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Cheap Craps Guide
Part Six
(Read Part I or Part II or Part III or Part IV or Part V)


There are still a dozen or so Las Vegas casinos that we haven’t covered where you will find $3 tables most of the time.  Needless to say, during the busier weekends, evenings and holidays, you’ll be a little harder-pressed to find the cheaper minimums, and are more likely to see a few more of the $5, $10, $15 and $25 variety.

If finding EMPTY tables is an issue for you, I would refer you to my Creating More Shooting Opportunities series of articles.   In the meantime, let’s take a look at a few more of the bargain layouts.


With $3 minimums, and 10x-Odds, The Strat is an interesting enigma.  While they’ll entertain your low cost wager, they will also permit bets up to $5000 on the Pass Line, and max-bets of $50,000 in Odds.  What makes it so interesting is that this type of minimum/maximum range is a throwback to the old days of Vegas that many people thought were long gone. 

What it means for savvy gamblers is that “crazy” betting methods such as the Grand Martingale (double, plus one unit) have a much higher chance of prevailing.  Of course, anytime that you have five grand on the line, there is also the very real chance that you still may lose. 

By the way, if you think that a Grand Martingale really is a “crazy” bet, I would refer you to my Dodging Bullets As A Darksider article for a very intelligent discussion on its judicious and VERY profitable, LOW-COST use. It will definitely give you another view of how the game can be SUCCESSFULLY played.

If the “table card” (the little plastic sign that has the table minimum, table maximum, and permitted-Odds limits engraved on it) has a lower limit than you “need” for your betting method; then simply ask that the Pit Boss raise the max-bet limit for you.  It is preferable that you do this BEFORE you begin to play.  The Strats owner, Carl Ichan, understands that he is in the gaming-business, and will usually accommodate almost any request even beyond the 5K-limit.

Another interesting aspect of playing at the Stratosphere, is that they also offer Crapless Craps.  For a full explanation of what it is, how it is played, and some appealing features of the game especially from a Precision-Shooters perspective; then Heavy’s Dice Setting For Crapless Craps is required reading. 

Players come from far and wide to test their mettle against the Crapless Craps table (the only one in the Las Vegas), so it is usually JAMMED to capacity.  

Stratosphere tables are somewhat soft and bouncy, but they don’t use a cushioned underlay.  Rather, they have been using an ultra-thin layer of bonded neoprene rubber under the layout, which obviously contributes to the liveliness of the cubes.  The rubber adds dynamic action to the dice without adding undue cushioning, which is to say, it adds “rebound” without giving the offsetting cushioned benefit of dead-cat bounces. 

I’ve never run into any heat from the Pit-meisters regardless of the amount of my past or present Precision-Shooting earnings.  Almost all of the senior pit personnel are “discipline-case” rejects from other larger hotels, while most of the dealers have at least a couple of years of experience, and are struggling to make their way up the ladder of better-paying (toking) gigs on the Strip. 

Comps for food and rooms are easy to get, and the level of play required is around 40% to 70% lower than their much larger Strip competitors.  In other words, if your usual 4 hours of $15 action at Caesars Palace won’t even get you a cheese sandwich; the Stratosphere will happily give you a lunch or dinner comp (Lucky’s Café, Courtyard Buffet or Roxy’s Diner) along with a standard room for the same amount of play.  You can easily see the benefits of seeking out casinos that are more comfortable with lower-stakes play.

Main Street Station

You will find a $3-minimum here most of the time.  If higher free-odds appeal to you; then their 20x-Odds should elicit at least some interest on your part. 

This is one beautiful casino.  When Bob Snow (builder of Orlando’s famous Church Street Station entertainment complex), originally renovated the old Park International Hotel into the MSS, he installed a huge number of historically-significant architectural features. 

Although Snow is no longer in the picture (the Boyd Group purchased it out of bankruptcy a number of years ago) the great beauty of the stained glass and coffered ceiling from Preswick Castle, the Prince of Wales billiard table and check-in desk, the Pullman Dining cars of Buffalo Bill and Louisa May Alcott, the paneling and bas-reliefs from the old Magistrates Court in England, and other items right off of the 18th Century streets of Brussels, Antwerp and Bastogne make this a true gem in the otherwise culturally-barren downtown area.

You will find four craps tables amidst the turn-of-the-century San Francisco train-station motif.  Although the tables are long, they are still fairly decent as far as Precision-Shooting is concerned.  During my experiment on the Match-Play Coupon Circuit I really got into a rhythm and proceeded to make a fair bit of money on these layouts.  While it may take half-dozen or so tosses before you are able to get a real feel for the bounce-characteristics on these monsters, the effort is worth it.  Their tables are definitely beatable, and they are not nearly as crowded as other nearby casinos.  For additional shooting tips on these long tables, you should have a look at my Long Tables = Po$$ibilitie$ series of articles.

One other point of interest about the MSS is that they will sometimes raise the table-minimum at the drop of a hat.  It isn’t unusual to see one table go from $3 to $5, while another will ramp up to $10 or even $15, if both tables get full.  After I throw a good hand, I often leave the property or at least go for lunch or dinner, because it usually brings tables-full of players waiting to get onto the layout.  I’ve actually seen some Hawaiian players use their cellphones to call over their buddies from The California Hotel-Casino if they think they are witnessing the beginning of a hot hand.  That goes a long way in explaining the speed in which table-limits are sometimes raised.

Cruising for HOT Tables

There are more than 40 tables under or near the Fremont Street Experience in Casino Center, Las Vegas.  There are a number of full-time gamblers who make it their business to cruise from casino to casino looking for a hot table.  They have the patience, the money and the stamina to walk, wait and then pounce when they sense an opportunity.

A number of them belong to an informal cellphone network of players.  If one guy sees a good hand developing, he’ll get on the phone and alert a couple of his buddies.  They in turn, each call a few others on the list.  Soon thereafter, a horde of their buddies come a runnin’ with handfuls of ready-to-bet cash.

Since all downtown casinos (12 casinos have craps tables, 4 casinos do not) are so close together, they are quick and easy to pop into and out of.   If nothing is happening at the Horseshoe, they can cross the mall and check out the Golden Nugget or Four Queens.  If nothing is happening at Main Street Station, they’ll take a few steps over to The California or Gaughan’s Plaza.  To get from the Las Vegas Club to Golden Gate Casino is exactly 40 FEET.  Compare that to going from the craps tables at Caesars Roman Forum Casino to the ones at it’s next-door neighbor Mirage, where it might take 40 MINUTES.

Cruising for HOT tables is as valid of a way to jump on the profit-wagon as any other NON-Precision-Shooting method.  We look at this and a few other similar approaches in my Streaks, Trends and Opportunities article.

Okay, let’s continue our look at the cheap seat

California Hotel-Casino

Six tables and usually more action than you’ll find even at The Horseshoe means that the excitement here is non-stop.  It’s a favorite hangout of our friends from the Pacific Islands of Oahu, Kauai, Lihue, Molokai, Maui, Niihau, Kahoolawe and of course the big island of Hawaii.

The California is also home to the official Golden Arm craps tournament and the keeper of the flame for immortalized mega-hands.  To pay homage to great rolls, they have a plaque bearing the names (of those who consent) of players who have rolled the dice for AT LEAST one hour in length.  You will find the plaque on the big pillar closet to the craps tables and right beside the two stairs leading to the eastern section of the hotel.   

Bet minimums are usually $2, $3 or $5, but they only offer 2x-Odds.  Despite the large number of long hands, the hard-working dealers don’t make very many tips.   With that in mind, you’ll find your early toking will earn you all kinds of helpful accommodation.  If you are interested in just how much tipping can help you, I would direct you to my TIPPING: Is There Two Sets Of Rules? article.

Golden Nugget

So much has already been written about how great the tables are at the GN, and thankfully the reports are NOT overblown.  These $3 tables (during slow times, and $5 at others) are some of the finest ANYWHERE.  They keep their table-felt fresh, clean and in excellent condition.  The dice bite in with just the right amount of stopping-force, the rolling-bias is neutral and the table-length is short.  What else could you ask for?

The table at the end of the pit, closest to Claude’s Long Bar is frequented by a number of skilled players.  Heavy and most others refer to it as “the candy store”, because it’s pretty hard to contain your glee when there are so many ways to roll successfully, and everything is going in your favor.  This is one of those tables that make Precision-Shooting look easy, but it’s always important to bet with your head, and not over it.  It can be one of the busier tables in this joint, so you may have a bit of a wait until your favorite position(s) opens up. 

