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Mad Professor's Shooting From the Don'ts- Part V
- continued


The Players

You’ll find a healthy mix of tourists and regular locals at both Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Resort. 

This ratio varies from season to season and even varies by the day of the week and the hours that you choose to play at.

The locals who play here on a regular basis are easy to spot, as much as they are in any other casino around the world. Equally, the well-heeled tourists look pretty much like most of the locals, especially in light of the fact that security keeps most of the riff-raff away (they of course make an exception for me due to my ungodly good-looks and effervescent down-home charm). 

It’s a little harder to spot the pro’s who ply their trade on these layouts on a nearly daily basis because they blend in so well against the radar clutter of dicesetting random-rollers.  If you play here for a while and spread your action across all three shifts; then an astute observer should be easily able to identify at least a few of them.  Most of the pro’s have had their distemper-shots, so by and large they are a likeable and approachable bunch.

I haven’t done an official survey or anything like that, but I would guesstimate that there are more pro’s who play here on a “home casino” basis than most other gaming jurisdictions except A/C and LV.  I make that statement knowing full well just how many good players there are out there, but equally cognizant of the fact that there are darn few who actually make their living solely from Precision-Shooting.

Now before you start writing angry e-mails written in crayon under that swaying lightbulb; let me qualify that. 

       There are MANY MORE aspiring dice-influencers in MOST OTHER jurisdictions than there are in this area. That goes without saying. 

       However, for some reason the Southern Ontario/Western New York market has more Precision-Shooters who have broken through the good-enough-to-earn-a-living (~USD$60,000+ per year) threshold than most other gaming-markets.

       I’ve thought about why this is, and perhaps the best explanation is found in Heavy’s year-end 2004 Craps Seminar review.  Though most people who take up dicesetting do so to expand their knowledge, very few are willing or able to dedicate the time, effort and commitment to achieve dice-influencing excellence…opting instead for the camaraderie of playing with friends and discovering less volatile ways to bet on random-rollers. Most players who take up dicesetting never muster the wherewithal to put it all together and apparently never aspire to actually make any money at it; so they are quite satisfied in gaining a little more insight into the game and developing their discipline as well as expanding the social aspects of it.  

       For some reason, a number of the folks in Niagara’s catchment-area have cast off that try-to-lose-less-but-play-for-fun method, and instead have selected a more income-centered professional approach.  I think there’s merit in both camps; it’s just that one is more entertainment-based while the other has an earnings-and-lifestyle bias.

       I would guesstimate that the pro-player population for Casino Niagara, Niagara Fallsview, Seneca Niagara, Seneca Allegany, Casino Rama, and Turning Stone is nearing a dozen players who earn their living exclusively from dice-influencing.  

The fact that Falls Management Inc. (the Chicago Pritzger-family local arm of Hyatt Corporation) that runs the two Ontario-side Niagara casinos are incredibly tolerant when it comes to skilled dicesetters taking relatively large amounts of winnings from their tables on a steady basis, makes the whole profit-extraction process quite a bit less dramatic or traumatic.  In addition to that, for the most part, these pro’s maintain an extremely low profile and spread their action across a wide range of casinos around the world even though these six casinos act as their home-base.

I’ll discuss this issue a little further in a moment.  Right now let’s take a look at a few of the high points and low spots during this leg of my Darkside-shooting journey:

Session Highlights

A couple of things stand out as to my sessions at Fallsview:

       I was moving around from table to table in order to shoot more often, so I had to keep the various dice-targets at different tables straight in my mind.

       What worked perfectly at one table managed to be just slightly “off” at another.  More than ever, I found that it is the minor adjustment differences that mostly mean all the difference between a winning-hand and a losing one.

       I updated my Shooting Notes during ”washroom breaks” which were actually just timely escapes from the table in order bypass and evade as many random-rollers as possible.

       At the end of a session I summarized and refined what I had just learned, along with noting win-rates, logging my longest and shortest hands, along with observations about various toss-tweaks that I tried out, and whether or not they worked. These are the “actionable notes” that we first detailed in Shooting Bible One and Two.  Their significance and importance cannot be overlooked if you are serious about putting more winnings into your pocket…and keeping them there…as well as increasing your hourly earn-rate in the future.

