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.

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.]

 

I Have Stalkers!

I am a minor celebrity in the great scheme of things. I have a good fan base for my gambling books, some fans have seen me on TV, and as I expand into other areas of writing I hope that fan base grows. But I mean I am “minor” as in completely, utterly minor—almost atom-like, as in I still take the damn garbage out on Mondays and Thursdays.

But I can now understand how real celebrities such as movie stars, sports stars, television stars, big-time writers like John Grisham must have it. There are nuts out there. There are seriously whacked-out people who write you, call you, show up at your house, knock on the hotel room doors where you are staying to invite themselves in.

I have stalkers, for crying out loud. I know many celebrities have stalkers. But they should just be for major celebrities, not the flea-sized kind that I am.

Newspaper articles report stalkers that have been brought to court by some of the real celebrities and almost none of them look really, really weird or even really, really scary.

But I can’t believe that in the past 20 years I have had my share—although I am not quite sure what my share should actually be.

A rabbi from a town near mine dropped by my house several times and asked to come for dinner. I made pleasant excuses the first couple of times. (“Oh, sorry, I had dinner already.” “It’s only two in the afternoon.” “I eat early.”) Finally, not to be offensive, I said, “Look, I eat pork and shellfish every damn night and down them with milk.” Now he just constantly emails me.

I had two women who seemed to always know where I was staying when in Vegas. However they did it, they were always able to take the elevator to my floor (often a floor that was secured), knock on my door (actually ring the bell of these particular rooms) and ask, “Oh, Frank, want some fun?” I would tell them that I was calling security in twenty seconds and they would go away. My wife would ask, “What was that?” I’d say, “Oh, just some fans.” She’d reply, “Oh, yeah, right,” turn over and go to sleep.

I have had several horrendous looking women, more like Morlocks than Eloi, who send me photos of themselves scantily clad, posing seductively, or rather, what they think is seductive. I completely ignore them because showing interest in them—even negative interest—would just encourage them.

I had a woman who would call me to tell me she was staying in Atlantic City in a beautiful suite and she would pay for everything if I joined her. I put my wife on the phone with her. That settled that.

 

I had one woman who offered me a “world-class *&^%**!!!” (I had never heard of that term before) if I did a favor for her husband. That was awkward. I blanched at the thought and immediately told my wife.

Oh, and men? Oh, yes, men too. “How do you know you don’t want to have sex with a man if you have never tried it?” If I were interested, I’d know it by now.

I did have one dangerous individual who had a severe mental illness called erotomania. This is when a person imagines and believes he or she has an intimate relationship with you. (Remember that woman who kept breaking into David Letterman’s house saying she was married to him when she had never even met him?) It is just the opposite of “Fatal Attraction” often with the same conclusion—the person (in this case, female) wants to harm you because she thinks you belong to her even if you don’t even know her or just know her in passing. That was scary. Thankfully that woman disappeared into the ether.

These crazies aside, I know this; I do enjoy people who have enjoyed my work, in whatever field it might be—teaching, writing, or acting. It is certainly an ego boost.

But these nuts, these fans who are certainly fanatical, are sad people. There is far, far more to a good life than bedding or bothering a person with even a modicum of fame.

Is fame important? No. I am happy taking out the garbage two days a week.

 

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 Faster the “Worster”

There are two factors that must be considered when analyzing the various casino games, the house edge and speed of the game. The two go together like “love and marriage” and a “horse and carriage.”

A game with a high house edge but very few decisions might actually be better than playing a game with a low house edge but many decisions.

Take a look at the game of mini-baccarat. The house edges on the two main bets of “bank” and “player” are 1.06 percent and 1.24 percent respectively. That means a player can expect to lose $1.06 per $100 wagered on “bank” and $1.24 per $100 wagered on “player.” Sounds great and as house edges go it is great.

Now let us take a look at roulette. The house edge on the American wheel (0 and 00) is a monstrous 5.26 percent. Yikes! That means a player can expect to lose $5.26 per $100 wagered. That is some big loss.

So it is clear that as house edges go, mini-baccarat is overwhelmingly superior to roulette.

Now let’s take a look at the speed of these games. In mini-baccarat a player can face 150 or more decisions per hour on either “bank” or “player.” There is a third bet too but we don’t have to worry about it since we never make it. That is called the “tie” bet coming in with over a 14 percent house edge.

I recently went to the casino and clocked mini-baccarat games. They came in with 140 to 180 decisions per hour. An amazing speed! Now, the minimum bet was $15 (most players were green and black chippers but let’s stick to $15). Let us take 160 decisions per hour.

