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How To Get It, and How To Keep It
Part V

A man comes home to find his wife packing her bags. "Where are you going?" asks the surprised husband. "To Las Vegas!  I found out that there are men there who will pay me $500 to do what I do for you for free!"

The man pondered that thought for a moment, and then began packing his own bags. "What do you think you are doing?" she demanded.

"I'm going to Las Vegas with you... I want to see how you're going to live on $1000 a year!"

Our perceptions often drive what we THINK we know, versus what we ACTUALLY do know.  Unfortunately we are frequently unable to arrange and utilize those perceptions in a positive and meaningful way.  Instead, our thinking often restricts and limits our ability to make the very progress that we so desperately want to make.

…or in plain English…

Sometimes you are smarter than you think, and often you have much more ability than you give yourself credit for!

With that in mind,

Let’s take a look at how you can use what you’ve got to get more of what you want.

Enthusiasm and Anxiety

Let’s start off by taking a look at the giddy enthusiasm and sense of hopeful anticipation that you often feel when heading to the casino. 

No matter how many times you’ve been in a casino, there is still an increase in your eagerness, as well as a bit of nervous anticipation.   I play craps nearly every day (4 or 5 days each week), and I still feel that anticipation.  I’ve been doing this full-time for more than thirteen years, and for me, the game still hasn’t lost its thrill. It’s like preparing to go on stage in front of an audience.  In my case, a useful gauge of “success” or “failure” in the casino-context is measured in dollars-won or dollars-lost, and not by the volume of applause or the number of tickets sold, but the analogy is still valid.

Regardless of WHERE you play, it is HOW you play, especially at the beginning of your session, which will determine, to a large extent, just how good or how bad you will do by the time you finish playing.  If you let that initial nervous excitement affect the WAY you play, then it can often have a negative effect, especially on your Precision-Shooting skills.

Let me be clear about what I am saying:

The first few bets that you make, and the first few hands that you throw; will often be the dominating factor of how well or how poorly you do for the balance of your ENTIRE session, REGARDLESS of how long it is.

Your Starting Point Often Determines Your Destination

If you walk from your car to the tables, your anticipatory excitement combined with that small bit of physical exertion (the short walk from the parking garage or valet) may increase your heart-rate enough to make your first little while at the table a time when you should be returning your heart-beat to its normal rate, and NOT making ANY bets or ANY dice-throws.  Unfortunately, that little bit of exercise will act to turn your exhilaration and anticipation into a “force-multiplier”, that will keep your heart-rate and blood-pressure at an elevated level for a bit little longer than normal.  That is the time when your physical dice-throwing skills may be partially impaired, as well as weakening your thought-and-decision process.

Though I’m not saying that people turn stupid as soon as they step up to the table; I am saying that if you are too eager to bet and too eager to shoot as soon as you walk up to the table; then the dice may reflect that over-eagerness in their outcomes.

Once you understand that, you can appreciate why the first hand of the day is often the worst one, and it can set the stage for a downhill slide.  On the other hand, some skilled players use that elevated adrenal rush to their advantage.  They find that they perform much better under stress, and that it raises their awareness, focus, concentration and ability to direct their energies in a coordinated manner. 

I can count myself in those ranks as well, and sometimes my first hand of the day is also my best hand of the day. In either case, your first hand of the day can set the stage for how well or how poorly you perform for the rest of the session, or even for the rest of the day.  If it is so important, then obviously its disproportionate impact on your earning cannot be overlooked.

As we’ll soon see, it becomes critical as to how you handle the first results of the first session which helps determine whether it will turn out to be a good day or a bad day.  Equally, it makes sense to ascertain whether that first session of the day has to have such a negative effect if our first hand turns out bad, and whether good initial results can be extended even further into the day if our first hand was decent.

Let’s agree that in most cases, the outcome of the first couple of bets that you make will at least psychologically affect any subsequent wagers that you make, and by doing so, it sets the tone for the rest of the session.  So to a large extent, it’s fairly easy to see how your first few bets may have a dramatic effect on your final session-profitability even though you may still have several more hours to play before calling it quits.

