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Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This
Part Two

(read part I here )

In Part One of this article, we talked about winning being easier to handle mentally, than losing.  It makes sense of course because when we win, it reinforces what we are doing.  Winning seems to vindicate all of the previous failed efforts, and the subsequent hour upon endless hour of practice, thought and study that we put into perfecting this craft that we call Precision-Shooting.

We are talking about how you handle those losing sessions, and how to ensure that they don’t turn into MAJOR losing sessions.

Losing sessions are a part of the game, even for the professional player.   You have to use that losing session as one more step towards your next winning session.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Fuller Brush Company.   They used to have door-to-door salesmen that literally covered Canada and the United States.  They would sell various brushes and home-gadgets to housewives.  From the 1930’s through to the early 70’s they traveled the country selling their wares.  One of their philosophies about rejection was pretty good, and it is applicable to salespeople even today.  For every house that they visited and did not sell anything, they knew that statistically they were one house closer to making a sale.

The worst losses that I have suffered in the last ten years, is when I refused to accept small losses, and I let them turn into BIG losses.  I would then get onto a losing streak trying to both recoup the previous loss, and also to prove that I still had the shooting-edge that I’d become so proud of flaunting.  The results?   Pure CRAP!  That is what I define as having a “meltdown”.

As I mentioned in Part One, Heavy is fond of saying, “Any win beats any loss, any day.”  I want to add that, “Any small loss beats any huge loss, any day.”  Another truism.  Thanks Heavy.

I produce an average of 19-out-of-20 winning sessions.  Now, it’s what happens during those 1-in-20 losing sessions that makes all the difference to not only my bankroll, but also to my way of thinking.

In Part One of this article, we talked about making notes after each session.   Again, if you already haven’t begun to do so, I would urge you to.  It’s not only part of the learning process, it’s part of the continual improvement process.   Your evolution as a Precision-Shooter, is directly pinned to how well you learn, from not only your mistakes, but also from your successes.

By making note of not only session-statistics like roll-lengths and betting-range; you should be keeping track of your mood, your energy level, your level of excitement and expectation before and during your session.  After your session ends, you should be making notes about what went right and what went wrong.  You should be making notes about what you would do if you had the opportunity to play that session over again.   You should especially make notes about what you want to do differently at your next session.

With all of that being said, I thought that I would give you a little glimpse into my own session notes.  Since there is a small number of readers who are unable or unwilling to believe that anyone else in the entire world could possibly earn more money or consistently throw the dice better than they could, I’ve deleted as much reference to the amount of money won during the “good” sessions, but the “bad” (read: losing) sessions are exactly as they happened.

I took 1200 sessions from my database of playing in various casinos.   I included only the major “meltdown” losing sessions.  I left out all of the winning sessions, and included only a summary or overview of the “meltdown” notes.  For simplicity I’ve deleted all reference to the actual casinos, the table length and location, dice and felt conditions, and dealer skills unless any of those factors figured into my reasons for losing.

There are some easily discernable trends that you should be able to see as you read through.  See if you can figure them out.  Read on:

I had had 76 winning sessions, interspersed with only a couple of very minor losing ones.  I was satisfied with my SRR, which at the time was close to 18:1.  Obviously I was feeling on top of the world, and I felt pretty invulnerable.

Losing Session example #1

I lost $250 over a period of 2.0 hours.  At the time I didn’t think anything of the loss.  Yes, it was unexpected, but it wasn’t out of the ordinary.  I hate losing, and anytime it happens, I take a critical look at the “whys” and “wherefores” of “how” it happened.   I concluded that the dice weren’t “with me” on that occasion, and I passed it off.  However, I was eager to get back to the tables to prove to myself that I still had “IT”.  The “IT” being the razor-sharp edge that I know that I need to make consistent money from this game of craps.

Losing Sessions example #2, 3, 4, 5 & 6

I followed up Losing Session #1 with a couple of short and barely profitable sessions that produced a grand total of $200 in profit.  I decided that a concerted effort to get my game on track was needed.  Instead of having one or two short, but leisurely sessions, I decided that a serious three or four hour session where I really got my shooting back on track was exactly what I needed.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  Losing sessions #2 through #6 generated losses of:

$170                  2.5 hours
$160                  4.5 hours
$360                  3.0 hours
$445                  2.5 hours
$600                  3.0 hours

Yep, over a period of 15.5 playing hours, I managed to string together a loss of $1735.  For those of you who are not mathematically inclined, that equates to a loss-rate of approximately $115 per hour. 

What did my session notes have to say about all of that? 

Well, I wrote a lot about hands that looked like they were going to develop into something, but right at the cusp of success and profit, I produced a terminal 7-Out.  

I wrote that I thought that I could turn things around, so I changed casinos.  When that didn’t work, I changed casinos again, and just for good measure, I changed my target position on the tables.  When that didn’t work, I not only changed casinos, but I also changed my shooting (standing) position at the table.  Clearly that didn’t work, but it didn’t deter me from trying a couple more variations. 

When I finally packed it in, it was only then that I realized that I had been awake for more than 20 hours, and that I had played more than 75% of those hours at a craps table. 

I ended up taking the entire next day off from all casino action.  I spent a leisurely day with my girlfriend doing one of her favorite activities, shopping.  Now normally, I hate the torture of the endless shops that she goes into.  Okay, if there is an uncomfortable chair to hunker down into while she tries various outfits on; then it’s not quite torture; it’s more like waiting for the warden to stamp your papers AFTER you’ve received parole.  That makes the waiting tolerable, but hardly pleasurable.

When I returned to the tables, I was quite a bit more cautious than usual.   I didn’t start with large bets.  In fact, most players would view my initial approach as hesitant and perhaps lacking in confidence.  In reality, it was my own way of insuring that I didn’t let things get out of control, AGAIN! 

I figured that even if my shooting was lousy, I didn’t have to lose very much money to find out.  Fortunately my cautiousness and conservative betting also let me relax while I was at the tables.  

Usually when a professional athlete gets into a losing streak, they try variations on what has previously worked for them.  They are usually too busy trying all kinds of swing, stance and hit variations that they “over-play” the ball, or in this case the dice. 

I felt that I had fallen into that trap during those previous five losing sessions.  Now, instead of worrying about all of the physical things, I just wanted to get my swing or throwing motion back on track.  I didn’t really care too much about the Pass Line bets that I had on the table.  I intentionally didn’t back them up with any Odds or make any Place bets.  I simply threw   the dice, and when I made a couple of Pass Line Points, I was pleased with the little bit of profit, but I was even more pleased with the way the “sweetness” had returned to my throw.

From that “meltdown” forward, there was a long, prosperous period of winning sessions.  I went on a 108-session streak, that contained a few very small losses.  My confidence was buoyed, and I was quite pleased that ALL was right with the world.

I want to stop right here to say that each one of those 105 wins out of 108 sessions, did not ALL produce incredible profit.  In fact, one of them only produced $25 to the good. 

Does that qualify as a winning session? 

You’re damn right it does.  It may not even fill up the gas tank, but I will take those meager wins any day simply because when you are on a winning streak and the dice are leaving your hand perfectly; then most, but not all of the winning sessions are going to produce much larger wins than those $25 ones. 

The big wins will come, and they will take care of themselves.  The task is to build up some small and CONSISTENT wins, and before you know it, those $1000 to $5000 winning sessions are tumbling your way.  That is how it works.  There will be some tiny wins, a coupe of huge wins, and a whole lot of $200 to $800 wins that fill up your bankroll.  But first you have to develop CONSISTENCY and avoid the meltdowns.

Losing Sessions example #7, 8 and 9

Ah, we could call these the “MP’s show-off” losses.  I was with some casino-savvy friends who happen to play blackjack.  This husband and wife team fancy themselves as semi-professionals.  Ms. MP and myself had never managed to be in the same gaming-city as them at the same time.  The husband had always chided me for playing a negative-expectation game like craps, while I showed no interest in a “clearly superior” game like BJ. 

After a fine dinner at the Great Moments Room in the Las Vegas Club, it didn’t take too much coaxing for me to volunteer to show them how I could play, day after day, month after month and year after year at such a bad choice of games. 

We had a few drinks with dinner and a few more afterwards.  The alcohol lowered my tolerance for the ribbing that Mr. & Mrs. Blackjack were giving me.  Ms. MP encouraged my offer to “show them what I actually do with the dice”. 

The LV Club tables were busy, so we ventured to three other downtown casinos.   The results were the same.  I would find an empty or near-empty table.  I would buy-in and get the dice.  I would establish the Point.  Within 2 or 3 rolls, or on one stellar occasion, 6 rolls, I managed to throw a quick 7-Out.  The first couple of times it happened, there was a bit of snickering from Mr. & Mrs. Blackjack.  On the final few 7-Outs of the evening, there were visible and audible winces from them.  It hurt…and let me tell you it really hurt…in two places.  It hurt my wallet, but it especially hurt my ego. 

There I was, Mr. Mad Professor, trying to show how I had mastered the game of craps.  I wanted to prove how much better craps was than that tired old game of “21”.    I felt like a buffoon, and I said, “well sometimes I have bad sessions…maybe it was that heavy dinner we just ate”.  Of course, I knew it wasn’t that at all.  Simply, I had set myself up to fail, and the booze just helped things along.  I wanted to prove myself and the whole concept of Precision-Shooting to the “non-believers” or infidels, but I failed miserably. The losses from those three sessions were:


That entire $2135 loss took just ninety minutes to accomplish, and that includes the walking time between downtown casinos.  Gee, there’s an accomplishment to be proud of! 

