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Dealers Shouldn’t Play a Private Game
by Frank Scoblete

          I happen to be an exception to the craps-playing rule that crowded is best. I like playing at tables where there are only a few players; while most craps players hate to be alone at a table and usually seek cramped conditions in order to court Lady Luck. That feeling of discomfort when all by your lonesome at a craps table accounts for the oft-seen phenomenon of two tables at the same casino, with the same minimum-to-maximum bets, and the same length, and the same layout, the first, jam-packed with players with other players hoping to squeeze in, and the second completely empty.

            Desiring uncrowded conditions, I often act like a shill, opening tables that then see other players slowly joining until, unfortunately for me and fortunately for the casino, they become crowded. But, of course, I am not an “official” shill and therefore I am not a part of the crew working the game. I’m a real player, betting real money, whether I’m alone at a table or part of a throng.  And therein lies a problem that I have encountered many, many times in my quest for the perfect craps game - dealers who forget that their primary reason for being at the table is to deal a craps game and not socialize with their fellow dealers.

            I can’t estimate the number of times I’ve been rolling the dice while having to listen to discussions of the barbeque last week; or of what this or that person said to that other person the other night and is it true that Tim is divorcing Tamara? I’ve had to listen -- but not look as my wife would kill me - to male dealers ogling some buxom female cocktail waitress or patron. Indeed, I’ve picked up a lot of “inside” information at casinos concerning their managers (most of them morons by the dealers’ accounts) and what was going to happen to this or that casino in the next weeks or months. [For example, I found out the Sands in AC was going to dump most of its table games from the casino floor and switch to a slot joint long, long before it ever became public knowledge.] Some dealers will even continue personal conversations as the table starts to fill up.

            Now, this next should be an ironclad rule, as ironclad as the rule that says umpires in a baseball game should focus on the game and not on fraternizing with players, fans and their fellow umpires. Craps dealers, once a player has bought in, should put all their verbal as well as mental attention on the game at hand. All discussions of a personal nature should stop. Nor should craps dealers ever have a conversation over the shooter; they should act as if the players constitute the reason for their existence because, in fact, the players do - at least, the existence of their jobs.

            Can you imagine a baseball game where the home-plate umpire carries on a conversation with the third base umpire during the pitcher’s delivery and the batter’s attempt to hit the ball? Of course not. No umpire who wished to remain an umpire would do that. Yet, some craps dealers do it all the time (though not in all casinos, I must add). The shooter is given the dice by the stickman and dealers “A” and “B” are talking about how much so and so drank last night.

            To make matters even worse, I have had the displeasure of playing at tables where the dealers were actively belittling some shooters (who did nothing to warrant it) either because of the way they shot or the way they looked or the fact that they seven-out quickly. These conversations were sotto voce for everyone at the table to hear. Needless to say, such snideness made for an unpleasant game even though I wasn’t personally the object of the dealers’ scorn and derision. After all, quick seven-outs cost most players money and losing money isn’t a cause for yucking it up.

            In point of fact, dealers do have to engage in some “banter” with players because some players enjoy a certain amount of conversational back and forth with the crew. That is an entirely different situation, because “bantering” with players is a part of the job and the better the dealers are at it, the more fun it is to play at their tables. Still, even bantering must cease when a shooter is given the dice. From the moment the stickman pushes the dice to the shooter until the moment the stickman calls out the decision should be considered verbus verboten.

            Craps is a great game and most casinos have professional dealers who understand their jobs and know how to focus on the game at hand. Still, I have encountered a significant number of times when such professionalism was lacking in a crew. Such incidents do not occur, as many might expect, only at dives or break-in casinos; some of the biggest, brightest and best casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City have seen their share of unprofessional craps crews.

            When I rated the top ten casinos for craps in Las Vegas for Casino Player magazine, I did so based not only on the mechanics and math of the games they offered, but also on the intangibles relating to how their crews dealt the games. The difference between this or that casino in the odds and ends of a craps game are often in the decimal points and tenths of a percent; but the differences in the intangibles were sometimes like night and day.

            Let me give you a recent example of a truly professional dealer. This occurred at the Horseshoe casino in Tunica. I was lofting the dice to my favorite spot on the opposite end of the table. However, a player had his chips for his odds bet in the exact spot I wanted to land my dice. After I hit his chips, I moaned to myself. The stick woman heard me, understood my chagrin at hitting the other player’s dice and reached out with the stick, tapped the dice of the other player and respectfully asked him to move them a little to the left so I could land the dice there. Now that is a dealer who is observing and is on top of the game.

            So for those casino executives who might be reading this article, here is the bottom line: Think of your craps crews as umpires in the World Series and train them to act accordingly.

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author. His books and tapes have sold over a million copies. He is executive director of Golden Touch Craps dice-control seminars. His websites are www.scoblete.com and www.goldentouchcraps.com . For a free brochure or more information call: 1-800-944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.

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