That leads us to ask ourselves…

Is it valid to consider our mindset when we make those first few bets, and is it equally suitable if we consider how those first couple of wagering outcomes will “pre-determine” our chances for subsequent success or failure during that session?

How Your Last Session May Influence Your Next Session

If you play this game for any reasonable period of time, YOU WILL LOSE, regardless of your skill level. Even when your dice-shooting skills reach the stratospheric level of an unbelievably high numbers of on-axis, primary-face (that match the way you first set them) outcomes; you will STILL have losing sessions.

It’s HOW you, as a Precision-Shooter, handle that loss which will largely determine how many MORE losses you will have to endure because of it.  To that end, it also largely determines also how devastating each and every subsequent loss will be.

I like to call this the “hang-over” effect. 

It’s how much you let your immediate PAST results overshadow and darken the decisions you make for your NEXT bets.  

In many cases, your previous loss essentially "pre-determines" the success or failure of your next several sessions...because to a great extent, it depends on how your mind handles each and every loss, which determines how you will proceed and where you will proceed to from there.

A 7-Out may have been due to the dice, but any subsequent bankroll devastation is due to YOU!

Handling a Loss

Most successful players learn to set their losses firmly behind them, and understand that they have to detach their ego from the defeat. By disconnecting from the monetary loss AND the bruise to their ego; they are better able to improve their skills and adjust their attitude for the next session.

This dicesetting thing that we do is ultra-sensitive to the tiniest of influences and distractions. A frustrated, angry or defeatest attitude can mean the difference between consistent profits and dismal losses. Stated another way, as difficult as Precision-Shooting may be to learn...Patience, Discipline and a proper attitude are many times more difficult than the actual physical skill that has to be mastered.

In the simplest of terms, our brains control everything that we do. If our head isn't properly "in the game", then the instructions that it is sending down to our Precision-Shooting fingertips won't be either.

Or as Heavy would say, "The dice aren't the only things you have to control."

That Was Then, This Is Now

The single greatest foe you will ever face at the table is yourself. 

It isn’t bouncy layouts; it isn’t blue, green, purple or chartreuse-colored dice; it isn’t late-bettors, loud drunks or catatonic dealers…your greatest opponent at the craps table is YOU!

That means you are up against one very formidable opponent when it comes to posting reliable wins.

In handling a loss, one of the most important and difficult skills you have to master is learning how to keep yourself in the all-important middle-ground between two dangerous extremes:

       Completely blocking out the memory and pain, but NOT the LESSONS of past mistakes, and to stay focused on what is happening NOW, and not what happened in the past.

        Trying to spend every possible moment analyzing past plays, in order to learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. That is what AFTER-session note-taking and reviews are for. 

       When you are at the table, you have to live in the moment, and stay focused on the PRESENT task at hand…and NOT spend any of it reviewing ancient history.

If you focus on the LESSONS that you have learned from the past, and not on the MISTAKES or bad decisions that led up to them; then you’ll be better positioned to make the right decision at the right time when you are faced with a similar situation in the future.  That gives you the benefit of additional experience without being saddled with the burden of having to relive the pain and agony of past loses, over and over again.

       Learn from the past.

       Stay focused on the present.

       Find a balance between the two.

Handling a Win

You would think that this concept would be a no-brainer, but it’s not. 

Some of my worst losses have occurred after some of my biggest wins.  In fact, the day of my largest all-time session-win, was also the same day as my all-time biggest session-loss.  I’d tell you how much, but frankly, the only person who witnessed it alongside me, still has difficulty believing the rapidity and wholesale devastation of what they saw. Suffice it to say, that I put that win and that subsequent loss quite a ways behind me.  My friend who witnessed it is still in therapy, and has dry-heaves every time the subject comes up.

Handling a loss is important, but how you handle a win, often proves even more important in the grand scheme of things. 

       A big win does not mean you are invincible, so you can’t bet like you are.   

       A big win does not mean that you have the entire Precision-Shooting scheme down cold, so you can’t risk all of your newfound profit like you are the master of the craps universe. 

