Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

British Prime Minister in the year of 1868 and from 1874 to 1880, Benjamin Disraeli once said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Those of us who enjoy casino playing have run into Disraeli’s three types of lies. Often.

Often they are given to us from random players who vow they are explaining the real natures of the games. You can read their views on dozens of gambling message boards. Often these views are given as angry diatribes pitted against other angry diatribes.

More often they are given to us by “experts” who are looking to bolster their eccentric take on the games and how to beat those games. Some of these “experts” are so off base that it seems they are playing in the field of dreams.

First let me get this out of the way: Real statistics and real math are needed to understand the casino games. But these are contained elements and require no spin on the part of the person doing the statistics or computing the math. You can read them and understand them or, at the very least, have them explained to you by someone who actually understands them.

So what are some of the lies and damned lies and statistics being shoveled at us?

Let me take the “statistics” first: These are generally personal statistics in the category of “this is true” because it happened to a friend of mine. Or the reason players lose is that 95 percent of them do not understand the power of power cards in card games such as blackjack. If they did, they wouldn’t lose.

The lies go in the direction of ferreting out the truth about the meaning of the decisions that are happening at a game – a random game no less! If you know the truth about randomness, you know wild things can happen that have no underlying cause, be they mystical or mystically mathematical.

Trend advocates are convinced that numbers hitting out of all proportion to their probabilities in a short run tell us they will continue to hit, OR they will tell us they are soon not to hit. Take your pick.

In fact, in truth, in reality they tell us nothing about the future.

The dice are rolling randomly down the layout and the numbers will appear as they appear based on their probabilities. Not based on some strange short-term trending quality of the universe that a casino player can take advantage of by going with (or against) that wrongly perceived future trend.

There are no “short-term” rules that are in any way, shape or form real rules by which to gage your future playing decisions.

And where do the “damned lies” come from. They come from people who are trying to sell their mystic systems to the poor schnooks who will be braying about the truth of such systems on various message boards.

There are many good gambling authors out there but there seem to be plenty more who are just throwing nonsense out at the public. Don’t believe the nonsense.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Stifle It

Players are not always going to play the way you think they should play. They aren’t going to play the way you want them to play even though the way you want them to play is the best way to play. If you have even minor casino-playing experience, you know the above sentences are the facts.

Still, if you have been playing casino games for even a moderate amount of time, you have run into the “experts” who feel it is necessary to tell other players how to play. Some of these experts might even feel the need to badger other players’ playing decisions.

You will find this most especially at blackjack but you will also find it at other card games. Even in games such as craps and baccarat, you get the “experts” informing others about what they are doing incorrectly.

At baccarat and mini-baccarat the numbers of superstitious players are legion. Such players will damn you if you start winning and they start losing because – for some strange reason – they think your wins are causing them to lose.

At baccarat, I once had a woman (a very small, tight-bodied woman) jump out of her seat and get into my face while screaming at me because I was winning and she was losing.

I actually had no idea what she was saying because she spoke another language but I could tell by her anger that she wasn’t yelling at me because of my good looks. It seems she would bet against what I was betting but I was winning and she was losing and so – ipso facto – I was causing her downfall.

There are times when the “expert” is actually giving another player correct advice. That actually is irrelevant. Unless the player asks such “expert” for advice then giving advice is uncalled for.

In fact, for me, I never give advice at a table even if another player asks for advice. I usually tell the other player to ask the dealer.

A long, long time ago in a casino far, far away, a player asked for my advice on how to play a specific blackjack hand. I was courteous and told him the proper play based on the correct basic strategy for the game we were playing.

He lost.

He then yelled at me for being an “idiot” and exclaimed “what do you know about playing blackjack?” What could I say except “I’m sorry?” I wasn’t going to get into an argument about what is right and wrong when playing blackjack hands. I accepted his concept of me as an “idiot” and left it at that.

I am no longer the “idiot” I was back when that happened. I don’t give advice to other players. Certainly, I see players making bad decisions in how they play this or that game, but it is their money to be played with as they see fit.

The other problem with many of the “expert” advice givers is that their advice is wrong. Craps players will tell other craps players to make bad bets. Blackjack players will stomp and scream at the last player to play a hand if the dealer takes a card and beats the players.

The key for all of us is to stifle it.

Single Shot Craps

I have always been a rather conservative player. I want to guard my money as best as I can while also enjoying the thrill of casino play. I have rarely made a high house-edge bet. I know basic strategy in blackjack and in fast games such as mini-baccarat I make sure I only bet maybe 50 hands per hour as opposed to 150.

I am slow and steady. I always gamble with one foot pointed towards the door.

Now, I have gotten even better. I am now an advocate and (hopefully) a writer who will create a new movement in casino gambling – the single shot philosophy.

This column will explain the single-shot idea for the game of craps.

If you take a look at a craps layout filled with betting choices or stand behind the players during a game, you will notice that almost all the players, in fact probably every player at the table, makes far more than one bet. Indeed, the layout at a full table is festooned with bets of every type, good ones, bad ones, horrendous ones.

Craps players are action players. To get the action they want they make numerous bets. Yes, a good night is thrilling but the majority of sessions are not so good and money can be lost quickly and greatly if things are not going the players’ way.

I now say, stop making multiple bets at craps! Doing so can only lead to losses and those losses will not take a long time to show up because they will be in direct proportion to how many bets a player makes and what the house edges are on those bets.

One bet should be your maximum. A come bet or a pass line bet, backed by odds, and that is all the bets you should make. Just one.

Now, immediately an action player will voice the idea that there will be “long waits” between decisions. This is true. Let us say that you place-bet the 8. There are five ways to make that number but there are six ways to make the dreaded 7.

Of course, there are 36 possible configurations of the dice, so a single-shot player will face 11 decisions out of 36; six decisions on the 7 and five decisions on the 8. All the other numbers are irrelevant. They don’t exist.

Naturally on the 8 place-bet of six dollars, the payoff for a win is seven dollars. Such a close contest gives the house a mere 1.52 percent edge. If one uses a pass line or come bet, the house edge is lower.

Okay, you are watching the game and wishing and hoping that your number will hit before the 7. But other numbers are hitting. You see some players being paid off for one of their bets every round of a decision.  How will you feel? Most craps players will feel they are being cheated because they only have one bet on the layout. They will think, “How stupid of me! I should have more bets working.”

And they would be totally, one-hundred percent wrong in thinking this way.

The numbers that are hitting on your table that do not affect your game of the 7 versus the 8 are just like the numbers hitting at other tables in the casino, tables that you aren’t at; or those numbers hitting could be hitting at other casinos. They have no effect on your game! They are to be ignored.

Stick with your game. Over time your losses will be miniscule compared to the average action player. Keeping losses that low is a good idea – a great idea.

This is single-shot craps. One bet only!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Five Major Craps Mistakes

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.

Dangerous  Craps Strategy # 1: I see a Number; I 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.

Dangerous  Craps Strategy # 2: I Say that 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.

Also, the idea that you can take these bets off whenever want means you’d have to take them off a considerable number of time to make up for their high edges.

Dangerous Strategy #3: I Will 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.

Dangerous Craps Strategy #4:  I Increase My 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 throw 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.

Dangerous Craps Strategy #5: In the Short Run I Say 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.

In general, rolls are that one-roll bets are more dangerous than rolls that are not.

All the best in and out of the casino!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com.

Stop Minding My Business

I am not a busybody. My wife, the beautiful A.P., has to remind me all the time of our neighbors’ names. “That’s Mrs. Kyle, next door.” “That’s the retired NYC police detective Mr. Grimes across the street.” “Mrs. Millicent had her fifth daughter last month.”

I just don’t connect to them and while I remember their faces, what the heck are their names? Forget about knowing what they do or did to make a living, or how many children they have. Except for my own grandchildren and great nieces and nephew, all other kids look more or less alike to me. Truthfully, I don’t have much of a fondness for “other” kids either. I like my own.

On our early morning walks through our beautiful village on Long Island in New York, my wife knows just about everyone and gives them cheerful greetings, while I nod hello, pretending to know them too.

“Who was that?” I’ll ask when the person passes.

“That’s so and so,” she’ll say. “She lives on Wright Avenue in that big blue house.”

“Oh,” I’ll say and then totally forget that person and his or her big blue house after my next eye blink

I do not pry into anyone’s life, including that of my family or friends. You want to tell me something, I’ll listen; ask me for advice, I’ll give it. The only time I push my ideas is when I write about gambling, which is part of my career after all. So, as you can clearly see, I am not one to jam my advice down anyone else’s throat.

At the gaming tables or slot machines, I never interfere with the way people play. It’s their money to bet as they wish – whether those bets are advantage-play bets, smart bets, not so smart bets, or absolutely stupid bets. I write therefore I am is true, but I don’t mind other people’s business, which is just as true.

So why am I subjected to that which I don’t subject other people to? In my real life I always have people prying into my business. “How much money do you make writing all those books?” “Are you a degenerate gambler?” “Is A.P. as pretty as you say she is?” Even the Internet wants to find out what my net worth is. Geez!

At the blackjack and craps tables, though, is where busy-body-ness becomes so offensive that I have, at times (and I am not proud of this), lost my normal calm composure and told people to go f…uh, to go fly a kite, so to speak.

At craps I use the 5-Count; a method developed by the late Captain of Craps, my mentor and the greatest craps player who ever lived, to reduce the number of random rolls one faces and put one in a position to take advantage of controlled shooters and/or big rolls. Indeed, the 5-Count cuts down the number of random rolls you face by a whopping 57 percent! Yet, I will have players turn to me and say, “How come you aren’t betting on every shooter right off the bat? What’s your system?”

Of course, I tell them (politely) that I have no system, I just bet when my instincts tell me to bet. That’s a lie but it usually shuts them up.

Some others will know I am using the 5-Count and they will loudly proclaim to the entire planet Earth, “You know that 5-Count garbage just doesn’t work!” Some will take into their confidence (in their overbearing, loud voices) the box person and the floor person. “Hey, you people, do you think that 5-Count stuff really works?” The box and the floor person invariably snicker. How stupid can anyone be to use these tools?

At times such as these I feel like taking the stick from the stick person and doing something obscene to the loud mouth.

Unfortunately, blackjack is the game that brings out every false expert who has ever lived! For some peculiar reason, blackjack players, even the worst ones who have no idea of the computer-derived basic strategy, think of themselves as truly gifted strategists who must tell everyone else at the table how to play their hands. Worse, they must tell you just as you make your decision why that decision is good or bad. Worse still, they must tell you in such a loud voice that everyone on this side of the Atlantic Ocean is now fully aware that you don’t know how to play the game.

“How can you hit that 12 of yours against the dealer’s two?” they shout.

“You are doubling an eleven against a dealer’s ten? That ten is a power card!”

“Whoever told you to split eights against a ten? That is a dumb move!”

To these loudmouths I would like to grab a handful of chips and…well, you can finish that thought.

For those of you who wish to take my advice, it is simply this: Mind your own business when you play; don’t give advice; and try to ignore those whose loud voices are attempting to change your smart casino play.

Why Do We Gamble?

 

Why do we gamble? I know this question has been asked a million times and there have been a million answers. Make that one million and one, as I am going to give it a shot.

Certainly in life we all have to gamble, as life is one long contest with luck, circumstance, and our eventual big loss. Life has a house edge to it, certainly, that grinds away at us, and even those who have had the best of times cannot escape the worst of times when they must say sayonara to the world. Of course, those who have had rotten lives because chance or circumstance or both caused some things or everything to not go their way might look upon the fateful last moment as a blessing. I am so happy to be out of here!

I think real life is a combination of the fated and the decided. You are fated to die. The generation that will never die has not yet been born. You are fated to get old despite wrinkle creams and face lifts that often look like someone is trying to rip the skin right off the skull.  I look in the mirror and I see a guy with gray hair who is closer to 80 than to 60. Is that really me now?

The other day in the bagel shop the girl behind the counter asked me if I got the senior citizen discount. My wife was asked that very night in our small village theatre if she got the senior discount for the movies. We both said “no” as if that would mean that fate was not hastening us towards seniorville – the place from which no one returns!

Oh yes, we can fight fate; scream at fate; regale fate and maybe even delay the ultimate fate, but we can’t change the fates. In the ancient societies fate was often called “nemesis,” which does not bode well for us.

Most of the rest of life, at least in America, and for just about all Americans, has to do with the decisions we make and the aftermath of those decisions. Not every decision is going to be a good one. Some of them explode in our faces and we have to make more decisions to handle the poor decisions that went ka-boom.

The “decided” begins when we do, too. Even little kids make decisions that have very real and very long-term consequences. That first grader goofing off when the teacher is instructing in math doesn’t realized that his fun today will limit what he can do with his tomorrows. If he goofs off throughout his school career, his prospects will be severely limited, and rail as he might against the “system,” or “society,” this person created his dismal situation and only he can uncreate it.

Most personal stories about individuals who goofed off in school and screwed up their early lives do not end up with everything just fine, thank you very much. Those great-ending stories are the exception to the rule because some other factors, some other decisions, worked to these rare individuals’ advantage. The rule of life is biblical – as you sow so shall you reap – and that rule starts as soon as we start crawling around the house looking for stuff to chew on. You can bank on that.

We gamble in life because we must gamble – there is no other choice. Not gambling in life is actually gambling that doing nothing will have a better outcome than doing something. We have to decide what schools to go to or whether to go to school at all; what should we study or should we forget about studies; whom should we marry or whether to marry at all. Each and every decision opens some doors, and closes other doors. No decision is without some consequence.

And that is exactly what we do in the casinos, admittedly in a more rarefied, more symbolic but still very real way. We engage in the life struggle. We face the fate of the ever-grinding house edge and what that means for our future prospects. We devise plans for how to handle early defeats at our favorite game in order to come back into the black. Some players will increase their bets figuring something good has to happen and they can make it all the way back with just a few wins. Other players bet smaller amounts after a dismal start figuring bad times are the norm in the casino so they want to ride it out.

When we face real life there are just too many factors to fathom from each and every moment. The complicatedness of life makes it somewhat messy and hard to grasp fully. Our decisions are usually made with not enough information. You love Jane. Jane loves you. Pretty simple, right? Will the marriage work out? Who the heck knows! That’s just too complicated a question, requiring an insight into the future none of us has.

But the casino games are not like that at all. Even experts at casino gambling must admit – it isn’t all that complicated. The games are relatively simple and have to be in order to attract the largest crowds to play them.

Let us say we know, for example, that the one-dollar slot machines pay back 92 percent of all the money put in them. We know if we were to play those one-dollar machines forever that we’d be behind about 8 percent of all the money we put through the machine. Our gamble, a very simple gamble, is that the machine does not pay back smoothly. It is volatile. It is cold more often than hot but when it gets hot you can hit some big money. Our gamble is that it will hit for us in the short time we are playing it.

Most of the times it won’t. We accept that fate. But we have decided that the gamble is worth the intermittent thrill of a big win – or any win – because that win goes against long-term fate. We know we are bucking the house edge. We know the casino will win in the end – against almost every single casino gambler out there. But we gamble we can change that fate, at least for ourselves, at least for tonight. And sometimes it happens.

And that is the big thrill. Casino gambling is the war against fate – a war almost everyone must lose but occasionally some of us will win.

It doesn’t have the interminable unknowables of whether you and Jane will be married happily ever after. It isn’t like the war against fate in real life where we have no possibility of winning and we all know this. The war against fate in the casino gives us a lot more power than we have in real life because occasionally we do indeed cheat death.

And that’s why 26 percent of the adult population in America loves to gamble!

Play With What You Have

When the great New York Yankee Hall of Fame baseball player Phil Rizzuto died, the papers were filled with stories about how such a short guy – Rizzuto was “just” 5’6” – had overcome his height disadvantage to achieve such big things.  He was an all-star, an MVP, won ten pennants and eight World Series during his 13 years with the Yankees. He was described as a “winner” in baseball and in life.

On Rizzuto’s plaque at the Yankee Stadium Memorial Park it reads: “A man’s size is measured by his heart.”

That got me to thinking. Was being 5’6” a disadvantage in baseball or in life? I am 5’6” and I never felt that I was short. I never made comments about being short or jokes about myself as some short people do. Indeed, it never occurred to me to do those things.

In my mind I was the right height. People who were taller than I were tall; people who were shorter than I were short. I played basketball; I played baseball. I played with and against the best players in New York City. I never felt as if I had to overcome anything. I just played to the best of my ability.

Intellectually I now realize that I am on the short part of the height continuum but in my head I still have that “I am the right size and everyone else is either tall or short.”

Casino players can learn a lot from Phil Rizzuto. You play the game with what you’ve got and in casino terms that specifically means with the bankroll you’ve got for actually playing such games. You can’t wish and hope to have more money to play with because that makes you feel bad about yourself. What has the size of your bankroll got to do with anything? You are who you are. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The casinos, obviously, are skillfully designed to reward those players who bet (and lose) large sums of money. But it does not follow that the player who loses large sums of money is a better player than someone who loses small sums of money – how good a player you are is not determined by the size of your bets but by the strategies and decisions you make.

I’ve seen many of those high rolling players using strategies that were so awful you wanted to shake them by the collar and say, “You are throwing your money away!” And I have seen mere five dollar players engaging in tight contests with the casinos. Of the two types of players, which is to be respected? The answer is obvious.

If a high roller doesn’t use basic strategy at blackjack; if that roller makes high house edge bets at craps; if he plays low payback slots and video poker machines; if he uses his “intuition” to guess what trends are about to appear or disappear, this person is large all right – he is a large fool.

The small wagering player who knows how to play the games the right way – using all the tools the casino allows to reduce the house edge to its minimum – is really a large player indeed. It is not the size of the bankroll that counts; it is the intelligence in which it is used.

Often in the casino atmosphere the red-chip player wishes he were a green-chip player and the green-chip player wishes he were a black-chip player and the black-chip player wishes he were a purple-chip player and the purple-chip player wishes he were an orange-chip player (and on it goes) – that is a caste system that must be discarded in order to play the games properly. Wishing you were someone else is not going to make you a better player. Learning the proper playing strategies will.

So let the casinos put people in castes, that’s their business; to get people to bet more, play longer, in order to “impress” the casino comp raters; but your business as a savvy player is to play perfectly with the money you have and ignore all the other players playing higher denominations and not worry about comps.

Phil Rizzuto played the game the best he could with all his ability. That made him a Hall of Famer. That made him a winner. Height be damned!

If you want to enter the casino Hall of Fame than you must play with what you’ve got and you must play the perfect strategies. There is no shortage of good betting strategies that follow the math of the games; strategies that give you a real chance to bring home the casinos’ money.

Phil Rizzuto’s object was to win games and that should be your object too. You are your own standard of performance; no one else is. Be happy with what you’ve got and play accordingly.

All the best in and out of the casinos.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Join his email group!

 

 

My Weird and Wacky Slot Experiences

Inverse order:

  1. Puncher

At Atlantic City’s defunct Sands who looked like Friar Tuck of Robin Hood fame, including a remarkably hairy chest, totally viewable because he had four buttons undone.

He lost spin after spin and then punched the machine, screaming at it. What outraged him more was the pleasant woman on the machine two over from his who was winning on almost every other spin and clapping her hands, saying. “This is the luckiest day of my life!”

The man’s knuckles made a loud sound hitting the machine. Of course, the machine sat passively, showing no evidence of the blow leveled at it. The man didn’t stop playing either. On the next spin after slugging the machine, he lost, just as the woman screamed happily, “I won the jackpot!” Violence just doesn’t pay.

  1. Switch

            This leather-skinned man never played the slots but one of his beach buddies was a former slot technician that told everyone in his circle that he was the world’s greatest slot expert. So the leather-skinned man told me what the slot technician told him, “There is a button in the back of all slots that you flip and then the player wins the money and not the casino. Try it next time and see if it is true.” I did. It wasn’t.

  1. Painful

I just finished eating in the Golden Nugget’s fine now-defunct Italian restaurant Stephanos. I was happy from a bottle of fine wine and I was heading to the bathroom. I passed a machine, I think it was called Treasure Island, put in three coins, and hit for $1,600. I then had to wait to be paid. And wait. And wait. It was the most excruciating win I ever had in my life.

  1. Hairy

At the Showboat in Atlantic City in the 1990s, two elderly women playing the slots side by side until the blue-haired one went to the powder room. The red-orangey-haired one then took over the blue-haired one’s machine because the blue-haired one had been winning and the red-orangey-haired one had been losing. When blue-hair came back she told the red-orangey-haired one to “get off my machine!” The red-orangey-haired one said, “Go to hell!” Then they fought. They punched weakly at each other and pulled out some of each others’ dyed hair. I grabbed the blue-haired one; another man grabbed the red-orangey haired one and the fight stopped. These two women were sisters! 

  1. Caveman

This happened at a defunct downtown Vegas casino which was packed because of a big promotion. An attractive older woman sitting next to a big guy said to me, “Excuse me, sir, but could you tell this man he smells?” The man, hearing her, turned to the woman, “Why don’t you tell me yourself, lady?” I stepped to the man and smiled, “Oh, sir,” I started and then I caught a whiff of him. Something, probably many things, had died on this guy’s body.  “Oh, God,” I groaned. Now what would you do in a situation like this? I turned to the woman and said in a whisper, “Go play another machine. You could die here.” And she said, “This is my favorite machine. Tell him to leave.” “I ain’t leaving,” said the man. So I left.

  1. Pregnant

She was pretty and pregnant and playing the Blazing 7s at Tropicana. She called over to me. I thought she said, “My glass of water broke.” I walked over. “Where’s the glass; I don’t want anyone to step on the glass,” I said. “Glass? My water broke! I’m about to have a baby!” Being cool, I responded, “Uh, ah, ee, oh, aaaarrrggghhhh!” and luckily one of the female security guards took it from there. This lady hit the real jackpot that day.

  1. Luck

The kid was too young and playing a machine when he hit a big one just as the security guard came over to ask for his identification. Ooops! Sorry kid, you lose. The kid put up a fight; so did the kid’s parents; so did the kid’s future lawyer. The casino won. The kid lost. If good luck is a finite commodity, this kid used up a lot of his.

  1. Gloating

I entered the elevator of this premium Vegas hotel. A couple entered; the wife laughing; the husband singing. “We won a ton of money tonight,” laughed the wife. “Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah!” sang the husband. “How did you do?” the wife asked me. “I got killed,” I said. “Well, too bad,” she laughed. “Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no for you chum!” sang the husband. Chum? Chum? I put up with that all the way to the top floor. They were so happy for themselves. They danced out of the elevator. I was hoping they would trip and fall to the floor. They didn’t. Couldn’t they have shown a little pity for me?

  1. Bucket

In the days of pervasive coin slots, a woman was playing at Bally’s and I asked her how she was doing and she said, “I am almost there.” I had no idea what she meant so she told me. “Oh, when I was younger I wanted a husband and I found him. I wanted a house and I got it. I wanted children. They are now all grown up.” She looked at me and smiled, “Today I just want to fill a larger bucket than this one. I am almost at the top. That is my goal, a bigger bucket.”

  1. Magic

Ages ago, I received a mailing about a “Magic 7 Slot Magnet” that made machines hit like crazy. Being interested in finding out what this great new invention was (the seller claimed that he won millions with it and was now retiring from the casinos to live on his own private island, which I later found out was Alcatraz), I sent in my $39.99.

My Magic 7 Slot Magnet arrived with an added bonus – a Slot Divining Rod that would lead me to hot machines that my Slot Magnet would help me conquer for untold wealth and my own island! (I was thinking Manhattan.)

At the casino I walked around with this cheap cardboard divining rod trying to locate “loose” machines. People looked at me as if I were crazy.

Finally, the rod picked out its first machine by bending. I took out my Magic 7 Slot Magnet and moved it over the machine as the directions indicated. The “magnet” was not a real magnet, just a flimsy piece of metal with a poorly embossed slot machine on it. I played a few hundred dollars in the machine. I lost.

For an entire evening and much of the next day, I used my divining rod and my Magic 7 Slot Magnet throughout Atlantic City. I won a few spins here and there but overall nothing of note. Even young and dumb, I realized there was no proof in the hype about the Magic 7 Slot Magnet or any power in the flimsy Slot Divining Rod. I went over to Pier One across from Caesars and threw them into the Atlantic Ocean. The divining rod floated out to sea and the Magic 7 Slot Magnet sunk to the bottom.

I don’t own Manhattan.

Frank’s books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Join our site and get Frank’s articles in your  email. 

My Horse Betting Career

I am in a thick fog in some gambling areas.

Early in my gaming career I thought I would tackle horse racing – but do it in a smart way by getting inside information. A certain individual who had “inside knowledge” started me off with a great pick for one of the Triple Crown races. “This horse can’t lose. He’ll blow away the field,” said my source. I was convinced I would win a lot of money if I bet on this horse so I bet a lot of money on this horse – with my wife, the Beautiful A.P. saying, “I don’t think you should bet that much on a horse. You don’t know anything about horse racing.”

“Honey,” I said confidently, “this horse is going to blow away the field.”

My horse did not blow away the field. Instead he broke his leg midway through the race and had to be put to sleep. He had been a superb animal but a miserable betting choice.

My inside source gave me two more “can’t lose” tips, upon both of which I bet heavily. I explained to my wife: “Don’t worry, these horses can’t lose!” when she fretted about how much I was putting on my horses’ heads.

In the first of the two races my horse came bolting out of the starting gates and looked like he would destroy the field. However at the first turn he decided he didn’t want to continue the race and he headed for the stables. All the other horses went around the track but my “can’t lose” horse just ran to the right and into the barns. The jockey was whipping him, yelling at him; the fans were jeering him merrily – and I lost the first of two very big bets.

Okay, two races, two horses that didn’t finish, so my third horse had to at least make it around the track, didn’t he?

Don’t bet on that.

My third horse looked a little weird – if horses can actually look weird – as he walked to the starting gate. He didn’t want to go into the starting gate but that is not unusual, as many horses don’t like to go into the starting gate.

But when the race started, my horse leaped out of the starting gate and ran in a small circle, around and around as if chasing his tail, foaming at the mouth, bucking and kicking, and trying to throw the jockey who was hanging on for dear life. The horse looked as if he had taken a massive dose of LSD. It took a whole bunch of people to settle the horse down and save the jockey. The horse then walked meekly back to the stables while the race proceeded without him.

Three horses, three non-finishes, three losses.

My horse racing career was now over. It is one thing to lose a race but my horses couldn’t even finish a race. That had to be God telling me, “Scobe, no more betting on horse racing for you.”

I am not sure anyone can beat the horses in the long run, although I have heard tales of some long-term winners, but I remain skeptical. Too much is involved in horses running around the track, not the least of which is the enormous vig you have to pay when you win those races. You also have no idea if the race is fixed, to put it bluntly. Obviously my horses didn’t need to be “fixed” because they couldn’t even get around the track, but horse players always talk about how the smaller-stake’s races might actually be more like professional wrestling than real competition.

I have no idea really. I don’t want to have any idea, really. Because I really know that while horses are really the most beautiful of animals, betting on them racing around a track is not really in my cards. When it comes to horse racing I am the father of teenagers – I have no glory, no glow, no godliness. I am really just a dumb loser.

Should You Place the 5 or 9?

 

There’s been a lot of debate in craps circles about the placing of the 5 and 9, some of it quite intense between the camps that say do so and the camps that say don’t do so.

Well I am now going to settle this thing once and for all – or at least for the next few minutes while you read this. I am dealing with controlled shooters now, not random rollers. No random roller should ever consider placing the 5 or 9 as that four percent house edge is just too darn big to have much of a chance of being ahead in the near future. It might be such a near future as to be tonight.

There is no doubt that with controlled shooter what happened in the past, meaning the shooters past performance, does tell you something about what will happen in the future. If a shooter is reducing the appearance of the 7 he is obviously increasing the appearance of other numbers, maybe not all of the other numbers but certainly some of the other numbers.

Now a controlled shooter has just hit a few 5s (or 9s) in short order. Do you place the 5 (or 9) in that case? The answer, startlingly, is yes…and no.

Let’s take the “no” first. Is the appearance of those 5s enough to warrant a place bet against that large four percent house edge on a 5 (or 9)? Here is the unexpected answer: Forget that the shooter just rolled those 5s, the question you should ask yourself is this, “Is that shooter’s past results indicative of an ability to overcome a four percent house edge in the future?”  The answer to this is usually “No, he isn’t good enough from this point on to overcome edge on the 5.”

It doesn’t matter that he just hit some 5s, you have to look towards his future prospects based on the wealth of his past performance, not based on a few rolls that just happened.

For most dice controllers that settles the issue. DO NOT place the 5 or 9. The edge is too high.

Now too many novice and intermediate dice controllers have a bloated concept of how good they are. They think, erroneously, that they can overcome the house edge on the 5 because the 5 just showed a few times. This is somewhat equivalent to the idiotic concept of “see a number, bet that number” proclaimed by the ploppies of craps, although the 5 does have a much smaller house edge than the Crazy Crapper bets.

Now let me go to the “yes” you should place the 5 (or 9) argument but first an absolutely important preface concerning bad listening: Kids selectively listen to what teachers say. Take the sex talks that now seem de rigueur in public schools. Teachers say the following, “You shouldn’t have sex but if you are going to have sex use a condom.”

What the kids hear is this: “Have sex.”  The rest of the sentence is forgotten.

Craps players also have selective memories. They look for ways to continue stupid betting practices by scrounging around for trend systems and other systems that essentially make them losers even if these players have developed a controlled throw.

So what I write now is not to be selectively remembered. Remember it all or don’t read it.

If you have an elite controlled shooter then you can place bet the 5. So unless you are at the tables with a true master of dice control who is getting into a real streak, not an imagined one, then you should not place bet the 5 or 9.

And do not selectively remember the above to think it gives you permission to follow the advice of new or intermediate dice controllers or systems advocates.

“Have sex” this ain’t!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.