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Mad Professor's Mini-Table Craps Tour with the Vegas Ghost- Part III

In Part II of this series, we visited the shrine of Las Vegas mini-table Precision-Shooting: Casino Royale.

We continue our trip of mini-tubs and Crapshoot tables with Mel, the “Vegas Ghost”.  He is a senior casino executive in his regular job, and a serious gambler in what he calls his “real” job.

Our next target for this leg of the Mini-Tub Tour is the:

Holiday Inn Boardwalk

Yep, thar she be, in all her Coney Island-esque splendor.  

The Cyclone roller-coaster isn’t real, the Ferris-wheel isn’t real, the Parachute-Drop isn’t real, the salt-water taffy is barely real, and the twenty-foot high clown face is real…scary. 

However, we are here for some REAL mini-tub crap-shooting profit, and I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to grab at least some of it from this casino.

The Boardwalk Casino is located on Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip), between NewYork-NewYork and the Monte Carlo Resort-Casino.  That puts it directly across the street from the MGM Grand, Polo Towers and close to The Aladdin Hotel, Bellagio, Excalibur and Tropicana.

At 33,000 square foot, this casino is on par with Fitzgeralds, Lady Luck and Casino Royale in size.  It’s not too big, and it makes finding family, friends, or playing partners quite easy.   It rarely feels crowded, although there is quite a bit of impulse walk-in traffic that the more than 30,000 guest-rooms from the nearby mega-resorts generate.

Mel and I drove here from Casino Royale.  The distance is about one-mile, but driving time can very from 5 or 6 minutes during a mid-week early morning, to 45 or 50 minutes on a weekend evening. Traffic in the heart of the Strip is generally heavy now about eighteen hours a day. 

Like Casino Royale, they too have surface parking out back, however the walk from your car to the craps table is a good five-minute jaunt.

Don’t expect to be impressed with the amenities or dramatic opulence here…there simply isn’t any.  Buddy, this is a Holiday Inn.  Even though it is owned by MGM-Mirage, you won’t find any lions, tigers, or bears here unless you telephone one of those specialty outcall (escort/hooker) agencies for some of their “unique” services.  In which case, you’ll probably end up wearing a heavily-stained sheep costume while disciplinarian “Little Bo Peep” wields a bull-hide whip, as she herds you into your leather branding-restraints.

Boardwalk’s “Tub” Tables

One of the great things about the Boardwalk gaming-house is their mini-tub tables.  I don’t normally concentrate much play on them.  Rather, I’ll get in about one session every week or so.  As well, I try to spread my mini-table action around town.  There are ten “official” small-table locations in and around Las Vegas, plus a couple more places that install the “mid-table” bumper-boards to reduce regular-sized tables into one or two dealer operations during the slower off-hours.

Here is what the Boardwalk table looks like.


As you can see, the table is made to accommodate 10 players, but realistically, only 8-players can comfortably engage in the game without undue discomfort.


Dice-Size and Adapting Your Throw

The Holiday Inn-Boardwalk is home to two of these “tub-style” craps tables.  They use a mini-stick and mini-dice.  The dice are of the 5/8th inch size.  That means they are 1/8th inch smaller than conventional 3/4 inch dice, and 1/16th inch smaller than the medium-sized 11/16th inch dice that are found in most of Harrah’s nationwide casinos. 

Does 1/8th inch less on each side of the dice-cube affect their outcome or your Precision-Shooting efforts?

For me, yes, I can definitely feel the difference in size.  Others claim that they can’t.  Dice size is just one more thing that a Precision-Shooter has to adapt to.  

Perhaps it all depends on how sensitive your fingers are.  If you are involved in heavy labor or if you are a smoker, then your fingertips may not be quite as sensitive.   In addition, the size of your own hand or the thickness of your fingers may come into play in being able to differentiate various dice sizes.