The player bets $15 for 160 decisions. He bets a total of $2,400 and his expectation is to lose $25.44 on “bank” and $29.76 on “player.” So let’s say we average these two out to make the hourly loss on a $15 bet $27.60.

Now we turn our attention to roulette. The average game (based on my observations) will have approximately 35 decisions per hour (especially at an almost full or completely full table). So multiply $15 times 35 decisions and you get $525 wagered of which the player is expected to lose $27.62 – just about the same as a player at mini-baccarat. So a good house-edge game and a bad house-edge game come in just about the same.

So when you are deciding which games to play and if you want to figure what your losses would be with game “A” and game “B,” it is wise to learn how fast the games are as well. House edge is only one measure. It takes “two to tango” after all.

[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! Available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

Genetic Roulette

Everything in life is a gamble. Whether it’s crossing the street, deciding what to eat, whom to date, whom to marry, flying in a plane, taking a shower, just sitting in your living room; all of these activities could end in happiness, misery and perhaps death. That’s the way it is.

Marriage is not the worst of gambles because divorce is always there to save an individual in a bad marriage, so there is a legal out. Of course, depending on your religion, divorce might not be an option. If you decide to divorce a spouse who enjoys firing guns, using knives or loves to punch away, asking for a divorce could be a terrible gamble.

I think the most awesome gamble is having children; it is a lifelong commitment for men and women who take having children seriously and don’t feel free to desert them.

All parents play genetic roulette when procreating. Spin the genetic wheel and you hope the child who is born is a nice one who becomes a fine adult. No parents know what kind of kid they will have; what kind of adult that kid will grow up to be. Genetic links to beings long, long gone can come out at any time. It is roulette made of flesh.

Genetic leanings that characterized Uncle William who died in the Tower of London centuries ago might just manifest themselves in your sweet baby— and ultimately Attica prison ultimately becomes his residence.

What do parents see, hear and feel as junior grows up? Here is an example:

“Oh, my, my, he is such a beautiful baby. I think he might be President of the United States someday. He looks so intelligent.”

“He doesn’t play well with of the kids around here because they just aren’t at his intellectual level.”

“His grades are low. I think the school underestimates his ability.”

“The cop said he showed a lot of respect so his bail was set low.”

“I’m hoping he actually gets that high school diploma. All those suspensions! The school just doesn’t have the resources to educate him properly.”

“He has his own apartment. In our basement. His employers don’t see his genius and they let him go.”

“At least he hasn’t killed anyone.”

“Yet.”

We never know what will arise from our genetic history. You just never know who your child will be.

How does this relate to gambling? That is simple really. Look at all the games. The house edges and the total number of bets that can be made. They constitute the double helix of gambling action.

Craps has a multitude of bets – the game is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Blackjack has even more choices a player can make. Add in roulette, baccarat, Pai Gow Poker and a host of other games, including machines, and what comes up is, well, anybody’s guess. The “genes” of the gambling games (the house edge and the types of bets) are in every corner of the casino and they aren’t always good. Look at the casino floor and you are looking at a mass of gambling genetics.

We all want to win. We all want the best results. We all want those bets to favor us. The hope of, “My child can one day become President,” can be reduced to, “At least he hasn’t killed anyone…yet.” Similarly, “I’m going to win a fortune,” can be reduced to, “I just lost the money for my heart operation.”  And that is all due to “genes.”

There are more bad bets than good ones. That’s the truth and that is a truth many gamblers refuse to recognize. They will be victims of the genetic roulette of casino games. That is the way it is and has always been for the overwhelming majority of gamblers. In short, almost all parents will not produce the President of the United States.

[Read my book I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available on amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

The Trinity of Gambling Perceptions

  1. Purists: I guess if you are a purist all bets where the house has an edge over you is a “sucker” bet. Even of that edge is miniscule, your expectation is to lose – therefore, you make the bet and you are a sucker.

2. House Edgers: However, I think the common perception is somewhat different than the purist’s perception. The common perception is that low-house-edge bets are okay – such as playing basic strategy at blackjack; pass, don’t pass, come, don’t come, with odds at craps; baccarat’s bank or player bets would be “good” bets as well.

  1. Loss Per Hour: There is a third way as well, a wrinkle if you will – you must consider loss per hour. A mini-baccarat game can have low-house-edge bets but the speed of the game is such that this small edge can rip away at a bankroll. Playing $50 per hand in mini-baccarat will cost you a lot more than using the Pass or Don’t Pass betting $50 – although the house edges are relatively close on both games.

Loss per hour is rarely brought up when analyzing bets.

Strange as it seems, I tend to fall into all three categories. That’s my personal “trinity” of perception.

[Read my latest gambling books, 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!]