SHOOTING DICE: THE HOOK
Learning how to gamble is like learning how to shoot heroin; they do it not knowing what to expect. If the player does it right the first time the rush is euphoric. He does it again chasing that rush. Win or lose on the next try, the body becomes physically addicted and just like the junky the player is hooked. That was the other thing the casinos understood about human nature. Just like they realized they could control the employees through fear and intimidation, they knew how to play on man's greed and his ability to become addicted to gambling.
Gambling is as addictive of drug as any of the republican drugs I mentioned earlier. Rather than being called an alcoholic or a junky, they are called compulsive gamblers. Just like the others, their lives are destroyed by it. They will lie, cheat, beg, borrow or steal, to or from anyone because they "need that cash to feed that jones."
On occasion, the gambler would seek the assistance of a loan shark. Loan sharks were in every casino. If a person's line of credit had run up and he had no other way of financing his habit, either upper management or a Casino Host would set them up with a shark. The problem with getting money through them was if the gambler missed a payment they would end up making it with their life. Not too many of the casino workers realized that.
The Casino Host was paid to be a kiss-ass to the players. They got them anything from rooms, dinners, shows, drugs, and whores, to money at a very high interest rate. The Host was similar to the pimp and pusher of the casino.
There were two possibilities that could happen to the first time gambler. The first was that he would lose big and/or fast. That would make him so disgusted with the whole idea of gambling he refused to do it again. That was what happened to me that night at Harrah's Marina. The second possibility was that he would win big and/or fast. If that happened, the gambler would spend the rest of his life chasing that very rush. The casinos knew that. They used that knowledge and their power to suck dry every rich or greedy fool stupid enough to walk into their joint.
We could always tell the first time player. He was the guy holding his "gaming guide" and asking the crew questions about how to play the game.
The gaming guide was a pamphlet given to the customers by the CCC at no charge. It contained pictures of all the games and explained how to play each one. It was what the state used to entice the people into betting.
The crew would explain the basic strategy of the two lines. If the player began to bet the Don't Pass line, someone would be quick to point out to him that he was betting against the shooter or himself, not with the odds. The "green" player did not want to seem like he was a non-believer in himself or insult the shooter by betting against him, so he would change lines.
Next, the crew tried to get a crowd to the game by becoming loud and excited. The people walking by, or on the next game, would hear the uproar and begin to play on that game. As soon as they had their crowd, a duke was called and the table turned hot. That in turn encouraged everyone to wager every known bet on the game.
The Floorperson was the one who initiated the gathering of the crowd and drew in the new players. He or she would indicate to the new player that he was missing out on making a lot of money by pointing out the money the other players were making and encourage him to make more bets. Slowly, they showed him various other bets he could be making. (I am sure this sounds very familiar to many gamblers.) First they would show him how the others were taking odds and explain what that would do for him "when" he won. Then they showed the money being made on the place and Come bets. Each time one would roll, they made sure to direct his attention to the bets being paid. They did the same with the hardways. If the players were betting a lot of prop bets, then they rolled every come out roll. And I am not talking just once. There would be naturals rolling back-to-back-to-back. The new player would notice everyone being paid when his bet might lose on a crap number and ask what was going on. The Floorperson would explain to him that people were making one roll bets and they were not usually a good thing to wager, but he would still demonstrate the advantage of betting the "any crap" on the come out roll. The player, seeing that people were making a lot of money for a little investment, would make those bets and would be allowed to win them. Within time, he would begin to make Come or place bets. He would then be taught the press. When the other players did that and won, the Floor would jokingly rub it into the face of our new player by telling him he was missing out on making more money. The new player would begin to follow this advice. After about one hour, he would get the hang of it and start to feel the rush. After two hours, he could be up ten times his initial investment. The sap is hooked.
While our new player is learning, the cocktail waitress walks up to the game. Bally's would bring them into the pit and put them on display for everyone - especially if she was the wife of a supervisor. The other casinos would not do that because, they told me, it was against the law for waitresses to be in the pit. Yet Bally's did it everyday. A lot of those girls were model wanna-be's or coke whores. And cocaine was not the only thing they would "give it up" for. Some were even escorts or prostitutes for the "high rollers" after work. But as soon as she appears, the Floorperson asks the new player if he could get him a complimentary beverage from "the girl". The new player, not knowing that was something the casinos did, would become impressed and order a drink. When it arrived, he would thank the Floorperson as he took his first sip. The casino used free alcohol not only as an enticement to get the players to go there, but to get them drunk as well, because a drunk player was a shitty gambler.