       For the first time during this road trip I ran into two huge losing sessions.  I abandoned my loss-limit entirely and stayed long after the point where I knew I should have walked.  I could blame it on the fact that Ms. MP was dealing with substantial health problems and I was racked with concern, or I could fault the fact that I had been operating on minimal sleep over an eight or nine night stretch, or I could say that my head just wasn’t into the game…and all of that would be true; but frankly none of that is a valid excuse for staying in the casino and losing money.  Neither is it a legitimate reason why I ignored every warning-sign in the book, nor is it an acceptable defense as to why I chose to continue doing battle during a couple of sessions when I clearly shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

       I ended up playing six relatively short sessions over two days, and although four of them were profitable, the other two losing sessions were in the mega-ton damage range.  My head just wasn’t into the game, so my body shouldn’t have been in there either.

       I ended up taking a thirty-day leave from the game.  Ms. MP appreciated the extra attention…and it gave me the time and perspective to put my head in a place where it needed to be. 

       During that month away from the tables, I didn’t even pick up the dice once.  When I was ready to return to the game, I spent three days doing some intensive practice-sessions that were intermixed with some deep reflection about the amount of time I had been spending at the tables over the past ~14 years of pro-play versus the reduced amount of time I was now willing to dedicate to it.  That decision was tempered with the goal of maintaining (and actually increasing) my current Precision-Shooting income, while concurrently allowing me to attend to Ms. MP’s time-specific needs as well.

       When I got back to the tables, my attitude was so much fresher and my shooting was actually much better than it was in the weeks leading up to my hiatus.  My game-focus was sharper and my trend-awareness was far more astute than it had been for months. 

       The time away from the tables did me a world of good.  My game-plan was now more refined and developed, my betting-approaches were better mapped and clearly plotted, and quite frankly, my less-playing-time/more-retained-earnings profit-goals were within much closer and direct reach.

       In aid of that effort, I dedicated more money to only the strongest plays in my Dark-shooting war-book, and focused each element of my shooting directly in support of the bets that I had in action on the table. 

       By quickly determining whether a particular wager was worth making during any given session (based on the evident primary-face, on-axis outcomes that I was or wasn’t getting during each specific hand), I was better positioned to jump on real opportunities and less likely to grasp at phantom ones.

       On my first day back at the tables, I played four sessions that averaged about 45-minutes each.  Each session covered several tables as I moved from shooting-opportunity to shooting-opportunity and generally avoided every random-roller in the house.

       I ended the day with a long and extraordinarily profitable fifth session by betting on a handful of incredibly-skilled pro players who were absolutely burning up the $50 table in the high-roller room. Even though I temporarily suspended my Darkside shooting during that session so as not to disturb their astonishing streak; I didn’t give in to the temptation of momentarily abandoning my Darkside-shooting in favor of Rightside-gunning.  Instead, I satisfied myself with the profit that their great tossing was sending my way, while resisting the urge to join in their display of shooting-prowess.

       My second day back in the saddle gave me a chance to bring about a little more of the Come-Out-cycle profit that I had become quite fond of during my Casino Rama sessions (that we covered in Part Four).  My confidence was now back to the level that it had been at a couple of months earlier, and my profit-resolve was even more transfixed on the Game Within A Game approach that had already provided ample proof-positive that the Come-Out cycle can provide just as much (if not more) steady revenue-production as the Point-cycle itself.   This holds true for Darkside-shooters as much as it does for the Rightsider.

       I was able to ratchet up my C-O World-betting to the sixth progression-level more than a dozen times during Day Two, Three and Four. 

       On Day Five, for the first time ever since adopting this aggressive progression, I actually won the seventh-level C-O World-wager.  That was one for my record-books.

       On the Point-cycle side of the game, I was able to keep the average number of rolls needed to bring about a 7-Out winner in the four-tosses range.

       One thing that I found particular success in was the idea of playing at the high-dollar tables, but using a partial (2:1 ratio) Doey-Don’t offset-method as a way to get higher-than-posted free-Odds.  In this case I doubled Niagara’s standard 3x, 4x, 5x-Odds (and straight 6x-Odds for DP and DC wagers) by having twice as much money on the DP as I did on the PL, and then using the doubled-up line-bet to effectively double the amount of allowable Odds without needing a commensurately higher line-bet.  That way, I was able to artificially raise them to the Odds to 6x, 8x, and 10x if used on the Rightside, and to 12x when used on the Darkside (as I was doing during this trip).  We fully explore this innovative gaming approach in the third installment in my Creating More Shooting Opportunities series.

       When I used the same Odds-stretcher approach on an empty $10 table the next day, the entire crew nodded their approval and commented that though they had never seen it done by anyone for quite the same reason as I was (to extend the range of allowable Odds); they all agreed it was an excellent way to turn mediocre Odds into slightly better Golden Nugget-type Odds. 

       Buoyed by that endorsement and by the fact that my Darkside-shooting was still functioning mostly the way I wanted it to; I extended the Doey-Don’t offset-ratio from 2:1 to 3:2 then eventually to 5:4 when I was on the cheaper $10 and $15 tables. Nary a word was said by the crew, although it did draw a few curious questions from fellow players who couldn’t quite figure out how the heck I was being allowed to Lay up to 30x-Odds when I only had a one-unit difference between my DP and PL line-wagers.

       Day Three, Four and Five also saw a steadier stream of Darkside profit, but there were a couple of unceremonious PL-Point repeating losers thrown in once in a while, which served to keep my ego somewhat within check. 

       Even with the higher-value Odds-ratios and those few untimely DP-losers; my DP Point-cycle profit easily outstripped what I had previously made during earlier segments of this Darkside journey (where I had been using a much lower Odds-to-DP ratio).

The Northern Outpost of Skilled Shooters

As I mentioned a moment ago, the percentage of talented dice-influencers who frequent Fallsview continues to surprise me. 

Now don’t get me wrong, the total community of adequately skilled dicesetters is still quite tiny compared to the total number of craps players worldwide; but the number of superior-to-great shooters who frequent casinos in this area is rather satisfying especially if you are always on the lookout for other talented shooters so you can ride their expert coattails. 

       Though there always seems to be at least one or two of them in the house at any given time, you’ll often find them at the high-dollar ($25 and $50) tables instead of at the cheapest and most crowded $10 layouts…although that is not always the case.

       That may be indicative of the fact that the better a shooter gets at mastering dice-influencing; the more often you’ll find them seeking out additional shooting opportunities that the $15, $25, $50 and $100 tables offer.

       As I previously mentioned, I explore this phenomenon in the recently posted Creating More Shooting Opportunities – Part III, but back to my point, and that is that you’ll almost always run into at least one exceptionally talented shooter here.  The problem is in distinguishing them from the myriad pretenders and wannabe’s that you’ll find at virtually every casino that you walk into nowadays. With the sheer number of players and the multiple tables, it’s altogether possible that you could be playing in the presence of outstanding talent and not even realize they are at a nearby table.

       Now the upside of all this is that a player who has considerable Precision-Shooting talent can still play with significant anonymity in this jurisdiction.   As I mentioned previously, casino management hasn’t yet fallen into the “WE don’t want YOU to win OUR money” mindset yet.  Let’s hope they never do.

Casino Niagara

Doing a report on the original casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario has become problematic.  The conditions, as well as the number of tables in play, continues to change.

For years, Casino Niagara’s 100,000 square feet had eight craps tables that saw at least five or six of them in rip roarin’ action around the clock.  Over time, that number diminished to seven, then six to five, then to three and now it’s down to one.    

As the Hyatt Gaming folks drive as much of the craps-business as they can to their crown-jewel Fallsview Resort just a couple of blocks away, they have made the conscious decision to reduce table-game activity at the old casino and channel as much of it as possible to the new place.  In the process, they’ve alienated more than a few players, but their bottom-line reflects the soundness of their decision, so I don’t see any reversal of that verdict.

These days Casino Niagara usually opens a $5 table at 12:30 noon and it can stay that way for several minutes to several hours. If there are a number of players already camped out waiting for them to count down the chip-bank and check the dice; then you can expect it to open at $10.

       I consider their lone remaining craps table as one of the best-rolling layouts in North America, as far as being the most dynamically-forgiving of slightly off-kilter landings, energy-absorbing of excess into-the-backwall speed, and neutral response to straight-line forward-spin dice-tracking and rollout.

They currently close this game down at 4 a.m., so you’ll have to schedule your sessions around their timetable.

Heat and Other Unwanted Attention

If you don’t have a Players Advantage Club card, they won’t hound you to get one, but if you wish, they will call over to the PAC booth and have one printed up in your name.

