Three Labrador retrievers - a brown one, a yellow one and a black one are sitting in the waiting room at the vet's office when they strike up a conversation. The black lab turns to the brown one and says, "So why are you here?" The brown lab replies;
"I'm a pisser, I piss on everything - the sofa, the drapes, the cat, the kids, but the final straw was last night, when I pissed in the middle of my owner's bed." The black lab says, "So what is the vet going to do?" "Gonna give me Prozac," came the reply from the brown dog. "All the vets are prescribing it. It works for everything."
He then turns to the yellow lab and asks, "Why are you here?" The yellow one says, "I'm a digger, I dig under fences, dig up flowers and trees, I dig just for the hell of it. When I'm inside, I dig up the carpets, but I went over the line last night when I dug a great big hole in my owner's couch." "So what are they going to do to you?" the black dog inquired. "Looks like Prozac for me too," the dejected yellow lab said.
He then turns to the black lab and asks what he's at the vet's office for. "I'm a humper," says the black lab, "I'll hump anything. I'll hump the cat, a pillow, the table, fire hydrants, whatever. I want to hump everything I see. Yesterday, my owner had just got out of the shower and was bending down to dry her toes and I couldn't help myself, I hopped on her back and started humping away. The yellow and brown labs exchange a sad glance and say, "So, Prozac for you too, huh?" The black lab says, "No, I'm here to get my nails clipped."
A few readers have asked about adapting to varying table conditions. It's a huge subject because there are so many variables that you have to take into consideration, and then make adjustments for them.
So let's take it one step at a time.
Let's use the words of one particular reader who has made dramatic improvements in his shooting success. He has graduated from having a Sevens-to-Rolls-Ratio of 1-in-6, to a more agreeable SRR average of 11-to-1. He was pleased with his progress, but was frustrated by so many different shooting conditions. He was having trouble adapting to them.
"I believe you can't be successful if you don't know what you're up against. There are more variables on craps tables than just "sweet spots". The casinos have made an art-form out of deception, confusion, layout altering, back-wall curvatures, table heights, and table lengths. I think that they do that so we have a difficult time finding our rhythm, range and "sweet spot". What do you think?"
That reader may be correct, but there are also other reasons that the tables are so varied.
Just like models of automobiles, casinos have different needs, wants and desires when they select a craps table. Space availability is a big consideration, as well as "table-loading" factors. Staying in the vehicle theme for a moment, you wouldn't pick out a two-seat Mazda Miata if you needed a family-hauler to load your wife, four children and three Labrador Retrievers into. On the other hand, most people who own a big, honkin' 4-wheel-drive SUV never venture off-road. They can get the huge mud and snow tires, the heavy-duty suspension and the high-output trail-lights, even though the toughest terrain they'll ever see is in their local grocery-store parking lot. So there isn't always pure logic at work when decisions are made.
The same thing holds true for decisions made by casino management. And just like rationalizing the purchase of an SUV, they can rationalize the purchase of various types of tables.
When you walk into the Boardwalk Casino in Vegas and notice their 8-player/2-dealer "tub" table, you know that they aren't a very busy craps venue. Yes, even their dice and dealers-stick is down-sized for that particular table. But if you tip wisely, the stickman will return the dice to you in your pre-arranged set. From there, it's just a short, soft four-foot toss to the opposite end of the table. That would be ideal Precision-Shooting conditions were it not for the fact that the Clan of the Pit-Bears watch that game very closely. So you have to be very careful about timing your profit-making efforts to stay under their radar. I keep my buy-ins as tiny as possible, and I pocket virtually every green $25 chip that comes my way.
As casinos dedicate more and more space to slot machines, the craps pits are always shrinking. As they contract in size, Casino Managers find that one large table may be able to do the same job as two or three small ones. Table-handle, table-drop, table-profit and staffing costs are variables that figure into their decisions.
Take Imperial Palace for instance. They have mostly long tables, but they also have a 12-foot one, and a Crapshooter sit-down table. I understand that they may remove that table very soon. The reason for that configuration is that they can select the right number of tables to be open to handle the various crowds that ebb and flow into their house over the range of a whole week or even the whole year. Mostly they have just one or two of their monster tables open, but when you see their short 12-footer open, then jump in because the water is usually pretty darn warm in that profit-pool.
Again, just like ordering a new car, there is a long list of choices that a Casino Manager has to Onemake once they decide on the length of a table they are going to order. Deck-height, deck-composition, underlay material and thickness, felt quality and thickness, rail-to-deck height, foam-wall pyramid size and composition, padded-rail width and covering material, and so on are a few of those options.
There is a lot less conspiracy amongst casino operators than you would imagine. The only thing they agree on is game-integrity. Unfortunately, they rarely agree on how best to maintain it.
Keep in mind that Casino Managers are a superstitious lot. Just like most gamblers, they have selective memories. They remember when a table got hot and the table-felt was "nappy" and fresh. They incorrectly attributed the house-loss to that fact. Since that time, they have installed the cheaper wool/polyester-blend felts on all of their tables.
To be on the safe side, they also installed "sound-stop" type gypsum base-material over the normal plywood base of all of their tables. That is why some tables have up to five-eighths of an inch of foam under the felt, and the deck-height is a huge twenty-four inches from the top-rim of the table.
Here's another consideration:
Most people don't notice this, but Caesars Palace has custom-configured tables. They are "dog-bone" shaped. They are wide at each end, while the center or "waist" of the table is quite narrow. The spots where both the box-man and the stick-man work are actually indented into the table by a whopping 14-inches each. This gives the table a pronounced hourglass or "dog-bone" shape to it.
You would think that more people would notice it, but no one else has picked up on it, and that includes a few other pros that play virtually every day. Does that affect shooting-ability? You better believe it. On the positive side, those tables at Caesars are also some of the best to shoot on.
Okay, we've established that there are differences from table to table and casino to casino. In Part Two, we'll look at what you can start to do about it.
Until then, Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.
The Mad Professor