As we were leaving the Wild Wild West Gambling Hall parking lot, there was one car in front of us. The bumper-sticker read:
How do you get an 82-year old Grandma to say, “F#%k?
Have somebody else yell “BINGO!”
As we I wheeled onto Tropicana Boulevard, I momentarily looked back at the Orleans Hotel-Casino, and immediately thought about Jerry Lewis who had signed a ten-year performance-deal to appear at the Orleans Showroom. I asked Mel “the Vegas Ghost”, if he had any Jerry Lewis “stories” that were publishable.
He gave out a slight “hrrumph” and scrunched his face up with the reluctance of someone who doesn’t want to talk about unpleasantries.
He started, “First let me say that I really love Jerry. That being said; let me also add that he can be a huge pain in the ass. Jerry is a great entertainer, but he is also sometimes very difficult to handle.”
I asked Mel to explain, because I had a different view of the man due of his charitable work with Muscular Dystrophy through his long-famous Labor Day Telethons. I had had the pleasure of being in a Telethon audience when they were originally held in Vegas at The Sahara, so I had a bit of a soft-spot for him. Mel nodded and replied, “Listen, Jerry on stage is the consummate gentleman and a hard-working entertainer, but on the casino-floor he was always difficult to handle during those years. However, in the showroom he was and is a phenomenal entertainer, and he puts on one great show. He was a lot like Sammy (Davis Jr.), in that he did whatever it took to get to them. At The Sands, if we had a show going “long”, we knew Jerry was either just having such a great time and didn't want to get off, or he hadn't got the audience to a peak and was going to pull out all stops until he did.”
Mel continued, “The problems that I am talking about is that once in a while, he would take a shot at getting behind the table to deal 21 (blackjack), and things would usually start out well. It was great ‘cause the players loved that a celebrity was dealing to them. He would get going, settle down and be doing okay, although he would be doing more "entertaining" than actual dealing. Of course, he would draw a huge crowd every time. Along the way there was always some little incident that would make a “shift” in him, and that ALWAYS started trouble.”
As we made our way to the next destination on our Mini-Tub Craps Tour, I asked Mel to carry on with the story.
Mel continued, “He’d be dealin’ to a full table and some guy would correct him on a total. There would be 4 or 5 cards in the hand, and Jerry would have the total wrong. This could happen to anyone, but with Jerry, it would always start something. The guy would say "No, I beat you, I have 18 or whatever. Then Jerry would go into a routine and act like he was hurt or confused and just kidding around, BUT THEN he would still take the guys chips.
From there on he would be totally out of control. He'd just start taking anyone's chips. Maybe just pay someone no matter what he had. All the time laughing and being funny. It was interesting to watch. I started out as sort of slap-stick comedy, but at times it bordered on being mean and spiteful. If it were anyone but Jerry Lewis there would be people asking for their money back. But no one ever did. It was an amazing display of crowd control.
Jerry would be insulting one person, one second and then making the next person feel like a million dollars. He'd come to the guy's hand that corrected him and just take his money THEN give it to a nice lady who was learning how to play. He would look right at the guy he took the money from and say to the whole crowd. "What a nice man - He wants the lady to win too." The guy would be steaming, but too embarrassed to say anything. Or he would say, “You want to help out Jerry’s kids don’t you,” and he’d pocket the guys chips, and say, “Thank-you very much for your generous donation to the Muscular Dystrophy campaign sir…you are a true gentleman.”
Mel went on to say, “So when Jerry dealt, it was "showtime". There were times I would have to take the Green ($25) and Black ($100) chips off the table or we would lose everything.
No matter what he was doing, the crowd would be with him. But all in all, I look back at those times and realize why we at The Sands, were the talk of the town…and the country. Can you imagine the stories the people who witnessed these things told?”
I chuckled a little when he added, “Working at The Sands in it’s heyday with guys like Jerry Lewis and all the guys from the extended Rat Pack, was always crazy and unpredictable…and you’d just go with the flow of whatever was happening…regardless of how crazy it was. Like they say over at the Clarke County Medical Center Psychiatric ward, “Some mornings it just doesn't seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps."
By the time Mel had finished a couple more stories about Jerry Lewis and a few other Vegas luminaries, we were pulling into our next Mini-Tub Tour objective:
Nevada Palace is on Boulder Highway at the corner of Harmon Avenue. This is a sort of “mini-Strip” where you’ll find Sam’s Town, Boulder Station, Castaways (formerly The Showboat), and Arizona Charlie’s-Boulder casino/hotels.
