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Keeping a Good Thing Going

I’m reminded of the joke about the guy who gets stopped by the police for failing to come to a full and complete stop at a “Stop” sign.  The driver said, “Hey, I slowed down and made sure there wasn’t any traffic coming.  I don’t need to fully stop if the way is clear…slowing down should be good enough.”   Upon hearing that, the officer dragged the driver out of his car, and started beating him with his heavy police flashlight.   After a minute or two of this, the cop said to the driver, “Okay, do you want me to slow down or do you want me to stop?”

Precision-Shooting is a really great thing, because with diligent and skillful practice, it can makes craps into a positive-expectation game. 

For many, it is a good way of augmenting their income, and adding a little money to their entertainment bankroll.  For some, it provides a decent second-income, and a serious post-retirement occupational plan.  For a dedicated few, Precision-Shooting presents a lifestyle-changing income-opportunity.

Regardless of which category you are in now, or which one you may want to be in for the future, there is one thing for certain.  You have to ensure that your own activities don’t contribute to the demise of this method of advantage play.   At the same time, you don’t want to jeopardize your own ability to use Precision-Shooting as a money-maker now or in the future.

I got an e-mail a short while ago.  It read as follows:

“MP, I was part of that big PARR get-together in September.  A small group of us played at the San Remo tables.  You are right, the tables are long and the box-men are bitchy, but I really liked the uncrowded $5 conditions, and we made plenty of cash.  

This was my third PARR training session, but it’s the first time that I’ve actually made any real money from shooting.  During dinner at SR’s Ristorante dei Fiore, we had a major argument over the idea of one of our group who was just killing them with his winning shooting.  He wanted to continue playing at the San Remo Casino FOREVER, because he was doing so good. 

MP, here’s the question.  If you really “dial-in” a table like you say; how long do you continue to milk it, and how often do you go back again and again?  Sorry about the length of the question, but I really need to know how much is too much?”

Well, first of all, let us agree that this PARR graduate has a good set of questions.  I’m concerned that they hadn’t already been given proper answers to these very important queries directly from the PARR altar.

I’ll start by saying this.  There is a balance that has to be struck between serving your own needs insofar as making money from Precision-Shooting; while at the same time you want to safeguard the money-making skills that you and your friends have developed either through PARR, or through Irishsetters & Heavy’s excellent course, or even if you are self-taught. 

We have to tackle both the ethical and moral side of the equation, as well as the “need and greed” side of the dilemma.  It really is a precarious balancing act that allows you to stay “in the money”, but prevents you from accidentally slaughtering your very own “golden goose”.

So, how long you continue to milk a table that you are doing well at depends on the actual casino and their comfort level with your betting- action. 

Casino-Action “Comfort” Levels

You have to understand that each casino has a “comfort-level” of betting action that they are used to.  If you go over that threshold, they start to “sweat the money”.  At some places it can be an amazingly small amount like $40 or $50 dollars that raises their “we’re-losing-our-shirts” blood-pressure, while at other joints if a table dumps a couple of hundred thousand dollars, it barely raises a yawn. 

It is part of your responsibility as a Precision-Shooter to keep your level of betting-action and winning-profit BELOW a casinos comfort-level.  Otherwise, you imprint your face and name into their collective memory as having taken them for a lot of money.  If you stay BELOW their radar, you’ll still receive all the benefits, comps, and welcoming-warmth that they hold for all “normal” (losing) players.  Exceed that level and you are imperiling your future earnings potential.

Indicators of Casino Discomfort

If you ding the little guys (small-action casinos), they can make your life a living hell.  Likewise in medium-action joints, if you or someone else at your table is making a killing off of your roll, then they may “bring in the heat”.

       They’ll have the stick-man lean over the table or swing at the dice with his stick.

       They’ll chant their endless “hit the backwall HARDER” mantra.

       They’ll “short-stick” you to make you  s-t-r-e-t-c-h  for the dice.

       They’ll “no-bet” your action just to piss you off.

       They’ll put your Come or Place bets in the wrong player-spots on the layout.

       They’ll conveniently forget to pay you your “change”, or they’ll cap someone else’s bet with your Press action.

       They’ll miss-pay your winning bets, or place your pay-offs in the wrong areas so that another player may accidentally pick up your money.

       They’ll encourage new players to squeeze in beside you when the table is filling up.

       They’ll bring in an often un-needed chip-fill, or change-out the dice in mid-hand.

       They’ll hurry your shooting and try to break your rhythm.

       They’ll have the stickman re-arrange a Prop or Hardway bet just as the dice are leaving your hand.

       The boxman will tell the stickman to “reduce your working stacks” by having him hand in a full-stack (20 cheques) to the box, just as you are about to throw the dice.

       The boxman will have the stickman “recall” the dice just before you pick them up so that they can be “re-examined”.

       They’ll pass you by the next time it is your turn to shoot again.

That’s just the beginning of the aggravation.  They have a myriad of tricks in their bag to aggravate you, and they’re not shy about using each and every one of them.

So what is the level of betting-action that each casino is comfortable with, and how much can we “take” them for?

Small-Action Casinos

I try not to thump any small places for more than $200 to $400 during any given day.  There are plenty of small joints in Vegas to spread the "pain" around.  Typical small casinos, based on their comfort-level of betting-action, would include San Remo, Terribles, Boardwalk, Nevada Palace, Golden Gate, Fitzgeralds, Sahara, Four Queens, Las Vegas Club, Lady Luck, Castaways (Showboat), Rampart (Regent), Arizona Charlies, and El Cortez.

Medium-Action Casinos

The medium-action houses are the bread'n'butter of consistent earnings for professional Precision-Shooters like me.   Places like the Trop, all of the Station casinos (Boulder, Palace, Sunset, Texas, Sante Fe, Green Valley, Fiesta-Rancho, Fiesta-Henderson, etc.) and Coast casinos (Barbary, Gold, Sun, Orleans, Plaza, etc.), Imperial Palace, Boyd's casinos (Stardust, Sam’s Town, Freemont, California, Main Street Station, etc.), are all mid-level joints that can bear some decent hits, but just don't do it too frequently. 

Those casinos that I just named will allow you to take about $300 to $800 in daily winnings, BUT THAT IS ALL!  Anymore than that and you will quickly wear out your welcome. 

A few others in this mid-size-action category that allow a somewhat larger daily noshing would be Excalibur, Luxor, NYNY, Riviera, Monte Carlo, Aladdin, Flamingo, Circus-2, Harrah's, Treasure Island, Paris, Hard Rock, Palms, Golden Nugget and Stratosphere.  A once a day hit, or several smaller hits spread over all three shifts, for a total of $1,000 to $3,000 should be enough to satisfy even the greediest among us.

Large-Action Casinos

The bigger houses are more tolerable of larger action, larger hits, and more frequent hits.  That being the case, I would restrict the big action to Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Ballys, Venetian, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Mandalay Bay and The Rio.

The large-action casinos are used to seeing big buy-ins, big bets, big pay-offs, and they don’t usually sweat it.  Their comfort level is very high as is their tolerance for “standard-deviation swings” of fortune at the tables. 

They understand that sometimes players get lucky, and some shooters have long, costly hands.   Their attitude is, “Hey, we’re in the gaming business…we can’t win every hand…there will be losing streaks…but don’t worry…we ALWAYS end up winning”. That of course is true, and part of your job as a Precision-Shooter is to make sure that they don’t make any part of their monthly nut off of your ass.

Keeping a Good Thing Going

By adapting your level of bets that your “target” casino is most comfortable with, will ensure that you don’t scare them into taking unnecessary action against you and other subsequent advantage-players who may visit that gaming-establishment long after you leave.

The key to continued long-term success is not to get too greedy.  Remember, the feeding-trough is always open in Las Vegas, so don’t get yourself excluded from the shooting-party.

Key Questions

How long can you park your ass at small-action casinos?

How frequently can you Precision-Shoot without drawing heat?

How often can you ring the advantage-play cash-register, without getting ’86’d from a small-action joint?

Key Answers

How LONG you park your ass at one small-action casino really depends on how well you are doing financially.  If your shooting isn’t producing any tangible results; then they (the casino) would love for you to play for as long as you still have money in your jeans. 

However, if you are consistently winning; then I would only tag them for a couple of hundred bucks…maybe even $300 or $400, depending on the redness or paleness of the Pit Bosses face, but no higher profit than that should be taken from a small-action joint.

How FREQUENTLY you park your ass at the same small-action casino really depends on how much you took them for the last time you were there.  It also depends if you are playing on a different shift with a different crew.  

If you are in Vegasville for four nights, then it would be okay to visit the same small-action joint several times over that period.  If I am consistently winning, I would switch to a different shift for my next feeding opportunity.  You don’t want them to associate your face with the disappearance of their money.

How LONG you park your ass at the same small-action casino, and continue to ring the advantage-play cash-register without getting ’86’d from shooting really depends on you and your attitude. 

Don't rub their noses in the fact that you are winning.  Tip the crew every time you throw a Pass Line winner.  Wherever I play, in their eyes, I'm just a really nice guy who is a pleasure to have at their table. They think of me as a low-maintenance, great-tipping player who is INCREDIBLY lucky.  That is how ALL truly  professional players keep a good thing going.

Folks, the key to being able to continue this really great thing that we have found in Precision-Shooting, is not to wear out our welcome, and not abuse all of the social goodwill that a casino is willing to extend to its players.

We can keep a good thing going, but you have to be reasonable in how much you grab, and how quickly you grab it.

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


The Mad Professor

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