The Hard 8
Why do I gamble? Its not for entertainment - though
often it is entertaining. It's not so I can tip the dealers and show what a good sport I
am. I play to win. Its not just a goal. Its the only goal. The rest of it --
the comps, the excitement, the roller-coaster thrill -- is all secondary. Im in the
casino for one reason. I want their money - and lots of it.
I look at gambling as the best possible part time job for me. But as in any profession,
there are certain basic tools you must have to ply your trade. I call these tools the Hard
Eight. Theyre really quite easy, but players around the world struggle with them
every day. Lets open the tool box and take a brief look at them.
1. Knowledge of the game. One of the silliest questions I hear people ask at the craps
table is How do you play this game? Standing at the table with your
hard-earned cash at risk is not the time to learn. Before placing your first bet you
should have mastered all of the basic rules of the game, understand the terminology, have
a working knowledge of the correct odds and pay-off, and be comfortable with both the pass
and dont pass sides of the game. To that end, you should read some of the top books
on the game - including Scarne on Dice, Sam Grafstein's The Dice Doctor, and John
Patrick's Advanced Craps. Explore the game on the internet through forums like this and
through "play for fun" sites and downloads such as WinCraps. Once you feel you
have a good command of the game - head to the casion the try it out. But be sure you have
a good command of the other seven tools of the trade.
2. Conservative Strategy. A friend of mine loves to play marathon craps session, but long
sessions in a negative expectation game will eventually grind you down. The only way to
survive these sessions over the long haul is to adopt an extremely conservative betting
philosophy. In this gentleman's case, that consists of a single Dont Pass bet on
each shooter. If he wins a bet his next wager is a single Don't Pass bet with single odds.
On any loss he reverts to his original single unit bet. And while he will never win a huge
amount of money, he will rarely lose a large amount either. He is patient and plays his
strategy flawlessly, and it achieves exactly what he wants.
You must approach the table with the same type of logically conceived, conservative game
plan. That doesnt mean you have to limit yourself to the pass line or dont
pass - or limit yourself to a single bet. It simply means you step up to the table with a
plan. A strategy that allows you to adjust the size of your bets based on your bankroll,
minimize your losses, and maximize your wins. How? By positioning yourself to take
advantage of the gamblers friend - the almighty streak.
3. Sufficient Bankroll. I like to think of my casino chips as bullets. On the battlefield,
if you run out of bullets youre as good as dead. Thats why it is important to
build a sufficient bankroll before stepping into the casino. You will always have limited
funds to play with when your bankroll is compared to the casinos. The Pit Boss can roll
out the reserves anytime by calling the cage and having the security boys bring out a chip
There are lots of ways you can use your bullets against the casino. You can
use them like artillary, playing those long shot bets, or a machine gunner raining chips
all over the table. Or, if youre smart, youll launch a sniper attack, making
every shot count. But to stand any chance at all in these bankroll battles, you must have
enough capital to start.
4. Money Management. I can only guess at how many times a player standing next to me at
the table has pointed to a stack of chips on the layout and asked, Is that my money?
Ive heard it hundreds of times through the years. But money management is more than
watching your bets. As I mentioned before, you have to adjust the size of your bets in
relation to the size of your bankroll. Money management goes beyond that, as well. It
requires you to set specific win objectives and loss limits based on your total bankroll.
It means knowing exactly how much you will bet in every conceivable win/loss situation you
encounter. And it means having the self-discipline to execute those bets flawlessly.
5. Self Discipline. Most gamblers dont have it. Simply put, self-discipline is how
you control your emotions while gambling. A few months back I bought in at a table and --
by using good money management and discipline -- doubled my money in about forty-five
minutes. At the same time, the player next to me lost a little over $14,000. The more he
lost the more he relied on crazy, scared-money wagers - $100 hop bets on two or three
numbers every roll, and placing the hardways for $500 each. He was pitting his bankroll
bullets against the casinos. The house had him out-manned and out-gunned. Everyone
at the table could see he was destined to lose it all -- everyone except him. As the old
saying goes, you gotta know when to walk away -- and know when to run.
6. Trends and Streaks. Craps is a game of streaks. Streaks of Point - Seven Out. Streaks
of Point - Pass. And, most often, choppy streaks where there is no dominant trend. Since
craps is a game of independent trials -- what happened on the last roll of the dice has no
influence on what happens this roll of the dice. Predicting a trend is impossible.
However, every forty-five minute monster hand starts out with a dozen tosses of the dice.
It moves on to the five-minute mark, then ten, fifteen, and twenty. At some point
virtually every player at the table recognizes what is happening and the layout fills up
with chips. They have spotted the almighty streak. You can spot it too.
7. Precision Shooting. Have you ever noticed that some shooters at the craps table seem to
have consistently longer hands than other players? While random trends and streaks do
occur in this game, some players prefer to create their own. They do this, consciously or
subconsciously, by influencing the outcome of the roll. Generally they take great care in
pre-setting the dice to a particular arrangement. Then they affect a consistent, soft toss
to a particular point on the table. Casino personnel often crank up the heat on these
individuals in an attempt to break their rhythm. Often, though, these shooters appear
unflappable as they throw the dice with zen-like precision, banging out number after
number after number. Casinos fear them - and for good reason. The best of them have the
ability to significantly alter the odds of the game in their favor - all within the
confines of the house rules. Can you master this technique? Absolutely.
8. Winning Attitude. Lets face it. The only one who likes a loser is the casino. And
yet you hear people reinforcing a losing attitude at every turn. The science of neuro-linguist-programming - NLP for short - teaches that you can actually program your
mind for success through positive affirmations. Yet so often we program ourselves for
On a recent Vegas outing I walked into the casino and turned a quick $360 profit at the
craps table. Recognizing that the streak at that table was over, I colored up and strolled
over to the Wheel-of-Fortune carousel to see if my companion was ready to go to dinner.
Just a minute, she said, shaking her coin cup. I just want to lose these
last few dollars, then we can go.
Think about that. How many times have you stood in the casino and heard someone say
something similar? They dont expect to win - so they dont. They just stand
there until they throw their last chip in.
Well, there you have them - the Hard Eight. Are they really that hard? Not really. Can you
master them and become a consistent winner? I believe you can.
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