For the general public, most people are not attuned to look for a difference, and therefore cannot feel or sense that tiny size disparity.  They just “pick and flick” or “throw and sow” the dice without any meaningful precision or forethought.

The Mad Professors Tub-Table Grip & Throw

To adapt to the dice size difference, I keep my grip a fair bit looser, and ensure that the force of my toss is a lot lighter.  After all, the far wall is less than five feet away.  If you are standing next to the stick-man, the far wall is about 42-inches away from your dice release-point on these tables. 

I use virtually no backspin upon release, and the height of my arm at the release-point insures that the dice drop into their initial touch-down point at a 60-to-75 degree angle, and land about 2-to-3-inches from the backwall.   “Roll-out” of the dice is virtually non-existent as they just gently slide into and nudge the bumper-rubber and stop dead.

However, instead of using a mortar-like trajectory, I use a sort of shot-put throw so that I “push” the dice through the air and release them as though it was a carnival-type game where you are trying to throw a pebble (or a clothes-pin) into an old-style milk bottle.  With this approach, I achieve a “dead-cat bounce” about 60% to 70% of the time.  

Normally a 40-to-45 degree landing angle would produce satisfactory results on quite a few “normal-length” tables, but on the ultra short ones, that usually isn’t good enough.  Therefore, on the Boardwalk tables, I use that 60-to-75 degree angle on the initial touch down.  It makes a HUGE difference in achieving the “dead-cat bounce” with a very high frequency of occurrence.  Of course, the short length of the throw definitely aids in that accomplishment as well.

Dice-Setting Policy

A lot has been written about dice-setting on these particular tables.  The question is whether or not they allow dice-setting AT ALL.   I’m going to give you my take on that subject based on my experience.  Your own experiences, just like your own cars fuel economy, may vary.  If it does, I’ll show you how to bring your dice-setting opportunities at the Boardwalk Casino more in line with mine.

Generally, you are NOT supposed to arrange or set the dice in this casino.  However, depending on the crew, and who is working the pit, and if you are an early and consistent tipper, the stickman MAY deliver the dice in a “requested set” to the shooter.  Again this is “toke” and “pit” dependant. 

A number of Boardwalk dealers have made obscene amounts of tokes off of me and other like-minded professional Precision-Shooting players…when the situation is right. 

You have to understand that the dealers WILL NOT jeopardize their jobs just to accommodate your wishes.  Instead, if the “coast is clear” they will permit you to covertly set the dice, but it is up to you to do it quickly, efficiently and virtually unnoticeably.  Otherwise, expect them to say, “Hey guy, just pick ‘em, and flick ‘em”.

In our next installment of the Mini-Table Tour, I’ll share my secrets for setting the dice so that your dice-arranging goes completely unnoticed.

Table Action

The two tub-tables here are almost ALWAYS of the $3 or $5 variety.  They NEVER drop below the $3 level, and RARELY rise above the $5 level.

Their bet-action tolerance is pretty low.  The concept of being a successful and consistent Precision-Shooter, is not to draw any undue attention from the Floor-Supervisor, and especially NONE from the Pit Boss.  That means that you have to keep your bets quite low, and you have to shield your profit by bleeding-off any excess green ($25) chips from your rail.

That also means that they do not like to see “green” Pass Line action, especially from a “lucky” player.  A flat Pass Line bet from $3 to $15 is okay…and $20 would be pushing it. 

They allow 5x-Odds, so that means you could have close to $100 in Odds action on your PL bet, but that too generally raises undue attention.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t usually take max-Odds on your bets, but if you do it at the Boardwalk; then be prepared for closer scrutiny from the Pit.

Over the past couple of years, they have become more risk-averse, and seeing “full 5x odds”, makes them a little nervous, especially if you are winning.  

Avoiding HEAT

If you are the type of person who says, “To hell with them, I’m going to bet as large as I want, especially if they are offering 5x-Odds”, or you are the type of person who LIKES to see a Pit Boss get that concerned look on his face as he starts to sweat the money…then your joy, happiness and smugness at the Holiday Inn-Boardwalk will DEFINITELY be short-lived, and you can expect your Precision-Shooting rolls to be STOPPED! 

