tickling the 50 mark! It was a dream trip, that’s for sure. Up from the first session and building each session from there. (Let me caution you: It doesn’t always go that way.) Great games; great conversations; great meals. A player’s dream trip.

And then there was this naked guy in the bathroom at Bally’s.

The moment we entered Bally’s from the Boardwalk, there on the stairs leading to the casino were three drug (heroin) addicts, two guys and a girl. I knew them (generically) from my life in New York City. Droopy eyes; sneers from the guy who was most awake; with the girl — totally zonked leaning on his belly — with the second guy blinking to stay awake.

Jerry “Stickman” recognized them too — Memphis had been good schooling for him in this world peopled with the zoned-out dregs of society.

In the casino, which was somewhat crowded, there they were, leaning against the walls, maybe every hundred to two hundred feet apart, the “salesmen.” The druggie would go to a salesman, tell him (they were all men) what he wanted, and then pay the salesman who would use his phone to call the “distributor” who was somewhere else in the building or outside the building.

The salesmen were throughout the casino. In the lobby too and in the portico where you crossed over into Caesars – brazenly standing right there – yet we saw none of these guys in Caesars.

It was then we headed for the restroom; going through the lobby which was empty except for a salesman waiting for orders. In the bathroom was a maintenance man trying to fix a stall door.

Inside the bathroom, we talked:

“Trump Plaza has moved here,” said Stickman.

“Yeah,” I said. “The outer world is closing in on the Boardwalk casinos.”

“Will the casinos last?”

“I really don’t know,” I said. “Resorts looked pretty crowded.”

“Bally’s is becoming the dumping ground from the Trump Dump.”

“Except Bally’s casino is bright and inviting; although some of the wrong people have accepted the invitation,” I said.

Trump Plaza had become known as the Trump Dump and it was always inhabited by the druggies. Its closing was cheered by many casino players who would no longer play in a casino where so many hazy creatures slithered along.

Then I saw the naked guy in the bathroom. He was in the handicap stall; just sitting there. He was Asian and he stared down and then lifted his head and stared straight ahead, then down, then straight ahead — over and over.

I didn’t know if Stickman had seen him. He was at the urinal and I tapped him on the shoulder.

I whispered, “There’s a naked guy in there.”

He whispered back, “Yes. Let me finish peeing.”

“Sorry,” I said and headed out of the bathroom. I passed by the maintenance man who was feverishly trying to fix the stall door.

“That was weird,” said Stickman as he left the bathroom.

“What do you think that was? He loses not only his shirt but also the rest of his clothes?”

“I don’t know. This place is really bringing in the wrong crowd,” said Stickman.

“If this were Vegas they might be able to throw out the drug crowd. I don’t know if they can do that in Atlantic City.”

Stickman nodded. I shook my head.

My God, a naked guy in the bathroom of a casino that had so many of the wrong types seemingly thriving.

That might be more of a herald of Atlantic City’s demise as anything else.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

 

Take It Easy

I remember when I was a teenager experiencing my first bout with alcohol. At the time in New York City the drinking age was 18 and at 18 – vavavoom! I went to my first bar in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I think the bar was on 98th street on 4th Avenue in the St. Patrick’s parish near Fort Hamilton. (I wonder if that bar is still there?)

I ordered a beer. My friend also ordered a beer. We drank slowly, savoring our first taste of what had been the forbidden fruit; or the forbidden fruit juice. It wasn’t delicious but it was booze! I was drinking booze just like all the other grizzled men at the bar. I wasn’t grizzled at that time in my life but I felt a part of a larger society, men who drink.

My second glass of beer went down more smoothly and a little faster at that. The third went faster and my taste for the beer grew, in fact I ordered another before I even finished the one I was on.

The night started to get hazy and I was now socking them down. My friend socked them down too and then he went to the bathroom. I am not quite sure when. I had a few more beers by the time he came back to the table.

“I got sick,” he said.

“Ha! Ha!” I laughed. “You can’t hold your booze like I can.” I then patted what I thought was my cast iron tummy. “Ah ha!” I rejoiced.

Somewhere in a dim dizzy world I was walking down 4th Avenue towards the Verrazano Bridge which had recently been completed. I found myself puking all over myself and everything near me. I rolled into the bushes and passed out. I had no idea what happened to my friend. In fact, I never even thought of him.

A light was shining in my face. “Uh, uh,” I mumbled.

The cop said to someone behind him, “Is this your son?”

My father came forward and said, “Yes.” Dawn was at hand. I had been in the bushes all night.

I don’t remember how I got home. I do remember that my father and I did not say a word to each other, or if we did I have no recollection of it.

At home I took off my clothes, got into the shower, and all was hazy but my growing headache. I went to sleep and when I woke up late that afternoon I asked myself, “What did I do? What the heck did I do last night? The whole evening was shot to hell.”

And that is what many casino gamblers feel the next morning after a night that started off slow and happy while ending fast and horrible.

Casino gambling can be like drinking. You start off totally in control, play in a relaxed fashion, but as time passes you play faster and faster. This is especially true of slot players. If that slot player also drinks as well then…well, then I am sure you get the fast-motion picture.

Table-game players increase their bets as they hang around the tables and if those players drink…well, then I am sure you get the expensive picture.

The next morning many casino players ask themselves the same question I did so long ago, “What did I do? What the heck did I do last night?”

I am not telling people not to play casino games; these games are fun. I am not telling casino gamblers not to have a few drinks (only a few mind you). But I am saying this: Restrain yourself. Do not increase your speed of play; do not bet more as the night wears on.

I no longer have to worry about winding up in the bushes under the lights of the Verrazano Bridge. I know how much I can drink and I know I do not have a cast iron stomach. I know that if my father were still alive he would not have to scour Bay Ridge to find his unconscious son.

Casino gamblers should learn such a lesson as well.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

The Look, the Voice, the Truth

When I mention to people that I am a writer and I often write about gambling and casinos, I will get “the look” from some of them. “The look” incorporates a scrunched up forehead, a slight involuntary sneer, a tilt of the head often followed by the words, “Oh, you’re a gambler?” The tone of the question is in keeping with the scrunched forehead, the sneer and the tilted head – not pleasant at all.

What have I done wrong? Have I murdered someone? Stolen food from a baby? Looted Little Lulu’s college fund?

Being a gambler is not perceived as a good thing as gamblers are often lumped in with problem or addictive gamblers. Certainly, the 54 million people who go to casinos every year are not addicted to gambling nor are those people who play a football lottery daily slaves to Lady Luck’s charms. If you like a glass or two of wine with your dinner are you a raging alcoholic? I think not.

The fact that we all gamble all the time is often lost on most people. That loving couple you see strolling hand-in-hand along the beach (regardless of their age) took a gamble on each other. Would a relationship work out? They had to gamble and see.

The person waiting for the bus or in the terminal boarding his flight or heading up the planks boarding a cruise ship or selecting tonight’s dinner items, or walking across the street or going into a pool or ocean; all these people are taking a gamble. Gambling is a part of everyday life. In fact, it is most of everyday life.

We tend to dismiss the above gambles because we make most of them all the time. You could be walking down the street and a rock falls on your head and injures you – the act of such walking down the street was a gamble.

The biggest gamble people probably take is having children. That is genetic roulette of the first order as you have no idea which genes will be coming out in your kid(s). Will it be the brilliant but overly neurotic Aunt Emma from the 17th century? Will it be from Karl, the great athlete? Will it be someone with a pleasant disposition? Or will it be the raging serial killer from the 1500s?

Parents have sometimes heard their kid say, “I didn’t ask to be born!” Many parents would love to shoot back, “I didn’t ask for you to be born either. I wanted someone else.” Children? A lifetime gamble that’s for sure.

For most people most of their children turn out to be okay to brilliant – that’s the continuum.

For casino gamblers the continuum would be from those who use it as their major pastime to those who go on occasion. Yes, in life there are outliers; people who gamble until they harm themselves and others, and people who never gamble on casino games. The latter dominates the outlier group.

Most people are rarely in the outlier groups; that’s why such groups are outliers, they constitute the extreme ends.

So the next time someone gives you “the look,” ignore them. They know not what they do or have done every day of their life.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from Amazon.com, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

The Three Types of Blackjack Players

There are three types of blackjack players and sub-categories of these three. If you are a self-styled blackjack player using your own unique and probably wrong strategy and you are easily offended, you might not want to read this article. That’s my warning to you.

Blackjack players who are card counters, meaning they can get a small edge over the casino when they play, have certain things they look for. They want deep penetration into the deck, decks or shoe. This allows their count to become stronger as the cards have been played.

These players are not as interested in the rules as they are in the penetration (however, they will probably forgo the 6:5 blackjack games). Penetration is the key to the casino treasury. They would also prefer to play alone or with only a couple of players at the table. Advantage players want to play as many hands as possible. They love fast dealers!

Regular basic strategy players (basic strategy being the computer derived play of every player hand against every dealer up-card) want just the opposite. They want good rules, shallow penetration, a full table and slow dealers. The fewer hands such players play the better for them. Old, arthritic dealers or those dealers who love to talk are the best bets for a basic strategy player.

Card counters and basic strategy players are opposite sides of the blackjack coin; the two never to meet in their long-term expectations.

The third type of player, the category of which goes from stupid to stupider to “oh, my god, he did what?” Such players use their own well-thought-out-seemingly-logical strategy which is totally wrong and based merely on their own limited experiences in the casinos. (“I know what I am doing; I have been playing blackjack for years.” “Sorry, no, you don’t. You split 10s, double on 12, and annoy everyone by giving the wrong advice! And there’s a funky odor coming from you.”)

Players who try to use their psychic powers are long-term losers. Players who assume the dealer always has a 10-card in the hole, even though only about 31 percent of the cards are of 10-value, are long term losers. Players who always insure their hands, even their blackjacks, are long-term losers. Players who split fives…players who won’t hit their 16 against a dealer up-card of seven…players who don’t always split aces and eights – the list goes on forever – they are all losers.

Yes, basic strategy players are losers but they are basically losing a mere one-half percent of their action while our third category folks are losing their shirts.

Blackjack is a great game, for card counters and for basic strategy players, but each must play the particular game their strategies are suited for. And that third category? Sadly, there’s no talking to them.

[Read Frank’s new book I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack! Available from Amazon.com, Kindle and electronic media, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

I Miss Them

Over 25 years ago I took up casino gambling. At the time, I was an actor (and producer and director and teacher) about to perform a great role the dimensions of which baffled me. I was playing a degenerate craps player although I knew nothing about craps; in fact, I knew nothing about casinos or casino gambling. It was an alien world to me; a landscape I had never walked.

Since I had never been in a casino or played craps, I knew I had these great monologues about my great good fortune on a single night at the tables and I had no idea what the words meant. I would be emoting about – what? What did what I was saying mean?

So my co-star and I decided to go to Atlantic City to discover what this play, The Only Game in Town, was all about. My co-star was the Beautiful AP who would several years later become my wife and for 10 years my playing partner in the world of blackjack advantage play. We’ve been together now for three wonderful decades.

We went to the Claridge where I was lucky to learn everything there was to learn about craps and, by extension, casino gambling from the greatest craps player of all time, the Captain. He took me under his wing and I flew through the casinos from that first night for over 25 years. By the way, I also did a fine job in the play once I understood what I was saying.

The Captain had a Crew of 22 high rollers, men and some women, accomplished in life and joyous in gambling. Yes, almost all of them were losers, many were big losers as they were orange chip players (an orange chip is $1,000 and worth a lot more back then than it is now). The Captain had developed certain techniques of play, including rhythmic rolling (today called dice control or dice influence) and the 5-Count, a method for reducing exposure to the house edge.

I’ve written about all of these ideas in my books, the new one being I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps. The Crew? Except for “the Arm” who was the greatest dice controller I ever saw, and Jimmy P. (and later me and Satch), they just didn’t even notice that the Captain’s trinity were way ahead of the house.

There are now only two of us left of that great Captain’s Crew, Satch and me.

I look back at those times with great nostalgia. I fondly remember the Crew. I’ve written about them in my new book. They were a fun group; a boisterous, east coast, New York, Brooklyn, fun group; in short, a whole other world.

None of today’s dice controllers can match the Arm but the best of today’s group is the great Jerry “Stickman” who writes for CasinoCityTimes.com. I enjoy going to the casinos with him. I wish he had known the Captain, the Arm, Jimmy P. and the Crew; he would have fit right in.

I miss them; I do; I miss them all. They shine bright in my memory.

[Frank Scoblete’s new books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Both available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]