I read in The Atlantic City Press about a lottery winner who lost all his winnings at the Golden Nugget casino. That was the one owned by that lovable guy we saw on TV commercials with Frank Sinatra during Sunday football games named Steve Wynn. The player was suing the casino because he claimed they gave him alcohol knowing very well it would not mix with the medication they knew he was on. This impaired his thought process and the poor sap lost everything he had - a couple hundred thousand dollars over a period of a few months. The casino's defense was they did not force it on him and it was his own fault for not being a good gambler. Well, we all know now what a crock that was, right?
After about two hours, the table would cool off and the dice would go back into normal mode. By that time the player would be higher than ever before. His head would be spinning as he cannot believe he made more money in one or two hours than he could have working at his job for one or two months. But he would not be compulsive yet--that would take two visits to the game.
At this point he notices himself starting to lose back the money he made, so he would make the decision that it is a good time for a break. The Floorperson would notice him gathering up his money and ask if he is leaving. When the player would say he was going to take a little break, the Floor would ask, "Can I color up your money for you, sir? It will make it easier for you to carry." The player would look at him with confusion and the Floor would explain, "We'll give you the big checks for all that junk you have to carry." The player, realizing he was going to get those $500 checks, would agree. The house only did that for a player if they requested it. The only time the house offered to do that was if they needed the smaller checks the player had or if they wanted to find out how much the player won. In this scenario, it would be the latter. While that was being done, the player would not want to seem like he was going to take the money and run, so he would come up with an excuse as to why he was leaving. He would mention something like he is hungry and wants to go get something to eat. (Enter the next hook.) The Floorperson would then offer to get the dinner for him. The player would also not understand that statement and would ask what he had to do to get that. "You fill out this card here," the Floor would explain as he hands him a rating card he had waiting for him (if the player did not have an excuse to leave then the casino would offer this anyway), "and I give it to the Pitboss and with any luck, we'll have an answer for you in a couple of minutes." The player became bewildered. Not only could he get any drink known to man just by asking for it, but the casino would feed him for free as well. When the Floorperson would ask what restaurant he wanted to eat at and how many there would be, he would become dumbfounded even more. He could now impress his family not only with all the money he won but with the free dinner too. He liked what he saw so much that he would decide he will give another go at it when he finds the time. He would leave his new friends very happy and with a smile.
It may take two hours, two days, two weeks, or even two months for our new player to return to the craps table, but he will return. Don't forget, he is greedy by nature and has just found a place where he can get free drinks, free food, and free money. He recalls how exciting the rush was that first time and wants another fix. Not only that, but all the free tits in his face was not bad either. When he returns, he will look for that familiar face of his new friend who gave him his business card the first time he was there. (That was a joke. The casinos would give these thieves business cards with the casino's logo, address, and phone number on it as well as the employee's name. It made those guys feel like they had a real and respectable job. It also made the player feel the business was legit.) He returns to that same casino and the same Floorperson who taught him how to win money and treated him like the big shot he wished he was. This time, however, he is not as "green" as he was the last time and can now play on his own.
Our new player recalls what happened the first time he played. Being a "do" player made him a lot of money, so he is going to stick with that same system.
He brings with him his new philosophy; the more you bet the more you win. Beetle had a similar saying I liked so much I adopted for myself. It went; "The more you bet the less you lose when you win." It is sick but true. I took it a little further, though, and would say to the gamblers, "The more you bet, the less you lose, when you win. Of course, by the same token; the less you bet, the more you win, when you lose." The players would give me a funny look. Some figured it out after a little time, but others were forever buried by it. With that new philosophy, the player buys in for a lot more money than he did the first time.
