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Don’t sweat it!

Mar 30, 2004 7:21 AM

Sometimes "old timers" like myself can be susceptible to an overly romantic view of "the good old days" in the gaming industry. However, there is one aspect of the way things used to be that is best left in the past, and that is casinos and bosses that "sweat the money."

I remember a Bill Cosby skit where he wonders why players are the only ones that pray for luck, that you never hear a pit boss say: "Oh God, please don’t let him make another pass!"

I’m glad that Mr. Cosby has never heard anything like that, and I wish I could say the same.

While all bosses like to acknowledge the fact that the percentages favor the house and that the house always wins in the long run, their behavior doesn’t always validate this belief. I once remarked to a boss that he can’t expect his craps table to win every night, but his incredulous response was, "Why not?"

At some unfortunate moment in casino history, bosses went from being the persons responsible for insuring that the games were run "on the square" to becoming the persons responsible for all games winning all the time.

Thus, "sweating the money" was practiced, which simply means the casino bosses will do anything (legal) to gain advantage.

In recent months, we’ve seen sweating the money at blackjack tables, where some casinos have cut blackjack payoffs from 3-2 to 6-5, required dealers to hit a soft 17, or cut the deck "thick" to promote more frequent shuffling.

Now, your average casino patron often has some humorous theories concerning what they think casino management believes. The most astounding to me is that management likes an occasional big winner, because it is good advertising.

But realistically, even the most enlightened pit boss doesn’t believe that a big winner will either take out a classified ad in a newspaper or tell enough of his friends about his good fortune to significantly affect his casino’s drop.

On the other hand, some morons accuse a suit that asked a shooter to hit the end wall of the table with the dice, of doing so only because the shooter was having a good run.

It is clear to me that some players need some instruction in spotting the difference between bosses doing what is necessary for game protection and those who have developed too much of an emotional stake in the outcome of his game.

After the shooter has come-out on a point, the stickman will often use his stick to turn both dice in unison from top to bottom. This is done to insure that the shooter has not switched the casino’s dice for "tops" and that both sides of die add up to seven.

A good boxman will sometimes instruct the stickman to turn the dice more often, especially after the shooter has accomplished something extraordinary, such as rolling "boxcars" three rolls in a row.

However if the stickman is turning the dice after every roll, rest assured it is because he is working for people that want to believe that turning the dice will magically cause the dice to seven-out.

If the boxman wants to examine the dice, he has the right and the obligation to pick them up and look at them; he doesn’t require the ritual of the stickman turning the dice.

When I was a break-in dealer, the bosses always insisted the only reason they told me to turn the dice was to "make sure they are our dice." I stopped believing that line when a suit asked me: "Why were you turning the dice when the big money was on the don’t pass?"

Most casinos probably change the dice on a craps game three times a day, usually at the shift changes. Although I doubt that there is any gaming regulation requiring it, dice are only supposed to be changed after a seven-out for the pass line.

I was once running a dice pit and had to call the casino manager to tell him one of my games was stuck for a large amount of money. His solution: change the dice on the next seven-out. I tried to warn him that there were some sharp players and that they wouldn’t like it if they saw me change the dice.

Of course, he wanted me to do it anyway. Sure enough, when the players saw new dice on the game, they accused me of ruining the game and colored up their checks and left.

How many casino college courses does one have to attend to know that once your winning players leave, it is impossible to win the money back? This was the same casino manager that later did what I have only seen done twice in over a quarter of a century: change the dice on a winning seven at the pass line!

Know this: If you see the dice changed more than once in an eight hour period, you are playing in a casino that is run by idiots.

The more the dice pass, the faster a sweater will want the dice to move. They indicate this to the stickman by waving their hand from side to side, which is the international signal for the stickman to send the dice to the shooter. I’m unclear as to how running over the players and dealers achieves their ultimate goal of a seven-out. I have worked on tables where the players on packed games were required to move with vampire-like speed in order to get their bets down because the dice never stopped, even for a second, in the middle of a table.

Even if I were one to sweat the money, I would think it illogical to get more rolls when the dice are passing (winning) because the dealers would have to make more payoffs.

Besides standing behind a game and mumbling insults at the stickman (who they believe is responsible for the long hand), bosses have some more colorful and ridiculous ways of bringing a seven-out. Some of the other things I have seen done is: tapping the back of a base dealer so he can trade places with the evil stickman, crawl under a table and sprinkle salt on the shooter’s shoes, throw a penny under the table and making a sign on the back of a rating slip saying, "SFO" (seven f***ing out) and holding it for the stickman to see.

My advice to players who see some of the things I have described is to vote with your feet and take your business to some place that appreciates it. You might be tempted to say something to the suits but even if you were correct and didn’t misinterpret what you saw, your words would fall either on deaf ears or ones that are connected to a mouth that doesn’t have the guts to relay your complaint to upper management.

(Dale S. Yeazel is the author of "Precision Crap Dealing" and "Dealing Mini-Baccarat." Full color E-books on CD-Rom available for only $20 each (plus tax) at Gamblers Book Shop and Gamblers General Store in Las Vegas.