I’ve fallen victim to my own greed, my own ego, my own avarice, and my own self-indulgence; more times than any sane man should.  Part of it was due to the over-riding knowledge that my shooting had reached a point where I knew any losses could be overcome with yet, even more winning.   When I stopped to realize just how much of those hard-fought profits I was willfully (and wastefully) giving back to the casinos; I had to shake my head in sheer disbelief and utter contempt for the way I was treating the money I was making.

Obviously I’ve made MANY changes to the way I handle the money that I earn at the craps tables now, as well as the way that I think about the way that I bet.  That radical change in attitude has brought a manifold increase in RETAINED earnings, as well as an increased sense of accomplishment, pride and self-control.

Win/Loss Ratios

A couple of years ago, I took great pride in honestly stating that I consistently won 19-out-of-20 sessions.  That 95% win/loss ratio was laudable although many, MANY people were skeptical when they heard it.  I can’t blame them, and from their perspective it looked nigh near impossible.  They used their own game and their own mindset as a benchmark, and then using their own limited knowledge as the yardstick, convinced themselves that if they couldn’t do it even after applying all the discipline, skill and practice that they could muster to their game; then obviously no one else on God’s green earth could do it either.

The fact is, a large portion of my wins were made up of TINY net-profits (but profits nonetheless), while only a small proportion were wins of any great magnitude.  At the time, I considered it more important that I get the consistency into my game first, before attempting to step up my winnings to the next plateau. 

Consistency brings confidence to your game, and it brings self-assured reliability right along with it. 

To my way of thinking, it was more important to increase the steady predictability of my Precision-Shooting first, and then see what I could do about raising my profit-take even more after that.

In the ensuing twenty-four months, I have actually allowed my win-to-loss ratio to worsen, but in doing so, I have INCREASED my profit-per-session.

How is that possible?

Well, it’s a combination of things.

First I tightened my Loss-Limits.  By reducing my allowable losses to a maximum of $150 per session, it gives me less of a hole to dig myself out of when I lose.

Add to that the fact that I have increased my own Shooting Opportunities by a ranking of more than double, if not triple what I had been doing then; and you can see that the increased profit is almost entirely predicated on my own shooting.  I no longer stick around waiting for the dice to return to me unless the table is being EXTRA KIND; so I am far more willing to bail on a table after I have thrown just one hand.  That has increased the number of hands I throw within any given time period, while at the same time exponentially increasing my net-profits.

A Lower Win/Loss Ratio, Yet Higher Net-Profits

My old ratio of 19-out-of-20 profitable sessions, usually meant waiting a LONG time for the dice to come around, and it often meant many, many, many marginally profitable sessions where I was walking away with a $20, or $30 or $50 profit after spending way too much time at one table.  Though my winning-sessions “batting average” looked good, I knew there was way more profit that could be had.

My new regimen entails spending less time at any one particular table (unless I am one of only 1 to 3 players), but more of that “table-time” is spent with the actual dice in my hand.  My profit per-table-hour has skyrocketed, and the actual time that I spend at the table is much less frustrating simply because I spend less time waiting, and more time shooting (and more time winning).

My win-to-loss ratio is now 9-out-of-10 sessions, but the profits from each of the winning ones is much higher than before, while the lone losing session usually consumes less than my $150 stop-loss. 

Look at it this way; as Precision-Shooters, we are advantage-players, so we should be using that advantage to our profitable benefit WITHIN REASON, at every possible opportunity.

Fortunately, in that same twenty-four month period from when I last reported those 19-out-of-20 profitable session results, many more players have developed their skills and their DISCIPLINE to the point where they not only SEE that it’s possible; but many are on their way to actually replicating those same results for themselves.

Now THAT is vindication enough for me.

Who Is The MASTER, and Who Is The SLAVE?

Several readers have sent me e-mails and instant messages concerning what they regard as my hard line against a casino player trying to master two or three other games on top of advantage craps play.

Let me first say that I have nothing against any of you playing ANY casino games, including slot machines, the Big Six wheel or Sic Bo.

