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Best of John Grochowski

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Grochowski Sevens Out

21 October 2003

In a room full of craps shooters, I had some face-saving to do.

It was the no-sevens contest, the final event of the Golden Touch Craps seminar, where Frank Scoblete and crew were tutoring potential dice controllers. I was far from the star pupil. In the first round of the no-sevens contest, I managed a 7 on my first roll. Now it was time to redeem myself, to "defend the honor of gambling writers," as Scoblete put it, even though "Reluctant Gambler" columnist Gus Rose of the Star Newspapers had managed 12 rolls before getting a 7 on his 13th two shooters before me.

My first roll was a lucky 9. I'd line-drived it, getting far too hard a bounce off the back wall. Scoblete told another instructor, "Hold the stick up," forcing me to get more arc on my roll. I lofted it over the stick and up came an 8. Then a 6 and another 6. The stick came down but my loft stayed, for the most part. One too-hard roll hit high off the back wall but it came up a 5. My touch got softer, the numbers kept coming and I started hearing comments like, "Frank, did you bring in a ringer so you wouldn't have to pay the prizes?"

On my 11th roll, the grip didn't feel quite right. The backs of the dice had splayed. I should have put them down and regripped but I went through with the roll. And it came up a 7.

I was done, but I didn't feel bad at all. Of the 10 rolls before the 7, seven had been either 6 or 8. It was, said the instructor known as Dominator, "a money roll."

Now, I didn't walk out as a dice-control expert by any means. I wasn't even one of the better students in the class, that one final roll aside. Jerry from Wisconsin, who won the contest with 23 rolls, and Bob from Illinois, second with 20, both were in my group as we moved from station to station, working with the five instructors. Both, and many others, were more consistent than I was.

The 14 students at the two-day seminar included several men in their 30s, 40s and 50s who were already craps regulars, along with Barbara, the lone woman in the group, and 79-year-old Jim from Kansas, a World War II veteran who was getting back to the game in his retirement. All walked away having learned a good deal. One of the things I learned is that dice control isn't the near-impossibility I'd always suspected. Scoblete, whose books include Beat the Craps Out of the Casino and Forever Craps, has been telling me about this for years, and I'd read Get the Edge at Craps by the dice controller who calls himself Sharpshooter, but have always retained a healthy skepticism. Nevertheless, I jumped at the chance when Scoblete invited me to attend the recent seminar in Oak Brook by Golden Touch (www.goldentouchcraps.com, 866-SET-DICE).

What I found was an intense, hands-on experience, with attentive but realistic instructors. At no time was it ever suggested that this was a magic bullet that would enable everyone to go relieve the casinos of their cash. It would be hard work, "harder than counting cards at blackjack," Scoblete said. This was not a mental skill, like counting cards, it was a physical skill, like a golf swing, that required practice, practice and more practice. But, he said, it could result in an edge even larger than a counter can get at blackjack.

It's not that Scoblete, Dominator and fellow instructors Billy the Kid, Howard "Rock 'n' Roller" Newman and Randy "Tenor" Rowsey can make the dice come up their way all of the time, or even most of the time. They can't, and don't claim to do so. What they say is that a controlled roll can depress the frequency of 7s just enough so that, along with a corresponding increase in 6s and 8s, it nudges the math of the game just a few percent toward the player, enough to overcome the 1.52 percent house edge on place bets on 6 and 8.

Even with enough of a swing to gain a small mathematical edge over the house, it's a long, slow grind to make money. Few players have enough bankroll to enable them to make bets large enough to make a living at this or any other form of gambling. Risk too much of the bankroll at once and the player risks going broke during the inevitable losing sessions. Keeping the bets sensible in size is the way to go, even though for most of us it means playing for a little extra pocket money even if we become good enough to defy the odds.

Is it possible to defy the odds at all? I saw enough from instructors demonstrating their rolls, and from a little hardway contest a couple of them put on during a short break, to dent my skepticism. Through the two eight-hour days, they kept us hopping from station to station as each instructor analyzed roll after roll. Mini-lectures on theory and betting patterns were interspersed, but we rolled the dice enough that my shoulder knew it had been put through a workout.

Scoblete and Dominator complimented all on how much progress had been made, but Dominator had a warning. "I want you to practice at home every day for the next three weeks," he said. "Only 10 percent of those who take this course become good shooters. If you don't practice, you'll lose half of what you've learned here."

Did I leave the seminar with an edge over the casino? No, and that might never happen. Did I leave as a better player? Yes, definitely. Now hand me the dice. It's time for practice.

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:

> 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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski