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Best of John Grochowski

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Grochowski Reviews

27 May 2003

For a number of years, prolific, popular gambling author Frank Scoblete published a quarterly magazine called The New Chance and Circumstance.

It was one of my favorite magazines to write for, because it was jam-packed with information on playing the games. It was fluff-free, with Scoblete, Henry Tamburin, John Robison, articles by Alene Paone and others.

Also in the mix was a craps player who called himself Sharpshooter. His focus was on rhythmic rolling, setting, gripping and delivering the dice so the results were no longer random.

The New Chance and Circumstance is gone, but Sharpshooter is still rolling in Get the Edge at Craps ($14.95, 306 pages, softcover), the latest in the series of Frank Scoblete Get the Edge guides from Bonus Books.

Sharpshooter doesn't claim to control the roll every time. He says he can influence the roll 10 to 12 percent of the time, and that's enough to overcome the narrow house advantage at craps. He says he's been winning regularly for more than a decade, with an average of 62 percent return on bankroll each trip.

Is even such limited control possible? I don't know. Believe me, when I roll the dice, they're as random as can be. But Scoblete swears by Sharpshooter's work, as do others I know who have attended seminars he's taught. And that tells me that while there are no guarantees, this is something serious craps players will find worth at least checking out.

Following his methods will take work. Sharpshooter says he has a half-table in his living room where he practices at least 45 minutes a day. Setting, gripping and throwing the dice his way takes study and practice. Along with illustrations of dice sets and grips, Sharpshooter includes plans for a portable practice box, so you can keep rolling even in a hotel room. Creating muscle memory, so you naturally release in the same way time after time, is a key, he says, and he details a three-week practice play to create such muscle memory.

The basics of craps wagers are covered in early pages, although this book will be most useful to players for whom odds and percentages already are second nature. Later on, the author gives tips for gaining a psychological edge, money management, building a team.

I found it all fascinating, although I'm not a dedicated enough craps player to put it to work. Those dedicated to the game will enjoy putting Get the Edge at Craps to the test.

* * * * *

Another worthy addition to the gaming bookshelf is Richard W. Munchkin's Gambling Wizards ($19.95, Huntington Press, 294 pages, softcover).

Subtitled "Conversations With the World's Greatest Gamblers," the book collects interviews with eight big players with a wealth of larger-than-life experiences.

There's a local connection here. Munchkin is a graduate of Columbia College-Chicago. He has a fascinating group of subjects in poker legend Doyle Brunson, sports bettor Billy Watson, blackjack card counter and team organizer Tommy Hyland, poker Hall of Famer Chip Reese, high-stakes backgammon player Mike Svobodny, poker pro and blackjack pioneer Cathy Hulbert, backgammon player and sports bettor Mike Tomchin and Australian horse bettor and blackjack player Alan Woods, who now does his gambling on the stock market.

All have fascinating tales, but the one I really found intriguing was Hulbert, who was counting cards at blackjack at a time not many women played the tables at all. She was part of the Ken Uston card-counting team that hit Atlantic City hard a couple of decades ago, even though Uston himself had serious misgivings about women as blackjack players.

There were rough times. She tells of a situation in which she had been barred from playing blackjack in a casino, and the next day carelessly chose the same shift when she went back to play. Hulbert was spotted instantly, and wasn't just asked politely to leave. Security guards grabbed her by the shoulders, pushed her head to the craps table and said to her, "Why don't you play some craps with that cheating money of yours? How about some roulette? But don't you ever, ever come into this casino and play blackjack again."

And there are funny times. She was talking blackjack with a custodian in the Las Vegas apartment building where she lived, and he tried to pick her up. His line? He claimed to have been a member of the Uston card-counting team at Resorts in Atlantic City. Little did he know he was chatting up a woman who really had been part of that team. Oops.

Gambling Wizards isn't a how-to-play book like Get the Edge at Craps, but it's a riveting read, one chock full of insight into high-stakes gamblers, what drives them and the world in which they live.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski