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Best of John Grochowski

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New books on blackjack, craps and casino surveillance

6 July 2010

I remember many years ago being skeptical of dice control. With all the safeguards built into the game of craps, it just didn't seem possible that anyone could have enough control of the dice to overcome the house's mathematical edge.

Then I spent a weekend at a Frank Scoblete Golden Touch Craps seminar, and saw "The Dominator" at work. I walked in on a hard ways contest he was having with another instructor. And yes, they were throwing hard ways — both dice on the same number. It was an eye-opener, to say the least.

Which brings me to Scoblete's latest book on craps, Casino Craps: Shoot to Win ($19.95, Triumph Books), released just ahead of Beat Blackjack Now! ($16.95, Triumph).

The craps book comes with a DVD, featuring Scoblete's narration as the Dominator demonstrates how dice control is done, and that took me back to seminar time. No one is guaranteeing that you can roll specific numbers every time out, and it's a lot of hard work and repetition just to learn to suppress the frequency of 7s enough to dent the house edge on the pass line.

Not everybody can do it, but Casino Craps: Shoot to Win isn't just for the would-be experts. It guides you through how to play, the bets to make, the bets to avoid, the Five Count for keeping your money off the table on short rolls, managing your money — and plenty of fun stories, a Scoblete specialty.

If all that sounds like the usual Scoblete mix, well, it is. And if you've read everything from Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos to The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution, maybe you can get by without this one. But the DVD and a chapter of frequent questions from dice controllers add value even for veteran Scoblete readers. And if you're a craps player who hasn't encountered Scoblete or dice control before, you need to check this one out.

Beat Blackjack Now! also has earned a spot on my highly recommended list. At its heart is the Speed Count, the best combination of ease of use and effectiveness in any card counting system I've encountered.

Beyond the basics of how the system works, there's a fun chapter on the value of being stupid — or at least letting the casino think you are — another on debunking blackjack superstitions and a practical guide to bankroll requirements.

You don't have to be a budding card counter to get something out of Beat Blackjack Now! As with Scoblete's new craps book, it starts with the basics of how to play, game objectives and basic strategy. But the real meat is learning and applying the Speed Count.

It's not going to make you rich — the section on questions frequently asked by advantage players points out that the expectation for a $10 bettor is to win about $9 an hour. And as with all counting systems, not everyone will use the Speed Count successfully. It does take work. But for those willing to make the effort, it is far less complex than other systems.

I've always enjoyed Scoblete's work. He's eminently readable, entertaining and full of practical advice for making your game better.

** * ** * **

If a casino were mine to operate, I wouldn't worry much about low-limit card counters. The guys playing for big money, or playing as a team — them I'd worry about, and focus my surveillance efforts on players who could actually hurt the bottom line. Someone whose upside is winning $9 or $10 an hour is not worth the time and effort to track down. Heck, I'd be worried that evicting a small advantage player would be taking a slot-playing spouse out the door, too.

Some casinos agree with that, and small-limit advantage players barely register on their radar while they keep a careful eye on the big money. Others don't want a single player taking an edge, no matter how small. I know of a player who was evicted from a Las Vegas casino while spreading bets only from $5 to $15.

Just what kinds of things casinos are looking for, and how advantage players can cope is the subject of a new e-book, How to Beat Casino Surveillance: An Insider's Secrets for Card Counters by Vinny DeCarlo ($99, Research Services Unlimited, www.bjinsider.com).

This one is for serious blackjack players as DeCarlo, a veteran of 27 years in the casino industry, including time in casino surveillance, gives tips for flying under the casino radar so that you're not tagged as a player to watch, and gives his casino insider's view of just what casino employees are looking for once a possible card counter has been spotted.

Along with all that is a detailed look at the state of surveillance in 25 Las Vegas casinos. DeCarlo looks at strengths and weaknesses in the pit as well as in the eye in the sky. Worth a chuckle was his description of one Las Vegas Strip casino known for hiring older surveillance veterans, with the note that with age comes experience, but experience is valuable only if the person is awake to use it.

If you're an average player looking for a good time, this book is not for you. For the serious advantage player, it's worth the hefty price to download.

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:

> More Books By John Grochowski