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Craps Tournaments, Part Seven…That’s Not a Moon; It’s a Death Star

Each tournament, and for that matter, each tournament session, can take on a life of its own.

The betting can sometimes start out fast and furious...and then become downright frantic. Other times, everything starts out very sedate and stays that way up until the last three or four rolls; then everyone goes crazy with their wagers.

For the most part, winning these things, or at least placing in the Top Three, involves
doing stuff that the rest of the pack isn't doing or doing things in an even more outrageous way than the current leaders are doing.

So if everyone is sitting back and taking a wait and see attitude; that is an opportunity for you to jump far ahead of the pack by making some bold betting moves while they remain flat-footed. Oftentimes they will then scramble to try to catch up, but if you've collected from those savvy major moves already, all you have to do is to simply
keep pace with their efforts and you'll remain firmly in the lead.

Conversely, if the betting pace is on hyper-drive; then you have to quickly determine who the current chip-leaders are...and then out-bet them (either by making
even larger bets on some of the same wagers they are putting their money on, or by making contrary bets to what they are wagering on...like Laying the 6 & 8 if they Place-bet the 6 & 8, etc.

The mindset for tournament play is so different than regular play; that many people have a hard time switching over from what they usually do with their own money at the real-world tables.

In a tournament, you aren't betting against the dice and trying to figure out what they will do; rather you are betting against other players and trying to outplay them.

Most of my tournament betting-methods are geared to put you way out in front of the pack...and keep you there 'til the end of the session...or to go bust in your efforts to do so.

Admittedly, most people would rather finish out the tourney in 200th place than to bust out early (they love the game more than they love to win); but in most of these contests it takes
bold moves to take bold leads and though with my methods you can expect to bust out about 80% of the time...you can also expect to finish in the Top Three or Top Five the other 20% of the time.

To me, the trade-off is definitely worth it; but you have to personally weigh your love of the game versus your love of winning.

Who Bets First…Who Bets Last…and WHY That Is Important

To determine the first shooter; a random seat assignment is usually held before each session where the first-seat assignment shoots first, and the second-seat assignment shoots second, etc.

In most tournaments, betting must be in player-sequence for last five rolls (but is not usually required during the other rolls of the session).

There is an art and a science to the way you bet in a tournament.  You are not only looking to
collect on more winning bets than your opponents do, but you also have to carefully gauge just where you stand at all times relative to where the chip-leader stands in his chip-count.

When you look at how other near-contenders are betting, you have to take a global perspective as to
where your bets fit into this overall scheme.

Will going strictly after the chip-leader work or do you have to be cognizant of what the other pursuers are doing too?

It all depends on how far into the lead he is and in what round of play you are currently participating.

If it’s an
early round where several of you will advance to the next round, then catching the chip-leader isn’t so nearly as important as making sure you are in the lead-GROUP that advances.  On the other hand if it is the championship round, then the chip-leader is your target.

Do You Want To
Shoot First...Or Bet Last?

Being the player that gets to bet last during the final couple of rolls during a tournament session can be a HUGE advantage when it comes to improving your chances of winning.  However, trying to put yourself in the player-position that gets to bet last during the final couple of rolls during a tournament session can be a bit problematic.

If the pre-drawn table-position determines the tournaments shooting-and-betting sequence (who shoots first, who bets last); then most dice-influencers focus their efforts on getting themselves in a prime
shooting position, and don't pay much attention to the final betting position (hoping that their ability to influence the dice will outstrip other contestants ability to out-bet them).

In either case, it's important to first determine and confirm with the tourney officials, where the first shooter position will be...as well as where the final
who-bets-last position is.

Unfortunately, in highly regulated tournaments where you have to bet in order, or at least bet in proper table-position order during the last couple of rolls of the session; players who are in a position to
shoot first usually also have to bet first...and the last player-position (and the least likely to get their hands on the dice) is the one who gets to bet last.

In most tournaments, everyone is free to bet until the boxman calls "time" and then no more bets are accepted for that roll, so betting is a free-for-all until the last three or five rolls of the session, and then as I said, table-position usually determines who bets last.

Putting Yourself Into Position

A lot of times, if you check-in at the tournament registration area early, contest officials will let you pre-select your player-position. In that case, the early-bird gets to select his chosen shooting or betting-position.  However, if it's done on a first-come, first-serve basis; then the first player to sign up at the check-in area gets the first shooting spot, and the second player gets the second shooting spot, etc.

I've been in two big-money tournaments where a "team" of players signed-up early (just ahead of me) in order to get two players in the first two shooting-positions and two players in the final two betting-positions. Yes, they won both tourney's, but the final chip-count margin between first and second-place was much, much closer than they expected.  And though it wasn’t as big of an advantage as they thought (they had smugly predicted a walk-away win over the entire field); they did prevail over my own best efforts (by
+$2 in Tourney #1 and +$5 in Tourney #2).

Considering Your Choices

If you are the player in the table-spot that bets last; then you are indeed in a powerful position to win the tournament...although it's nowhere close to being automatic.

First, you have to have enough tournament chips to mount a bet or combination of bets, that will out-pace the current leader and any near-lead stalkers...and that includes all of their currently-on-the-table wagers, and not just what they have in their rail.

Second, you have to do some quick and accurate calculations to determine how a winning hit on any of their bets will affect your own chip-count.

Third, you have to quickly determine how the next roll and only the next roll will change your position relative to theirs if one or more of your bets wins and one or more of their bets  wins OR loses.

Finally, you have to do all of that cipherin' in the time allowed. If you aren't up to speed on estimating the value of chips remaining in the chip-leaders rack and those of the near-contenders, and you aren't quick in determining how each of their winning or losing bets will affect your own winning or losing bets; then the benefit of having the final bet-position is marginal.

On the other hand, if your chip-value estimating skills are good, and you can quickly appraise how each of their winning or losing bets will affect your own winning or losing bets; then having the benefit of final betting-position is definitely of high value.

I will also add that the use of a calculator or any other electronic device is forbidden during tournament play…even if you step away from the table to use it.

Using and/or Dealing with NBA-Style Trash Talk

I think part of the national psyche has taken on a bit of a trash-talking mentality.

I mean, where else in the world have they taken the chest-thumping act of the silverback gorilla to such a high art of nearly-accepted behavior?

The more we as a civilized society adopt inner-city lingo and gestures, and the more we try to psychologically walk with a
bring-it-on swagger; the more vulnerable we become to trash-talk sensitivity.

That is, the more we hear it, the more likely we are to use it against some one…and the more likely we are to be sensitive to it if it is directed at us.

In other words, the more we revert to our Hollywood stereotype, the more we feel like we have to respond in kind, but on an
even higher one-upmanship basis.  The problem is that if NBA-style trash-talking isn’t a normal part of your everyday patois; then the more likely it is to throw you off of your own game.  So instead of accomplishing your goal of throwing your opponent(s) off of their game by either initiating it or responding to it; the more it has the deleterious effect of throwing off YOUR game.

My advice?

Though most tournaments ban vulgar or profane language, they don’t specifically forbid NBA-style ‘gansta’-type trash-talk. So if trash-talking is what it takes to give you a hard-on; then hey, whatever works my friend.  However, if that’s not part of how you usually talk; then save it for when you
DON’T have money on the line…and just laugh at those that feel they have to use it.

Handling The Championship Round

Although luck plays a huge role in tourney play; betting-skill and bankroll-management plays a much more CRITICAL and determinant part…and it is what puts a shockingly consistent number of the
same players into the championship round, year after year after year (especially at the big-buck, free-entry Invitation-only tournaments that most players never even hear about).

If you’ve observed other rounds of play, you’ll have a good idea how the other contestants advanced to the championship round that you now find yourself in.

Chances are that most of them will stick to the same strategy that got them to this round in the first place.  You can use that quirk of human nature to your benefit.  That is, if you know how they are likely to bet in both the early and late-goings of the final championship round, you’ll be better able to gauge and valuate what they are doing in the first couple of early hands and anticipate and not be caught off guard by some of their late-going moves.

In a tournament, you play against other contestants.  You can win the tournament, even if your net balance is less than what you initially started with, as long as the number of chips you end up with is larger than the number of chips the other players end up with.

Handling the Championship Round is all about gauging what other players are currently doing and what they are likely to do as the round progresses.  Like in a chess game, it is best if you can be two or three steps ahead of them in
your break-out-from-the-pack process than they are in their own break-away-from-the-pack process.  Getting the jump ahead of them and initiating your own pre-emptive go-for-a-commanding-lead surge is often all it takes for you to win the top prize.

When Settling For 2nd or 3rd-Place Is Better Than Going After 1st Place

You would be amazed at the number of near-lead competitors who will fall to the non-prize-money wayside in their desperate attempts to catch the chip-leader even though they themselves were solidly in 2nd or 3rd place with no near-chip competitors.  In that case it's
very easy for someone who has their eye exclusively on a second-best or third-best finish to slip in under their radar and snag the runner-up prize money.

Let me elaborate:

In the mad rush for the lead-pack to win the TOP prize and finish in FIRST place by trying to knock-off the chip-leader; they will often see their own chip-count quickly erode.  To my mind, that is an opportunity for some of the lagging players at the final table to make a move and try to catch the 2nd or 3rd place money instead of going all out and trying to beat the bigger-stacked players who are all trying to catch the leader (but who will mostly fail and end up in 10th to 16th place).

The whole idea behind all of my craps tournament methods is for people to look at you like just another player before the tourney begins…and for them to discover (if you’ll indulge me for a moment with a
Star Wars analogy) that what they initially thought was an innocuous moon, turns out to be a tournament-busting Death-Star.

Coming Up

As a bit of a preview...
Part Eight of this series looks at some innovative ways to fake out other players in any number of ways without contravening any tournament rules, as well as how to effectively use those low-cost weekly tournaments to hone your tourney-skills, as well as how to use Darkside-establishing plays where Lay-bets are forbidden, plus I’ll be sharing a few secrets on how to get yourself on the guest-list to those numerous Invitation-only free-entry/big-money events that many of the major casinos hold…and you almost never hear about.

Until then,

Good Luck and Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.

The Mad Professor
Copyright © 2007

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 28, 2007 7:05 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Shooting Bible: Part III.

The next post in this blog is Current Practice…Future Profitability
Part II.

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