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You Watch Your Behind, and I’ll Watch Mine

It is occasionally necessary to pose questions to evoke certain thoughts.  

Thought-provoking questions make us look at our inner motivations.  They also make us take a cold, sober and rational look at our actions.  We may not always be pleased by what we see.

Sometimes I feel a little like Andy Rooney of CBS’s TV show 60 Minutes, because of the way he looks at everyday things, and sees the irony of our actions.  If he were a craps player, Andy would probably ask in his high-pitched whiny voice:


         Have you ever noticed that your first bet at the table is usually a losing one? 

         Have you ever noticed that most people will quickly fall behind, and then more slowly make a come-back? 

         Have you ever noticed that at some point during your time at the table, that you almost always show a profit?

         Have you ever noticed at how quickly that profit erodes with further play? 

         Have you ever wondered what would happen if you quit at or near the high-profit point on every session? 

         How many of those sessions where you were ahead, turned out to be losing sessions because you stayed, played and lost?

         If you promised yourself that you would leave the table after earning a 15% profit, no matter what, how many winning sessions would you usually have, versus your current record?


Those are all good questions, so let’s address the first two.  Last week, a fellow craps player asked me why bettors rarely jump ahead at the beginning of play and stay there.

He said, “I usually fall in a hole and spend most of my time climbing out.  Am I doing something wrong, or am I just unlucky?  Shouldn't I start out ahead at least half of the time?

I responded by saying, “… that not grasping this point probably costs more money than any other single factor.”  Of course he didn’t believe me, so I told him why it was true.

All the bets on a craps layout are negative-expectation in that they pay out less than their true odds of occurrence would pay.  This is how the casino establishes the “house edge”.

In craps, you can try to break the bank by luck alone, but it’s highly unlikely.  Rather, it’s usually hard-slogging through grinding play that may show a modest profit, or a loss.   Giving back that modest profit, once it is in your rail, seems like a very bad idea.  However, most people play that way, and the casino is more than happy to accommodate you.   I’m usually satisfied with a modest profit that I can consistently count on as being MINE!

If there were only random-rollers at the table, you would really have to wait for that good 15-minute roll before a decent profit was in-rack.  Your bankroll and betting methods dictate the required amount of staying power that you need to endure the losses that a random-roller anticipates, while waiting for the likely, but not guaranteed wins of a “lucky” roller.

On the other hand, let’s look at what the Precision-Shooter will do in the same set of circumstances.

He uses his brain a lot more than conventional players, not because he thinks he’s smarter, but because he understands the nature of the game.  He also understands that the maturity and discipline required to generate and to keep decent profit is probably the most difficult thing to achieve.   The procedures, methods, practices, standards and rules that he sets for himself are there to protect and build his bankroll, while instilling the patience, attitude and discipline necessary for long-term survival.   It’s not easy, and it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.  It’s not for the faint-of-heart or weak-of-stomach.  It’s not for the under-funded, the chronically-timid, or the over-bloated of ego.

The professional Precision-Shooter will probably be the most conservative bettor at the table, especially if it is choppy.  When it comes his turn to shoot, he’ll start out fairly cautiously for the first two or three rolls to be sure that he’s hitting his target with just the right trajectory and speed.  Once assured that he is “in the groove”, he makes bets which will bring him in substantial “early” profit.  From the point in which all wagers on the table have been sufficiently covered with collected profit; the smart Precision-Shooter will then, and only then, press his bets.  Again he will collect more profit before re-raising his bets further.

If he falls behind, the Precision-Shooter doesn’t panic.   He will “watch his behind”, just as much as he’ll “watch his profit” if he’s ahead.  Kenny Rodgers was wrong when he sang, “…never count your money when you’re standin’ at the table.”  If you don’t know where you stand as far as “ammunition” is concerned, you may run out of firepower at the critical turning point of the action.   That is when the worst casino slaughters takes place. 

The professional closely monitors any losses so that he knows exactly and precisely where he stands at all times.  Even if he can’t get a good read on how to bet on any particular random-roller, he doesn’t get overly concerned.  If anything, he’ll scale back on all his action until a discernable trend develops whereby he can apply an appropriate betting method, or he will wait until the dice come to him for his next Precision-Shooting opportunity.  It is at that point when he feels most comfortable, and where the lion’s share of his session profit will be generated.  If he hasn’t fallen too far behind by this point, his roll should have a dramatic, but predictable effect on his revenue-standings.

So as Andy Rooney might say, “You watch your behind, and I’ll watch mine.”

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

By:  The Mad Professor

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