Posted by odiousgambit
Jun 22, 2012

Harrington Again

Well, Thursday was the big day for my new approach to Craps [see prior blog post]. I had reason to start out early and got there before 9 AM when the Craps table was due to open ; in fact all table games awaited that time to open. With some trepidation I chose Video BJ [VBJ] to kill some time. The giant screen with the alternating "chicks" dealing the game was a little off-putting, but I never play slots and although I finally found Video Poker I didn't recognize any of the games and forget that. The idea with this particular VBJ setup is clearly to entice male players with beautiful women to eyeball, but in spite of successfully getting some gorgeous gals they came across as robotic and intimidating. Thinking back on it later they seemed a little elevated, like is done with the judge in court, so that was the wrong effect too. But the rules seemed fair enough, BJ paid 3:2, S17, double down on any 2, splitting and DAS but no resplitting and no surrender. But 7 card Charlie was included and the minimum bet was $5, which I was not going to exceed. Unknown number of decks, I have to guess you got a new 52 each hand, but we've all seen worse. So I sat down and after being up 4 units promptly was down 6 instead. I pulled out of that and went to my favorite really great comfortable chair and read my newspaper for a while.

9 AM rolled around and I checked in at the Craps table to find they weren't ready, still counting the money they said. So I wandered back to the VBJ tables and decided I wasn't going to be doing anything stupid, and have some fun with the ladies. I feared one problem is that the game goes too fast, and that a player doesnt realize how much he is really coining-in in a short period of time. So I waited till the dealer would chide me to bet or say something about side bets. When you waited for this prompt to place your bet, the machine abruptly got the lady going with the dealing, and you would see her jerk as the video changed. I was getting a kick out of this! So, chick, you're going to hustle me? Click! She snaps to it like I had goosed her! Uh Oh, am I in trouble now? Nope, she is smiling away! Well, I am sure that would get old but I wasn't going to sit there too long. I timed it this time at 13 minutes and made 19 bets [sure enough down about 6 units again]. This rate of play is pretty normal; alone at a dealer-dealt game it can go faster, especially with continuous shuffle machines. It's just that BJ usually does this to me, it seems. That thing of not winning when doubling and splitting can really kick in.

Finally I can play Craps and indeed am the only one at the table to start. So I stick to my plan to play 10x odds on the darkside. 20 bets only at max odds [not counting line bets instantly resolved] and call it a session, and also call it a session if 4 points in a row are resolved as a right-bettor win [or any other situation that shows I am clearly getting clobbered]. At a count of 8 I have indeed lost 4 in a row of my big bets, 2 of which were $200 laid free odds on a 4 or 10 established point. Session over. Second session started fairly soon after, I sure wasnt going to be playing BJ or anything. This time I was going to play 2x odds darkside and play till it wasnt fun or I got hungry. But I kept winning, so I went with 3x4x5x except would only lay $12 free odds on the 6 or 8. This worked out well too and I started with frequent DC bets and kept winning. I got back enough of my earlier losses to feel good about it, but I hit a plateau about lunch time and never went back to laying 10x free odds, still being down overall. It was good, though, to have a winning session. I reinforced my superstition about players buying in with small bankrolls. I would look at that and look at them and think, man, that is not going to last. And I'm thinking, I might as well be on the side that is going to be scooping that up, too, and would be sure to lay bigger bets and do the DC too when somebody like that bought in [none lasted]. As unsupportable as that is mathematically, it worked for me. Unfortunately you can also make a case the dice scoffed at my $1000 buy in when they found out I was going to go for 10x odds darkside, a barely sufficient bankroll even when limiting the session, so maybe I was also hoisted on my own petard for session no. 1.

I got a comped buffet [first time I ever asked for anything at Harrington] and then headed out to check out Maryland Live, which will be part II.

Posted by odiousgambit
Jun 16, 2012

New Approach to Craps to be Tested

It occurred to me playing BJ about a year ago or so: even if the HE is low, half a percent or so, a player doing nothing to get an edge still easily gets the notion he has a roughly 50-50 chance to win a session as to lose. After getting beat up playing alone at a table yet again, I decided this notion is wrong. Not if you think you can sit there playing for hours. BJ is like proposition betting in Craps in that [usually] the bet is resolved quickly [damn fast when playing alone]. And Variance in BJ is very low. Bad combination!

Craps, on the other hand, has some redeeming features in this regard. You can avoid instantly resolved bets. You have to stand there too, usually, so it's just a bit harder to be stupid about your sessions. And variance is enormous, even if admittedly a double-edged sword. My experience when I started playing Craps was to either win or come close to breaking even each session; this went on for a couple of years, bearing in mind I almost never got to play. More recently my luck has caught up with me, and the game has sent me away limping from a hit in the wallet.

Oh those thrilling days of yesteryear! But now I have a healthy respect for the possible damage and want to play smarter. What I had been doing was playing for a couple of hours and calling it a session, usually wanting to do two sessions a day. I would play the line with max odds at a 3x4x5x $5 min table. This meant about 30 come out rolls per hour, but I would usually play the Come sometimes as well, so 45 bets per hour was typical as far as I can determine. Lately it has been harder to find less than $10 for min on the line. At that rate, 45 bets at say $38 each meant I was risking $1700/hr and $3400 per session. Sure the HE was pretty low, but forget about the -$6.30 EV per hr; the reality of risking that much money means swings of hundreds of dollars; this without adding place betting or whatever [which in fact I have avoided for the most part]. I have come to realize that the bankroll I am comfortable with can just take too big a hit.

The new plan:

Short Darkside sessions with no Come betting if at an empty table. $10 on the line even if min is $5. If 10x odds is available [and it is where I am going] make no more than 20 bets/session but at full odds. If 3x4x5x is it, 30 bets per session, stay Darkside.

If at a full table and in the mood for a long session, be a Right Bettor and stick to 2x odds no matter if better odds offered. Come betting OK if table is $5, limit Come betting if $10. Satisfying need for action comes with more betting.

Compare the $1700/hr above to the 10x short session. I figure $80 average bet for the latter. 20 bets=$1600. The money risked is actually less! The need for Action is satisfied by the large bets; if my point is 10 or 4 a piker like me will be putting up $200 in odds! If that doesn't do it then start bungee jumping or sky diving, something's wrong!

One thing that tells me this is the right way to go is the way the Casino would look at it. They have to want players making 45 bets on the line per hour, $450 , not 20 bets and only $200 on the line. The test will be if I forget it is money and it is just chips and go off and bet more. But I can guarantee that is not going to happen the first sessions. It will be tested this upcoming week at Harrington. BTW I have an exit plan: 4 losing point resolutions in a row playing darkside means the session is over! In simulation I find I don't care about the line bets losing. It hardly matters!

The 3x4x5x $10 plan, 30 darkside bets, *has* been tested at a real table. It was slaughter after about 15 bets, at which point I stopped. A later Right Bettor session was also a severe beating that lasted only about 15 bets.

Wish me luck, heading to Harrington this week and 10x odds will be available. I also should be able to check out Maryland Live, Bankroll willing.


Nareed Jun 16, 2012

Good luck!

odiousgambit Jun 21, 2012

well, no one else besides Nareed wished me luck but today is the day. Will have to decide what to do if Harrington tables are packed even at 9 AM, as happened to CrapsForever.

Posted by odiousgambit
Dec 29, 2011

"The Cooler"

Saw this movie recently.

Mini-review without spoilers, an old fashioned casino in Mob days employs a "Cooler", a big loser who's luck is so bad they send him in to tables where people are having too much luck to suit the casino. This "cools off" the table; he is considered "the best". He wants to quit, though, and he is so valuable in the mind of the character played by Alec Baldwin that this must not be. So the story revolves around ironic developments thereafter. Good performance by the actors, Alec is good in this one. Contains as good a depiction of action at the craps table as I have seen in a gambling movie; it strictly showed only rolling the 7,11, or craps in the come-out though [perhaps understandably]. Maybe some hard-ways were mentioned.

Wound up wondering about this movie, though. How common was the practice of using Coolers in the old days? Does it still happen today? Additionally, according to the movie, any big winner was intolerable and subject to harassment even if it was clear they weren't cheating. They would be back-roomed or worse. Was that really true in mob days? Also, I believe in this movie it was suggested people who were just too lucky would get themselves banned, there was none of this smarter ploy of encouraging them to stay by all means possible. I think I can answer that one myself: the casinos couldn't possibly have been that dumb!!

PS: one scene shows Baldwin catching a cheating dice player using a device that fed crooked dice into his palm from his sleeve. Baldwin would seem to be using x-ray vision to spot this! You have to wonder why the director thought that was the right way to show the scene, geez.


FleaStiff Dec 29, 2011

Coolers? Pure Hollywood. Absolute utter hype.

Las Vegas used to employ "hotters" rather than coolers. Yep. Shills. They were of two types. Movie stars who would shill for them and just ordinary attractive young men and women who knew how to look good, smile and be pleasant players who would "open" games and then quietly fade away. What is now known as Big Table Baccarat used to be the only Baccarat there was: hoity toity pretense, separate rooms or alcoves, evening wear, chandeliers, more mature dealers in atleast suits but usually evening dress. Games like that would often be started by shills who would even beckon passersby. The dealers didn't but the shills could. The rule for shills was simple. Any male shill who cashed chips ever would get worked over but good, no matter who he was related to.

A winner? The mob knew you had to let there be winners or there would be darn few gamblers. Sure there was some distrust because usually a winner just probably was a cheater and if they couldn't tell how he was cheating that didn't make them think he was lucky. Send in a special dealer? No, not usually. It would be either normal rotation or it would be a trusted dealer who had been with them for years. Would a floor person try some foolish and cutesy trick such as writing Shazam on a piece of paper and throwing it on the floor under the craps table? Sure. Did it ever work? You tell me. Did some in Vegas think that it worked? Sure. Some of them were real superstitious.

ncfatcat Dec 29, 2011

Macy as always was great in that movie. My luck is so bad I started wondering where to apply for the job LOL

AZDuffman Dec 29, 2011

"Additionally, according to the movie, any big winner was intolerable and subject to harassment even if it was clear they weren't cheating. They would be back-roomed or worse. Was that really true in mob days? Also, I believe in this movie it was suggested people who were just too lucky would get themselves banned, there was none of this smarter ploy of encouraging them to stay by all means possible. I think I can answer that one myself: the casinos couldn't possibly have been that dumb!!"

The late Frank Rosenthal said on his site that the APs who were not cheating would be given a friendly but very firm tap on the shoulder and told to get lost. But remember "Casino" where he keeps the big winner in the casino? In his book he said that winners should be comped like crazy, free everything, so that they lose it all back and so that you can find out if they are on the level.

Rosenthal was a very intelligent individual and had business sense. What he did might not have been what the earlier-era mobster or lower-level guy might have done. From my readings, however, I think they tolerated a few big winners because then as now they knew you bring in losers by sending out winners. In that regard, repetition looks like it was key. A nice guy or couple from Cleveland who had a winning vacation, let them go home and tell everyone about it. Local has a winning session, who cares as they will drop it all back next visit. But if someone came in and won, week in and week out, that is the one they back-roomed. For example, look at Ken Uston. Early wins were tolerated but eventually he was escorted to the parking lot where he seems to have fallen down and the "secutiry" tried to help him get up.

EvenBob Dec 30, 2011

In the 60's the Mob still ran NV. My mothers

husband would sometimes win 10k to 15k in

Reno. The casino would always send a twin

engine plane to Sacramento to pick him up

the next weekend, and he'd lose it all back.

He loved this, it made him feel important. If

he'd refused to go, I wonder what the 'boys'

would have done.

Tiltpoul Dec 30, 2011

This movie is one of the most boring movies ever. I understand the reasoning for a dark and dimly lit setting, but come on. The cinematic quality is wretched. The ending is also preposterous. At least the Ocean's series all present the real challenges facing thieves in casinos. This movie sets up a scenario where nothing has existed or would exist today.

Posted by odiousgambit
Dec 07, 2011

Wincraps looks at Blackjack

It occurred to me that Wincraps could simulate BJ in a manner of speaking. I took the Wincraps program and altered the chances of rolling a 7 so that the true probability changed [the program automatically adjusts the chances of rolling the other numbers and will give theoretical HE] and by tweaking it got the HE on the don't pass altered to -0.26%, a pretty good game to find I think most of us could confirm. I wanted to see how longer sessions fared compared to shorter ones. So I ran it untill I had 1200 sessions in each case below. Each session was a different size, 300 rolls with approximately 100 come-out rolls included in the first case, for example. I felt this might simulate about an hour at a full BJ table. It has become my opinion that BJ will grind away a player going longer than that so that there is not much else to expect than to be losing, and seldom winning much, if that would be one's luck.

I had thought 1200 sessions in each case would be pretty stable. The 1200 sessions with 300 rolls each I did last, and it surprised me that the break-even % went up so much, enough that breaking even plus winning got close to 50%. So I ran it again and got two surprises, win + break-even exceeding 50%! and also thus an indication that my sample size is too small. In other words, there is a degree of sampling error and for any 1200 sessions you don't get enough data to be sure about things.

Well, anyway, I'm not sure I will do more than this, but I feel it supports that this grousing about not winning in BJ that we are hearing [including from me] has a little bit of disingenuousness to it. The effect of sitting at a BJ table for long sessions, even at pretty good HE, is really, really trying to get quite lucky, I am now thinking. To expect different results, do something different. Shorter sessions seems to be the way to go, save being an AP.

PS: the good news is I have learned how to get data from Wincraps by session, which stumped me for a long time.

Session Size-1200 session data Win % Break-Even % Loss % Win + Break-Even %
300 Rolls a 44.33 4.58 51.08 48.91
300 Rolls b 47.00 4.75 48.25 51.75
600 Rolls 45.77 2.28 51.95 48.05
1200 Rolls 45.54 1.65 52.81 47.19

Posted by odiousgambit
Dec 05, 2011

WWII Interest

As the proportion of associates at work etc. gets younger, it's getting more rare now to find other people interested in WWII, so it is kind of cool to be able to discuss it in this forum.

Do you have books you would never lend to anyone? In the case of WWII, I have two I would never lend, The Two-Ocean War by Samuel Morison and The Luftwaffe War Diaries by Cajus Bekker. I was checking out the second one to see if I might start a thread on night fighter radar, but found I was remembering some things wrong. Anyway, one thing led to another and came across this interesting statement I thought I would share about American research in radar in WWII:

"over 2.1 billion dollars were spent on the development of radar. This was about as much as was spent on the development of the atom bomb."

I was certainly aware that American research paid off. It played a huge role in defeating the Japanese. As far as the Germans go, they were quite advanced in radar but were shocked to find out the British were roughly as developed technologically and were advanced in actual application. I had thought that the Germans were the first to deploy radar in night fighters, but evidently not [the internet helps!].

Quoted Link


Face Dec 05, 2011

WWII has always blown my mind, and I find I have to take breaks when getting into it.

I remember watching one of my favorite movies, Midway, when I was really young an thought "oh, so that's what WWII was". That movie got me into the History Channel documentaries on warfare - Operation Barbarossa, Pearl Harbor attack, Wake Islands, Iwo Jima, Battle of Normandy, Guadalcanal, the Holocaust, The Bomb... and it wasn't for years until I realized, holy sh!t, that's all ONE WAR.

And same as you, I wondered at the tech, from radar to jet fighters to munitions. The the carpet bombing of entire regions, the naval battles, the kamikaze, the panzerkampfwagen, it staggers the mind. If it hadn't happened and someone told it as a story, a battle that spanned from the Aleutians, to the southern Pacific rim, over to Northern Africa and the whole of Europe, it'd be laughed off as absurd.

rdw4potus Dec 10, 2011

Growing up, I was a big WWII buff. Now, most of that knowledge has been replaced by less interesting things. I do try to pay my respects at the shrine to Butch O'hare whenever I'm at ORD. Ironically, a sushi restaurant has the space right next to it.

Mosca Dec 29, 2011

A friend of my dad's was in the first wave to land on Guadalcanal. He wrote a memoir. I transcribed it, typos and all; I'll PM it to you if you PM me.