“This is where the craps pit used to be here at Circus Circus”, said Mel, the Vegas Ghost. “If you look up, you can imagine how much sweat dripped down from those Romanian high-wire artists. The oldest daughter who worked the tight-rope, sweated the worst. From a distance, this girl was beautiful, I mean, she had a killer body, but up close, her moustache was even bigger than her grandfathers. That hirsute beauty had more hair on her chest than I did!”
“I finally got her to start shaving that chinchilla off of her face, but by then they had closed in the ceiling, and you had to go up the escalator if you wanted to catch her sweaty little act.”
Yep, Mel’s mouth was at full throttle as we made our way through the candyland-for-adults known as the Circus Circus Hotel-Casino.
How Do You Do It?
Mel asked, “Hey MP, how is it that you conquered these mini-tables so well? They look so easy, yet they are just as hard, maybe even harder than normal-length tables to beat. I’ve seen some real catastrophes on them. I’m talking huge disasters where they had to bring in the Red Cross to serve coffee to the survivors. How do you do it? How do you move from place to place and do so well at most of these mini-tubs?”
Mel’s questions were valid. We had played at five different mini-tub casinos, and we were headed for what I hoped would be another excellent session.
Beside the obvious reply about mastering Precision-Shooting on smaller tables, my answer was a bit more complicated than his question.
The most obvious answer is that I avoid disasters by keeping my losses to an absolute minimum.
Now this may sound like simple stuff, but it’s probably the hardest thing to master…or at least it was for me. While I hate to lose money, I understand that I can’t win everywhere that I play, nor can I win every session that I play.
What I can control is HOW MUCH I lose. Sometimes my dice-shooting is absolutely terrible. If it’s not clicking, I move on to another table or another casino, or I take a break from the gaming-action to regroup. Why stay and toss good money down the drain on bad throws?
Oh sure, my ego usually says, “Stay and play…You can beat this table…You’re the master…Just a few more hands is all it will take to turn this loss into a win.” In most cases, that self-deceiving talk can turn into a bankroll disaster.
Like I said, I HATE losing money. While a little loss may be tolerable once in awhile; bigger or more frequent losses quickly become altogether intolerable and insupportable.
Your Precision-Shooting won’t always carry the day and rake in the profit for you. We all have our “off” days. On a day like that, you have to be sure that you don’t get your ass handed to you by the casino. Just because your shooting may be far less than perfect on any given day; it doesn’t mean that you have to let the casino shoot down your bankroll into an empty flaming carcass.
Hey, if you have a higher tolerance for losses, then you are always welcome to stay and play. The casinos will love you for that. It’s what they are counting on from most players. They understand that in the heat of action, most players will lose more than would have previously admitted they were willing to squander.
When ego, greed, fear and adrenalin are mixed together in a casino-context, the resulting cocktail is both intoxicating and highly volatile.
So let me ask you this; are you there to win or to be entertained? If you are there for “entertainment”, then enjoy yourself as your losses become greater and greater. If you equate entertainment with losing, then a casino is a perfect place for you and your wallet.
I play for profit. While not every session can be a winning one, it is how you handle the losing ones which determine your overall profit-consistency as a Precision-Shooter. Reduce your losses to an absolute minimum, and your wins don’t have to be nearly as large to result in an overall profit.
It all sounds so easy, but players find that that is one of the hardest aspects of gaming to come to grips with. I struggled with those same demons for more than a decade. I may be a slow-learner, but once I’ve grasped the lesson, I make sure that I apply it at every possible opportunity.
If you want more insight into this whole subject, I wrote an entire series of articles entitled, Can't Win For Losing, which covers it all quite nicely.
Turning a small loss into a huge loss just can’t be all that much fun. It reminds me of the joke about the guy who keeps hitting his thumb with a hammer. His friend asks him why he is doing it, and he replies “…’cause it feels so good when I stop!”
Letting small losses turn into disasters are pretty much the same thing. The only good part about a huge loss is the feeling of relief when you finally stop playing. That is when feelings of regret and remorse have a tendency to creep in. If you want to avoid those feelings, simply cut your losses short. Like our friend advises, “When it ain’t fun, it’s time to run.”
Seek, Expect and Embrace Success
The second part of my answer to Mel’s question is that I seek, expect and embrace success.
I seek success with my Precision-Shooting, by carefully noting HOW I do well, WHERE I do well, and WHY I do well. If you want to read more on that subject, I would invite you to read my Mad Professor's Shooting Bible Part I and Part II articles.
Expect to Win
I fully expect to win when I step up to the table. I’m not only HOPING that I’ll have a good session; I am actually EXPECTING to win.
I keep my win-goals reasonable enough so that I can reach them 19-out-of-20 times. Some people look at that win-ratio and think to themselves, “There is NO WAY that anyone can do that.” However, they will quickly admit that at some point in their own casino-sessions, that they are usually up by anywhere from 10% to 30% at any one time. Despite that level of profit, most people will also admit that most of their sessions end in a loss.
There is no mystery or secret as to how I accomplish such a high win-to-loss ratio. The answer is simple. Once I have a 10% or 15% profit; I lock it up, and I play with the excess. If, and hopefully when I garner another 10% or 15% in winnings, I also lock that up. John Patrick advises the same thing. The concept is SIMPLE, but it’s the doing that is HARD!
If you want to read more on this subject, I would invite you to take a look at The River of Consistency Leads to Lake Profit and How Much Commitment Are You Willing To Spend? or my Gambling Styles Reflect Motivations articles. The reading is free, but the cost of not applying the advice can be pretty expensive.
Don’t say that a high 80% to 95% win-ratio can’t be done; just admit that most people aren’t willing to do it. Some players look at settling for small profits as irritating and annoying. They prefer the action of gambling.
If you want to GAMBLE, then keep on playing back any wins that come your way. But if you want to WIN, then be satisfied with those small, conservative profits. They have an irritating way of increasingly becoming BIG wins, and an annoying way of building up your bankroll. It may not be as exciting as gambling all of your money away, but it sure is a lot more satisfying.
I embrace success by not taking my good skills and good fortune for granted.
I don’t piss my money away, especially after a good and profitable session. A lot of people like the cleansing, cathartic effect of LOSING. My soul, while rumored to be quite gray, is clean enough that I don’t need to lose money to feel repentant, nor do I seek salvation by feeling unworthy of my winnings.
I respect the value of the money that I win, and I simply refuse to give it back. On the same note, I don’t delude myself into thinking that I’m playing with “their” money.
The most dangerous session is the one you play AFTER you’ve had a good win.
This is when you feel like superman, or at least somewhat bulletproof with your abilities. These are dangerous times, because you ego is dulling your otherwise keen senses that usually defend and protect your bankroll.
When your guard is down, your money is exposed to the biggest weapon the casino has in trying to take your money. It isn’t the house-edge,…it is YOU.
The Skyrise Casino in C-2
Mel and I were heading for the mini-table that now makes its home in the rear-most satellite gaming area of Circus Circus known as the Skyrise Casino.
As you can see, it’s a bit of a trip from the main entrance to the rear portion of the complex. You have to go through the Main Casino, past the West Casino, through the Promenade Casino, and into the Skyrise Casino before finally reaching the one mini-tub. While this table is usually only open on the weekends, the trip is well worth it.
Hand #1 and #2
My first chance with the dice was decent enough, but definitely lacking in both beauty and longevity. When I threw them, they were hitting the right target, but they were traveling with way too much forward speed.
I was getting some lucky outcomes, which allowed me to regress my Inside Place bets, and lock-up a guaranteed profit. My rolling improved marginally along the way, and it took ten or twelve more tosses until my Pass-Line Point finally repeated.
My second PL-Point roll was about the same, and I had pressed up the 8 and 9. I managed to collect once more from each of those increased bets, but the 7 showed up all too soon.
I counted the chips in my rail to figure out my profit-status. Mel gave me one of those “what-are-you-complaining-about” looks, even though I hadn’t said anything. I had made a little over $80, which didn’t seem like much, considering the amount of throws that I had made. On the other hand, $80 was a lot of money considering that my rolling was definitely not dialed-in anywhere close to what I wanted.
Mel passed on shooting the dice. He said, “I’d rather win “ugly” on your tossing, than lose “pretty” on my own throws”. The table was still empty, save for the two of us. I knew what he meant and I nodded my head in agreement as I reached for the dice for my second hand.
My second opportunity with the dice proved to be a bit more profitable. However, the dice still weren’t leaving my hand smoothly or with any kind of grace.
It occurred to me that perhaps my hands were not as clean as they should be. However, I didn’t have any of those Handi-Wipes that the casino freely supplies to slot players. The table started to fill up quite nicely during this particular hand, as I hit three Hard-6’s in the span of eight rolls. As soon as I 7’ed Out, I parked a chip in my rail to save my spot, and told Mel I was heading to the nearest washroom to give my hands a thorough washing.
The table here usually stays dead until one intrepid soul has the courage to step up and start the game. Because it is so remote from the other three larger craps tables in the Main Casino, it takes much longer for word to filter out that the mini-tub is actually open for business.
I’ve never encountered any heat from the Pitbulls, and the crew is appreciative and accommodating to any players who toke (tip). The table-minimum is usually set at $3, although on holiday weekends it does rise to the $5 mark. While the chip-rail is laid out to accommodate 10 players, only 8 can comfortably gather round it.
Since it is not within easy sight, the table doesn’t fill up as fast as it would if there were neighboring craps tables. However, there are plenty of tourists who find the friendlier mini-dimensions and the here-before-unheard of jargon of the stickman’s calls enough to draw them near for a closer look.
Tourists are mostly curious about the mini-game, and CC keeps plenty of how-to-play brochures handy. I too like to encourage new players to try it out. While salty old veterans tend to hate new blood coming into “their” game, I think the long-term health of the game is dependant upon introducing new players to craps. While some bitter losers-for-life begrudge and resent the interlopers and newbies, I welcome them with open arms and readily answer their “I-don’t-want-to-lose-very-much-money” questions.
I’m in no hurry to see craps go the casino-extinct route of Faro, Brag, Grand Hazard, and Chuck-a-Luck (where the term “Tinhorn Gambler” originally comes from). I want to see the game at least maintain it’s current status in the casino hierarchy, and not slip any further in popularity (leading to less and less tables).
Hands 3 thru 5
When I returned to the now-full table, I was surprised that the dice were only three shooters away from my spot. I asked Mel if everyone had passed on shooting the dice. He gave me one of those, “Are you a complete idiot, or can’t you see that everyone’s chip rail is almost empty” kind of looks.
Right on cue the current shooter 7’ed-Out, and the next player passed the dice. Mel did likewise, and the stickman/dealer raised his eyebrow in my direction, with a downward glance at the table to suggest a line bet if I wanted to shoot.
As it turned out, my clean hands helped to release the dice a little smoother than previously, but the cubes were no longer landing “flat”. I re-angled my elbow a bit higher, but that didn’t help as much as it usually does. I figured that my hand was angled and aimed too far into the near corner instead of directly at the backwall. To get a better 90-degree angle, I bent my wrist a bit more sideways towards my elbow. This “flattened” and squared-up the landing angle, but the dice still exhibited undue mid-air wobbling.
I managed a few Pass-Line winners, but this time the outside numbers started rolling in. I Placed the 4 and 10 and quickly worked them up to the $50 buy-level. The profit picture was improving, but I’ve got to tell you that my frustration was also building. I KNEW that I could throw better, especially on this table, but it just wasn’t occurring in anything that looked consistent. I was glad to take the money, but I wondered how long my “luck” was going to hold out.
Shootin’ Fish in a Barrel
Tossing the dice on a small tub-sized table IS NOT like shooting fish in a barrel. While the table dimensions are definitely smaller, the dynamics of the dice are still the same. That means that if you throw the same way that you do on a regular-length table; then the dice have to do the same things, and go through the same motions and “behaviors” as they do on a regular table. However, it means that they have to do all of those motions and “behaviors” in a much smaller and shorter playing-area.
Good Landing with Minimal Roll-Out
The key to mini-table consistency is to land the dice with minimal roll-out once they touch down. We’ve covered many of the aspects of my best Precision-Shooting methods in the first six Mad Professor's Mini Tub Tour - Part I articles.
If the dice are landing, then rolling out too much or too hard; your results will be random. Now I’ll take all the luck as I can, especially at a craps table. But let’s face it, if the dice are spewing and splattering all over the place, it isn’t Precision-Shooting that is keeping you in the game…it’s sheer luck.
I would rather not have to rely on that cagey lady named ”Luck” to smile upon me when I’m playing. I’d rather engineer as much risk out of the game, and put as much skill into the game as possible. That is what Precision-Shooting is all about…and a little luck doesn’t hurt either.
Hands 6 thru 8
My sixth hand was similar to my fifth one. I made a couple of passes. The profit was okay, but it wasn’t outstanding, and my shooting was still fairly ugly. Although the dice were now staying on axis more and more, they still wobbled in the air like lopsided beachballs.
I avoided betting on the other five remaining players at the table. The longest R-R hand lasted just eight rolls. I could also see Mel’s growing frustration. While he was making a tiny net profit on almost every shooter, it was always just barely enough to cover the amount of money that he had on the table.
He would press his Place bets just in time to see the dealer call a 7-Out. He said, “This game is as frustrating as bingo!” I replied that there was a nice comfortable Keno Lounge just to the side of the entrance back in the main casino, if he was so inclined. He gave me his patented, “So many assholes, so few bullets” look, as he passed the dice to me once again.
I didn’t collect any profit on my next hand, but I felt like I was improving as far as a nice consistent landing was concerned. I wanted to take a break to do some thinking about “putting it all together”. I knew that if I stayed at the table, I would be distracted even though I wasn’t betting on the other players. Mel’s constant comments were already diverting my train of thought as I tried to reflect upon what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong.
I went for a short walk through the Promenade Shops area of the CC complex.
Proximity to the Backwall Guarantees Nothing
Even though I was landing the dice somewhat close to the backwall of the table, they were still carrying way too much speed. So I reviewed the talents and skills that have kept me in good stead at other mini-tables:
The closeness of the backwall in relation to your shooting-position demands a very low-energy toss. You gauge, control, and input as much or as little backspin as required to maintain on-axis travel, and to slow dice movement upon impact to an absolute minimum.
The proximity of the backwall can be a help or it can be a hindrance depending on how far the dice have to travel to disperse all of their energy before coming to a full and complete stop.
You have to be a keen observer to determine how much to recalibrate each throw compared to the outcome of your previous toss. Simply put, if the dice just did what you wanted them to do; then throw them EXACTLY the same way again. If the dice did not do what you wanted them to do; then recalibrate your next throw to achieve the desired effect.
On a mini-table, the arc of your throw is usually either higher or lower, and almost never the same as it is on a regular table. Again, we are looking for the dice to travel along a trajectory and land on a specific spot before coming to rest. The relationship between the swing of our hand, your release-point, your target-area and the amount of force in which you launch the dice is different from table to table, especially on the small ones.
These adjustments are difficult for some people, and they were certainly proving difficult for me on this day. I reviewed all of those things in my mind.
I felt that I had to assemble and organize my game-focus before I returned to the tables. We explored the idea of preparing yourself for victory in my Discipline, Character & Consistency set of articles.
It isn’t enough to just hope that my game-focus would appear as soon as I stepped up to take the dice. It is critical to “quiet your mind” and focus your game-plan, your discipline, and your skill-set before you are even near the dice.
That brief break from the table-action did me a world of good. Not only was my attitude better, but my mind was clearer and definitely more focused. I not only expected to win, but I expected to do so by shooting well, and not having to rely on random luck.
The table was now somewhat emptier than when I left it. Mel was tossing the dice, and I kept my distance lest I disturb him or interrupt his rhythm. He made his PL-Point, and I stepped up to congratulate him. He said that he took the dice because no one else was doing any good, and he thought he couldn’t do any worse.
He continued to shoot for about ten more minutes, and managed to squeeze out a quantity of Inside Numbers that brought in numerous Place-bet dividends for my bets.
When I got the dice, I felt much more focused that I had during my previous eight tossing opportunities. I was hitting the same target-area as before, but I now altered the landing-angle to about 60-degrees. This “over-amping” of the touchdown trajectory tends to slam the dice down medium-hard, but without the usual sideways pop and scatter. We'll cover my entire “Dead Cat Bounce” approach to certain Precision-Shooting situations in my upcoming “Mad Professors Shooting Bible – Part IV” article.
I had a decent enough hand, but to my mind, the amount of actual profit wasn’t really the most important thing at that juncture. The fact that I had regained my focus, composure and concentration was the overriding benefit of having taken a step back from the game to regain proper perspective and situational awareness.
Mel said, “Geesh, what happened to you. D’ya go out and get laid or something? Your throw was perfect, and you don’t seem so uptight. Did one of the cocktail waitresses lick your swizzle-stick or somethin’?” I just shook my head and said that I had been too focused on what I was doing wrong, and not giving myself the opportunity to focus on the things that I know how to do right.
Back in my original Walking with a Vegas Ghost - Part II article, I wrote this about Circus Circus:
“Maybe it’s all the candy-floss sugar that’s in the air. Maybe it’s the endless hordes of cranky kids, and even crankier parents. Hey, maybe it’s that damn clown..perhaps he scares them…I just don’t know…but I DO know that I don’t find myself magnetically drawn to this place very often.
I’m pretty sure there was a baby-stroller and Pokemon convention that had just unloaded all of it’s under 4-foot tall sugar-fueled attendees near the front doors. They were so noisy and rambunctious, it reminded me of a 'schools-been-cancelled-because–of–the-blizzard' announcement in Buffalo.”
That still pretty much describes the home of “Lucky” the 123-foot tall neon clown that lords over this gaming-house. While Circus Circus is definitely not a gamblers haven, to my mind, I’ll play pretty much anywhere where I can consistently make money, and the mini-tub at Circus Circus is unquestionably one of those places.
As we were pulling out of the parking lot, I thought back to one of the many episodes of the old TV show, VEGA$. I was lowering the power roof as I reminisced about Dan Tanna cruising the Strip as he solved crimes and always got the girl. Precision-Shooting is similar, in that you always have problems to solve and overcome, and sometimes you even get the girl, or at least enough dough to temporarily rent one.
Join Mel and I next time as we continue our Mini-Tub Tour of Las Vegas. Until then,
Good Luck & Good Skill at those Mini-Tables…and in Life.
The Mad Professor