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Ask the Mad Professor
Part 2

(read part I here )

Three successful brothers compared their wealth by the presents they had recently given to their old mother for her 75th birthday.  Mario, the oldest, said: "I built a big mansion for our mother." Johnnie, the second oldest, said: "I sent her a Mercedes with a chauffeur." Joey, the youngest, said: "You remember how our mama used to enjoy reading the bible?  Now that she can’t see very well, I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the whole bible.  Mama just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot recites it." 

A few days later a letter arrived from their mother. "Mario," she wrote, "the mansion you built is so huge, only I live in one room, but I have to clean the whole house."  "Johnnie," she wrote, "I am too old to travel. I stay at home most of the time so I rarely use the Mercedes.  And that driver - he’s a pain in the rear."  "But Joey," she wrote, "the chicken was delicious!"

The e-mails keep pouring in.   The questions are great, and I appreciate your interest. 


My casino just switched from “sharp-edged” dice, to ones where the edges are “smooth”.  What gives?  My shooting went to hell and hasn’t returned to normal. What should I do?



A number of casinos have started using “beveled-edge” dice.  Instead of having edges that are so sharp that you could shave with them, the new dice have a more rounded feel to them.

Now there’s good news and bad in that.  The bad news is that the dice don’t “bite” into the felt like the sharp-edged ones do.  The good news is that the dice don’t “bite” into the felt like the sharp edged ones do.  Hey wait; didn’t I just repeat myself?  That’s right, because the dice do not bite into the felt, you should experience less scatter when the dice land.  However, you have to use a lower-trajectory toss (lower arc) with the “round-edged” dice.  A high-arc throw makes these dice pop, scatter and roll sideways MORE than their “sharp-edged” counterparts.


I can’t understand why you tip housekeeping every day.  Don’t you think that’s a little over the top?



There are two separate and distinct thoughts on this subject, and they are related.  First, the rooms and suites that I stay in are usually pretty large.  I’m not a pig or anything, but I like the place to be clean when I return.  I usually sleep during their “prime cleaning hours”, so they clean my room at some unusual times.  Second, they always do a decent job. Most resorts pay low wages to the housekeeping staff.  I like to think that a daily tip will ensure that the room is cleaner and more hygienic than if no tip was provided.  I could be wrong, but I like the power of positive-thinking, combined with the power of positive-reinforcement.  A decent tip usually moves that in the right direction. 

I receive numerous notes of thanks from the workers themselves and also from their supervisors.  I’ve had housekeepers who have left “Welcome Back” notes in my suite before I’ve even slept in the bed.  In recognizing my name on the hotel’s room-cleaning manifest, they start out on the right foot in anticipation of being rewarded for another job well-done.  I believe in compensation that is tied directly to performance.  Maybe that’s why I like Precision-Shooting so much.



I was surprised to read that some of your daily winnings are made of small $25 to $40 wins, because there were times when I had a $20 to $40 profit, but did not feel it was sufficient, and went on to lose it, plus more.  Please help me understand how you have one losing session every four days (75% win-rate), and you win 19 out of 20 sessions (95% win rate).



Let me clarify it.  I define a "mini-session" as my time at one table, where I may only play for two or three minutes.  If I generate $25 to $40 from each of those mini-sessions, I am VERY happy.

A normal "session" might last 20 to 60 minutes. If I generate $100 to $300 from each of those sessions, I am also VERY happy.

I play about 20 to 30 hours a week.  I usually get in 20 sessions every four days.

For the sake of clarity, I have to use generalizations in my articles.  To say that each "session" lasts for 48.2 minutes, generates $257.33, and contains 2.4 hands, each with 27.7 rolls of the dice is overly pedantic.

If I switch casinos, I start a new "session".  If I am "grazing" at a number of tables for quick shooting opportunities, I will usually only record the results of the overall "session".  For example, if I am at the Horseshoe, I have the choice of 14 or so tables, in two casinos.  I will step up to a table, shoot one
hand and move onto another one where the dice are "coming into shooting position" or where the table is empty.  I might have 30 or 40 mini-sessions over a period of 1.5 hours.  That would equate to ONE complete session.

My win goal is $1,000 each day.  I usually exceed that by a decent margin.  Once I reach that win-goal, I NEVER lose back anything under that level.  I am satisfied to play with the excess over the win-goal.  When I reach another win-plateau, I lock-in those winnings, and refuse to lose back anything under that new benchmark.  Very conservative money-management is how small wins make for CONSISTENT profit.