He is given a warm greeting by the Floor when he arrives. "Hello, Mr. R.," he says to the player as he shakes his hand, "how are you today?" Our player now has a name after filling out his first rating card and is treated like a long lost friend of the casino. The casinos always referred to the gamblers by the first letter of their last name. It wouldn't make for good business for the other customers to hear, "Hello, Mr. Gambino," or "Hello, Mr. Testa." Rather, they would say, "Hello, Mr. G.," or "Hello, Mr. T." Besides, those Boys did not want anyone playing to know who they were. Mr. R. remembered the comp and what he had to do to get one, so before he even gets his checks, he asks to be rated. He starts playing and the girl with the big boobs and undersized uniform comes by. He is in his glory.
By casino standards, our Floorperson is a good one. He takes Mr. R.'s rating card and looks him up in the computer. The computer displays that it is his second time in the casino since he won $5,000 on his first trip. It also shows that Mr. R. gambled for two hours, so our Floor figures he has at least that much time to win back the money he gave him. Mr. R. has brought that $5,000 because in his mind he has nothing to lose. He buys in for $1,500. This time, however, the Floorperson does not cut him a break
From the first bet, Mr. R. is losing. He is not worried though, because he is playing with the "house's" money.
Gamblers never think the money is theirs when they win. It's always free money. Mr. R., feeling the same way, keeps buying in, as he loses, until he has lost all of it back to the house.
Mr. R., is betting much more per bet than the previous time. From the time he begins, his bankroll will be down. Sometimes it will start out up a few hundred, but it will always go down from there. The key word here is down. They will keep the player down, let him recuperate a little at a time and then grind him back down and so on and so on until he is tapped.
The reason why Mr. R. never stopped was not so much that he felt it was not his money, but because it was so easy to win the first time he expected it to happen his second time as well. Certain it will happen again, he breaks into his "own" money.
The philosophy that "the more you bet, the more you win" was not the only one Mr. R. brought with him this time. This type of player also adopts another one that goes; the longer you play, the more you can win. (That was the same theory Guido and I brought with us to Harrah's.)
This time, Mr. R. came prepared and reserved a room at the hotel so he could spend the entire night "making money". The $5000 he just lost did not strike him yet because "it was not his money". He is now where he started from the first time he played with the exception that he is down the price of a hotel room.
He begins to play with the $500 he brought with him "just in case" he lost the "house" money, only this time he is betting a little more conservatively. He may win a few hundred bucks; he may lose all $500. If it is the former, it has no thrill for him after losing $5000. If it is the latter, then he feels he must get it back. Either way, he has not regained the rush and must continue chasing it. He has become addicted--he will return. The next time he goes back it really does not matter who's game he plays on. The thrill is over - the disease has entered.
Whenever a player won big the casino would suggest that he deposit the money in a house account. The house would hold the money (probably giving interest too) so the next time the player returned he could draw on that account by getting a marker at the table. Management would tell them it was so they did not have to worry about having to get, or carry, the money. The reason was so they could get the person to return to their casino. If the player either won or lost a lot of money, that would be considered strong play by the house and they would even send him or her limos and free hotel rooms just to entice them back.
A player could also have gotten a marker by filling out a credit application which the casino extended to him much like the credit card companies do. Once a player filled out one of those it was all over for him.
Let us say that Mr. R. lost the $500 he gambled beyond the $5000. While he was playing he saw a marker go out to another player and learned all about it. He didn't bring more money with him, so he figured he would go the same route. He proceeds to the Casino Credit department, located on the casino floor, and fills out an application. This is the same application everyone fills out whenever applying for any loan. The casino now has his name, address, social security number, and the name of his bank with his account number. They run the information through their computers just like Citibank or a department store would do. They are able to get hold or Mr. R.'s bank statement and learns he has over $50,000 in the bank, is paid up on all his loans, and makes $60,000 a year. (I am sure, knowing that he has over fifty grand in the bank, the casino will grant him a line of credit for that amount.) Being able to get into his bank records lets them know how much they can take from this guy before he is broke. And they will take it all. Mr. R. will lose all his money because only few gamblers can quit before hitting rock bottom. By using that knowledge, their power, and the rating system, the casino could diligently grind him down to a pauper.