Once you’ve burned your bridge because of greed, avarice, irresponsibility or immaturity; then you can be sure that every one of your rolls from there on out MUST be random, or they’ll simply “no roll” you, and pass the dice to the next shooter.  You can be certain that the dealers are no longer on YOUR side.

Oh, and by the way, when that happens, you can’t have your Pass Line bet back until either it wins or loses at the hands of the next (RANDOM) shooter in line.  Cockiness has a price, and at the Boardwalk, the cost is paid by being cast into the burning hell-fire of random-rolling.

So even though they offer 5x-Odds, if your Pass Line flat bet gets much beyond $10 or $15, I would recommend no more than 3x-Odds to back up your Pass Line or Come-bet action.

Listen, you don’t have to agree with me.  I only do this Precision-Shooting thing for a living, and I know what they will tolerate and what they won’t tolerate at the Boardwalk, and I especially know what will bring the “heat”. 

Remember the pig who over-eats at the trough and gets fattened the quickest, is usually the one who gets led to the slaughterhouse FIRST!

More HEAT Avoidance

Please remember that this is a low-rent tourist joint.  It ain’t Bellagio, brother.  Keep your bets low so that your winning opportunities will remain high.  

If you can’t follow that simple advice, expect them to bring in the “no-setting” heat, and expect it to be a non-stop high-intensity flame aimed directly at YOU!  Oh, and don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

For Place-bet action, it’s the same story.  Try not to go beyond the $20 or $30 mark.  For Come-bet amounts, you would follow the same parameters as the Pass Line.  Again, we are trying to stay BELOW the radar of the Floor-Supervisor, and not show ourselves as a player who has to be carefully watched.

How Much is TOO Much?

I have eaten well (profit wise) from the Holiday Inn-Boardwalk trough in the past.  However, I too want to safeguard the continued good shooting opportunities that these tables represent.  

The most recent “major score” that I made out of this gaming-house was on my second last visit with the Vegas Ghost.  I chronicled that odyssey in the “Walking With A Vegas Ghost-Part IV” article. 

Following that big win, I realized that if I continued to hit them for such large amounts of money, it could spell the end of my good fortune at their tables.   In fact, I realized that it was sheer stupidity to clobber them for such large amounts of money.  That was more than a year ago, and I’ve matured a tiny bit since then.

I still play at these tables about once a week when I am in Vegas, but I now try to limit my take in the range of $200 to $400 in profit from them on any given visit. 

NO, I do not win every time that I play there, but strict and LOW loss-limits keep the pain and cost of infrequent failure to an absolute minimum.

Our Playing Session

When we got to the Boardwalk Casino it was early afternoon.  We had enjoyed our lunch of Fettuccine Primavera, Foccaccia basil/sun-dried tomatoes and black olives flatbread, and tiramisu for dessert at Casino Royale’s Café Trilussa.  We were prepared for what we thought would be a fairly crowded mini-tub at the Holiday Inn.

Instead, we were pleasantly surprised that the two dealers stood alone at the one open but “dead” table.  As we were walking up to it, Mel said, “Check your watch for the time, and then let’s see how long it takes to fill up with players”. 

I knew exactly what Mel was talking about.  Superstitious or socially-reserved players are reluctant to “open” or start a dead game.   I love empty tables, but it is phenomenal how quickly it will fill in as soon as other players see another person shooting the dice.  Their reluctance and shyness seems to melt away as soon as someone else “breaks the cherry”, so to speak.

I consider the Boardwalk tables to be like a steady girlfriend, as opposed to a one-night stand.  If you treat her with kindness and respect; then the fun and pleasurable enjoyment can continue for the foreseeable future.

