Mel, the Vegas Ghost was in a rare mood as we made our way to the next mini-table target. He had just hung up the phone from talking to the current Mrs. Vegas Ghost. She is wife number-four or is it five? Well, let’s just say that she is Mel’s wife-du-jour. Anyway, she was obviously annoyed at discovering that Mel had yet one more young lady-friend on the side. She had implied that perhaps it was time for her to get a little somethin’ somethin’ goin’ on.
Somewhat sardonically, Mel asked, “Do you know what the difference between a wife and a girlfriend is?” When I shook my head, he replied, “About 45 pounds!” I gave a little smile that stayed on my face for a thoughtful moment, then said, “I’ll bet your wife is about to find out the difference between a husband and a boyfriend.” He relied with a curious, “What?”, and wasn’t pleased with my disdainful answer when I said, “Oh, about 45 minutes!”
He sulked in silence until we parked and walked into:
Barleys Casino & Brewing Company
Where Is It?
This casino is situated out in Henderson, and is located inside the Green Valley Town Center at the corner of Sunset Road and Mountain Vista Avenue. Don’t let the fact that it is located in a shopping plaza turn you off from checking it out. It’s about a 10-minute drive from the southern end of the Strip, and as you’ll see in a moment, their mini-tub table is well worth the small effort to get there.
Barleys Casino & Brew Pub is part of the Station Casinos family of gaming operations. Unfortunately, the standard Boarding Station players-card is not currently useable there, but comps are nonetheless quite easy to come by.
What Is It Like?
Although Henderson is the fastest growing city in the United States, it still has a laid-back and relaxed feel to it. The locals seem to go to sleep early and rise even earlier. Perhaps that is a sign of industriousness, or more likely they are keen to get up early just to see how much the population has grown overnight, or more so, to see how much their property value has risen in 24 hours. Housing prices in Henderson are rising faster than the water-level in the Titanic’s Grand Ballroom.
If ever there was a stereotypical example of cookie-cutter curva-linear neighborhood designs; then Henderson would top the list. Nearly every house, every roofline, every yard, and every street looks virtually the same. Don’t get me wrong, this is a clean, well-maintained little city, but it looks as if the automaton Stepford Wives designed and furnished it all. The saccharin sameness of Marley-tiled roofs and white-stuccoed exterior walls is close to nauseating. Fortunately, Barley’s gaming opportunities are FAR from sickening, so let’s move on to that.
As soon as you walk in, you know that you are no longer in Las Vegas. In fact, if Kansas had dice tables, then you, Dorothy and Toto would feel right at home. While there is a smattering of neon and the constant clank, plink and ringing of slot machines, it has the feel of a tarted-up neighborhood bar that would be right at home in Topeka, Lawrence, Wichita or Leavenworth.
In fact, Barleys reminds me of the (non-craps) mini-casinos in Blackhawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, Colorado. It is small, vibrant and upscale in a non-fussy, but still yuppified style. The fact that it just happens to have some gambling going on doesn’t detract from the comfortable surroundings, it just adds to them. Okay, so it has A LOT of gambling going on, but it does so in a tranquil, more genteel, less garish and less “Vega$”, sort of way.
Although I don’t dress like a tourist, Mel and I seemed to stand out like two hired gunslingers who came to clean up the town, or perhaps they thought we came to CORRUPT the town. In either case, everyone knew that we weren’t typical Hendersonians.
Although Mel doesn’t live that far away from this particular casino, he rarely stops in, and he DEFINITELY does not look like a regular guy, unless you are talking about one of the regular guys that central casting would send over for Martin Scorsese’s latest mob film. I, on the other hand, do stop in here on a fairly recurring basis. It’s not often enough to be recognized by all of the regulars, but it’s more than often enough for the table-crew to ALWAYS remember me, no matter how long it’s been since my last stopover.
Barleys craps table is full of locals who play each and everyday, and don't take a hankerin' to any strangers who want to muscle in on the fine dice-action in these here parts of lovely Greater Metropolitan Henderson (population 175,000, and growing by 15% this year, and a compounded rate that is closer to 25%). You would think that with that level of growth, new faces would be a common occurrence. However, the railbirds at Barleys carefully regard and study any new players. I guess they figure that a good lookin’ new guy in town might make their women-folk swoon too much.
On the other hand, amongst the locals are a handful of astute players who know what they are doing with both the dice and their betting-methods. I’ll make a rough estimate, and say that there are perhaps a dozen or so Precision-Shooting guys from Henderson and environs, who frequent the southern-tier casinos (Sunset Station, Rancho-Henderson, Jokers Wild, Barleys, Hyatt Regency LLV, Ritz-Carleton LLV, Green Valley Ranch, Railroad Pass, Eldorado, Terrible’s, Hacienda, Silverton, etc.), and MAKE A LIVING from playing craps. Some are ultra-grinders and some are highly-skilled Precision-Shooters.
The more time that you spend with the same dicesetting players, the quicker it becomes clear just who has true Precision-Shooting talent, and who is hoping against hope that the dice will randomly turn lucky for them. You can certainly determine the “skilled” ones from the “talentless” ones in fairly short order.
It’s a typical mini-tub that accommodates 8 to 10 players. I’ll also add that the table can fill up to overflow capacity during prime hours, but empties out rather nicely past 10 or 11 pm. While they don’t actually roll up the sidewalks after 11 o’clock in Henderson, you’ll notice a marked downturn in the action, along with most everyone else’s energy level.
It doesn't take any time to win over Barleys dice-crew with the lowliest of tokes. Remember, this is a $1 table, and tokes are rare enough to elicit grand praise and sincere acknowledgement from the dealer. The local town-folk are easily won over by anyone whose dice-hand lasts longer than the standard 6-rolls on this mini-table.
My sense of it is that long hands don’t occur here too often, and both the players and management are relieved when it does happen because it eliminates the suspicion that the game is somehow rigged. While the game is totally on the up-and-up, chronic losers will always find ways to rationalize their losses, even if it means suggesting that the game is “fixed”.
When the good rolls do come along, the Pitbulls point and say, “See we DO have long hands here, just like every other casino!” While the local players say, “Yeah, we see it, but we never see it OFTEN enough!” Still though, it’s sufficient for the players to keep coming back, and for the casino to continue staffing the game.
The $1 table is kept in fairly acceptable condition, and for the accomplished dicesetter, it is definitely a beatable layout. Even for a skilled Precision-Shooter who hasn’t tried it before, it usually only takes three or perhaps four tosses to acclimate himself with the bounce and roll characteristics of this little beast.
Adjusting to Small Tables
It is important to remember that on most small tables, the more backspin that you add, the higher the dice will leap on their initial bounce. With the short toss-distance, this hop may put them about halfway up the pyramid-wall. That results in a random-roll which IS NOT the objective of our game-plan.
If I am not dialed-in to the throwing distance, I’ll intentionally throw the dice in a higher arc and with a little more backspin than I know is necessary. I’ll pay close attention to the way the dice hit the layout, and whether they stay on axis or not. Thereafter, I can make rescinding adjustments that gradually reduce and diminish my throwing-energy and backspin. That move, helps to decrease dice roll-out to an absolute minimum.
Improving Your Own On-Axis Consistency
I’ll keep this simple:
Getting the dice to end up on the same axis as when you first set them, is how we initially reduce the expected outcome of 7’s from 1-in-6, down to 1-in-8.
That means that instead of seeing the 7 occur 16.6% of the time, we should only see it 12.5% of the time during our point-cycle. This 4.1% difference is significant in a low-vig game like craps. However, for me, it is still not enough.
If I see any amount of dice “roll-out” (further travel once they touch down), I want it to be IN A STRAIGHT LINE. That line can be forward or backwards, as long as it is STRAIGHT!
I’m going to tell you HOW I manage to end up with such a high repeatability of “primary-face” outcomes. The primary faces are the four surfaces or aspects that you initially set the dice on. We set them this way because we HOPE that they will somehow end up the same way when they stop at the other end of the table.
Precision-Shooting tries to eliminate the HOPE, wish and prayer part of that equation, and bring it more in line with a MOST-LIKELY-to-happen set of circumstances. So how do I do that?
If the dice travel through the air side-by-side on the same plane and rotate at the same speed, then they should both hit the felt at the same time with the same speed and still be side-by-side.
Once they touch down, any sideways (non-straight) dice-travel means that they didn’t land “square” and will probably travel an unequal number of rotations before coming to a stop.
If you are LUCKY, one dice MAY end up having exactly 4, 8, 12, 16, or 20 MORE rotations than its counterpart, and result in one of the same primary-faces that you first set them on. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No! Will you be able to do that consistently? I sincerely doubt it!
Unfortunately, the likelihood of “double-pitching” to a 7-Out increases exponentially when the dice travel on-axis in anything other than a straight line. This happens simply because one dice will have one or more full or partial rotations than the other one. If they each travel different distances, they are much less likely to end up on the primary-faces that you first set them to.
In that event, most dicesetters whose roll-out is not consistently straight, WILL NOT progress much past the 8:1 SRR mark.
To adjust for this unequal number of rotations, some shooters will use a quarter or half-turn adjustment to the dice-face before shooting. While this partially compensates for the immediate problem, you can see that it does not fully address the unequal number of rotations dilemma. So once again, even if you have the smoothest and prettiest of throws, you will have a tough time surpassing the 8:1 SRR mark using this correction method.
While the quarter-turn or half-turn adjustment is a valid quick-fix IF you can’t get them to roll straight on a particular table, it artificially impairs your long-term consistency and profitability goals. It does this, simply because it keeps you in the “percentage toss” skill- category, and prevents your advancement into the “precision” grouping. While there is PLENTY of money to be made at the “percentage-toss” level, you may find that your skill-predictability and therefore, your profit-predictability remains erratic and somewhat unreliable.