There was a difference between the betting patterns off a Pass Line and a Don't Pass better. The Don't Pass player was more conservative, less greedy, and would usually play for a predetermined amount of time or money won. Those players were also called "don't" or "wrong" betters. They were called "wrong" betters because the house wanted everyone to believe that betting with the odds was wrong and the correct way to play was to go against them. Again, the psychological head game they played with the people. The Pass Line players (also known as "do" or "right" betters) were much more greedier by contrast and would usually play until they lost everything. Because the casinos understood that, they had a clever system for winning when a table had both types of gamblers on it.
When a table was filled with a group of right betters it usually ran two seven outs for every winner called. That gave the illusion that the players were not losing much. In reality they were not. If all they were betting was the Pass Line for five or ten dollars each time, whether or not they took the odds they were only losing between five and twenty dollars every three hands. The casino would drag out the point over time (provided no other bets were being made) and the player would hardly notice it. As soon as the "wrong" player began to play the table would turn hot.
As mentioned previously, the greedy "right" gambler will usually stay until he either loses everything or is thrown out. (That was why I was against 24 hour gambling. However, since I left the business, Atlantic City passed a 24 gambling law for the weekends and holidays.) Knowing that, the casino did not have to worry about them leaving while they went after the "don't" gambler.
Points would begin to be made and made with less rolls. Here was where laying odds could become disastrous. The "Don't" player was risking more money to win less. If he lost one bet with full odds then it would take winning two with full odds to win that back (provided he did not lose any come out roll bets). But the dealers could be cruel. It took fewer rolls to take everything from a "wrong" better because he was risking more on each bet. A few winners in a row and the house could have about half of his bankroll. A few more winners and they could have it all. As soon as they had run him off the game, they would go back to working on the "right" betters.
Buy that time, those players made some money at the "Don't's" expense, so they would start making other wagers. The house would give them one or two rolls and then the seven out. Two or three points later, and the "right" betters have lost back what they made. They're right back where they started from before the table got hot. The slow grind continued.
There was one thing the non-compulsive gambler did to keep some of the winnings. If he was a red check player then the moment he got a green check he would "go south" with it. That meant he would put it in his pocket. A gambler who bet green checks did the same when given black. When all the red or green checks played with were lost, the green or black ones which went south were taken to the cashier and the player left whether up or down. To combat that, management instructed dealers never to give a color above what was being bet. The casino would give a player a hundred checks of his color [unit] before giving him the next unit. Many players complained when they acquired too many checks in front of them, but unless they bitched real loud they lost the argument. The only other times a player would get the next unit was if the bank had only a couple of stacks of their particular color left and the fill had yet to arrive, or if the player was leaving the game and requested it. My supervisors often told me that as long as we did this we would get the money back in due time.
Sometimes a player no one liked showed up at a game. He may have been a flea, or a crybaby, or just someone who smelled bad. He might have been a stiff, or a shot taker, or just an asshole even by the employee's measures. Either way, someone or everyone on the crew did not want him there. Every player was at the mercy of this guy.
If the crew liked the other players on the game when the unwanted player arrived, then they tried to be merciful. They would attempt to call everything around his bet for as long as they could and then whack him. It did at times benefit the other players if they were not making the same bets. The crew would give him a pounding until he walked away. Then they would give each other a "job well done" and pick up where the game left off.
Tables would go hot and cold for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the crew was tired and wanted a break, so they would run everybody off. Another situation could be that the dealers were bored and wanted to jam, so they would call dukes. Maybe there were people betting for the dealers or the PC needed to be raised, so the game would go accordingly. Or there could have been a woman with a low cut dress who was the shooter. She would have a hot roll so they could keep her there while giving her the "short stick". That was where the stickman pushed out the dice just far enough so she would have to bend over the table exposing her cleavage for all to gawk at. But when management wanted a particular player to win, the dealers had no control.
There were definitely times when nothing the dealers did went the way we thought it would. It wasn't only the stickman who had control. The players thought so, but there were buttons all around the game. You could tell the Floorperson was making the seven roll by the way he would nonchalantly walk up next to the Boxperson, lean over to look at the bank, and pretend he was writing something down on his inventory slip. That always brought it out. It also added to my confusion about who really ran the game.
My guess was that the Floor ran everything and passed control on to each base dealer or Boxperson based on what he figured each person would do with the power. But if there was someone on the game who either upper management or the Floor personally wanted to win or lose, he would step (no pun intended) in.
There were times when no one on the crew could get the seven-out to roll. I figured upper management in the catwalks above the games was controlling it.
Upper management had a multitude of objectives for wanting particular players to win. For example, the player might have been a crybaby and could not catch a break for a while, so they would give him one. Another reason could have been because the player was losing a lot of money and they felt he was going to straighten up and quit gambling before they could dry his bank account. Maybe the player was down $150,000 for the night and it was drawing to an end, so to make him feel he won something they would give him back $50,000 to prevent him from becoming suspicious. But the main reason was because it was The Boys coming to get their cut of the take.
I could always tell who the gangsters were. If they did not look or sound like the epitome of the stereotypical movie gangster, then they were the ones having their asses kissed, licked, and wiped by everyone in the joint. Those wise guys got the special treatment. They never said much, but when they spoke everyone did as commanded. Quiet and calm they remained so not to attract a crowd while winning tens of thousands of dollars. Even the dealers were told to tone "it" down for the same reason, it being the excitement around the game. They never sweated the money because they knew there was no way they were going to lose. (The house knew that also but just to throw off suspicion would make it appear to the dealers they were not happy the game was losing.) Those guys always made me sick.
One of those hoods was on a game I was dealing which was being floored by Al Alvalino. Al was acting like he knew the crony all his life. He might have. Alvalino was definitely kissing, licking, and wiping his ass. Al even got him a chair from the blackjack pit for him to sit his fat ass on. This slow moving, slob of a thug wanted to move to the game behind us. When he told Al he was moving to the other game, he stood up and waited by the ropes (the ropes went between every game around the pit to rope it off). By state law, no unauthorized persons were permitted in the pits. But Al walked over, unhooked the ropes, and escorted this mobster through the pit to the other game. And then he went back and got his chair for him!
The Floorperson did not have to take orders from above to let certain individuals win. Remember, they could take as much as possible provided they kept the PC at a particular level.
There was one Floorperson who did that often. His name was John Mulier. He was a nice guy to me but he was still a thief by trade. Almost every time I dealt on his game there was one man in particular who played on it. I could tell he was John's boy by what went down. First, I only saw him on John's game and then only when it was crowded. Second, he would never say a word and would shake his head no when asked if he wanted to be rated. Third, everyone on stick sang while he was playing and there was nothing anyone on the crew could do to get the seven to roll for at least fifty rolls. And fourth, he would win between $2000 and $5000 depending on how the table was doing that day. After no more than 30 or 40 minutes of playing, John would give him the signal to quit. The game dumped during that time but as soon as he left, John let no one win.
That type of activity went on all over the joint and in every one I ever worked at. The money was used for things such as expensive foods and dining out, parties, going to bars, shows, vacations, and drugs, all of which could be paid in cash and never be traced. But if they were taking more then they could spend it was either hidden from the IRS, to use for retirement, or a dummy businesses was set up. Many of those would be located somewhere in the Caribbean where no taxes had to be paid and where the government would not go in order to prove its existence. Then the money could be accounted for and legitimately spent without arousing suspicion. Those guys always had a lot of cash in their pockets and lived the good life.
We were not the only ones who knew that was going on with the games.
Each night, at the change of the shift, the drop boxes under the games were replaced. That was the casino's way of retrieving the cash and keeping track of the PC for each shift. The game would be held up and all house money would be brought into the bank to be counted. A closer slip was then filled out and dropped. A security guard would get down on the floor, pull out the box marked "day", and replace it with one marked "swing". The superstitious gamblers went nuts during this and pulled off all their bets. They were certain a seven out would roll. Most times it did. Sometimes, the security guards going under the game caused it.
Security was amazing, minding their own business and for only $7.25 an hour. They were even weaker minded than the games employees who know what was going on but would not do anything about it. It was remarkable witnessing how cheaply they could be bought off.
Being witness to everything I had seen and heard made me wonder what kind of government would allow this to happen. Our government is supposed to "promote the general Welfare." I don't think allowing something as addictive and destructive as gambling is looking out after our "general Welfare". As a result, many people lose their homes, families, and even their lives.