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Control the Dice, and your NERVES

There is a small problem with practicing shooting craps on a home-built layout.  In the calm and tranquility of your home, you are relaxed and focused.  When you get to the casino the cacophony of sounds, the dazzle of lights, the speed of the action, plus the fervor of real play will sometimes affect your shooting, and the effect isn’t usually good.  What works at home, doesn’t always work in real-life casino action.

One friend of mine named Ken, has a practice layout at home.  He’s become reasonably proficient at shooting, and has worked his average up to fifteen-rolls-between-sevens.  An admirable accomplishment, indeed!  However, when he got the dice in his hand at the casino, he shook and trembled more than Michael Jackson did on his wedding night! 

At first I thought our 45-minute drive to the casino could be the culprit.   He likes to ride in style and luxury, but is deathly afraid of speed, so I drove my Rolls-Royce Silver Spur instead of choosing a sportier, faster choice.  It’s a land-barge that I truly love, but it doesn’t accept any level of “spirited” driving.  It’s akin to riding on a really comfortable sofa, so I knew the trip was not upsetting in that way.  

However, our conversation about him being a fan of the Canadian Football League did irk him a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE football.  U.S. College ball is a passion of mine, and has been for many years.  I also like the fast-passing action of the CFL game, but I was a little critical of some of their players.  In some cities, quite a number of team-members left for the greener (HAH!) fields of Vince McMahon’s now-defunct XFL.  So in some cases, last year’s team-mascot is this years starting quarterback.  A few teams have more players on smoking-side of bench than non-smoking, and I questioned their dedication and commitment to the game.  I calmed him down before we actually walked into the casino, by putting his mind to other happy pursuits like WINNING MONEY!

Still Ken looked nervous and edgy when the dice were passed to him.  Perhaps it was the coffee that we had consumed on our way there.   We both love coffee, but he doesn’t lick the TV screen every time a Maxwell House commercial comes on, and he hadn’t named his twin daughters Cappuccino and Espresso, so I pretty much ruled out excess-caffeine as the reason.

This happened several times when it was his turn.  After yet another one of his quick and short-lived Point-then-7-out hands, I asked his what was wrong.  He said that he just couldn’t get focused, and that it wasn’t as easy in the casino as it had been at home.  I asked if having an “audience” when he shot was making a difference.  Ken said that his wife and two daughters often watched and recorded his rolls at home, so he didn’t feel that was the culprit.  I asked if the smoke or the lights or the sounds, or the hubbub of the table action and the betting was breaking his concentration.  He shook his head, and resolved to try again.  When the dice came to his table position once more, the same thing happened.  He was distraught enough to leave the table, thereby missing out on a terrific roll that I produced just after his departure.  As I was coloring-out my winnings, I considered whether my own performance was adversely affecting him.   Perhaps I had set a standard that he felt compelled to match.  When I caught up with Ken, I put that very question to him.  He shook his head and I could see the disappointment of his poor session had not yet subsided.

Over lunch, I tried to convince him to give the tables another try, but he wasn’t interested.  I changed the subject to my recent Caribbean high-seas adventure.  We talked about the waves and the babes, and how it sometimes happens that you catch an amazing wave, but then realize that your trunks have caught a completely different wave.  I told him how we stumbled into Seniors Day at a nude beach near Sosua in Dominican Republic, and I painted a graphic picture of that event.  I even told him about the four most-hated words during that trip, “Sand in my ass!”  He laughed and we talked about the diversity of the great food, but also some of the worst food, and I wasn’t just talking about finding a red clown McHair in my McNuggets.  A number of laughs later, he was a little reluctant to return to the tables, but  eventually agreed to.  His second session was no better than the first.  I did reasonably well, but my own concentration was now unfocused by his obvious lack of enjoyment and disillusionment.

The drive home was pretty quiet.  My usual funny stories seemed inappropriate at the moment, and the somber mood was starting to bring ME down.  I said, “Well it’s a good thing that you only missed one of my good rolls, otherwise, you’d be looking at a loss instead of the decent profit that’s in your pocket.”  He said, “Yeah, if I could shoot the dice without having to bet, I’d probably do great.”   Ken went on to say, “I feel a lot more comfortable when I bet on your rolls, or even that of a random-roller, than I do when it’s my turn to shoot.”  When he said that, it wasn’t like a light-bulb being switched on in my head, it was more like I had just INVENTED the lightbulb!  I said, “Buddy, let’s go back and try something.”  I explained my plan as we made our way back to the casino.

This time around, I had him bet the Pass Line only.  No Odds, no Place bets, no Come bets, just a naked table-minimum Pass Line wager.  I, on the other hand, did double-duty on his rolling.  Once he had gotten past two rolls after establishing his Point, I made wagers that were double my usual amount.  As number after number hit, I put all the profit into a segregated portion of my rail.  Seventeen rolls later the demon-7 reared it’s revolting head.   I took exactly one-half of the roll-profit and handed it to Ken.  I said, “Only think about the dollars if your nerves can handle it, otherwise, you do the rolling and let someone else do the betting for you.”  He readily agreed.  Three more circuits around the table, and Ken had three more notable hands.  After each one, he was amazed and grateful for my profit-sharing program.   He said, “I feel like humming a mantra “Forget about the money…Concentrate on the Shooting, ommmm.”  We cashed out and left as VERY happy campers.

Ken had learned how to control the dice, but not his nerves.  Now that we’ve got the butterflies flying in formation, maybe we can work on his fear of SPEED.

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

By: The Mad Professor 

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