My concern is mainly when well-meaning instructors and gambling writers tell their eager-to-absorb students and customers that they should try to MASTER two or three or four or even five other casino games, in addition to craps.  The problem is that it is so hard to gain an advantage over ONE casino game, let alone two or more; that the student often spreads himself and his bankroll too thin, and ends up becoming a SLAVE to the casino, instead of a MASTER over any one particular game.

Many people see this as my anti-gambling or at least my anti multi-game stand, which is definitely NOT true.

I am FOR winning, and AGAINST losing.

In a casino, the best way to do that is to gain an advantage over the house, and to take as much risk out of the gambling experience as possible. Yes, to some degree it is less thrilling when you know your chances of winning are better, but the loss of risk-thrill is usually more than made up for with profit-thrill.

Given the choice, I'll take the profit, please.

Many players use an alternative game to take a break from the craps tables, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as they understand their own motivation. If you take up Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride or Roulette as your "sit-down" game, and you do so without an advantage over the house, then you accept the casino-edge and game-volatility as the "vig" or the rent on the chair that you are occupying, and that your chances of winning or losing are no better and no worse than anyone else who joins in that game.

Again, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.

It's your money and it's your choice.

The point is, most aspiring Precision-Shooters practice their skills for extended periods of time in order to gain a slight advantage over this game. In most cases, it is a very slim advantage, yet they often QUITE WILLINGLY give back that advantage when they take up a spot at the higher-risk, higher-skew slot machines, or Pai Gow or Let It Ride tables.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a skilled Precision-Shooter playing any other casino games, as long as they understand that in most cases, they are surrendering most, if not ALL of the edge that they worked so hard to get.

If you focus most of your efforts on the games where you have gained a discernable and verifiable edge, you'll likely give back less of what you've got and less of what you've gained if you decide to take a flyer on another game just because your feet are tired. 

The decision to restrict my own casino action to craps-only, is based on the fact that I haven’t yet found a way to consistently derive steady income from the slot-machines or Pai Gow tables or any other modern casino-game derivative to a point where it rivals what advantage-play craps can do for me.  If that sounds like I only want to play games where I have a discernable edge OVER the house…you are correct!

The Ripple Effect of Non-Advantage Play

I want you to understand the ripple effect that those “alternate games” can have on what it is you’ve been working so hard to accomplish with your advantage-play dicesetting.

Let me use a real-world analogy to put this into perspective.

Even a minor shift in the individual behavior of China’s estimated 1.3 billion people can change the global economy. The Chicago-based agricultural forecasting firm AgResource found that if every person in China consumed one more tablespoon of soybean oil annually, world trade in soybean oil would double.

By doing so, the ripple effect of just one tiny change in what each individual does in China, can have a high impact on the sustainable income of Midwest farmers, as well as the stability of worldwide commodity prices.

I mention all of this because the tiny edge that you’ve worked so hard to achieve on your Practice Rig, can be so easily erased by just one sit-down session of non-advantage play at your favorite Wheel of Fortune machine.  It is so hard to gain any advantage over the house, that I have a hard time understanding why many players voluntarily give it right back.

 Survival of the Fittest

In a casino context, that means you aren’t really permitted to make too many dumb moves time after time and still expect your bankroll to survive.  

Oh sure, you can keep REPLACING and topping up your bankroll, but after all, that is NOT what we are in there for.  If you want to give away your money, I can think of at least a hundred more worthy causes than your local casino operator.  If you are working hard all week just so you can give your paycheck to a gaming corporation, well, though it may be your CHOICE, it doesn’t have to be such a “just put my in-flight meal into the air-sickness bag, and skip the middle-man” direct line.

The Recurring Theme

The recurring theme throughout this series is for us to look at all the sources you are getting net-positive results from, and then requiring you to have enough determination, fortitude and discipline to keep those winnings.

While the methods that I share with you may not be the only ways there are to achieve outstanding results; they are the only ones that I KNOW OF, so they’re the only ones I can tell you about.

I hope you’ll join me next time as we continue this journey.  Until then,

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

The Mad Professor


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