The only way that I know how to get past the SRR 8:1 benchmark is to practice and perfect straight (or equal number rotation) roll-outs, or to eliminate roll-outs altogether with a Dead Cat Bounce type of throw (“MP’s Shooting Bible – Part IV”).
As we bought-in, the dice were close to make their way around to my position. Just as the dice were 7-ing Out with the guy to my right-side, I asked Mel if he was going to dump his girlfriend to placate his wife. He hesitated just a little too long before answering, so I knew that his response was posing a mental struggle for him. Even though his wife is close to 40 years younger than he is, Mel is always prowling for new pelts to decorate his trophy wall.
I wasn’t sure whether he was still searching for an answer, looking for a rationalization, or trying to pass a gallstone; but when dealer sent the dice to my position, I told him to hold his answer. I figured that if it was taking him that much time to find the appropriate response, then it could certainly wait until after I finished making some money.
The dice left my hand like a couple of wounded ducks on my first toss, but I quickly mended my ways, and they were back to flying in side-by-side formation on their next release.
I established the 4 as my PL-Point. For the next 38 rolls, I tried my darndest to repeat that 4. Oh, I threw just about every other number under the craps-sun, but it wasn’t until the 39th try that I finally brought it in. My tablemates dropped their usual reserved suburban gentility and roared with approval at my shooting and at their own new found winnings.
I was having a great (and VERY profitable) time, but to show my “apparent frustration” during that hand, I kept saying, “Where’s that damn 4”. In actual fact, I couldn’t have cared less whether I ever repeated it or not. I had the entire Place-board covered with bets, and I was moderately pressing them every few hits. On the other hand, I did kind of want a “Winner, Hard-4” to be called because there was an increasing pile of dealer-bets on the Hardways, especially the Point-Number. Although I managed to hit the H-10 four times, and the H-6 and H-8 three times each, that H-4 eluded me, even when the “3-1” easy-way PL-winner was called.
My shooting was grooved-in on my next Come-Out, and I managed to make a couple of bucks. Now when I say a couple of bucks, I literally mean a couple of bucks. I think I netted $12 during a C-O sequence that saw me keep a few too many dollars in action on the Prop area, and not enough raked-in profit for my rail.
My second PL-Point was another 4. There was a collective, “Here we go again” from everyone at the table, including the dealer and Floor Supervisor. I was able to repeat hits on all of my Place-bets several more times, but the second-coming of the 4 was not to be.
Though I had not regressed any of my bets during this hand, I was very satisfied that I had collected enough money in my rack, to more than quintuply offset the amount that actively remained on the table when “7” finally decided to show up.
Mel passed the dice, but indicated that he had an answer to my question about the wife-and/or-girlfriend dilemma. I told him that whatever his answer was, there was definitely a need to dilute it with alcohol. He agreed, so we made our way to the outdoor patio area of the brew-pub.
Cold Beer and Tainted Logic
I can summarize this section in one sentence:
The beer was great, and Mel was insufferable.
I ordered a “Sunset” variant of their Red Rock lager. This is an unfiltered “red” version that is made from a nutty Munich-roasted malt from Bavaria and yields a decent rendition of Oktoberfest beer.
Mel ordered a Blue Diamond made from Two-Row Malted Pale that originates in the central part of Nebraska, before being roasted somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
The Vegas Ghost had taken the time to cooper up what I’m sure he thought was a reasonable and logical response, so I felt obligated to listen to his reply. However, the nearby funkified water-fountain show would prove to be much more entertaining, much less self-serving, and make a whole lot more sense, than his extra-marital justifications ever could.
Mel replied that he is attracted to so many women, that it is hard to settle for just one, even if she is drop-dead gorgeous, and even though she is his wife. He said that his attraction to women is like eating potato chips. He can’t restrain himself from eating just one. He reasoned that this was especially true in Las Vegas when there is a gigantic and luscious bowl of them, and the factory just keeps churning out more and more and more of them for him to sample.
I couldn’t help laughing at the analogy, but I shook my head disapprovingly in response. I understood where he was coming from, but I didn’t necessarily agree with his position, so I asked him about self-control and discipline. He said that self-control and discipline was important at the craps table or at the funeral for a friend, but when it comes to women, “Discipline only comes into play if she is into the whole sado-masochism, slave-master thing”. On that note, I knew we shouldn’t be taking the conversation any farther, but Mel went on and on trying to justify his behavior.
A couple of beers later, Mel’s excuses and rationalizations made even less and less sense, and my awareness of resigned indifference became greater and greater. I felt a need to cut short our craps-session at Barleys that night. My mood had changed during our beer-session, and it wasn’t on account of the alcohol. I cashed out my chips and told Mel I was calling it a night.
I had profited nicely from our one short session, and so did Mel, but somehow I think a piece of his soul got lost in the shuffle.
Until next time,
Good Luck and Good Skill on those Mini-Tables…and in Life.
The Mad Professor