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Craps and cruising3 February 2011
I have never given much thought to cruising. That's never been my idea of a vacation; rocking, rolling and perhaps losing "it" on the wavy waters. On occasion in the past two decades, I have been invited to speak on this or that cruise and my wife, the beautiful AP, and I have always turned down such proposals. Being on a cruise ship was not on the top of my fun list, even though I had never been on a cruise ship.
Such is prejudice.
However, ever since we saw the HBO documentary "Braving Alaska" in 1993, the beautiful AP and I have been fascinated with our 49th state. So we've always wanted to visit Alaska -- which is a long, long way from our home in New York. Still, it never occurred to us that cruising would be a great way to see this fabulous state.
But things changed this past summer. My good friend and fellow Casino City Times columnist, Jerry "Stickman," and his wife, the sainted Tres, gave us a proposition. Let's go on an Alaskan cruise and, better still, let's invite six other Golden Touch Craps members to come along: our good friends Skinny and Jean; the Goddess and Sandtrap; and the Raging Baritone and Betty. That would make 10 of us heading for the high seas.
Six of us are controlled shooters; Stickman, Skinny, the Goddess, Sandtrap, the Raging Baritone and me. We all thought confidently that given seven days on the ship we would be able to recoup the expensive cost of the voyage and have a free sailing vacation compliments of the cruise line.
Such is hubris.
The first disappointment I had was the fact that the ship's single craps table did not open until 9 p.m. (which was 1 a.m. New York time as Alaska is four hours behind Eastern Time). I am not really a nighttime shooter since my bedtime is -- don't laugh -- between 9 and 10 o'clock. My best rolls come in the afternoon, especially after I swim. I didn't think of this as a problem since the others were more than capable of holding their own at night (and day and morning) and I would just have to keep my eyes open in order to rake in the casino's chips.
So that first night on the ship we headed for the craps table and had it all to ourselves. This was not a cruise with many craps players; indeed, this ship's casino never really got hopping as I've been told other cruise casinos do. The craps table rarely had more than three other players on it, aside from our contingent.
My second disappointment came in the form of the odds allowed on the pass line and come bets -- they were 2x. Okay, no problem; I would bet in units of three, to capitalize on the maximum amount in odds. This is called "pushing the house," a way to get a better game than the casino advertises. So I could bet $30 and back that up with 2x on the 4 and 10 in odds or $60; but I could back up the 5 and 9 with $80 and the 6 and 8 with $100.
"Sorry, sir, you can't do that," said the box lady when I first put $100 in odds on my $30 come bet.
"Can't I go sixty, eighty, one hundred in odds on a three-unit come bet?" I asked. I had not been in a 2x casino in a decade that did not allow "pushing the house" this way.
"No," said the box lady. The dealers and the box lady were not native English speakers and Skinny thought that maybe they didn't understand what we were saying as each had heavy accents and it took them time to assimilate what we said. As the beautiful AP would tell us, "They are conversational in English but not fluent." This turned out to be true for almost every worker we met on the ship, except for the bosses.
So Skinny called over the director of the casino, who was British, and asked him about the three-unit bet. "No, we don't do that," said the director.
So we pumped up the bets to $50 so we could take $100 in odds.
Once the initial disappointment wore off, which it did rather quickly, our team took the dice . . . and stunk. The Raging Baritone rolled a 17 before sevening out, the best roll of the night, but Skinny, Stickman and the Goddess just didn't have it that night. I took the dice once; made my point, established another point, hit a number and sevened-out. Not an auspicious cruise casino debut.
By 10 o'clock we ended the session.
"We'll get them tomorrow," we sung in unison.
Sadly, we didn't get anything on the morrow either. The ship had activities all day, in addition to the incredible scenery right off your balcony, and by 9 p.m. we were all tired. We had to force ourselves to play.
So that second night, we stunk as well. I again took the dice once, made three numbers and then sevened out. The only interesting thing on that second night was that these dealers, box lady and casino director now knew who I was -- the writer who teaches people to beat the game of craps. I could imagine the guffaws on their breaks as those I had taught came tumbling down before their very eyes.
After the second night, Stickman and I decided it was a waste of our time and money to play the ship's craps game. We were too tired and our shooting was awful. In truth, we knew we just couldn't perform under these conditions and so we stopped playing. I was in bed by 9 o'clock and I enjoyed the trip immensely -- even though I had to actually pay for it.
Had Stickman and I continued to play craps, well, we would have been cruising for a bruising.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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