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Keep Your Volcano and Pass the Dice
Part II

We are in downtown Las Vegas, the epicenter of the Precision-Shooting universe.  We’re playing craps…having a great time, and making some very decent money…all is right and good in the dice-influencing world.

Since several readers have asked what the title of this piece means, I’ll explain.

When you play on the Strip in Las Vegas, you have Pirate Battles (or at least laughingly-staged B-movie clashes between whorish seaside wenches who have defiled the pirates-of-questionable-sexual-persuasion and turned them into beach-blanket-bingo Kato Kallin look-alikes), Dancing Fountains (replete with a Gene Kelly soundtrack, albeit without the Clockwork Orange footwork), Venetian Canals and Gondolas (fortunately without the requisite flotsam and jetsam of human-waste that authenticates the real thing), and of course a Lava-spewing Volcano (with the appropriately scented pineapple mist to mask the rawness of the natural-gas fumes).

The thing is, the Strip has all of that and so much more; that the slack-jawed tourists who are all agog over the eye-popping wonders of gambling’s Mecca; don’t know and don’t care that there’s a more traditional, less-Disneyfied old-Vegas style of gaming taking place just a couple of miles away in Downtown LV.

Most of Las Vegas’ 38-million tourists never venture off of the Strip, and that’s certainly okay with me.

Though I love playing and staying in the mega-buck, mega-toilet, mega-resorts on the Strip (and making some not-so-mega, but still sizeable amounts of profit off of each and every one of them), some of the best Precision-Shooting opportunities are found OFF of the Strip.  

To that I say, “Keep your volcano, pass the dice, and welcome to Downtown Las Vegas”.

So let’s continue our look at what downtown’s Casino Center/Glitter Gulch/Fremont Street Experience has to offer in terms of this dicesetting thing that we do.

Fremont Hotel-Casino

I can start by saying that the Fremont is one of my favorite places to play…when it isn’t busy.  If I find a sparsely-populated or (rarely) an empty table, I can usually spin enough gold (profit) so that by the time the table fills up and the dice have moved on to the next shooter, I am happy to color out my winning proceeds and seek a fresher opportunity elsewhere.

Their tables are generally very easy to adapt to, but they also tend to fill up very quickly once everyone sees that you are stringing together a good hand.  It tends to happen quicker here than at comparable casinos for two reasons.  

       The first reason is that the electronic roll-counter in the middle of each table gives the casual observer enough pertinent information to see how far the current shooters roll is progressing; and as a result, for the in-tune bettor, this often represents a GREAT betting opportunity.

       The knowledgeable Asian, Hawaiian and local players who haunt the Fremont are amongst the savviest gamblers around.  Now you’ll notice that I didn’t say, “the best Precision-Shooters around”, although there are quite a few of them who call the Fremont their “home” casino as well.  What you will see is an ample number of gamblers who hang around waiting for a good hand to develop.  They’ll play as cheaply as possible, biding their time and watching intently for anyone at any table to get hot; then they are all over the layout with bets that would make even a high-roller do a double-take.

       Sometimes when I walk in there, a number of the regulars recognize me, and I swear they start salivating at the prospects of a hot hand.  It’s not like Elvis has just entered the building for gawdsake!  I’m here to make some money just like everyone else, but you don’t start pissing all over the carpet in nervous anticipation like a newborn puppy! 

We first explored this “hunting for hot shooters” phenomenon in my Trends, Streak & Opportunities - Part VII article. 

       To my observation, the number of players who look exclusively for the “extreme” far ends of dominating trends (the hottest of the hot or the coldest of the cold streaks); are increasing in number on a daily basis.   I would guesstimate that their numbers have increased exponentially, especially in the Downtown LV area, where there are 40 tables all within close proximity, to shop-for-trends and streaks.

We’ll be exploring this “hot shooter hunting” process in much greater and up-close, play-by-play detail in my upcoming “Hawaiian Joe Says Hello” piece.  For now, I’ll simply add that the ability to get in on any hot rolls is radically improved by using the techniques that we discussed in my Fremont Hot-Table Method.  So either a lot of savvy players read that article and have followed up by making it into part of their permanent day-to-day playing style; or a lot of guys got very smart all of a sudden, because there are now probably three or four dozen guys playing full-time EXACTLY as I suggested in that piece, and the number who appear to be doing it on a part-time basis is incalculable.

