Day 2 - Wed May 17, 2017 - continued
Or dimes, rather.
30,000 dimes, to be exact.
I worked out a disciplined approach for Craps and now it was time to put it to the test. I was ready. Controlled. Smooth. Relaxed.
I grabbed my stack of 20 reds off the felt, stuffed them roughly into the smoothly worn double rack that circled the craps table, and looked around the Tropicana casino, taking it all in... while I waited for a qualified shooter.
It was late afternoon and the tables were fairly busy. The curved stained glass ceiling arched over the pit like an angel's gently fluttering wing, her grace protecting all gamblers from bad luck. The air smelled of cigarettes, an ever-changing landscape of ladies' perfumes, and the casino's signature scent, something a bit sultry and brightly flowery like a distant tropical island. The machines beyond the pit provided a never-ending din of music, voices, and sound effects, punctuated by the sounds of cards, chips, and the occasional whoop from a longshot bet won somewhere in the pit.
"Good luck, Mr. Flusher," said the pit boss as he returned my player's card to me.
The cocktail waitress came around, and I ordered something to drink, stashing the tip, a couple of sweaty bucks, in my shirt pocket as she walked away, as is my habit. I like to be ready with a tip when the drinks come, especially at the tables, where things move fast.
After so much reading, thinking, testing, and planning, I'd finally get to see what it was like to play craps with my new Super Cheap Craps Strategy.
The shooter rolled a number. Good start. But he wouldn't be 'qualified' until he made his point. He rolled another number. And another. And another. A craps or two. Meanwhile, the layout was piling up with place and come bets, and odds everywhere. It was piling up sky high with chips like snow in a Buffalo, NY alley.
I was thinking about all the numbers I could have bet and won on when the guy sevened out.
Interesting. Snowplow hands cleared the layout of everyone's money, while I tipped the cocktail waitress for my bourbon rocks.
The next shooter rolled a point, and about three rolls later, hit it again. He was now a qualified shooter, and I was in the game at last!
The main points of the strategy are to parlay naturals once, not taking odds if a point is thrown on the parlay, and to parlay a single pass line with odds bet by about 50% each time the shooter makes a point. Winnings, minus the cost of the parlayed bet go into a lock-up rack.
The shooter made his point and I pushed my pass line bet up to $7 from $5.
I stood to the right of the stick man, on the corner. Next to me, on the south end of the table, was Fun Woman who loved to throw chips around and was betting hard ways and tipping the crew like there was no tomorrow.
And that's when a newcomer arrived at the almost full table, taking the spot next to her, around the corner, roughly facing me.
And he was one of "those guys".
He was skinny as a rail, in a dirty t-shirt that showed his navel. He was wirey and worn, like barbed wire that's been strung out under the sun year after year, ugly, rusty, but still taut and dangerous. He had various and sundry home made tattoos, none of which seemed to be of anything identifiable. He jittered like a tweaker just out of the hospital after being rounded up for some sort of meth-fueled socio-legal fuck up, and thrown back on the street with four pints of someone else's plasma squirted into his veins.
And that's because he was a tweaker just out of the hospital. His left wrist was festooned with a blood-smeared hospital bracelet, no doubt emblazoned with the name Sketch McCracken.
He was one of those guys that you just knew was trouble. He placed bets at wrong times, added to them, removed from them, kept up a constant hyper-animated chatter about the game, making constant random movements, flailing his arms around, bending, turning, always moving. And every single time the dice rolled, he snapped his fingers loudly as they hit the far wall, and shouted the desired number at the top of his voice.
Occasionally his superstitious finger-snapping paid off, which was enough to keep him at it interminably.
He'd adjust his bet and knock over his chips, or someone else's, and occasionally, the pit crew would gently admonish him that, "you can't add to your bet when we are paying you off".
His response was an over-the-top series of apologies, loaded with sirs, I apologizes, you're rights, I am very sorrys, won't ever do that agains... the way you speak to a cop when you are this close to getting busted for something.
