Readers share their casino mistakes to learn by
By John Grochowski
Everybody is a beginner sometime. We’re not hard-wired with the ins and outs of casino games. We learn.
While we’re learning, we make mistakes. Lots of them. Some are more embarrassing than others, but mistakes are part of learning.
Readers have shared these experiences to learn by.
I’d played slots for a few years and I was used to being in casinos, but had never played tables.
I was curious. So I stopped and watched a craps table for a little bit. There were only four players, and one of them called out, “Come join us. We won’t bite.”
I said I wouldn’t know how to begin, and he said they’d teach me.
Maybe because it was slow, the dealers were patient. They let me come right up to the table without betting at ﬁrst. The man who called out was betting on pass and making place bets on 6 and 8. I know that now. I didn’t know what they were called then.
I watched long enough to see a pass bet lose and another one win. Then I said I was ready. I bought in and bet on pass. The point turned out to be 8, so I placed 6. I won the 6 twice, then I won pass. Great start!
After that, it was hit and miss, but I was still up a little bit when suddenly the stickman pushed the dice to me. My teacher said, “Are you ready for this?” I said, “I think so.”
I picked two dice and with money on the pass line, I told myself, “You have to hit the back wall. You have to hit the back wall.”
I didn’t hit the back wall. I didn’t hit anything except the next table. Far too much adrenaline. One of the other players said, “The lady doesn’t know her own strength.”
I was seriously red-faced. I don’t know about beet red. I’m not sure beets get as red as my face. But I kept at it and kept the next roll on the table. I actually made a couple of points and won a couple of place bets, and everybody made money on my roll.
That was enough, though. When I sevened out, I said, “Thanks guys, but that’s enough for one lesson.” A dealer said, “She’ll be back,” and my teacher added, “Anytime, ma’am.”
They were right I was back and craps is one of my regular games now But that ﬁrst time was an adventure.
My ﬁrst time at a casino was at a bachelor party. We did it up big with a semi-private room at the fancy steakhouse. We had dinner, drinks and a lot of roasting of the groom.
We gambled both before and after the dinner. I’d never played any of the games before. I thought I’d just play slots and stay out of the way of the guys who knew what they were doing. They weren’t having any of it.
“We’re in this together, and we’re playing blackjack,” one dude told me. “It’s easy. You’ll pick it up fast.”
The card values, with faces being 10 and Aces being 1 or 11, were easy enough. The object, beating the dealer without going over 21, that seemed easy enough, too.
How to go about it wasn’t so easy. I had no idea when to hit or stand. I lost $100 before I knew what hit me.
I’d get 14 and I’d stand without even noticing the dealer’s card. Everyone at the table groaned. So the next time I got 14, I hit. Something must have been diﬀerent, because the table groaned again. One voice seemed shocked: “You’ve really never done this before, have you?”
After a while, I had an Ace and 5. By this time, they’d gotten through to me to check the dealer card. It was a 6, so I signaled to stand on my 16. This time, it was more shouting than groaning, and I got a stern lecture on the diﬀerence between hard hands and soft hands, whatever they are.
The dealer let me change my play and the table was happier, but I wasn’t happy at all. The dude who insisted I play said, “You’re right. You really belong on the slots.” I was dismissed. A few others joined me later, but it was clear enough to me that blackjack and I weren’t meant for each other. I haven’t played since.
My dad had old books on blackjack. I pretty much memorized them forward and backward. I knew the plays to make and I knew when to make them. I knew how to count cards and I knew when to raise and lower my bets.
What I didn’t know was the reality of blackjack in a casino. My dad’s books were old, like I say, and they all talked about blackjack as if it was dealt from one deck. This was well before the internet, so there was no such thing as going online and practicing or even looking up rules and conditions at casinos. What practice I did was dealing a single deck to myself.
I got to the casino, and every table had six decks shuﬄed together.
I asked a dealer where the one-deck games were, and he said they didn’t have any. Then I blurted out, “How do you expect me to keep count with six decks?”
I knew I’d goofed as soon as I said it. The dealer yelled to a supervisor, “Hey, this guy wants to know how we expect him to count six decks.”
The supervisor walked over and said,“We don’t.”
Leaving was my walk of shame. I can’t believe I said that, no matter how surprised I was by the lack of single-deck games.
You hear about weird things happening at craps—the dice landing in someone’s drink, or the guy trying to bet his false teeth—all that weirdness that you read about in books.
I never had anything like that happen to me, and I’ve been playing for years. But then I just had something happen that was downright spooky.
There was an older guy at the table who looked like a relic from Woodstock. Long hair and gray beard, blue jeans, sandals, tie-dyed t-shirt. When he got the dice, he told everyone, “I need positive energy. Everybody focus on the same number.”
We all kind of looked at each other, but one guy ﬁnally said, “six!” The shooter said, “All right. Everyone tell themselves mentally, six, six, six”
He shoots, and sure enough, the dice come up 6.
Shooter asked, “Point right away, or other numbers?” And the ﬁrst guy said, “six!” This time, you could hear people saying under their breath, “six, six, six.”
Someone else said, “eight this time,” everyone focused on eight, but the dice came up nine. Shooter said, “Not strong enough. Really focus.” People chanted “nine,” but he rolled an eight.
Obviously, this wasn’t going to work every time, but we humored him. He said, “Let’s do nine. Really, really focus hard,” and whether people were focusing hard or not, he rolled a winner nine.
Comeout, people chanted six, and he rolled six. Then he got his eight where some had comes and places, then a winner six on his point. All the time, people changed the number he was going for.
He only made one more point before sevening out, but while it lasted, it was kind of eerie, kind of fun and certainly diﬀerent.