To have a look at just how far this streak-betting-only phenomenon has increased, you can compare what was happening just a few years back in my The Pied Piper of the Pass-Line to the current number of hot-hand hunters, to see what I’m talking about.

In any event, as I mentioned and as I’m sure you’ve already figured out; I love the Fremont tables. 

       As a side-note, you’ll want know that if the table-minimum is less than $5, and you are betting under five bucks on the Pass-line (or the DP) when you are shooting; then you aren’t eligible for their ongoing Sharpshooter craps promotion where your tracked rolls beyond 15-tosses, earns you some Fremont logo-wear or other merchandise…and some well-earned bragging rights.  I know a few players who keep the time-stamped, but cancelled Sharpshooter roll-chits as bragging-right souvenirs to show off when they go home to Kenosha, Dayton and Galveston.

       On the other hand, a number of talented players who frequent the Fremont try to fly under the radar of those “hot-hand hunters”, because they look at them as opportunistic vultures who draw additional attention to Precision-Shooting by betting in such large denominations, that it almost always elicits extra scrutiny from the Pit. 

       With that in mind…since the boxman only activates the electronic display if you are betting at least five bucks on the Passline (or DP) when you are the shooter…one way to keep the table fairly empty during your long rolls, or at least to draw less attention to them; is to simply pass up on the Sharpshooter-roll promotion (by keeping your PL-bet below that $5 threshold if the table-limit permits it), or by not handing in your Players Card, or by simply asking them not to track your rolls (by using the “it always brings me bad luck” excuse).  While it doesn’t guarantee that none of the streak-searchers will notice; it does make it a little more difficult for those that are hanging around and waiting to bet-it-up on a good hand, to sniff it out.

The extra table-length and lower rail-height (when compared to “normal” tables); actually works out to be a plus on the Fremont’s lower-knap felt layouts.  When you combine the length, the table bounce and forward-carrying speed of the felt, with the rebound you get off of these particular backwalls; then I find that the Fremont tables are actually MORE forgiving than the ones at Golden Nugget, or most other tables for that matter.  Though they APPEAR to be much more difficult (because of the extra length, added wear, worn felt, high-rebound, etc.), they are WAY MORE tolerant of imperfect throws.

You know those tosses that you sometimes make, where one die will do one last slow-motion, death-rattle flop into a 7-Out?  Well, to a greater extent, the Fremont tables seem a bit more “forgiving” and therefore appear to cough up a few less last-second (“bad-beat” type) heartbreaker 7-Outs.  Though you’ll still get your fair share of both on-axis and off-axis 7-Outs, you’ll probably notice less of those most-annoying last-second, looks-like-a-good-outcome-oooooh-it-flopped-into-a-7-Out-bad-outcome results.  By imparting just a bit LESS lively influence on the dice, these layouts tend to let the true influence of your dicesetting efforts shine through.

Yes the Golden Nugget tables are perfect when your throws ARE perfect, but the Fremont tables are more accommodating, lenient, and forgiving when your throws AREN’T!

Although the tables here are substantially longer (by up to ~two feet) than GN’s, and the felt is left on the tables much, much longer than its brass and creamy-marble neighbor across the street; the potential for profit is still quite excellent.  In fact, I find the whole shooting experience to be less intense (and substantially friendlier) than the Golden Nugget, and therefore, I’ve empirically observed that MORE Precision-Shooters have MORE good (and longer) hands on these tables than at the GN.

Now maybe my not-so-scientific observation is just a slanted and slightly jaundiced opinion.  However, I have been doing this dice-influencing thing long enough to understand that my shooting instincts and dice-awareness are finely developed enough to know when I’m seeing dicesetting excellence unfold in front of me. 

To my view, Precision-Shooting results are more consistent on these tables.  That equally applies to both good and bad shooting.  If it’s good…it stays good.  If it’s bad…it continues to stink.

Further, I respect my abilities enough to comprehend when a good hand, or an exploitable streak is unfolding before my eyes.  While I keep accurate and detailed notes about how I did at a particular table at a particular casino on a particular day; I only note the more unusual results of other like-minded players. 

Of the downtown casinos, two of them stand out in those notes more than the others. 

