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If I Only Knew Then, What I Know Now

You know that you are getting old:

When you need a fire extinguisher to put out the fire on top of your birthday cake.

When you have more hair growing out of your nose and ears than you have on top of your head.

When someone says "Just say 'no' to crack", and it reminds you to pull up your pants.

When you say to yourself "I wish I knew then, what I know now."

It's that last item that came to mind a few days ago when I ran into an old friend named Ronnie while playing craps at Casino Windsor up in Ontario, Canada.  

As he enjoyed a "real" (read: Canadian) beer, he reminisced about his first casino experience back in the late 60's at the old Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.   He said he missed the Regency Room and their gourmet meals.  He said he missed the Hollywood characters who populated the lounge.  He said he missed the old craps game…no…wait a minute…he paused and said…"I definitely don't miss the old craps game…they had single odds…and nobody even thought about rhythmic rolling or Precision-Shooting."  He looked at me for a long moment then said, "Geez, I wish I knew then, what I know now…I woulda cleaned that place out!"

Well I don't know about "cleaning the place out", but Ronnie is among the thirty of so people that I personally know who make a great living playing this game.  I say "people" not "guys" because a couple of them are actually women.  That subject alone is definitely worth a separate look, at a future time.

So I asked Ronnie what he meant, and how that related to how he played now.  He responded "When I first started this game the "experts" all told me to make a Pass-Line bet and take odds, make a Come bet and take odds, make another Come bet and take odds; press them up, and when the 7 hits, start over."  I said that sounded an awful lot like what the "experts" say today, only they say take "full" odds now.  I added that this is still touted today as one of the best ways to play.

Ronnie's face grew red and puffy like a partially-filled balloon looks two days after the party is over.  He retorted with "Listen, it can't be the best way to play because just about everyone plays that way and they continually and consistently lose.  I learned that way back when Caesar still had training wheels on his chariot and the Hacienda Hotel served more champagne than all the other Strip hotels combined.  I had to find a really good bet with low risk and still make money in the long term. Something, that to this day, people say can't be done!"  I knew that he was right, but I sometimes like to rattle his cage just to see him growl.

Deciding that hitting a nerve in Ronnie's delicate central processing unit wasn't a good idea, I thought about giving him a break.  I didn't want the rest of our table-mates to witness an unhealthy cranial explosion that would leave a mess on the felt layout if his head exploded. Let alone that a death at the table seems to bring a bad karma to the game, but it was too late.  Ronnie was on a spewing, boiling tirade about how there was a better way to play the game of craps.

I stated the obvious, that there has never been a system invented that will beat the game.  He said "…of course there isn't, this ain't no system, it's a methodology, it moves with the flow of the game, as the game flows and changes so do the plays. It takes yours, mine or somebody else's Precision-Shooting, some random-throwers lucky hands, and then combines it with some betting methods, careful money management, continued expansion of the knowledge of the game, and the entire concept then fits together as one money-making effort."

 A fellow player who stood nearby listening to all of this asked if he could pose a question.  I thought, oh great, as if Ronnie isn't fired up enough, this will probably make him pop that blood-vessel that's been sticking out of his forehead looking like an overfed snake hiding under a cotton sheet!  The player says "I see you guys Place the 6 & 8 all the time, and you usually also Place the 5 & 9.  Isn't the 5 & 9 carrying a high house-edge?"  Ronnie's response leapt out of his mouth like a flag snapping in a hurricane.  He replied "Placing the 5 & 9 calculated to the end of humanity, is a stone cold loser kid, same with the 6 & 8, but the Einstein's, Bernouli's and Fibinnaci's of the world did not calculate that this bet would only be made when the table conditions are rights?"

 "Ah, but every roll of the dice is independent from every other roll of the dice" chimed in the box-man.  That's when a full smile found my face and parked itself for awhile, because I knew what was next.  I always know what is next when Ronnie hears someone say that.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a fat wad of "real" $100 bills (read: U.S. not Canadian).  This bankroll would have choked not only a horse, but also the exhaust-pipe of the truck that brought the horse in!

 He said "the odds of a shooter making one pass is 50/50 (even), the odds of making two passes is 3-1, the odds of making three is 7-1, four passes 15-1, five passes 30 - 1, six passes 65-1, seven passes 125-1, eight passes 250-1, nine passes 500-1, and ten passes 1000-1.  That's the math and it's indisputable kid."

 Of course I knew that what he was talking about was called "diminishing probability" or in other words, the longer or more frequent that an event happens, the more likely it will not continue.

 Ronnie added "If the math was not true or correct, then players making upwards of 100 passes or 500 passes would be quite common.  The reality here in the real world says you will rarely make ten passes in a row. WHY? Because the shooter is bucking two thing's - an approximate 20% edge against him after the point is established, plus, the diminishing probability of the dice.  Yes every roll is independent, but it figures into the larger picture of dice probabilities.  If you don't know that, then you don't know this game, and you might as well tear up your money, put it into an envelope and mail it into the casino, because without that knowledge you have no chance of Long-Term Winning, and your short-term prospects don't look that good either!

 Ronnie took the huge roll of money, held it out and challenged.   "I'll put my money where my mouth is.   This is for the people that say dice have no memory and one roll cannot affect the next roll.  If that is true, then I'll put up my $10,000 to your $1.  All you have to do is throw 100 7's in a row or something easier, just make 100 passes in a row!  Any takers?  Of course not!  Why, because the things I just said are true and correct.  They affect not just the game at hand, but the entire concept of the game as a whole."

 If you ever run into my friend Ronnie at the table, you will notice that if he knew then what he knows now, he would have been driving his Bentley Turbo R quite a few years sooner.

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

 Mad Professor

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