Everyone was nervous and quiet, and looking down at the rack when he rattled off a ridiculous question in their direction. And for me, still following the Super Cheap Craps Strategy, still waiting for qualified shooters... I was losing. And of course, Sketch McCracken was hitting field bets like nobody's business, raking in the dough. Boxcars and craps were filling his racks with chips. Not that he ever used a rack. He used the 'constant juggle and drop' method of bankroll organization.
You don't believe in superstitions? This guy was a cooler of megalithic proportions. Nobody was winning a dime.
By the time he finally left, I looked down at about $40 in reds left in my rack. And, of course, with him gone, well, that's when everything changed.
I do have to say, by this point I was sick and tired of waiting around for a qualified shooter. Logically, it makes no sense, but the Dice Doctor told me it was the way to go. My patience told me FUCK IT - BET ALREADY!!!!
I put my bet down on an unqualified guy from Boston wearing a Converse t-shirt - and he went on a tear. He was the perfect shooter. He'd roll a point, a bunch of numbers, many of them hard ways, and make the point. I bumped my pass line bet from $5 to $7, then $10, then $15.
The Dice Doctor warns against the inside bets like hard ways with the high house edges, but the guy was rolling a shitload of them. Still, the watchword of my strategy is "cheapbastard", gaelic for "protect the downside, but allow the upside". And the moment I chased a hard ways trend, I'd cause the table to lose. I know that (superstitiously) for a fact.
Fun Woman next to me kept betting those hard ways and oh my was she raking it in. She put the dealers on some generous two-way bets, and they were raking it in.
This is that amazing moment when it all comes together. You have to play craps to experience this. People are screaming when winners roll, but otherwise, there is a quiet conspiracy between the players at the table. Everyone knows what's going on, and nobody talks about it overtly. But the wins keep building, the bets keep climbing, and the tension when the shooter rolls is palpable. It's dead quiet - and you can hear every little knock against the felt-covered wood by those beautiful dice. When the number comes up, the dealer calls it "8, hard 8" and the roar is that much louder than the time before. It's unique in the experience of casino gambling.
Next thing I know I've got $25 on the line and the guy rolls a winner seven on the come-out. There's two greens, $50 on the felt in front of me. The Dice Doctor says I am to parlay and I do. Pass line bet of $50. This is getting serious for a neophyte craps guy like me. The guy rolls a point, 9 or something. Normally, anyone with $50 on the pass line would take $50 in odds. But there's the thing, right? That would be my entire buy-in on the line and one 7 would wipe it out. The Dice Doctor says not to take odds on the parlay if a point is rolled, so I do not.
Winner, 9. FUCK YEAH.
No odds, but I don't care, I'm still in it, even without the odds, and I'm well over my buy-in. Fun Woman is high fiving me and making jokes and the table is rolling. She bumps up her hard ways bets and throws a red for the crew onto something.
Now I've got $35 on the pass line. Shooter rolls an 8, an easy point. Next roll, I've got $35 in odds on the felt. Can he do it yet again? Of course he can.
Dead silence as the stick man slides the dice to Boston Converse at the far end of the table. People next to him stand back a bit. Other people stare down at their chips. We will all do anything except cause a noise or distraction or say anything that might jinx the roll.
We hear the wooden clatter of the bones as they hit the wall and bounce down, settling awkwardly.
Groans, then claps. A pretty good hand and we all made money.
Cool beans, but I wasn't done yet. A couple of other shooters went by and next up was a guy who looked like he could shoot. When you see these guys, you know. Clues: rack full of black chips, slicked back silver hair, looks like either a fisherman, or a gangster.
This guy got me up even higher than Converse guy did. I had $225 in my rack and $50 on the pass line when he sevened out. Not bad considering I was down to $40 at one point.
Doubled my buy-in and more? Good enough for me. Besides, I was starving.
Elated, I colored up my chips. I had $228. I was pumped, ecstatic, jangled.
I threw the three leftover whites onto the felt.
"Hard 8 for the Fun Woman next to me!"
I winked at her and walked away, thrilled with the experience.
"Dice Doctor... you magnificent bastard!!!" I shouted. "I READ YOUR BOOK!!!!!!!!"