The “OTHER” Palace
Nevada Palace is not a big gaming house. In fact, it is about on par with Barbary Coast. With a 20,000 square foot casino, there is limited space and limited need for multiple craps tables. With that in mind, you will find one mini-tub (8 to 10 players) craps table that sports a $1 minimum bet, and offers 2x Odds.
The normal customers here are locals and down-on-their-luck, or extremely low-budget travelers. The sea of low-limit slots (25-cent, 10-cent, 5-cent, and yes, even 1-cent minimums) and nickel video-poker machines dwarfs the table-games area by a 95/5 ratio.
Again, don’t expect Caesars Palace type of mega-resort niceties or amenities. Nevada Palace is where you’ll find uncomplicated, low-maintenance, no-frills gamblers who are looking for a reasonable shot at winning, and they are willing to forego Hungarian-crystal chandeliers, hand-woven Persian carpets, and state-of-the-art air purifications systems.
Instead you’ll find plenty of incandescent pot-lights, slightly worn and stained carpeting, plus a smoky thickness in the air that is actually chewable, but not completely digestible.
We are at the “other” Palace. Believe me when I tell you that it could NEVER to be confused with either Caesars Palace or even Imperial Palace. We are here to do some Precision-Shooting on their mini-tub table. That means that we are willing to sacrifice ambiance in exchange for mini-tub profit.
Like most of the other small casinos that we have visited so far on this trip, The Nevada Palace only has 200 rooms. I’ve never actually stayed in one of them, so I can’t pass judgment.
So let’s look at some ways to make the most out of any craps session that you might have at a mini-table.
Low-Profile Bankroll Management
The Nevada Palace is one of those places where you want to keep your initial buy-in as low as possible. A max buy-in of $100 should suffice for your betting-action. If you need more to fully augment your Come-bet Odds; then do it when the need arises, and don’t do it all at once.
Yes, I know that low buy-in method is how dealer-detested “fleas” play at the bigger LV palaces, but at the Nevada Palace, you want to be a STEALTH Precision-Shooter, and not one that invites the constant attention of the Pit.
Don’t raise any flags that will mark you as anything else than “just another player”.
One other little maneuver that I use, is to buy gaming chips right from the cashiers-cage, or from another gaming table like BJ, LiR, or Caribbean Stud. That gives me a cache of chips that I can use at the craps table without having to “buy-in” there at all.
If you walk up to the table and start playing, it is a lot less noticeable to the Pit Critters than if you throw down a wad of cash that needs to be changed into chips. Again, if you play in a low-profile mode, you increase your chances of profitable-longevity.
Nevada Palace’s Players Card and It’s Uses
I do have a “Player’s Circle” card from NP, but I’ve got to tell you that I rarely use it. I used to use it all the time, and I’ve also eaten well (profit wise) from this particular trough in the past.
However, their Players Card actually has extremely limited uses, and I have been terribly unhappy about the results of eating in their two food outlets, so I now generally forego all available comps.
If the Floor Supervisor asks if I want to be rated, I’ll usually shake my head and say that, “I’m just trying my luck here, ‘cause it’s been so bad everywhere else.” That response usually sends them away without raising undue attention. If they persist, I hand in my card, but I won’t take any of their salmonella/botulism comps…I mean…food comps EVER AGAIN!
Normally I am the first to recommend the use of your Player’s Card to maximize comps, but in this particular house the childbirth-pain after-effects just aren’t worth it.
Win-Goals and Loss-Limits for THIS Casino
I play at this table about once every week when I am in Vegas, and I limit my take to about $150 to $200 in VISIBLE net-profit per visit. “Visible” profit is the amount of money that a Floor-Supervisor can clearly see that you are ahead. This is also referred to as “rail” or “rack” profit. Any more than $150 to $200 in VISIBLE profit would seem to be above their “comfort level”. If you are unsure about what I am talking about, we cover that subject quite nicely in my Keeping A Good Thing Going article, as well as my Profit Skimming - 101 article.
Winning-Sessions vs Losing-Sessions
I will repeat this for you again.
Maybe you can’t hear me over the loudness of your shirt.
I DO NOT win every time that I pick up the dice.
However, strict and LOW loss-limits keep the pain and cost of my infrequent failures to an absolute minimum. THAT is how I maximize profitability. I couldn’t imagine playing any other way if I want consistent profit while maintaining low, low risk.
How Do I Win So Often?
I really want you to keep something in mind.
If your Loss-Limit for any given session is $500, and your Win-Goal is $100; then your best-case scenario means that you have to have five winning sessions just to break-even because your loss-limit is so high!
To break-even under that scenario, you need to win 83% of the time.
If your Loss-Limit is $500, and your Win-Goal is $100, then you need to win 83% of the time just to break-even!
So let me ask you this.
If your loss-limits and win-goals are similar to the ones that I just outlined, and you are not winning at least 83% of the time; then just what the hell are you doing?
If your bankroll is set up in ratio with those same win-goals and loss-limits, and you aren’t winning at least 83% of the time; then your losses have NOTHING to do with Precision-Shooting, and EVERYTHING to do with money-management.
I can help you change your losing ways.
If your Precision-Shooting is improving, but you are still losing money; then I would kindly direct you to my four-part series entitled, Can't Win For Losing. If you are tired of losing; then your bankroll will thank you for taking the time to re-read it.
If you are not prepared to change your game to ensure more frequent and greater profit, and lower-losses; then don’t bitch about the seeming impossibility of consistent winning, and don’t take pot-shots at those who do!
There are players out there making consistent profit from Precision-Shooting…but if you are too entrenched in your current losing methods…then you will never be one of them!
Craps Playing Conditions
Late afternoon and early evening is a good time to play craps at Nevada Palace. The crowds are thinner, and that means the cigarette smoke is also a bit thinner. It’s kind of like being exposed to still-deadly, but less-than-Chernobyl-levels-of-smoky-radiation.
It also means that the mini-tub table is near empty from 4 pm to 6:30 pm. After that, expect a “full house” of six or eight, and sometimes even ten players for the balance of the evening.
Mel and I bought in for $100 each. Playing at a $1 table is a pretty relaxing situation. With tiny amounts of money on the layout, I am more likely to cover lower-echelon “Signature” Place Numbers earlier in my hand. In addition, my pressing-up of a bet after it has been paid for is more aggressive, up to a reasonable point.
Remember that your own “Signature Numbers” may be different than normal on these short tables. If you are at the first stick-right position beside the dealer, the back wall is less 40-inches from your dice-release point.
The actual table surface is hard and unpadded. Dice reaction is neutral (not bouncy or dead), and the 5/4” wood under-surface doesn’t seem to have any obvious or latent imperfections that unduly affect the smooth rollout of the dice.
Comfort-Levels With Your Bets
The “comfort level” limit where a Pit Boss or Floor Supervisor will take more than a passing interest in the game at the Nevada Palace is the time when green ($25) chips come into play.
The pit critters don’t seem to mind if $25 chips go out for a payoff, but as soon as they see them in action as actual bets of the layout, then they hover over the game with a sharper eye and keener interest.
That is where you have to use your common-sense. For me, prudence and common-sense dictates that my Place bets on the 6 & 8 do not exceed $24 each, while my 4, 5, 9, & 10 Place bets don’t go over $20 each.
While hot hands are tempting opportunities where most players would devour as many chips as possible, they have never hassled my dice-setting here. While another player who feels the need to “press it up” beyond the Nevada Palace’s “pain threshold” will be unceremoniously told that “dice-setting is not permitted”, and “the dice have to be shot immediately upon delivery from the stickman…or we’ll pass the dice on you buddy.”
That’s a big difference…the ability to Precision-Shoot relatively unimpeded, or being told to just “chuck ‘em”. The difference is in respecting their “bet comfort-level” and also being “toke friendly” with the crew. Listen, you may not like limiting your betting-levels, but it’s the cost of doing business and making consistent profit at small joints like this.
At Nevada Palace, you make your choice and you take your chances. You have to be prepared to live with the results of those decisions. Me, I like the fresh green cash to keep flowin’ my way, and I’m not going to piss them off to the point where they heavily police a “no dice-setting” policy.
If you are of another mindset where your greed overrides reasonable and sound judgment; then you might not enjoy your shorter-than-expected Precision-Shooting stay at The Nevada Palace.
Here is a picture of a similar-sized table. It is not the actual one at the NP, but it should give you a better idea of the throw-friendly dimensions.
Our session itself went quite smoothly.
The dice circulated the table with a steady, but not torrid pace. No one was repeating their points to create any Pass-Line winners, but all of the random-rollers tossed between four to ten Box-Numbers before 7-ing Out.
If each player is throwing between four and ten Place-bet numbers before 7-ing Out; then there is NO REASON why you shouldn’t be making money, especially on a cheap $1 table.
Mel and I were using a well-oiled betting method to take advantage of this kind of trend. We Place-bet $66 Inside for one hit ($18 each on the 6 & 8, and $15 on the 5 & 9); then regress down to $22 Inside for one additional hit before turning the bets completely “off”.
