30 years of gambling and casino writing
By Frank Scoblete
I am now in my 30th year of casino writing and in my 31st year of casino playing. Those are long periods of time. So much good – and some bad – have happened to me in that time.
I have met people I really respect. I grant the Captain a tip of my hat and a touch of my heart for teaching me just about everything. His ideas are the foundations of all my gambling and all my writing about gambling.
Despite the fact that the Captain didn’t play every game about which I’ve written; his instincts and approach will work for all games.
The Captain was a giant of a man, an honest, decent, loyal human being. You don’t meet many people like him. His great Crew of 22 high rollers are long gone with the exception of Satch and me. With our wives and some other people, those who knew the Captain are now playing craps, or whatever other games that are allowed, in heaven.
Let me share with you some bits and pieces I’ve experienced about playing casino games.
- Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear off; well, at least part of it. I was there and I knew based on the incredible number of hardened low-lives who were in the arena that more trouble than a bitten ear was brewing. I scooted and avoided the riots and chaos. Several casinos were closed during the madness.
- The Captain bites the ear off a casino in craps with a 147-number roll, to be eclipsed by Patricia DeMauro at 154 some years later. I was on the Captain’s roll and I met Patricia a month after her amazing achievement. Craps players dream of such rolls and all of them figure they will make millions off of such. No one made mil- lions off these rolls, although some made out quite nicely. Players who aren’t on epic rolls will continually overstate what they would have made during them. Take these boasts with a grain of salt.
- Until 1984 slot players were secondary to table-game players. After 1984 slot players began to dominate the casinos’ coffers and now most of the casinos’ profits come from the machines. What has this to do with me? I never knew the casinos when they were dominated by the table games. I wonder what that was like, the majority of the players understanding how to play the tables? For me that would have been a kind of heaven.
- Almost all of the women in the Captain’s Crew were the wives or girlfriends of the men and they played the slots – some for huge amounts of money. Today, although many men do play the slots, women still dominate, but not quite as high a domination as men have at craps.
- I still tend to prefer the following table games when I play and in this order: craps, blackjack, roulette, pai gow poker, baccarat, and mini-baccarat. The carnival games do not have that much of a charm for me. With some of these games that I play, I make sure that I keep the number of decisions I face far lower than the expected number. Saving money by not betting is almost as good as winning. I guess we would call that discipline.
- I am not a player who worries about comps. I enjoy getting them, don’t get me wrong on that, but I never play for them. They come, they come; they don’t come, they don’t come. Too many players think that they are special because the casino gives them “free” stuff. Players pay every penny for the “free” stuff they think the casino is giving them.
- Get ready to have your mind blown: In blackjack many writers will say that on each and every hand the player is free to make decisions. This is not true if the player is making decisions based on the computer-derived basic strategy where every hand must be played correctly according to such strategy. The dealer shows this and you do that because of the hand you have. A machine can play that way. Yes, you must know basic strategy to play a tight game with the house but the decisions are a foregone conclusion.
- The best way to get an advantage at roulette is to find a wheel that is biased, meaning certain pockets are coming up more often than probability suggests. Are those wheels out there any- more? I doubt it. They went the way of the Dodo bird in the early 1990s. My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I found such a wheel in the early 1990s.That was some experience and it was only blind, dumb luck that had us stumble on such a wheel.
- Why do I like pai gow poker? It is a slow game where you make the decisions of how to play your hand just as you do at blackjack. Yes, if you know what you are doing all decisions are more or less standard but that doesn’t matter. The game is fun and if you haven’t played it, you might decide to give it a try. Most decent-sized casinos will have one or a few tables. I recommend you avoid any of the side bets at the game. These bets only increase the house edge against you. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I am a Dice Controller, and I Am a Card Counter. Available on Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and at bookstores. Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com