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.]

The Captain Invented Modern Dice Control

The Captain of Craps, the Atlantic City legend, was responsible for discovering how to beat the modern casino game of craps with controlled shooting – which he used to call “rhythmic rolling” as well as “controlling the dice.” He applied this technique to beat the casinos from the late 1970s through 2007 – almost 30 years of constant play. Yes, he won millions.

Since 1998, some writers have tried to take away the dice control laurels from the Captain and assign them to other people who merely tried to build (sometimes incorrectly) on what the Captain had created. These pretenders to the throne are many, of course, since a good idea is always worth pilfering.

In 1993, my book The Captain’s Craps Revolution! was published and in it the Captain addressed the issue of controlled shooting – long before any of the pretenders came out of the woodwork to try to take credit for this brilliant technique and his brilliant ideas. Here is an excerpt from the above referenced book:

The Captain: “I don’t need to guess. I know that some people have trained themselves privately or at the tables to control the fall of the dice. ‘The Arm’ has had remarkable success fixing [setting] and controlling the dice. ‘The Arm” consistently has major rolls. Recently at the Sands casino in Atlantic City, during a Sinatra weekend, with the place packed with free-wheeling high rollers, and then several days later at the Claridge right across the street, ‘The Arm’ had monster rolls of positively legendary proportions. This isn’t coincidence or merely fluctuations in randomness. ‘The Arm’ controls the dice! [Bold lettering mine]

“Does it mean that every time ‘The Arm’ picks up those cubes, a big one is coming? Of course not. There are times when she isn’t at the right spot on the table or the throw is a little off. Having played with ‘The Arm’ for years, I can recognize the signs of an off night. So can she. But if the groove isn’t there, just like a pitcher, ‘The Arm’ leaves the game and does not roll.

“When we talk about fixing and controlling the dice, we aren’t looking for perfection. Pitchers don’t pitch perfect games every time out. In fact, each separate roll of the dice to a player who can control them is like a pitch in a game. The good pitchers will consistently throw strikes and have good games, not every time out, but enough that you can say this isn’t just randomness or luck. Also, you have to define what you mean by a good roll. My definition is simple: a good roll is one where the seven doesn’t show long enough to make me money or one where I can make a good profit because there is a rapid succession of repeating numbers. Fixing and controlling the dice has more to do with certain numbers being repeated than it does with monster rolls. You don’t have to have monster rolls to win. I’ve seen rolls by ‘The Arm’ where the four will come up four or five times in a row, followed by some other numbers, then another string of fours before sevening out. It’s a wonderful feeling to be up on only one number after the 5-Count and have that number hit repeatedly in rapid succession. People who can control the dice will tend to have certain faces of the dice appear more often than these faces would otherwise by chance.”

In the book, the Captain then continued about how one should practice to actually get control over the dice; how many rolls one should do to see if such control was actually there. He mentioned that he sometimes had control but other times he didn’t, but he denied he was very good at it. He thought of himself more as a rhythmic roller which is, I guess, the equivalent to “control light.” I also guess that assessment of himself was his humility talking because in my over dozen years of steadily playing with him (and ‘The Arm’) in the late 1980s and 1990s, he was damn good and had the prototypical roll that works best for most controllers. He was aware that using the word “control” meant a high degree of accuracy with the dice – so he considered himself more of an influencer. This coming from a man who rolled 100 times in 2004 and 147 times in 2005 before sevening out – the only player I know of who has had two hands of over 100 rolls!

To me the use of words such as dice control, rhythmic rolling and dice influence all mean the same thing. The shooter has the capability to get an edge over the casinos.

Unlike today when you can find controlled shooters in greater numbers, in the Captain’s early days they were few and far between. But they were there and the greatest of them was ‘The Arm’ and the most brilliant of them was the Captain.

The Captain was the first to fully understand dice control and its ramifications, and no amount of taking his words out of context or trying to give the laurels to someone else can take these achievements away from him. All the current vocabulary of dice control; all the analogies to baseball or golf or other sports; all the talk about being at the right spot on the table; all of our understanding of when to leave the table; the knowledge that repeating numbers can also be the way to win money even without monster rolls – yes, all the modern parlance of the dice control world come from him.

The Captain was the MAN then; he is the MAN now; and he will remain the MAN forever.

[Read more about the Captain in my book I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps.]