While I have had some truly outstanding hands at the GN, it’s rare that a number of skilled dicesetters will have back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back excellent hands at the GN, whereas, at the Fremont (and it’s sister property, The California), that seems to be more the norm.  Again, that may just be my intuitive sense of it, but for the decade or so that I’ve been tracking my results and only noting the unusual results of others; those two downtown properties shine as the ones where longer hands just seem to appear more often (and in a more sequential way).  While I don’t think that this is attributable to “selective” memory, it may be an aberration that only holds true while I’m there (but I sincerely doubt it).

In any event, the Fremont Hotel-Casino is no stranger to long and outstanding rolls on a highly recurrent basis.

If I had to pick just one table to shoot on at this joint, I would pick the left-most table in the row closest to the Fremont Street Experience.  My second favorite would be the left-most table in the second row. These two are probably the easiest to conquer.

The right-most table on the farthest row (from FSE) appears to enjoy the longest rolls (as recorded by their electronic roll-counter), but it also has the most unforgiving surface of these four. I suspect this particular table is a holdover from the ones that were brought into the Fremont when Boyd Group took it over from Frank Rosenthal and the boys (Frank is the real-life character of Sam Rothstein as portrayed in the movie, Casino).   The alligator-bump pyramid-walls that line these tables are EXTRA bouncy, and you’ll find the curved (“hook”) portions of the back/side wall are bounciest of all. Most shooters find that even small indirect (“unsquare”) ricochets off of the backwall results in HUGE and random deflections.

Now again, we’re talking about craps tables that are ideal in that they are neutral in their bounce-characteristics on the initial dice touch down, but not for the backwall rebounds.  It also does not mean that you will automatically make a pile of money off of them.  Rather, it means that the dice will hit, bounce and roll truer, or in a more natural, neutral way than they will if thrown on a bouncy, trampoline-like surface.  You still have to dial each table in, and obviously you should not throw out big bets until you do.   Otherwise, you are taking just as much risk as if you were betting on a random-roller. 

Or as Caesars renowned general of the Roman army, Gaius Marius, used to say:

Caveat aleator (Let the dice-roller beware).

Speaking of caution…

A Word About the Candy-Store Table

A highly-skilled player (as well as being a well-known Message Board contributor) and I, were having a candid discussion the other day about various things, including one of the tables at the Golden Nugget that has come to be known as ”the candy store”. 

This is the short table that is closest to Claude’s Long Bar. 

That table earned its name and reputation from the fact that a number of us have used it for more than a decade now as our very own personal ATM bank-machine.  That should give you some idea of how it got its reputation, and why it got its name.  It is one sweet table IF you play responsibly on it.   You have to get used to it BEFORE you start throwing bets at it in the hopes of a big payday.

It takes much more than a couple of simple rolls of the dice before this table starts puking up Precision-Shooting profit like it just ate at the CircusCircus buffet or an entire ‘Ho-dog (the infamous mega hotdog from Westward Ho)…it takes much, MUCH more than that.

Which brings me back to the conversation I was having with this skilled dicesetter. 

He said that despite his success on various other craps tables in the downtown area, he was continually stymied in trying to make any money off of this particular layout, despite its widely held reputation.  He reported leaving a considerable amount of his hard-earned Precision-Shooting earnings (from all the other downtown tables) at the candy-store table, due to his many failed attempts to profit from it.

He was frustrated, as have been a number of other players who specifically sought out this particular table, with the express hope and intent of making a killing off of it.

As far as I’m concerned, I think the "candy store table" at GN is a little over-rated from a semi-skilled dice-shooters stand-point. 

Here’s why:

       Many players read various Message Board posts and glowing Trip Reports that chronicle the great rolling conditions on this one particular table.

       When they make their own trip to our Mecca (Las Vegas), they have unreasonably high expectations that this one table out of all the hundreds that they can choose from, will be the one that will let loose with pimp juice profit as easily as Madonna deep-throats a one-quart bottle of water. 

       They reason that if several highly-regarded individuals can consistently make outstanding profits on this layout; then they’ll have an improved opportunity to do the same thing.

       Now to be fair, that’s not an altogether wrong way of thinking.  In fact it does make quite a bit of sense…to play on tables that many others have found reliable success on.  However, where the logic falls short, is with their subsequent difficulty in adjusting their throw to match the performance characteristics of this individual table, along with the disproportionate amount of money that they spend trying to master this one table. 