My current favorites are the middle table closest to the Sportsbook Lounge (in front of the large support column nearest the stickman) and also the table nearest the Gaming Salon entrance (the high-end baccarat and BJ tables area).   I tend to bounce between these two tables by placing a chip in my favorite position at each.  I’ll play at one table until it is my turn to shoot.  When my hand is finished, I’ll park a gaming-cheque in my rail, and go over to the other table to wait for my shot there.  Again, after I finish shooting, I’ll return to my first table for another shot at the casinos money. 

I’ve never received any heat for making that maneuver, but then again I’m fairly considerate, so I’ve never tried it when the casino is jammed-up busy.  In addition, frequent tipping when I am the shooter brings in significant amounts of leniency from the pit.  As I mentioned previously, my “Tipping” article covers that entire subject quite well.

The other upside of playing at the Golden Nugget, is that the Pit-Clan have a very high tolerance for out-flowing profit, so hitting the tables to make daily withdrawals from the vault isn’t really difficult at all.  There is always a good game going on at the GN, so it’s usually busy, but I’ve never had a problem finding an open spot to play. 

A favored technique of patient players is to stake a place at the nearby bar and watch all of the action at the open tables.  They’ll wait until they see one of the tables start trending in a discernable direction, and that will be their “trigger” to begin betting.  For more details of methods like this, you might want to check out my Walking with a Vegas Ghost - Part V.

Needless to say, if you are an early-riser or a late-retirer (3:30 am to 10 am) you’ll almost always find a couple of sparsely populated tables.  With 3x, 4x, and 5x-Odds and short, non-bouncy tables, the GN offers a reasonable chance of Precision-Shooting success in a pleasant atmosphere.

Fremont Hotel

This hotel is also amongst my favorites for profitable consistency.  The tables are significantly longer (except for one) than those found at the Golden Nugget.  In addition, they are a lot harder, but the rolling-lanes are straight and true, and the backwall alligator material is much older and less lively than at the GN.

It usually takes players a couple of rolls before they get acclimated to the table-characteristics.  From the close-in positions at SR-1, 2 and 3, and SL-1 and 2, it is similar to other comparable-length tables.  However, from further out, these beasts require a fair bit more throwing energy and loft to consistently hit the SAME SPOT with the SAME ENERGY, time after time.  I find that the Fremont tables require an adequate amount of backspin if you are used to using a high-trajectory throw.  Otherwise, you’ll experience a high-hop when the dice initially touch down.   For an in-depth discussion about trajectory, backspin and throwing-force, you could take a look at my Mad Professor's Shooting Bible Part IV article.

As I mentioned in previous articles, the rail height of the tables are two inches lower than normal, so you may have to adjust your reach, lean and arm-extension when you are the shooter.  It is the ability to make essential adjustments for small nuances like this that will make all the difference in the world when it comes to profit-regularity and shooting-reliability.

For maximum profit potential on their four tables, I would invite you to see my The Fremont Hot-Table Method .  It is tips like the ones contained in that piece that give you an added edge over other players.

Green Valley Ranch

I’ve become a big fan of the GVR since it opened.  It’s always easy to find a $3 game that offers 10x-Odds.  The tables aren’t too smoky and the dealers are competent.   There are only a handful of people here who tip on a regular basis, so the dealers make sure those players receive ample re-compensation for their kind and generous efforts.  I’ve never seen anybody admonished for their dice-setting efforts, however repeated weak or short rolls aren’t tolerated for very long.

As I mentioned previously, the table closest to the Drop Bar has a very forgiving sweet spot about 6-inches from the back wall (straight out). If you use a 45-degree or higher landing angle; you will find a perfect dead-cat bounce hiding under this spot.

Weekday evenings bring fairly full craps tables, as does weekend afternoons and nights.  If your Precision-Shooting requires less crowded conditions; then late evenings and early mornings provide the best chances.  In fact, mid-week, late evening (11 pm to 6 am) play may give you ample solo-shooting opportunities without the company of local regulars who stake their place at the tables as early as 7 am. or 8 am.

It’s important to remember that GVR uses micro-fiber felt on their tables.   For ways to profit from these shiny, slippery layouts, I would invite you to take a look at my Conquering Micro-Fiber Table-Felt article.  Again, adapting your play to these kinds of things is what separates those who are merely out at the tables for a good time from those that are at the tables for a GOOD PROFIT.

Until next time,

Good Luck and good Skill at those cheap tables…and in Life.


The Mad Professor

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