This When successfully executed, that locks in a $28 profit on each shooter.is a “lukewarm-table-without-PL-winners” betting method that I understand many savvy players including John Patrick employ. It’s certainly not a bad method to use on warm-trending tables that aren’t throwing off too many Point-then-7-Out hands. This and a number of similar methods have long been in my The Mad Professor's Playbook, and I continue to use them in appropriate situations
When successfully executed, that locks in a $28 profit on each shooter.
The dice slowly made their way around to me.
Quick and unobtrusive dice-setting is generally permitted at Nevada Palace, and I’ve always been pleased with my skills on this particular mini-tub table.
I established the PL-Point of 6, and repeated it two rolls later. My new PL-Point was again the 6, which came back nine rolls later. Mel and I both were raking-in profit on virtually each roll. The Inside Numbers were rockin’ and rollin’ with amazing ferocity.
I slowly pressed my Inside Numbers and added the 4 and 10 which were the only other outcomes that were showing their faces. I didn’t see any Craps numbers appear at all.
I had gradually pressed-up all of the box-numbers to the $20 and $24 mark long before I 7’d-Out some 26 rolls later.
I won’t get into the total profit, but I will tell you again that it is VERY important to skim off a healthy amount of the green ($25) chips to reduce undue attention from the Pit Pirates. My article Profit Skimming - 101 is an absolute must-read on that subject.
More about Bet-Level Tolerance at Nevada Palace
The temptation and greed factor were sitting squarely on both of my shoulders. Their fat asses didn’t leave too much room for common-sense and restraint to find any place to roost other than placing their guilt-inducing weight directly on the top of my head.
I’ll tell you, it’s a precarious balancing act, and YES, I do battle with it every single day that I am at the tables.
In this case, as with most low bet-threshold casinos that I’ve played at in the last year or so, I let common-sense and restraint prevail and kept temptation and greed in check.
I figure that if I let greed run amok, I’ll wear out my Precision-Shooting welcome VERY quickly. No need to do that. I love the tasty pots of sweet money that the casinos have, and I have NO wish or intent to see them cut me off because of immaturity, self-indulgence, avarice, temptation, or plain old greed.
How Much Time to Set The Dice?
Mel passed the dice without shooting. The next player went into a protracted routine before every throw, where he cupped the dice in his hand, then let them gently dribble out as though he was panning for gold. If they didn’t turn up to numbers that he liked, he’d start the process again. Needless to say, the dealer/stickman tried to hurry him along.
Now just because they let you set the dice on such a short table, that doesn’t give you license to “school” the dice for three or four minutes as you “train” them to be good little acetate boys and girls and not turn up the devil-dog 7.
Rather, you should be able to receive the dice, set the dice, grip the dice and launch the dice in about THREE SECONDS. If you can’t do all of that in three seconds or LESS, then you will likely draw heat from the pit because you are taking too long to do it.
Listen, this is a CHEAP table. They need a lot of rolls to grind out a modest profit from all of the random-rollers. If you are slowing down the game, it means that you are taking money out of their income stream.
Don’t burn your Precision-Shooting bridge.
Learn and practice how to set the dice accurately and quickly. Otherwise you are bringing undue attention to yourself and others who want to profit from this game through Precision-Shooting. Don’t screw it up for yourself and all others who follow behind you in the future. Get good with your dice-setting at home, and then get your Precision-Shooting profit in the casino.
My Last Hand
The dice took their time returning to my shooting-position, and that is a good thing in my books, especially when nearly everyone at the table is having modest, but not outstanding success.
On the other hand, modest success even at a mini-tub table breeds more players who are interested in squeezing into a warm-trending game. If you are interested in profiting from streaks and trends, I would kindly invite you to take a look at my Streaks, Trends and Opportunities series of articles. I mentioned to Mel, that as soon as I got to shoot again, that I would be “‘outta here”.
My second go-round with the cubes was pretty much a replay of my first one, but I found an interesting sweet-spot right at the base of the far wall gator-back rubber. I discovered that if I hit it squarely with a ~35-degree landing angle, the dice just stopped and died there. However, if I added any discernable level of backspin, then the dice would hop, pop and scatter upon impact. My last fifteen throws were all perfect base-of-the-wall dead-cat bounces. You can read about that kind of throwing in my Shooting Bible Part II and the upcoming part IV articles.
With every one of those tosses, Mel would let out a low-volume, disbelieving “jeez”. I found myself inadvertently chewing my bottom-lip in contemplative, if slightly bemused thought. I reminded myself to concentrate on maintaining my current success instead of analyzing it right then and there.
However, I WAS impressed with the way the dice were reacting so perfectly every time that I hit that same spot. I wanted to mentally “lock-in” all of the throwing-mechanics and targeting into my mind for later use and examination. It was a balancing-act between staying in “the zone” and trying to mentally memorize everything about my toss that was making it so perfect.
In fact, a thought occurred to me during all of this. I wondered if I could replicate the same throw at home on my regulation-table if I stood at the same distance from the back-wall as I was standing now at Nevada Palace on their mini-tub. I promised myself that it was definitely worth investigating much, much further. It was also obvious to me that I was more out-of-the-zone than in it, yet I continued to throw with near-perfection.
Once again, I didn’t let greed control my bets. I didn’t push them to the “quarter” level, and I was content to continue collecting steady $28 payoffs from the Inside Numbers and $40 minus $1 vig payoffs, for the 4 and 10 (bought) Outside hits.
Decent Bounty Without Greed
By the time my second hand ended, both of my pockets were bulging but not over-flowing with $25 chips. The rest of the players were still having a ball when I quietly slipped away without coloring-out.
Mel suggested that we stagger our cash-outs at the casino-cage window to draw less attention to our fresh cache of booty. I broke my chip-heap into three equal stacks, and immediately cashed-out one of them.
We made our way over to the NP Deli. I figured the coffee should be safe enough to drink, so Mel and I got a table at the edge of the nearby video-poker action. As soon as we sat down a couple of mid-20’s working-girls walked by. Their posture immediately improved, and they thrust their chests out like “man-activated air-bags”, in hopes of attracting new customers. There were definitely no takers at our table, although Mel’s drool was starting to pool around his ankles.
Since we had more than a few minutes to kill, I asked Mel about the Nevada Palace’s history.
A Look Back
As we worked on our coffees, the Vegas Ghost talked about the current owners of the NP (Renata Schiff and Bill Wortman). He said, “They got involved with this project in the early ‘80’s when Sam’s Town was little more than a couple hundred slot machines and a dusty trailer-lot. Wortman sensed that the Boulder Strip had a lot of potential based on the ever-increasing traffic volume on Boulder Highway.”
“Wortman correctly figured that the burgeoning “locals” market held enough promise to warrant a large investment from his very small personal bankroll, so it was quite a gamble for him at the time. The motel-style building that houses their rooms were much cheaper to build than a full-service hotel, and as you can see it remains pretty much in its original state today. The investment obviously paid off for him especially considering what he has done with the money he’s made from this house.”
A Current Look
Mel and I subsequently discussed the fact that Bill Wortman, along with Las Vegas Paving owner Bob Mendenhall and casino-legend Bill Paulos are partners in Millennium Management, the company that was operating the Greektown Casino in Detroit at the time.
This is the same team that unceremoniously banned thirty video-poker players because they were too successful playing in their Detroit casino. This subject is explored in excruciatingly painful detail in my Banning Players…Can’t Happen…Won’t Happen…Ooops! article.
The same management team also has a 10-year deal to run the JW Marriott - Rampart Casino (former Regent Las Vegas casino) in Summerlin.
A Look Forward
Nevada Palace also owns the new Cannery Casino project in North Las Vegas (Craig Road at Losee Road).
Opened in January, 2002 with Bill Paulos at the helm, The Cannery is a neo-industrial themed casino in a blue-collar area that abuts Nellis Air Force Base. The new 50,000 square-foot casino sports a couple of low-limit craps table.
After we finished our coffee, Mel and I made our way to the cashiers-cage again. We each stood in different lines than we did the first time. Even on our subsequent second and third cash-outs we didn’t face any unusual scrutiny, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
As we were leaving, I asked Mel how small “locals” places like Nevada Palace managed to continue to draw patrons in spite of the competition posed by the likes of multi-location operators like Station Casinos, Coast Casinos, and the plethora of other “off-strip” gaming houses.
Mel said that despite its age and state of repair, the NP catered to locals who felt comfortable there, and to tourists who eschewed and generally avoided the mega-starkness and cold–anonymity of the huge Strip resorts.
Mel added that, “…places like this provide a level of comfort and enjoyment where people feel “in their element” instead of trying to rise to an artificial level of hipness, or exclusivity, or smugness that doesn’t fit them quite as comfortably as the Nevada Palace does.”
In “Part VI” we’ll be trying out the mini-tables at a well-known Las Vegas Strip haunt. Until then,
Good Luck & Good Skill at the tables…and in Life.
The Mad Professor