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Best of Frank Scoblete
Sail with the Captain or Sink Like the Titanic1 January 2000
In college I took a course in Hindu philosophy. The professor, whose name I could not pronounce (it sounded something like Pranandabandaprocalappa), began the first lesson by explaining to us that there was no way to define the Hindu Absolute in positive terms, the way we could define the God of the Western Bible. No, Professor Hard-name-to-pronounce said, the way to define the Absolute was to tell us what it was not. He then proceeded for two torturous hours to tell us: “The Absolute is not an ant; the Absolute is not a giraffe; the Absolute is not a cloud; the Absolute is not...” this, that and all those other things. Two hours!
By the end of the lecture, I feared I would be asked to use the unabridged dictionary to write, for homework, “The Absolute is not an aardvark,” all the way up to “The Absolute is not a zyzzogeton.” And so my first contact with a philosophy other than my own was not exactly a positive experience.
Which brings me to the Captain’s system in craps. If this is your first contact with the Captain’s philosophy, you might find it as baffling as I found the Absolute of Hinduism. That is because it is much easier for me to define the Captain’s methods and thinking in terms of what they are not than by what they are. Once you have delved more deeply into them, you can be the judge of whether or not they are absolutely the best ways to play the most exciting game in the casino.
For those of you who have not yet made the Captain’s acquaintance, he is a legendary Atlantic City player whose system and philosophy of play I have recorded in three books (Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos: How to Play Craps and Win!, The Captain’s Craps Revolution!, and Guerrilla Gambling: How to Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games!), one audio tape (Sharpshooter Craps) and in my magazine, The New Chance and Circumstance.
So here are what his methods and ideas are not:
1. The Captain’s methods are not get-rich-quick schemes. You will not “break the bank” playing according to his methods, although you will have an excellent shot at making some money in the long run. Craps is a negative-expectation game, after all—one in which the casino has anywhere from an infinitesimal to a gargantuan edge on the various bets the players can make. There are few times when the casino doesn’t have an advantage (although the Captain has found a few times when the player can get the mathematical edge).
2. The Captain’s system is not easy to play. It requires discipline. In fact, most criticism of his methods generally boil down to: “They aren’t fun; they are boring to play.” The system may not be a barrel full of monkeys, but if you are trying to give yourself the best chance of winning, “having fun” is the least of your concerns.
3. The Captain’s methods are not guaranteed. That’s because no one can guarantee that anything will work the way it was designed to work each and every time. Good airplanes can fall from the sky, good cars can stall, parachutes can fail to open and good gambling systems can sometimes produce the opposite of what they intend—just ask any skilled card counter who has gone broke at blackjack.
4. The Captain’s methods are not foolproof. Fools really do rush in where angels fear to tread: People ignore “No Swimming” signs and drown; people drink, drive and crash; people touch the third rail and shake, rattle and roll; and people throw good money after bad when gambling.
5. The Captain’s methods are not idiosyncratic exercises in mere opinion. They are based on a solid foundation of logic and more than two decades of experience. The Captain has a rock-solid reason for everything he says and does in the craps arena. He has a consistent viewpoint that permeates his methods of play, a viewpoint honed by playing the game, as opposed to just theorizing about it. The more you observe the game of craps through the Captain’s eyes, the more you realize what a genius the man is. In fact, since the publication of Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos in 1991, I have received thousands of missives from satisfied players who have said either, “I am finally winning at this game,” or, “I am finally cutting my losses to manageable proportions.” Yes, I’ve also received dozens of missives saying it’s a boring way to play, and even a few that have said, “Scoblete, you are a moron and an idiot!” These last are usually handwritten and filled with grammatical and spelling errors (of course).
6. And by the way, the Captain is not a figment of my imagination. He is not a composite character whom I have created to sell books. He’s as real as you and I. There are some casino executives who know his name, rank, serial number and how much he has won over the years.
7. The Captain’s systems are not for players who wish to bet on every shooter or get right into the action. Bet on every shooter and you are eventually doomed to succumb to the house edge, even if you make the best possible bets. Good betting can reduce the house edge at craps to a mere 61 cents per $100 wagered in a 2x odds game, or approximately two cents for every $100 wagered in a 100x odds game. The system prolongs your ability to play, but doesn’t guarantee long-term wins.
Given all these things that the system is not, what does the Captain actually believe in?
1. The Captain believes that most shooters will not have good rolls. Indeed, the statistics of craps tell us that the average number of rolls before a shooter sevens-out is somewhere between three and four. Yuck! If you bet on every shooter, you’ll usually find yourself in a hole so deep that no number of good rolls can get you out of it. Therefore, if you intend to make craps your chosen casino game and you bet on every shooter, you will lose.
2. The Captain believes that not all craps shooters are created equal. Some shooters may have the ability to physically control the dice and slightly alter the math of the game in the player’s favor. Some of these shooters may have practiced controlling the dice; some of them may have just fallen into a long-term or short-term rhythm. Regardless of how it is being done, by chance or by conscious or unconscious design, all craps players know that every so often (though not often enough) along comes a good (and occasionally a great) shooter, and we make truckloads of money during their rolls. So is there a way to avoid those quick “seven out!” shooters and position ourselves to be around with enough money left in our racks to (maybe) get back into the black if and when a good shooter appears?
3. You cannot position yourself to win unless you have a method for selecting the shooters you are going to risk your money on. The Captain’s method is called the 5-Count, and it works to cut your total exposure to the house edge and to position yourself to take advantage of potentially good shooters.
4. You cannot hope to win in the long run, even with the 5-Count, if you make Crazy Crapper bets. What are the Crazy Crapper bets? These are bets that have such high house edges that no strategy can overcome them.
Take the Any Seven bet. This is a one-roll wager that the next number rolled will be a 7. There are six ways to make a 7 out of 36 possible combinations with two six-sided dice. That means a 7 theoretically comes up once in every six rolls and the odds are therefore 5 to 1. You will win once for every five times you lose.
In a fair game, neither you nor the casino would have an edge. In such a game, you would lose five times and win once, but that once would pay five times the bet. If you bet $1, you would lose five times ($5) and win once ($5) and break even. But the casinos don’t give you a fair bet. Instead, you get paid four times your bet on a winning Any Seven bet. So you lose five times ($5) and win once ($4) and now you’re down a dollar! This is an excellent example of how the casino builds its edge into each bet in the place. In this instance, the bet has a 16.67 percent edge for the house. The Any Seven bet is often referred to as Big Red. Perhaps that is a reference to where your bankroll will be if you insist on making this bet. Therefore, you cannot win unless you avoid the Crazy Crapper Bets.
5. These figures may look intimidating, but remember: You cannot win at craps if you think you cannot win! That leads to playing the game merely for “fun” and not for money. It leads to betting on every shooter to get into the action. It leads to making high house-edge bets in the hopes that you’ll win a bundle with their big payoffs. In the end it means that no matter how titanic your bankroll, craps will be your iceberg!
I’ll have more to say about the Captain, his methods of play and his philosophy of craps. Now, go to the dictionary and look up “zyzzogeton” and remember: Craps is not that!
For more information about craps, we recommend:Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos: How to Play Craps and Win! by Frank Scoblete
The Captain's Craps Revolution! by Frank Scoblete
Sharpshooter Craps Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Craps! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
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 email@example.com.
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