Mel and I both followed all of the advice that I set out earlier in this article.  However, my first set of rolls didn’t generate anything resembling greatness.  I covered the cost of my bets and made a couple of bucks profit, but that was it. 

In fact, Mel and I both had short and unremarkable hands for our first two turns.  While we never lost money on any roll, the most I made on one complete hand never exceeded $20, and even that was a struggle. 

On my third opportunity with the dice, I finally got into a groove and shot well beyond forty rolls.  All of the Place numbers were covered, but I never pressed any of them beyond the $30 mark, and I never allowed my PL-Odds and Come-bet Odds to climb beyond a quarter ($25) either.

While I know that I could have made additional money in a more “bet-tolerant” casino, I didn’t want to over-do the money-extraction thing at a gaming-house that doesn’t want to give up the dough without a bloody fight.

As if right on cue, three guys came up to the table just as I had started my third hand.  Midway through that roll, I managed to squirrel-away quite a few $25 chips, especially after a whole table of blackjack players came over and tried to squeeze too many bodies into an already half-full game. 

It seems that the only time that BJ players even consider playing craps is if they are doing lousy with the cards, and they hear a boisterous furor being raised at a hot craps table.  Otherwise, they look down upon the game as being “unbeatable”.  Funny, that’s pretty much how the new Twenty-One (BJ) rules at a growing-majority of LV mega-resorts that pay 6-to-5 instead of the old 3-to-2 for a blackjack should probably be viewed. 

Keep telling yourself that player-greed and casino-fear won’t affect the game of craps the way it has affected blackjack.  I know that you have to get ready for the big cotillion tonight, so don’t look now Scarlett but the Atlanta of Precision-Shooting can DEFINITELY be burned to the ground.

Anyway, my shooting-space shrank from normal-size down to cattle-car tightness, and I told Mel to reduce his bets at the same time as I was reducing mine.   I knew that there was no way that I could even come close to continuing my good rolling in such tight quarters. 

With new players trying to reach in to place bets around the small perimeter of the table, it seemed too disturbingly similar to slow- dancing with new cellmates named Bubba, Luther and Jethro, and I had no intention of boogieing to that particular tune.  I wasn’t surprised when the 7-Out appeared two rolls later, and I knew it was time to beat a retreat.

Reflections on a Winning Session

We had been at the table for just over one hour.  Neither Mel nor I had colored-out before slipping away.  The Johnny-come-lately BJ-players had left a ton of their money on the table when my hand ended.

Part way through my final hand, I noticed that the cocktail waitress hadn’t even come around once during our session.  We both cashed out our chips at the cage, and I told Mel I needed a drink before we moved on.  He nodded his assent, as I headed for the Boardwalk Deli.  We both sat down, but neither of us said a word for the first couple of minutes.

I reflected upon the fact that I had stuck to my game plan and didn’t let greed overrule my common-sense.  I’ll admit that I was pleased with my efforts.  Even though the first couple of hands didn’t go well, I minutely adjusted my dice-targeting and didn’t lose faith in my Precision-Shooting abilities.  The desired results came without over-stressing or over-thinking my throws.

I also knew that leaving the table without coloring-out, and while it was still full of players, was another survival essential that I will keep in my Precision-Shooters mini-table toolbox for the future.

Mel finally broke the reflective silence, and asked how much toke-money the dealers made off of my last hand.  I counted the quantity of Pass-Line winners that I threw, and the Place-number frequent-hitters that I eventually piggy-backed them on.  We roughly figured that the crew pulled in about $80 or $90 from my PL and Place action, and another $70 or $80 from Mel’s low-rent Hardway action.  We both gave a nodding shrug to what I said was a fair cost of doing business on the mini-table tubs of the Boardwalk Casino.

Boardwalk at Night

We headed to my car on the way to our next casino “target”.

Join Mel and I next time as we continue our Mini-Tub Tour of Las Vegas.  Until then,

Good Luck & Good Skill at those Mini-Tables…and in Life.


The Mad Professor

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