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Slaughtering A Sacred Cow 


If you haven’t realized it by now, I am not the most conventional of craps player…nor am I the most conventional of thinkers.

You’ll hardly EVER see me play the Pass or Don’t Pass Line in a casino.  The only time that I’ll have money on either Line is if I am shooting the dice.  Yep, it might go against conventional wisdom, but I like to keep my money as MY money, instead of giving it to the casino without a real dogged fight.

So what are “sacred cows”, and why am I slaughtering one today?

Sacred cows relate to certain religions where some folks believe in reincarnation.  In India for example, the Brahman cattle freely roam the streets of every city and town.  The cows have the right-of-way in traffic, and just about every other place they go.  They aren’t used for meat because the Hindu religions believe the cows may be the reincarnation of close relatives, or at least other former humans.  Hey, we can’t be eating the reincarnation of Mom, Grandpa or Uncle Gupta now can we!

Today I want to talk about a sacred cow of the dice-setting craps community kind.

It is game-speed and why we hold it so sacred.

Normally, at the craps table, this is how many rolls-per-hour you can expect:

       1 to 3 players  ~180 to 240 rolls per hour

       3 to 5 players  ~150 to 200 rolls per hour

       5 to 8 players  ~90   to 180 rolls per hour

       8 to 12 players   ~70   to 120 rolls per hour

       10 to 14 players ~50    to  90 rolls per hour

       12 to 24 players ~30    to  60 rolls per hour

Yes, there ARE 24-player tables, and NO, I do not normally play at them.

Of course there is a lot of range in those numbers.  If you have one player with just a Pass Line bet; then you could even see up to 300 rolls in one hour.  Conversely, some low-minimum twelve-foot 25-cent and $1 tables with a full-house of players may only see 25 to 30 rolls per hour. 

Likewise, in certain markets like Detroit, it isn’t unusual to see a full-table with only one person (the shooter) betting on the Pass or Don’t Pass Line, while the Prop bets are so loaded down that you can’t see any green felt at all in the center of the table.  In a market where one typical full craps table will have anywhere from twenty to one-hundred & sixty (yes 160!) individual Prop and Hop bets booked on every single roll of the dice, is it any wonder why the game is SO freakin’ slow?!

The reason I chose game-speed as a target is because it is usually the players and the type of bets that they make that generally determine the speed of the game.

Of course, some casinos may have a crew of “green” break-in (new) dealers that are slow, but for the most part, game speed is determined by the players.

Game speed is something most players are conscious of AFTER their own bets have been booked by the dealer.  It seems that once we get our own money down on the layout in the proper spot, we become painfully aware of just how slow the game can sometimes be.  We become sensitive to the time-factor while the dealers are still booking everyone else’s bets.

You can see the frustration grow on people’s faces as the long, arduous task of booking all of those bets are completed.  How many times have you seen the stickman TRY to send the dice out to the shooter, only to have to bring them back to the center of the table as a rash of MORE new bets straggle in?

You hear a lot of dice-setters talk about getting into a rhythm when they shoot.  We all talk about getting into a “zone” when our game is really grooved-in and our Precision-Shooting is as close to perfect as we can make it.  We have learned that if the dice are returned to us by the stickman in a timely manner; it is easier to stay in that groove.

If the dice move quickly, we are usually able to stay in the zone longer.

Now, we’ve also hopefully seen our share of hot rolls either by ourselves or by someone else’s good skills or lucky tossing.  We know that the game slows down as each bet is paid off, pressed or parlayed, and new bets and new money come into the table. 

Do you ever hear the murmurs or even shouts by other players to “move the dice”? 

Perhaps you’ve been guilty of that yourself.  Most players blame it on the dealers.  They say that the dealers are slowing down the game to change the pace or “luck” of the shooter, or that the “house” likes to see shooters get out of their rhythm.  Some of that is true, but let’s take a closer look at some not-so-USUAL suspects.

Let’s look at it, and realize that it isn’t usually the dealers who are slowing down the game…rather it is all of the players who are placing ever-more-difficult-to-book bets.

Want a sample of what I am talking about?  I’ve read with more than a little amusement how a number of players typically bet.

There seems to be a disturbing trend towards Hop bets, and other center-of-the-table Proposition bets on almost every roll of the dice.  I can only hope that all those Hopping bets are profitable for the bettor, because they usually have an aggravating way of chiseling otherwise healthy bankrolls into mere shadows of their former glory.  I’m sure my concern is ill-founded, and that I am wrong on this one concept…at least I HOPE I am wrong.  Here’s an example:

One message board poster wrote:

“My typical bet is a $5 Horn-High Yo, with another dollar each on the 3 and 11, plus I’ll Hop the Hard-8, the Hard-4, and I always hop the 3-4 and the 5-2 Sevens for a buck each.  At the same time, I’ll have them set up a $5 Buffalo ($1 Any Seven and $1 each on all the Hardways-all bets working).  Most of my buddies bet the same way too.  If I expect that a Horn-number might show up, I’ll put up a $10 'Mickey & Minnie' bet" (that’s a $5 Horn-high 2, and $5 Horn-high 12.  It’s called 'Mickey & Minnie' because the two $5 'nickels' form 'ears' on the Horn box and makes it look like Mickey Mouse ears.  Don’t ask me what a Goofy, Donald or Daffy bet would look like.)  

The writer went on to say, “If one of my Hopping-7’s hits, I always parlay that and add the 6-1 to the two other 7-hoppers.  I’ll replace my Horn-High Yo, but right before I throw, I might have the dealer convert it to a $5 World (whirl) bet instead. I like to Hop the 9’s but not on every roll."

Now, picture three, or five or six or ten or twelve other people getting into that type of betting frenzy on every roll?

So I’ve got to ask you; when the yelling starts because you get one roll of the dice every 2 to 8 minutes…why is everyone blaming the dealers for disturbing the rhythm of the game?

How many times have several players on your end of the table given bet-orders to the dealer all at the same time?  How often do some players tell the dealer to press this or that bet while the dealer is still taking “take me down/turn my bets off/same-bet/press my bet by one unit/parlay my bet” instructions from the first player in the proper pay-out cycle? 

Speaking out of turn at the dinner table might be acceptable, but at the dice-table it just slows the game down.

How many times have several players at your end of the table thrown in new Prop bets before the stickman has had a chance to pay-off the Prop bets that just hit?  When that torrent of chips comes flying in from six different directions, it takes time to figure out who threw what, and then accurately put each bet in its proper place on the layout. 

So I’ll ask you again, just WHO is slowing down the game?

There have been countless times when I’ve stood at either side of the stickman, and they’ve turned to me and said in a low conspiratorial tone, “pray for a box (place) number.”  Very few players can actually get into the 'zone' on a regular basis.  Imagine the power of concentration that is required to stay in that state as ten or twelve or fourteen other players have similar bets set up for themselves, and the minutes on the clock just tick, tick, tick on by.

So next time you start getting frustrated by the slowness of the game; take a look around at the way you and the people around you are betting.  Remember that the dealer has two ears, two hands, two eyes, and eight or tens sets of mouths telling him what to do.

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


The Mad Professor


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