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The Truth Shall Not Set You Free17 May 2007
The casinos are in business to make money. They are not in the gambling business, however, which is to say that they really don't want to risk their hard-earned money, even in the short run, on people who can actually beat them in the long run. The casinos have structured all the games in such a way as to have the mathematical edge over the players. At least they hope this is so.
The casinos are selling a thrill, an illusion that simple old you can get lucky and cart home a little or a lot of money today. But that thrill is more like movie thrills - essentially unreal except for a few people who actually do get lucky - the mega jackpot winners for example.
Of the 52 million casino gamblers in this country, a good 51 million plus several hundred thousand know one fact - the players lose in the long run and that long run isn't all that long. Casino players have a mathematical and an emotional expectation of losing, and they fulfill that expectation.
Casino personnel tend to - let me put this mildly - despise advantage players, that is, players who have figured out ways to get legal edges over the carefully constructed games. Advantage players are the bane of the casino since they can take the money out of the casinos' treasuries and put it in their own vaults.
I have attended many casino security conferences and after the question of cheating, the security people are obsessed with advantage players.
So what do they have to fear? Actually nothing, as I shall show.
A couple of years ago, a detective agency that prides itself on describing and locating criminals and advantage players (to them these two categories are equivalents), handed out a flyer at the Global Gaming Expo stating that there were approximately 1,100 known blackjack card counters. Add to those known card counters, another (what?) thousand "unknown" card counters and the ranks swell to about 2,100. That's one for every 24,286 casino players.
Today we know that there are advantage players at both video poker and craps. Advantage video poker players can get small edges over certain select games or a combination of select games with cashback awards. But the casinos can control this by the types of machines they put on their floors.
In craps the "controlled shooter" has become the lion of the day, as these individuals can theoretically get much bigger edges over the house than mere blackjack card counters and video poker players.
So what is the truth? Are the casinos about to lose all their money to these advantage players?
Most successful card counters I have encountered are small-stakes players, $15 to $200 average bets. They win about an average bet an hour. Most play blackjack while their wives (or sometimes their husbands) play the slots and/or the other table games. The majority of successful card counters have a net family gambling income in the red - because their spouses lose much more than they win at blackjack.
Most successful card counters have friends who are not successful at casino gambling and they all go to the casinos together - the net result being the casino wins plenty of money from these groups. If the casino hassles or kicks out the card counter, it kicks out the losing friends, too, albeit the executive who did the kicking isn't aware of this fact (or why do the kicking?).
Of course, most card counters I have met are long-term losers. They just aren't that good at it. They lose money in the casinos, just like everyone else, despite thinking they have an advantage.
Now what about the latest terrifying player - the controlled shooter at craps? The player who can, because of his dice sets and excellent throw, win money during his rolls of the dice? Do these beings exist? Most definitely. Are some successful? Indubitably.
So should the casinos worry?
Here's the answer by analogy: If I could open a casino tomorrow I would invite all the controlled shooters from all over the country to come on down and play. Oh, yes, some would come down and win money; some would win loads of money, but I would win a fortune. How so?
I have now seen about 500 controlled shooters in action and most of them - let me put it delicately - stink. They only look as if they can control the dice as they take care with their dice setting and attempt to have a roll that looks good. They probably fool some scared pit personnel and box people into thinking they have control - and those casino personnel might even act hastily towards them. In reality, my experience shows that these "dice controllers" are long-term losers at craps. Of the 500 shooters I have seen, maybe 50 have the skill to beat the game, and of those 50, at least half make such bad bets at craps that their skill cannot overcome the initial house edges and just about all of these skilled players bet on the random players, which is a losing proposition for them. In short, most controlled shooters are losing gamblers who just lose with a little more finesse.
And, of course, just like card counters at blackjack, the majority of the skilled dice controllers come to the casinos with their spouses and friends who play all the other games. They are part of losing groups.
Those of you who play craps are now seeing more and more players set their dice carefully, aim their dice intently, loft their dice softly - and lose their money, just as the folks who shake, rattle and wing the dice like lightning down the felt lose their money.
But what if the casino knew that Mr. X over there is a controlled shooter who can actually get an edge? Should they stop him? I'll answer with a true story.
The great dice controller known as Dominator had a half hour roll at Horseshoe Casino in Tunica recently. Anyone who has seen Dominator shoot knows how awesome the man is. A half hour roll of number after number lost the casino a lot of money at the table. But the Horseshoe didn't sweat it. When Dominator sevened out, another controlled shooter took the dice and rolled for an hour!
The table lost an incredible amount of money to Dominator and the other controlled shooter. Still, the Horseshoe in Tunica didn't sweat it at all. In fact, the pit and dealers congratulated these two shooters for their excellent throws. Dominator and the other controlled shooter then left.
The next morning I walked over to the table and saw that some of the very same players were still playing. I spoke to the pit boss.
"You lost a lot of money at this table last night," I said.
He laughed. "Are you kidding? Everyone just kept playing, most of them all night long. We won more on this table in the last eight hours than we normally do. Everyone's juices were flowing. Yes, two people left with a win, but we won a lot too. Our bottom line is better because of that. Players who get a taste of those great rolls will come back time and again. It's great for us."
Unfortunately, the majority of would-be dice controllers are acutely poor gamblers. For example, two of the leading dice-control instructors strongly recommend betting on trends even when random shooters are rolling. One of these gurus quipped, "See a horn, bet a horn." The horn has a monstrous 12.5 percent house edge - one of the worst bets in the casino and one which no controlled shooter or savvy gambler would want to make. Yet, such high house-edge bets are continually recommended by some of the leaders in the dice-control fraternity. And what does that say for their chances of actually beating the casinos? It says the casinos must be licking their lips with this kind of silly gambling advice.
Certainly, real advantage players do exist but, in reality, they probably help the house make more money by their presence. Just ask that pit boss at Horseshoe!
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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