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Lifestyles of the Precision-Shooter


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I have been saying for a long time that playing craps professionally is not so much a career as it is a lifestyle.  When I am at home, I live a fairly normal life.  I attend to everyday things like paying the bills, and preparing dinner for friends and guests.  I collect vintage and exotic automobiles, plus I am involved in certain other aspects of motor-sports.   I hike, I ski, I collect wine, and I sometimes even have time to write an article for Irishsetter’s excellent web-site.  However, when I am at a resort destination like Las Vegas, I tend to take in a few more of the “good things,” that a town like that has to offer.

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My journey as a professional player began back in 1990.   My actual journey with craps started about a decade-and-a-half BEFORE that, but my fortunes ebbed and flowed on the whim of lady luck as a random-roller.  For today’s journey, we won’t be trotting out all the old photos of the Las Vegas Strip like we did in our Walking with a Vegas Ghost set of articles.  Instead, I thought that we would share a glimpse of what some of the premium perks and comps are like.   You may be familiar with most of them, and in fact, you may have partaken in some, and hopefully you enjoyed them as much as I have.   For others that are just starting out to improve their game with Precision-Shooting, it can be a view of good things to come.

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Starting with the air-flight, if you are not driving, some casinos will automatically refund a portion of your airfare upon arrival. This is done in anticipation of your expected amount and level of play based on previous visits.  Even a $700 cash-rebate upon showing your airline ticket to your Casino Host upon arrival, offsets most or all of your initial transportation costs.

Quite a few casinos have a fleet of limousines that are used to shuttle patrons back and forth between the airport, as well as being available for use around town while you are their guest.  When you are arranging your stay, you might want to inquire whether they will pick you up at the airport.  They’ll need your time of arrival and flight number.  However, confirm your hotel accommodation FIRST, and them call back to arrange for the limo AFTER you have a flight booked.

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Upon entering the hotel you’ll have to check-in. This is where tourists are separated from “casino-savvy” players.  Most places have exclusive check-in lines for VIP’s and Gold Player Cardholders, plus most of the bigger houses have exclusive private-club-type settings where comped-invitees can enjoy some champagne, as your computer-coded room-key is prepared.  It sure beats standing in line for ninety minutes with several planeloads of other tourists.

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In a lot of cases, my own play does not qualify for the biggest suites or the highest hotel penthouses, but sometimes it does.  I am not a “whale” by any stretch of the imagination.   Thousands of players bet way more than I do.   My line-of-credit is relatively high, and shows my willingness to expose my money to the casino-edge.  However, my betting mounts actually start out pretty low compared to high-rollers.  The only time you’ll see me at the $25 minimum tables, is when I am shooting solo, and there are no other open spots at other tables, which that is a rare occurrence.

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I like to be comfortable wherever I stay.  I have become accustomed to the finer things in life, and I want that same level of comfort wherever I stay.  That does not mean that you have to seek out the best resort.  In fact, several “lower-rung” resorts have suites that are just as nice as the big houses, and they’re MUCH easier to get.  The bonus is that the level of play required to justify that kind of comp is usually up to 90% lower than it is at the mega-resorts.

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Due to the number of hours that I put in at the tables, some comps are readily available for the taking.  I average between 20 and 30 hours of play each week.  For a regular player, that may seem high, but when you consider the hours that you log during your regular work-week, then it’s not so bad.  Keep in mind that when some players visit Vegas, they play for up to 8 or 10 hours each day.  That’s a lot of play, but they may only visit two or three times each year, for a total of perhaps 90 hours of Vegas-play in one year.  On the other hand, I spend about six-months per year there, and that totals about 650 hours of play.

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With that kind of bankroll-exposure-time, the casinos can be VERY generous. But like I said before, some casinos are generous, while others are as stingy as ever.  Part of my “job” is to determine where the best PLAYING conditions are, and then balance them off against where the best COMP conditions are.  If you are making obscene amounts of money at the tables, it makes a lot of sense to sometimes pay your own way, instead of playing under bad conditions just to get their comped “run of the house.”

