Book Review: The Dice Doctor by Sam Grafstein

May 3, 2011 6:00 AM

Every now and then, a book comes along that grabs my interest in its inky tentacles and won’t release me from its verbal grasp until emptying its total reservoir of rhetoric into my literary veins. How-to books usually don’t fit that mold, but old-timer Sam Grafstein’s The Dice Doctor (224 pgs, $14.95) is the rare exception.

Style – old-fashioned moxie on how to educate without dictating – is The Dice Doctor’s prescription entertainingly delivered by wordmaster Grafstein.

This revered tome on how to cure what ails your dice strategy has been around as long as grandma’s chicken soup, but never as readable as this revised and expanded edition fresh off the press from Cardoza Publishing, which is currently reviving many of the oldies but goodies, like Elvis 78’s converted to CD’s with re-engineered soundtracks.

After giving you a vivid glimpse of his childhood rolling the bones in back alleys, Grafstein debunks several dice myths with a disillusioning chapter titled "Realities at the Crap Table" in which he pops the balloon of naïve shooters who think they’re due to win or have paid big bucks for a faux guru’s winning system.

"Putting it in crap table lingo, in playing systems, you could be chasing a peanut with a palm tree," he says, going on to say that even a nine-year-old can understand most complex systems developed by astute mathematicians.

He asks them to "stick to the academics that sent man to the moon … and let those of us who might have only learned to count from 1 to 10, plus a street education, handle the crap game."

Sam the man’s main thrust is educating craps novices and habitués about the fundamentals as well as the intricacies of the game. In 11 fast-moving chapters of dice advice, he explains "Right Betting," followed "My 12 Winning Plays for the Right Bettors," "Wrong Betting" and "My 7 Winning Plays for the Wrong Bettor" plus "The Dice Doctor’s 11 Rules of Being a Winning Craps Player."

The doctor of dice spices each chapter with vintage anecdotes, such as the time he was working as the stickman in a floating crap game during the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, where he called a monster hand – a 23-pass hand that included only four naturals, all of which showed on the come-out roll for a new pass line point, plus 19 pass line points, and no crap rolls.

Tapped out, his boss ordered Sam off the stick, but "there were a few ‘gentlemen’ in the game with bulges under their jackets who made it clear that I was to finish calling the hand, and they would take my boss’s personal markers should they beat him for more.

"Since he had nothing further to lose, my boss agreed. He also felt that should he refuse, things could be a bit messy – cement was reasonable at the time. I’m just kidding! They didn’t use cement. They used pig iron."

Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to this saga and loads of other colorful dice dramas – Grafstein’s antidote to the poisons of poor play at dice – in a book sure to fill the doctor’s orders for rehabilitating your craps bankroll.

These books and thousands of other titles are available at Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at www.gamblersbookclub.com, where you can view the store’s complete line of books, or by phone at 1-800-522-1777 or 702-382-7555 M-F 9-7 and Sat 10-6. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip or the airport.