       Reasoning that it’s worth the extra time, effort and money especially since a number of others have done so well on it before; they end up spending way too much dough, trying to conquer it.  That is, the reputation that precedes it, keeps them playing at it long past the point where common sense tells them to take a break or even to just try another table. 

       By setting their performance expectation so high; many aspiring dicesetters will play beyond their means in an attempt to replicate what some of the “masters of dice” have reported doing.  That is where the deepest of dangers lay, and that is why I can say that the table is somewhat over-rated as far as it’s easy-to-make-a-killing reputation is concerned.

       While I include myself in the large handful of players who continue to master this layout, the fact that I, or others do well on it; in and of itself should not be a compelling enough reason to make the trek out to LV with the primary purpose of tackling this one table.  It is an equally bad idea to use a disproportionate amount of your bankroll in a desperate attempt to get the same kind of results.

Let me give you an example of how normally sane and somewhat sober adults can get caught up in the zeal and fevered rhetoric that surrounds this one table.

       I saw firsthand (from a clear vantage point at an adjoining table), a group of heavily-advertised-as-highly-skilled shooting-instructors lose hand after hand after hand after hand on the candy-store table, yet they STILL continued to throw cash at it in their own vain attempt to make it live up to the reputation that they had heard about even in their cloistered “gotta-sign-a-blood-oath-to-be-part-of-our-cult” certified, sanitized, sterile-thinking world.

What kept them staying and playing at the candy-store table way beyond the point where common sense and good judgment should have told all of them to accept their current mega-losses…to stop re-buying-in…and to leave immediately?

       They were willing to suffer humiliating losses on it, because they had convinced themselves that if guys like the Mad Professor, Heavy, Irishsetter and other inhabitants of the free-thinking world could do it; then surely they too in their logoed “I’m a licensed and certified professional dicesetting instructor because my diploma says I am” shirts could kick some serious casino-ass up and down Fremont Street. 

       Instead, the blood-letting was excruciating to watch…like a slow-motion train wreck that unfolds before your very eyes.  I couldn’t turn my head despite the mayhem and pathetically sad tragedy I was witnessing.  I kept thinking of a hangmans noose that didn’t break the neck of the guy dangling from the end of it.   Instead, the gathered crowd had to watch as he slowly choked…and gasped…and frantically tried to grab for breaths of air as he wet his pants in fright and anguished horror during his last few seconds of life…THAT was what it was like to watch those guys continue to lose, yet continue to throw money at it in a last-gasp desperate hope of capturing some Precision-Shooting salvation from the candy-store table. 

       If they had bothered to look, they would have seen that there were a couple of other tables that were either completely empty or sparsely-populated (like the moderately hot one I was at), yet those guys tried to force a win off of that one table simply because of its legendary reputation, and the fact that their egos seemed as highly invested as their dwindling bankrolls.

       I get absolutely no pleasure from watching (or telling you about) a gory blood-letting like that, but somehow I couldn’t look away from that pitiful display of poor judgment and damaged, but still over-inflated pride either.  At its basest element, THAT is why some people drive into town in a fully-paid-for $70,000 car, but end up leaving as a ticket-buying passenger on a $300,000 Greyhound bus.

Yes, the candy-store table at the Golden Nugget is one fine layout, but you can’t imbue it with heavenly-powers all on its own. 

If your dice-shooting is crappy in the first place, it doesn’t instantly become incredibly great the moment you pick up the dice at this table. 

Rather, if you are able to dial it in quickly and inexpensively; then it can pay some handsome dividends.  But having said all of that, I actually prefer the two other tables that are adjacent to the candy-store layout.  The two tables nearest the support columns (opposite from each other) are just as good, IF NOT BETTER than the candy store table.  The dice roll just as well, AND you’ll usually have less “I’ve come-to-Mecca-to-seek-my-fame and-fortune-at this-table” PARR and GTC players crowding around and jockeying (sometimes angrily) for prime shooting-positions on it.

       By having a reputation of urban-legend proportions, this table can disappoint you just as easily as it can reward you.  If your shooting is already great, then the candy-store table can make you look like a dicesetting wizard.  However, the very same table can make you look like a blithering (and rapidly losing) idiot if you fail to make the necessary toss-adjustments to it.

On top of all that, many skilled dicesetters will flock to this one particular table based SOLELY on the supposed mythical and sanctifying powers that surround it. Based on those reports, many players tend to OVERBET on their own yet-to-be-qualified hands or any other allegedly semi-skilled shooter who picks up the dice.  All too often, they completely abandon their usual discipline, and try to force a win that frequently ends in disappointment rather than profit.

Now that is NOT to say that I haven't made a TON of money off of it, or that a good portion of that reputation isn’t well-deserved...it's just that I've seen normally sane Precision-Shooters bet the entire “farm” along with their prize-winning cow, BASED SOLELY ON THE REPUTATION THAT PRECEDES IT! That's NOT how successful dicesetting works. You have to adapt to each table first...and THEN bet it up...NOT the other way around.

Yes, tremendous money CAN be made off of it, but FIRST you have to adapt to it. Many people get that equation backwards when they bet on "reputation" (of other players as well as other “gold mine” type tables) rather than the here and now CURRENT skills of other shooters, or in this case, a particular table that has acclaimed "king-making" power.

As to how I conquer this particular candy-store, well in most cases, you have to reduce the power (force) of your throw quite bit, and increase your trajectory.  You may be surprised at how much energy and bounce that the tables will actually absorb; so the further out you go (from the backwall of the table), the more backspin and trajectory that it can handle.

Over-throwing is overkill on the GN tables, just as over-betting before you have a profit locked up is sheer insanity on ANY table.

The lower your throw-trajectory, the more forward-speed that it carries.  So while a Low, Slow & Easy toss (see my Mad Professor's Shooting Bible Part III and Part IV) will work quite well from the SL-1 or 2 or SR-1 or 2 positions, you really have to modulate the force of your throw as you bear down to precisely target the dice.  Loosen your grip, relax your focus, and toss the damn dice, THEN re-adjust, and do it all over again.    Just don’t over-tighten your grip and over-throw your toss.  Over-throwing on these tables makes about as much sense as using Botox on a Shar-pei.

Guys, it’s the SHOOTER who predominantly influences the dice outcome.  The candy-store table is just an inanimate, neutral-bounce facilitator.  It’s a nice little dice-throwing arena, but don’t give it too much credit.  It can only VALIDATE your skill; it can’t IMPROVE it!

Confirm your advantage BEFORE you throw down the ownership of your vintage ’69 Ford 428 CJ Talladega or Camaro 427 CoPo as an appropriately-sized wager.

       YES, the candy-store table is neutral to positive for accurate Precision-Shooting.

       NO, it is not akin to a trip to Lourdes where you and your bankroll will miraculously be healed.

       YES, I have made obscene amounts of money off of this table, as have quite a few others.

       NO, that is not the only table in Las Vegas that rolls just as good.

       YES, I will be writing about all of my other “gold-mine” type tables in the future.

Okay...I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.

Four Queens Hotel-Casino

This place, like the Plaza Hotel-Casino at the end of Fremont Street, falls into the LOVE-it or HATE-it category. 

You can put me into the LOVE IT category.  Unfortunately it’s mostly an unrequited love. 

Although their tables are excellent for winning, and most skilled dicesetters LOVE them; the sad fact is that the denizens of the Four Queens pit, along with most of their dealers, HATE big winners of any kind; and most especially, the dicesetting kind. 

A sour attitude pervades this property like the bad stink that accompanies rotting human flesh.  Bad attitude hangs in the air heavy, like a fog, that blinds their vision and impairs their bearings.  As their player-base erodes, their attitude and “grind them up at any cost” outlook accelerates as quickly as this casinos fortune declines. 

That sort of attitude engenders a self-fulfilling prophecy in many failing businesses regardless of the industry they are in, and it holds true for this one as well. 

The new owner (Terry Caudill, owner of 15 video-poker bars including Magoo’s, Loose Caboose, Chicago Brewing Co. and Hurricane Harry's) does not appear to have been able to stem the attitude-rooted bleeding.  He’s left the same soured-outlook front-line employees in place; and therefore even though he himself has a better sense of customer care; employee antipathy blocks that warmth from trickling down to the players.

The same old management with the same tired ideas, and the same stinking attitude…prevents player-loyalty (in the form of re-visits) as well as dissuading new players from trying their luck for very long (if at all) at the Four Queens.

Having said all of that…

I still continue to play there on a regular basis, but nowhere near as frequently as before; nor do I haul out the same amount of cash from their tables as I did previously. 

Currently I restrict my wins to no more than $300 or $400 on any given day, and I time my sessions so that I’m not showing up to play on the same shift all the time either.  That way, the same Pit Boss, Table Game Supervisors, Boxmen and table-crews may only see me once every week.   It’s all part of not having them associate the disappearance of THEIR money with MY face. 

       Doing so helps them endure my presence, and the fact that I restrict most of my good shooting to an empty or barely populated table also guarantees that they don’t get taken overall for too big of a bite (from the collected number of players at the table when my shooting gets hot). 

       Instead, when the table fills up, that is my cue to leave.  I’ve done my job…I’ve taken a few bucks off of their table, but I haven’t taken so much that they’ll resent or discourage my presence in the future.

       Yes, my tokes soften their attitude a bit, but nowhere in proportion to the actual expenditure.  I’m going to have to rethink my position regarding toking at this particular house in the near future.

       A good hand usually increases the table-population with new players who may not necessarily bet in accordance to what I am throwing.  To my way of thinking, it’s a sustainable and symbiotic relationship that gives the casino a chance take their usual pound of flesh off of the random-rollers who continue to play long after I leave with my profit.

       Though I’m not saying that they welcome me with open arms, they do tolerate my winning ways for short periods of time, provided that I don’t get all greedy-like about it.  On top of that, they tend to reward my never-greedy-enough-to-hurt-them behavior with enough comps to keep my belly full (I suppose, as an additional way to compensate me for under-stuffing my pockets).

       Granted, I’m not going to get rich off of making three or four C-notes from them while limiting my 4-Q sessions to an every-other-day basis.   However the reality of Precision-Shooting is that you should only extract winnings that are within each casinos comfort-zone.  At the Four Queens, I understand where their tolerance-level is, and I make sure that I always stay under it.

       As a small side-note, if you are wondering just WHY a small under-performing casino-property like Four Queens can get uptight over dicesetting, and STAY upset for years at a time…well it all goes back to a PARR Weekend event a couple of years ago that I chronicled in my Okay, Who Cooked the Golden Goose? –Part One and Part Two. 

       Up to that point the 4-Q’s was one of the best places to shoot at…then a 10 person-strong PARR raiding-party came along and denuded this casinos craps-table landscape of nearly all of their chips.  On the surface that may seem like a pretty neat thing to do, but it had the effect of poisoning the Vegas dicesetting-well at a number of casinos which literally outlawed ANY SORT OF DICESETTING for an entire weekend. 

       Things settled back down to normal at all the other casinos after the PARR-posse left town…except for the Four Queens, where they’ve remained hyper-vigilant to Precision-Shooters who look like they might take the casino for more than a few shekels.  If you’ve ever stopped to wonder just why I strongly urge you to keep a low profile and NOT flaunt your skills too much at any one joint, especially if they are loss-intolerant…hopefully the reason is a bit clearer now.

Okay, back to the subject of actually throwing the dice…

I want to give you a bit of insight into how I use my good shooting at the 4-Q’s to turn it into a much bigger craps-score just down the street.

The two tables at Four Queens are VERY SIMILAR in bounce-characteristic and dice reaction as the candy store at the Golden Nugget that I just finished telling you about (even though they APPEAR to be quite different).  Now we’ve also just finished talking about how you have to zero in on your shooting skills BEFORE you start throwing a lot of cash around on the GN’s candy store table (or ANY table for that matter).  Well, one way to warm up to it is to do some cheap “practice tossing” on the Four Queens tables. 

Even though their dimensions are somewhat different and the felt is DEFINITELY different; the dice seem to react exactly the same…soooo, the 4-Q tables offer an opportunity to get good, before you try to get rich on the GN’s candy-store table.

Even though they are not tolerant of big winners at 4Q's, the fact that they have less players and a lower bet-minimum lets you zero-in and perfect your toss-mechanics on these tables before walking a few steps over to GN to whack them for a much larger amount of money, and believe me when I tell you that the Golden Nugget is VERY loss-tolerant.

By the way, this is the same approach that I recommend for Precision-Shooters who play at The Mirage. I tell them to "get good" at the Gold Coast tables (especially the $5 layout closest to the bar) and then "get rich" at the higher-value, higher-tolerance Mirage tables.

On 4-Q tables, the throw does not require a lot of power to get the dice to the other end of the table either.  I use a 40-45-degree landing angle at a spot where the Pass Line curve starts to re-straighten as it heads towards the base-dealer.  I simply make sure that the dice, my hand, my arm and shoulder are square to the back wall.  On these tables from the SR or SL-1, 2 or 3 position; this can be accomplished by "pointing" your elbow at the boxman or dealer directly across from you.  Even though the tables aren’t very long, I haven’t found very much sustainable success from the end-of-table S-O (straight-out) position on either these or the candy-store table.

I find it fairly easy to get my shooting dialed-in on the first couple of tosses of the dice.  If not, with less players at their tables, the dice cycle round back to you in fairly short order for a second try.  For me, if the dice aren’t doing what I want them to do by the end of the second or third go-round, it means that I should take a break from shooting. 

In most cases, I’ll just ask for and receive a comp, instead of abandoning the place altogether.  Usually after a short break, I’m able to get my shooting back on track.  I’ll make some bread, and then head over to another casino, which in this case will probably be the GN if my shooting is really firing on all cylinders and I feel very positive about being able to continue my good shooting on the Golden Nugget tables.

Speaking of comps…

To my mind, the Four Queens is synonymous with “Old Vegas” gourmet dining in the form of Hugo's Cellar.  If you go past the flashing signs for Burger King and Subway and head down the brick-lined stairway, you've arrived at the curtained-booth hideaway of Hugo’s.

The ladies tend to like this place, and if you are looking to score a few extra points in the gratitude, graciousness and good husband category; then this place fits the bill. It’s made all the better if you are enjoying it on a not-too-difficult-to-get comp.

The evening starts off with a red rose being presented to your lady (every woman in here gets one), and then continues with a breadbasket overstuffed with Armenian crackers; toasted Russian rye covered with a spicy Eastern European cheese; and a crusty baked egg-white French loaf; followed by Hugo’s famous 30-toppings at-your-table salad cart.  

Although food served this way is a throwback to the heady Rat Pack days of the early ‘60’s; I still like the retro look of this place which feels like Sammy, Frank and Dean could wander in any minute now. 

Of course I get that same feeling at the Gold Coast’s Cortez Room, Pietro’s at The Trop, Ristorante Italiano at The Riv, THE Steakhouse at C-2, Phil’s at The Frontier, William B’s at The ‘Dust, Bally’s Steakhouse (the old Barrymore’s), Micheal’s at Barbary Coast and even the reborn, relocated, renamed House of Lords at The Sahara as well.

To me they’re old-school mob-fancy, but I still like them…or maybe that’s WHY I like them! 

A few of my favorites at Hugo’s are the eight-chop Rack of Indonesian Lamb (with a ginger-spiked peanut sauce), and the Tournedos Hugo (medallions of beef with foie gras, Bearnaise sauce and artichoke hearts). Both of them taste much better than they sound.  Suffice it to say that the food is good, the retro roll-and-tuck leather ambiance is great; plus a comp makes it economical as well.

Your romantic evening ends with a dessert platter of chocolate-dipped fruit for the two of you to share.  It’s just one more way to show your appreciation for all your lady does, and to thank her for allowing you all the time spent on that darn practice rig.

If all of this sounds as though I love food as much as I love dice-setting; well you wouldn’t be too far off the mark on that assumption.

A Note About Crowded Tables

The resurgence in popularity of Downtown Las Vegas, especially at the Golden Nugget, the Plaza, Fremont and Fitzgeralds, means that the crowds are coming earlier and staying later.

As Heavy, Irishsetter and I have continually pointed out; the off-hours are the best times to find uncrowded conditions.

The rule of thumb is generally:

       If you are playing when everyone else is out and about playing too...then the tables will be crowded.

       If you play when everyone else is in town...on the weekends and during convention periods...then the tables will be crowded.

       If you want more shooting opportunities, then either play when most others aren't, which means from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the week, and 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the weekends.

       For many more inventive ways to get the dice in your hands more often, even during the busiest of times, I would recommend Creating More Shooting Opportunities - Part One and Part Two.


There is still a number of my favorite downtown casinos left to discuss.  I hope you’ll join me when we take a look at the rest of them in Part Three.  Until then,

Good Luck and Good Skill at the downtown LV tables…and in Life.


The Mad Professor

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