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Thoughts on the record craps roll

16 June 2009

Every once in a while something happens in gambling that is unusual enough to capture the public imagination and grab mass public attention.

That seems to have happened with Patricia Demauro, a New Jersey woman shooting craps for only the second time in her life. On May 23, she went on a wild ride at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, holding the dice for 4 hours, 18 minutes and an astounding 154 rolls.

How unlikely was it? It was more than an hour longer than the previous best roll on record. Stanley Fujitake of Hawaii held the dice for 3 hours, 6 minutes and 118 rolls at the California in downtown Las Vegas on May 28, 1989.

Michael Shackleford, proprietor of one of my favorite websites, wizardofodds.com, calculated the odds of rolling 154 numbers, sevening out on the last, at 1 in 3.5 billion. A long shot indeed.

Ever since Demauro's roll received wide publicity, my e-mail box has been jammed with questions from readers who want to know more. I'll try to answer a few points.

** Rolling 154 numbers does not mean Demauro never rolled a 7 until the end. On her initial comeout roll, and on any comeout rolls after making points along the way, 7s would have been winners that kept her going.

For the craps challenged, on each comeout, if Demauro rolled a 7 or 11, her pass line bet would win. With a 2, 3 or 12, the pass bet would lose. With any of those, the next roll would be another comeout and Demauro would keep shooting.

With any other number on the comeout — 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 — that number would be the point. Then the pass bet would win if Demauro repeated that number before rolling a 7. If the 7 came before rolling the point, she would seven out, losing the pass bet. At that point, the dice would go to the next shooter. That seven-out did not come for her until roll No. 154.

** Rolling 154 numbers does not mean Demauro never lost until the end. She'd have lost her pass bet whenever she rolled a 2, 3 or 12 on the comeout.

** Many of the numbers she rolled would have been neither winners nor losers. If on the comeout she rolled a 6, making that the point number, then proceeded to a sequence of rolls such as 9, 3, 8, 10, 5, 4 before making her point with another 6, none of those intervening numbers would have affected the pass bet one way or another. The wager would just have stayed in play.

Any of those numbers could have been winners on other wagers. In the sequence above, 9, 8, 10, 5 and 4 all could have been winners on either place or come bets, and 3 could have been a winner on a one-roll proposition on either 3 or any craps. But we don't know how many wagers Demauro was making at once. If she was smart, she was never making one-roll propositions — house edges are much too high. What we do know is that many of her numbers would have neither won nor lost on her pass bet. She was not winning on every roll.

** We don't know how much money Demauro won on her record roll. She bought in for $100, but we don't know if she was increasing her bets as her bankroll grew, and we don't know what wagers she was making in addition to the pass line. Neither she nor the Borgata announced winnings.

** The California has long displayed a plaque commemorating Fujitake's record. It's one of several plaques on a wall of fame honoring shooters who have held the dice for at least an hour.

I've stayed at the California, and looked over the plaques. You'd be amazed at how many of the shooters are from Hawaii. It's not that there's anything in the Hawaiian waters — gorgeous as they might be. It's just that the California, owned by Boyd Gaming, has long had a strong marketing presence in the Aloha State.

Even restaurants at the California and across the enclosed bridge to its sister property, Main Street Station, cater to the islanders. I've had many a good plate of kalua pork between the Aloha Specialties restaurant at the California and the buffet at Main Street Station.

** We'll have to wait and see if there's a rewording on Fujitake's plaque, and whether a new plaque goes up in Atlantic City. The Borgata is a joint venture between Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage, so the record remains in the Boyd family, so to speak.

** How unlikely is 1 in 3.5 billion? In gambling terms, it's about 20 times less likely than drawing royal flushes on consecutive hands in video poker. It's about 7 times less likely than hitting the multimillion-dollar jackpot on a Megabucks slot machine. It's about half as likely as being dealt blackjacks seven hands in a row.

I've never had any of that happen to me. I don't expect ever to hold the dice for four hours, either.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski