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I received an email saying more should be done with craps, that there are still a lot of players around Vegas who would like to get some tips.

You ask, we deliver.

I went right to Jay Hill, table games manager at Jerry’s Nugget because Jay is accessible and an expert. Plus Jerry’s has a $3 minimum at all times, which appeals to my wallet. Naturally I threw many more 7’s than my budget would allow so the following will hopefully be useful in the future for both you and I.

If, indeed, there is a future for me at the table.

“For the novice player who walks into Jerry’s, I would advise him to bet the pass or don’t pass, the come or don’t come and place the 6 and the 8,” said Hill, who gained most of his experience during a 26-year stay at the Desert Inn.

“You are either betting against the dice or with it,” Hill continued. “If you are on a don’t pass and throw a 7 you are going to win. Bet the pass line and you lose on 7.”

The 6 and 8 are key numbers in formulating a strategy. Almost every crap dealer in the pit would recommend placing the minimum number of chips on the 6 and 8 and backing up your original $3 bet on the pass line with $5 until you feel comfortable and more adventurous.

“The game of dice at Jerry’s Nugget is very popular,” Hill said. “The $3 minimum is kept all day. When you raise minimums at certain times of the day it tends to offend people and chases them off. At Jerry’s Nugget we want to be totally customer friendly.”

Prior to Hill’s arrival at Jerry’s, the previous management would raise the $3 minimum at 6 p.m. when the swing shift would come on. That policy was changed when Hill arrived.

“Everyone would pick up their money and leave the game,” Hill said. “It was defeating the purpose. We want people to stay, have fun and risk their money. When working in the casino industry you have to cater to the clientele and design your games for them.”

The game of craps is the same as it was 50 years ago because the odds don’t change on the dice. There is however one major addition, similar to what you find in sports betting – the advent of the prop wager.

“I put in a game called Bonus Craps and since we’ve had it, our handle has increased approximately 66 to 70 percent from the previous year,” Hill said.

Basically, Bonus Craps is a side bet where you either roll five low numbers before a 7 appears, five high numbers before a 7 appears or 10 numbers before seeing the dreaded 7.

“It has increased the interest in my game tremendously,” Hill said. “Yes, it does slow the game down a bit, which may annoy traditional dice players who like to see the game played fast. But, it has been good for us.”

These props become especially important in competing with the competition from electronic games and online betting.

“It’s possible there will be a time when casinos don’t have dice tables,” Hill said. “They have tried to do the electric tables and you see them at the gaming shows every year. There is the electronic dealer on the screen, but you don’t get the personal interaction. People like a live dealer.”

Even though dealers will make mistakes from time to time, people do tend to gravitate to them because you can see that person. There is that trust factor that can come into question both online and through an electric game that could be considered programmed.

“I am personally opposed to online gaming because I don’t trust it,” Hill said. “How do you know it is going to be on the up and up and how do you regulate it? That’s just my personal opinion.”

Plus you can’t ask a machine for advice. Here at Jerry’s, where dealers know customers on a first name basis (especially when they lose like I do), that’s a definite ace in the hole.

“You have to set a strategy and play the proper way for that game no matter how high or low the bets are,” Hill said. “Play the proper way and hope the dice work for you. That’s all you can do. We’ll give you the best customer service we can.”

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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