As an aside, I'll tell you this.  If I was directing other players bankrolls, and they had to stop a session when I told them to, most of them would probably say, "Hey, we just got started, I want to turn this meager profit into something REALLY BIG".  That's the difference between playing smart and playing for entertainment.  Out of 20 sessions, 19 are usually profitable. Sometimes, NOTHING works, and I end up losing money during one of those sessions.  Hey, we're in a CASINO, what did you expect, right?  I have come to realize that not every session will be a winning one.  

The biggest problem that I had to come to grips with over the years was not to force the issue.  When I tried to turn losing sessions into winning ones, my losses almost always INCREASED.  It was a RARE occasion when I would make miraculous comebacks at the same table.  If I had accepted that "fact" earlier on, the learning process wouldn't have been as expensive or as painful.


Do you ever go to any night-clubs or bars in Vegas?  My wife and I really enjoy the free lounge acts instead of paying “showroom” prices.  Who would you recommend in Vegas?



Again, there are a number of websites that specialize in reporting about and rating various entertainment offerings in town.

But since you asked for MY opinion, here are some of our favorites in no particular order:

      Lon Bronson at the Riviera’s Le Bistro Lounge.  His incredible horn section provides some of the tightest arrangements this side of Tower of Power, Average White Band, and the old Chicago hits.  They only play on Saturday nights.  The other six nights of the week, his band backs up whatever current project or concert that David Cassidy is working on.

      The Sunspot’s play downtown at the Plaza in the Omaha Lounge.  The Plaza is “old Vegas” and so is this group.  It’s cheesy, it’s worn, it’s VERY entertaining, and it’s free…that’s VERY old Vegas.  The lounge is packed every night, and has been for the past fourteen years that these guys have been playing at the Plaza.

      If you are into blues; then Kari and Jerry Shurtleff at the Suncoast are great.  They just released a new CD and it’s pretty good.

      Cook E. Jar is at Harrah’s for the midnight show on the weekends.  He has a cult following that is huge and boisterous.  If you are not prepared to enjoy yourself, then don’t go.

      Art Vargas plays in the Venetian’s Venus Bar.  Whether you want to hear his perfect renditions of Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife”, or you have a particular taste for some obscure single-malt scotch, then this fashionable bar has it all.  Try to dress well so that they don’t make you wait in line.

      Three new guaranteed-to-be-hot spots are at the new Palms Hotel-Casino.  There is the Ghost Bar with it’s clear-glass floor on the 55th level, and it’s outdoor adult-sized swing-set.  There is Rain in the Desert which opened with Macy Gray, and a lounge called, N9NE, which is attached to the famous Chicago steakhouse of the same name.   I went to the pre-opening party and the Grand-Opening parties at the first two.  I haven’t been into the latter one.  It looks like the collagen-injected, silicone-enhanced, shiny-fabric set will win out over the fanny-pack set in these three places.  So far it has the same feel as the Hard Rock Casino’s main bar, but without the hookers.   The music is very hip.

      I really like Area 51, who regularly play the Casbar Lounge at the Sahara.

      For more “real-Vegas” acts, you have to see The Checkmates with Sonny Charles and Sweet Louie.  They ALWAYS play the Naughty Ladies Saloon at Arizona Charlie’s East and West, and these two guys have been packin’ them in for the twenty or so years that they’ve called Vegas their home.

      Dueling Pianos at the Times Square Bar in NYNY is entertaining, especially if you bring a crowd.  There may be a $10.00 cover-charge, but if you show your gold Slot Exchange card, it will guarantee entry even when they aren’t allowing any more patrons in.

      Fahrenheit plays both the Rio’s Voodoo Lounge and the LV Hilton’s Nightclub.  If you are at the Rio, check out their top-floor patio.

      Ghalib Gallab plays Caesar’s Terrazza Lounge.  He’s been around for at least fifteen years, and has a huge following.

      If you are into country music Jerry Tiffe plays the Boulder Station’s Railhead Lounge on a nightly basis.

      Jimmy Hopper is VERY popular at the Fontana Bar in Bellagio. You may want to catch him before they move him into a major showroom as happened with Clint Holmes.  Drinks are on the pricey-side, but his show is great.

      If you are still young-at-heart and enjoy a relaxed, but swinging tempo, then the Kinda Dixie Jazz Band plays the Gold Coast practically every weekday night.

As an aside, way back when the Maxim Hotel was open (just behind the Flamingo, and across from Bally’s rear-most parking lot), a large 10-piece band crowded onto the small stage in their tiny 80-seat lounge to play some of the hottest Latin-flavored music my ears had heard on THIS continent.  They went on to record a few hits.  You may have heard of them.  They were called Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.  Las Vegas lounge acts are usually excellent, and provide a much-needed break away from the tables.

Thanks again for all of the great questions.

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

The Mad Professor

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