Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Frank Scoblete
The end of an era23 December 2010
He was the greatest craps player who ever lived. He was known as the Captain. He had a crew of 22 high rollers who played with him from the late 1970s until each passed away, one by one. By the year 2000, there were only a handful left. Now there are none, unless you count Satch and me, who were acolytes of the Captain's Crew.
As I write this, he is quite ill and has not played craps since 2007, the year he rolled 147 numbers before sevening out, a world record until Pat DeMauro broke it with her roll of 154 numbers in 2009 before sevening out.
The Captain created the 5-Count and the modern concept of controlled shooting (he called it "rhythmic rolling") on a casino craps table with the foam rubber pyramids on the back wall. The Captain knew gambling; he knew how to get the most from one's talent at the game of craps. He knew how to keep his rhythm in the high-powered, adrenaline-soaked casino atmosphere. He really was someone who turned the tables on the casinos.
And he was quiet and humble about his achievements. Had I not written about him in books and articles, he would never have been known. Even worse, his great methods of play would never have been revealed.
I learned everything about playing casino games from the Captain and I am grateful that I was his student. He was a great teacher, a great mentor, a great man.
But he is not the only one I miss from those glory days in Atlantic City. There were two others who truly deserve accolades.
The greatest dice controller of all time, the woman called "the Arm" passed away on June 6, 2007. She had been quite ill for quite a long time and her craps playing days ended around the year 2000. But when she was rolling there was (and is) no one like her. Possessed of a totally original and eccentric throw, the Arm could hit repeating numbers like no one I have ever seen. The stories are legion about her coming down to the tables and throwing monster hands that made the Captain and his crew a fortune.
Interestingly enough, the Arm only bet the pass line with odds. She made her money from the generous tips those at the table gave her for her rolling. She would always say, "I am not a gambler, I just like to throw the dice." And throw she could and did.
Jimmy P., known as the Captain's first mate, died in the late 1990s. He was a big fellow, a happy, boisterous, generous man who was the only member of the Captain's Crew (other than the Arm, Satch and me) who learned how to use the 5-Count and take care with his throw. He would put his arm around the Captain and shout out, "This is the man! This is the Captain! He's the best!"
Jimmy P. actually tried to get some of the other Crew members to adhere to the Captain's way of playing but none of them were interested. They were, to quote Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd from Saturday Night Live, "Wild and crazy guys." They just didn't have the discipline to play the 5-Count and they loved just winging the dice down the table where they bounced and careened all over the place. They were all great guys but they were also big losers at the game of craps. Every bad bet in the book, they made. Every bad betting system, except for the Captain's, they played.
Those days in Atlantic City are long gone. I do miss them. When I walk the Boardwalk or walk into the various casinos where the Captain, the Crew and I played, I do get a strong feeling of nostalgia. Great times, great days, all ultimately come to an end. I know this but it is a hard truth to accept. The Captain and his Crew were the epitome of Atlantic City during the times they played. They were big tippers; they were happy people playing a game that they loved.
I remember Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin concerts and the big parties after them. There were dinner parties in private rooms that were like the Captain's own personal restaurants. I have a picture of the Captain with his Crew at a dinner at Trump Marina, which in those days was called the Castle. The Captain is at the head of the table, smiling, with all the Crew on other side. What a crowd!
Satch and I were the youngest players in those days, now we are two of the oldest in our new crew which is composed of Golden Touch dice controllers. Satch basically limits his playing in Atlantic City while I go to Vegas much more often.
My own personal group of Golden Touchers is called The Five Horsemen -- composed of Dominator, Stickman, Skinny, Nick-at-Night and me. They are all great shooters and smart bettors. Too bad they weren't back in the day. Of course, between Satch and me, anyone who is interested in talking about the Captain or the Arm or of those grand old days will get an earful. We are not lax in our recalling of those great times.
Maybe in some ways talking and writing about the Captain will keep his memory alive in today's players. I do hope so. I would hate to think that everything he has given us just becomes a part of the craps culture without players knowing where such great ideas came from.
Do you think the Crew is waiting in heaven for the Captain to join them?
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.
Best of Frank Scoblete