       Heat is virtually unheard of at both Casino Niagara and Fallsview. Of course you have to touch the backwall with at least one dice, or they will warn you that BOTH dice have to hit it. Enforcement after your second warning can be a little stricter.  That’s not “heat” it’s just the rules.

       I've seen their tables recurringly dump anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 on a fairly regular basis to a number of the same players, while the dealers and the pit-guys cheer right along with the rest of the table. Zero heat, zero sweat, zero concern.

       I've seen their $25 table drop well over $350,000 in one hand (in a matter of 20 minutes or so, where all the Outside-numbers would NOT stop rolling), and it hardly got a second look from the Pit Manager (although they did need to restock their table-bank reserve of $5,000 chips at the end of it).

       As far as the talented pro-shooters who frequent the six local casinos and make their living strictly by playing craps are concerned; I’ve never seen any of them receive any undue heat or unwarranted pit-attention at any of the places that I mentioned.  Let’s hope that their relatively low profile helps to keep it that way.

The Food

       Getting a food comp at Casino Niagara is a bit easier than it is at Fallsview, but the quality at both places is roughly the same.   However, be forewarned that the food-quality is fairly low on the totem-pole unless you’ve spent an excess amount of time under the care and control of state or federal authorities; in which case, you’ll probably be quite happy with it.

       I'm not saying that the food at either place is bad; it's just that it's generally uninspired and dull (with one exultant exception).

       The Grand Buffet at Fallsview overlooks the Falls, and the wait-staff is fine.   It adheres to the “nicer-plate/same-old-crap” philosophy of trying to convince you the food is better just because the surroundings are so nice.  Sadly, it fails to persuade anyone whose taste-buds are still functioning.

       17 Noir has some notable Asian fare, but is limited on the a la carte Continental/American side of the menu. If you have to pay for it with your own money instead of a comp; then there are more than 40 other local restaurants that beat it...hands down.

       The Market Buffet at Casino Niagara falls very short on the quality-scale. I'd give it a 2.8 out of 10, but that rating is undeservedly high because I like a few of the staff-members there.  Most humans and a few overly-pampered canines would give it a 1-out-of-10.

       Their Twenty-One Club at Casino Niagara has a classically-trained chef who takes food styling to a new pinnacle. I won't steal his thunder...but I'll just say that as each course arrives...you won't know whether to eat it or just sit back and admire the artistry of it.  This hidden-in-the-basement jewel is the only restaurant at either facility that is worthy of any uncomped dining-dollars.

       The Grand Cafe offers an intimate little club-like setting...the service is GREAT...but the food just manages to eke out a barely-passable 5.0 in my book.

Is That All There Is?

I mentioned this in Part One of my road trip report, but it bears repeating again; especially if you are normally burdened with playing at crowded tables.

One of the drawbacks of shooting from the Don’ts is the fact that your most successful hands will be short…VERY SHORT. 

       That means at a crowded table you’ll have to wait until the dice circle back around before you have a chance to re-prove your shooting prowess again.  

       It also means that you have to use even more self-control so you don’t unwittingly surrender your hard-gained advantage back to the house by unintentionally losing some or all of your winnings as the dice make another lap around the table.

It’s hard to be patient when you make some decent money off of your own good shooting, and then have to wait interminably for another shot at the cubes.

Some skilled dicesetters actually add to their frustration because they witness how fast they can make money when the Darkside dice are in their hands, yet it drives them crazy knowing that it will take so long before they can do it again.

What used to take them 10 or 15 or 20-rolls to make the same amount of money when they were shooting from the Rightside, is now often accomplished in just two or three Darkside tosses.  To their mind, it carries less of a sense-of-accomplishment and more of a sense-of-impatience because of the now-extended interval for when they’ll be allowed to do it again.

At the end of a short but successful Darkside-hand, they’ll ask themselves, “Is that all there is?” 

In realizing that they’ll now have to wait for the dice to come back for yet another short hand; they tend to get impatient and end up blowing their profit (and sometimes a portion of their original bankroll) because of reckless impetuousness and their insatiable “need” to bet on random-rollers.

At Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Resort, your patience will be called upon again and again, even at the high-buck tables.  Fortunately, with their neutral-to-forgiving layouts; resisting the urge to bet on anything that breathes, is rewarded when the cubes finally make their way around to you again.

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