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Best of The Midnight Skulker

Gaming Guru

 

Confessions of a Beginning Craps Player

14 August 2001

Inspired by John Grochowski's recent article "Confessions of a Beginning Roulette Player," I am attempting to redeem myself for a gaffe of proportions similar to his, executed during my second time ever playing casino craps. The year was 1968. My parents were taking a vacation, beginning by spending a few days at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. I left home with them, returning by air while they continued their tour by car.

I had always shunned craps as being "too complicated," but I decided to take the plunge on this trip after learning that the Pass Line was roughly equivalent to the game as I knew it.

I honestly have no recollection of my first session, but obviously I survived it. For my second session I bellied up to the end of a sparsely populated table. Frankie, the dealer on my end, immediately recognized that I was a novice and began giving me an explanation of the various bets available. When the dealers rotated, Frankie told his replacement to "take care of the new player," and this instruction was passed on to the rest of the crew in turn. After a couple hours of play I was a little ahead, but my profit was dwindling, so I left to seek my fortune at another table, and then another table, and then another.

No fortune was forthcoming, so I returned to Frankie's table and took up my former position at his end. I was taken somewhat aback when the stickman said, "Frankie, your friend's back," in a manner that suggested Frankie was not going to be happy to see me. This was confirmed when Frankie pointedly ignored me, going so far as to turn his back on me. Of course, he had to take my losing and pay my winning bets, but he said nary a word to me and made it quite clear that I was not his friend.

I was of course mystified and rather hurt by this 180-degree change in behavior, and I left the table after only a few minutes. The only reason I could think of for the reversal was that Frankie had incurred the wrath of his crewmates and/or his superiors by taking me under his wing. In particular, I figured he must have been scolded for telling me about the free odds bet, which in those days was a well-kept secret. By ignoring me he was showing his antagonists that he was not going to continue to give me special treatment.

Over 30 years later I just happened to recall this incident, and after that much experience at the craps tables I thought of a more likely reason for my change of status from favored student to pariah: out of ignorance I had not made a single bet for the boys. It is not my intent to discuss the practice of tipping here, but I doubt many would dispute that giving a beginner a two-hour personal lesson on the game was well above and beyond the call of duty, and deserving of a reward. Unlike John Grochowski's roulette dealer, who could (and I feel should) have told him that what he was doing was making her life difficult, my craps crew was probably prohibited by Tropicana policy from hustling for tips, so they tried to get the message across by other means.

Frankie, what can I say after I say I'm sorry? (Trust me, you don't want me to try to sing that line.) The message was a little late getting through.

The Midnight Skulker
The Midnight Skulker has been playing craps for over three decades and has played almost everywhere in the country. He is a computer expert and a frequent contributor to Internet newgroups, where his opinions and observations have earned him much respect.
The Midnight Skulker
The Midnight Skulker has been playing craps for over three decades and has played almost everywhere in the country. He is a computer expert and a frequent contributor to Internet newgroups, where his opinions and observations have earned him much respect.