The only face-saving part to this story is that the next day they saw me playing at a table in the Golden Nugget where all of us were staying.  They engaged me in conversation, but the rest of my tablemates put up such a roar about disturbing the shooter (me) that they threatened to call security.  I turned discreetly to them and said that a lot of players were superstitious when someone was on a hot roll.   It was only then that they saw my chip-rail full of green, black and purple chips.  They backed off at a respectful distance until I finished my roll about 15 minutes later.       

Losing Sessions example #10 through #20

All eleven of these losing sessions occurred at Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Canada.  I had been away from the casino-scene for a little while when I returned to play there.  I hadn’t practiced at all, and my throwing never did find any kind of rhythm or “groove”. The tables are ALWAYS crowded, but I felt like playing anyway.  The high $15 minimums were a bit of a turn-off, but it didn’t stop me from buying-in.  Over a four-day period, I played a total of 45 hours.    Just to put that in perspective, when I am in Las Vegas, I play on average of 20 to 30 hours each week.  So this rather intense amount of play was a little out of character for me.  My session-losses looked like this:


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I was on a losing streak.   It also doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this was one of those meltdown things happening to not only my bankroll, but also to my discipline. 

It’s at a point like that, that I began to wonder if I had a gambling problem. I sure had a winning problem!  The session notes that I made after each loss were almost IDENTICAL in what they said.  Essentially, all my notes bitched about super-crowded conditions, incredibly bouncy tables, slow dealers and a general frustration with all of the random-rollers that I had to endure in the endless wait to get the dice back into my hands again.  

I was losing so much on random-rollers that even when I managed to put together a decent hand with the dice, the joy had been sucked entirely out of the moment because of all of the frustration leading up to it.

Clearly playing an average of 11 hours a day was also taking a toll on my ability to reason and to apply any reasonable level of discipline.  Exhaustion has a way of warping ones sense of perspective, patience, restraint and self-control.

Surprisingly, my dice skill-level wasn’t all that bad.  While I had a higher percentage of Point-then-7-Out hands; I also managed to be MUCH better than the average bear that populated that neck of the woods.   Still, that didn’t prevent losses.   It only aggravated them, and provided an increasing level of frustration for me.  Clearly, things were deteriorating, and any reasonable game-plan had long since spiraled out of control. 

Due to the one-chance–with-the-dice-every-60-to-75-minutes frustration, I let the losses rack up in hopes for “just-one-more-chance” with the dice.  I always felt that I could redeem myself and my losses by having a monster hand.   Well, the monster hand never came.  The losses continued to rack up, and I was pretty disgusted with myself. 

I gave up craps for a couple of weeks at that point.  There wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t look back at that particular meltdown and wonder how I could lose all grasp of discipline.  It took about twelve days before I had both forgiven myself for the transgression, and also put enough distance behind that ego-bruising set of losses to put it into proper perspective.  I matured quite a bit in those two weeks.

I finally took a L-O-N-G drive to clear my head, and to give myself a stern talking to.  Yes, I did talk to myself, and the message was pretty clear.  “If you are going to make good, consistent money from this game, you have to stop wasting it all on random-rollers, and concentrate on your own Precision-Shooting.”   Simple message?


Did it work?


The cure for that streak of losses was pretty easy.  I simply went to a gaming jurisdiction with a few more playing options and a lot less people to pack the tables with. 

I went down to Biloxi, Mississippi, and my winning ways picked up exactly where they had left off before my Niagara meltdown. 

In fact, during my prolonged stay on the Gulf Coast I didn’t experience one major losing session for the entire duration.  Yes, I experienced some losses, but none were even close to my loss limit.  In a way, it was like I was SO scared of going into one of those dreaded meltdowns, that I intentionally cut any losing sessions short.  To my mind, a $50 to $150 loss was extremely attractive compared to the uglier alternative of HUGE losses.  The winning sessions easily outstripped the cost of the losing ones, and I was able to re-affirm that I had the will and fortitude to end a session before really bad things had a chance to happen.

Since that catastrophe in Niagara Falls, I didn’t have a major losing session until the The Great Northeast Road Trip.

I’m proud of that accomplishment, but more important is the level of discipline that those major losses instilled into my playing regimen. 

Those were hard-learned lessons.  They were expensive lessons, and I have wondered if I’d be as good of a player as I am today if I didn’t have those battle-scars to remind me of what can happen if I don’t stick to my self-imposed limits.

I think, principally, that is the major reason that I have implemented such strict loss-limits on my current playing.  It’s the fear that if I start to lose; then my losses will spiral out of control.

So, one of the secrets to improving my own game was to prevent them from becoming total bankroll-meltdown losses, and the need to prevent any small losses from becoming worse than they already are.

My advice to you?

Make accurate notes; then act upon the lessons that each session, whether winning or losing, is trying to tell you. 

Make firm, actionable and workable commitments to yourself and then do your absolute best to stick to them. 

Mama said that there would be days like this, but I think that she sure would be proud of me now!

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

The Mad Professor

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