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Walking through the casino, I like to survey what is generally happening at the tables.  I would kindly urge you to read And The Survey Says.... article to understand exactly what you should be looking for when you walk into a casino.  It is not as simple as walking up to the table, plunking down some cash, and calling out a bet.

Briefly, I look at:

What the table limits and odds are.

How crowded each table is, and what player positions are open.

What bets are on the layout, and how full the players racks are.

What is the general mood at each table, and do I recognize any other Precision-Shooters?

Are any players on a Hot roll, or are people drifting away from the “cold” ones?

Only then will I possible settle at a table and buy in.  The amount of my session bankroll is usually $1000, but will vary according to the comfort of the house.  Some casinos cater to lower-end players, and become uncomfortable if a player buys in for more than $500.  At other houses a $5000 buy-in will barely get you noticed. At a low-limit, low-max table, there’s no need to buy-in for more than $300.  Likewise, at a $10 or $25 table, a buy-in of $2,000 to $5000 wouldn’t be out of the ordinary.

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When I am going to play craps, I want to be as comfortable as possible.  Resort-wear is how I would characterize what I wear on a regular basis.  Short-sleeved Polo or Golf shirts breathe the best in desert temperatures, without looking like you belong on either the management staff or as part of the maintenance crew.

Everything that I’ve said so far assumes that you USE A PLAYERS CARD EVERYTIME THAT YOU PLAY.  If they don’t know you, they can’t offer you the comps that you are entitled to.  Don’t assume that they’ll always remember your face.  Some floor-people are attentive this way, but most are not.   Unless they know your name and face on sight at every place that you play, use a Player’s card EVERYTIME you pull money from your pocket!  If you haven’t read my Questions From Cyber-Space   article, I would strongly urge you to do so.

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As I move from house to house, it’s important to maintain your health. It may not SEEM that you are in the middle of the desert when you see all the water and fountains, but you can dehydrate very quickly without realizing it.  From symptoms like short-tempered irritability to unconsciousness, keep the non-alcoholic liquids flowing and your stamina and attitude will stay on a steadier keel.

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I like to make some plans ahead of time.  If I’m going to see a show, I might arrange my playing time around it.  For example Station Casinos provided four tickets for any and all performances by Loretta Lynn, Blue Oyster Cult & Nazareth, Ronnie Milsap, The Doobie Brothers, Patty Loveless, Tricia Yearwood and Diamond Rio.  So in that case, I would find myself at their Sunset Station property quite often, and my evening playing time would be centered there.  Yes, it’s part of their plan to get you into their doors, and that’s quite okay with me.  I’ve had quite a bit of success at the SS tables, and I consider their concert series to be an added bonus to playing there.

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Likewise, I will sometimes sit by the pool with my lovely lady while I review our options for dinner.  Now I may spend most of that time enjoying the nearby “eye candy”, so the actual decision may take some time, as I mull it over.  She doesn’t mind where I get my “appetite”, as long as I eat at home, so to speak.

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Sometimes we are there by special invitation, where the respective resorts’ world-famous chefs prepare feasts for a small, intimate gathering of players in an extraordinary presentation of culinary "one-ups-manship".   So far we've sat down to enjoy what Julian Serrano of Bellagio's Picasso, Joachim Splichal of Venetian's Pinot Brasserie, Allesandro Stratta of Mirage's Renoir, and Emeril LaGasse of Emeril’s Fish House have creatively offered.

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In my You've Got Mail! article, I told you about how a couple of hotels have started offering gourmet-cooking lessons for either the player or the player's spouse.  These lessons from Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Mark Miller, or Charlie Palmer have been fully enjoyed by Ms. MP several times.  In my, You've Got (More) Mail!article, I chronicle some of the newer invitations that have come through, and what you can do to get some for yourself.

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A number of the trendy resorts will give you “Full RFB+++”.  That means that besides picking up your room, food and beverages, they’ll provide free access to their shows and extravaganzas.  It can also mean free membership for the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.  This $2000 membership entitles you and your guests to enjoy not only the shows in the H. o. B.’s, but also dinner and drinks in their private top-floor club.

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Some places like the Rio will send invitations for some exclusive wine-tastings in their Wine cellar facility.  There have been a couple of “uncaskings” that we’ve attended, although my playing time there is steadily being reduced to nil.  You can read all about the reasons for that in my Master of ALL…Well…Slave to SOME! article.

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Occasionally, Rio will also throw a party for some guests in the Voodoo Lounge.  Usually a cocktail party, a “welcome gift”, a decent meal, followed by music and dancing, is a way to get you to their property where some hoped for table action is anticipated.

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Some resorts are issuing “shopping credits” on a player’s room account.  If certain betting and playing-time levels are met, win or lose, they will apply $100, $200, $500 or even a $1000 to your room account that can be spent in a limited number of retail shops in their exclusive malls.  Other casinos use gift certificates in the same way, either as a “welcome” gift, or as a “thank-you” gift that will prompt you to return to their resort next time you come to town.

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If you are a golfing fanatic, many resorts have associate memberships at nearly every decent golf course in the area. Some resorts own and manage their courses, which makes the comps even easier to get.

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Some places are virtually handing out comped tickets to their shows, while others are hard-pressed to even consider you for a line pass, let alone a free set of tickets.  Again, if the playing conditions are not right, I would rather pay for tickets instead of putting my bankroll in harm’s way if there is undue risk of losing some of it.  “Free” tickets to “O” at Bellagio, which ONLY cost you $2000 in losses are NOT free tickets at all.  If you really want to see a show, but your normal play does not warrant it, BUY THEM WITH YOUR WINNINGS!  Enough said about that!

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I think that it’s important not to over do it while you are in town.  Too much of anything isn’t good for you.  I like to intersperse my time at the tables, with time in the gym working out, and time in the spa just relaxing afterwards.  It helps me maintain balance, spiritual equilibrium and a peaceful state of mind.  When I am at peace, it helps me focus to when I am at the tables. 

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Sometimes during a craps session, I will park a $1 chip in the rack to hold my spot.  A washroom break, a short walk, or just a few minutes away from the excitement, “re-centers” my concentration while the random-rollers have their shot at the dice.  By the time I return, the dice have usually moved around the table by several players.  I am still “on the clock” as far as the pit personnel are concerned, and that adds to the playing time that is entered into the all-important computerized player data-base.  Again, your Players card is the key to the comp kingdom.  Without it, you just are not going to get in.

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I like a lot of outdoor activities.  Sometimes we’ll go ATV’ing in the Red Rock Canyon, or go off-roading in the Joshua Tree National Forest, or through the Mojave or Painted Desert.   We particularly love jet-skiing on the Colorado River or on Lake Mead.  We’ve even rented a pontoon boat to explore the far remote areas of Lake Mead for several days at a time.  I’ve never tired of the majesty of the Grand Canyon.  We’ve done it by plane, helicopter, boat, raft, mule and even on foot, countless times.

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I like to make sure that the intensity at the tables, is offset with other pursuits and enjoyments.  Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t really a job or a career, it’s a lifestyle, and I want my life to be as enjoyable as possible. 

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Whether it be grabbing a book, and reading one of the classics at poolside, or going to the batting cages for a few hundred home-run swings, or just going for a long drive through the Valley of Fire, Precision-Shooting affords me the time, income, freedom and choice to do what I want, usually whenever I want.

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And it is that freedom, combined with the fulfillment and achievement of continually conquering a negative-expectation game that makes this lifestyle so attractive to me.

I keep accurate records of all of my sessions at each casino.   That way I can compare my progress, as well as determine which tables are producing the best revenue.  Likewise, I keep tabs on all my expenses.  Helicopter flights, jet-boat rentals, my girlfriends shopping trips, and the all-important restaurant, concierge and valet tips, add up to a sizeable sum.   That calculation gives me a NET-profit summary.

When you leave Las Vegas, it’s always nice to look back on a successful trip, knowing that the entire trip was paid for, and you still were able to increase your bankroll by a significant amount.

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Well, that’s a small glimpse at the lifestyle of a Precision-Shooter.  How, when and where you decide to spend your money is entirely up to you.  But if you make your money at the craps table as I do, you can take full advantage of the Precision-Shooters Lifestyle.

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

By:  The Mad Professor

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