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When in Rome and Elsewhere |
by Frank Scoblete

Let me tell two quick stories:

      A friend of mine was in an African country, teaching at a local college. He was new to the college, new to the country, but he decided to take a trip into the countryside to check out the local wildlife. His car broke down about 20 miles out of town and he decided to hitch a ride. After several minutes a car came down the dusty road and he stuck his thumb out to hitch.

      The car screeched to a halt. He figured, “What a friendly country this is. The very first car stopped!” But then the driver and three of his male passengers got out and proceeded to pummel him almost into unconsciousness. Once he could get his mind together, and long after the car with the attackers had gone off, he dusted himself off and waited for the next car. It soon appeared. Again, he stuck his thumb out. Screeeech! The second car slammed to a standstill and again the driver got out. Our friend figured he was a dead man as this driver was a towering, muscular specimen of a man and he was coming right towards him.

      “No, no, no,” said the man-mountain in a pleasant lilt, “you will get killed. You do not ask for a ride by insulting the driver’s family.”

      Then the friendly native informed our friend that in his country the American hitching sign was tantamount to saying that the driver’s mother was having carnal knowledge with a baboon. It was the highest of insults. He went on to explain that to hitch a ride, you hit the back of one hand against the palm of another because “you are begging for a ride.”

      Had it not been for that nice mountain of a man, my friend might never have survived his roadside situation. He was in another country but he didn’t understand the culture of that country.

      In a similar vein, another friend of mine was teaching at a local high school. A girl, just recently arrived from China, was placed in his homeroom class. Our friend gave the girl her schedule but at the end of homeroom, she came up to him and she was clearly upset. In broken English she said: “Can’t go to that class! No!” She pointed to her schedule. He tried to figure out why the thought of going to biology was such a scary proposition for her. Finally, after much effort, the girl said she could not go “to that f***ing class.” My friend was shocked at the language coming from this seemingly genteel young lady. Then the girl added that the class “sucks.”

      It took him awhile to realize what had happened. The girl had very limited English. When she had gotten her schedule, another student took a look at it and helpfully informed her that he “hated that f***ing class” and that as far as he was concerned “it sucks.” She took his words literally and was shocked to discover that in America we had a “f***ing” class where we also taught oral sex techniques! Needless to say, it took a little doing to explain to her that in America there were no literal “f***ing” classes and that “sucks” was just a word American teenagers used to mean that something wasn’t good. This poor girl was in another country and it had confused her.

      Well, the casino is like another country; it has its own rules, language and culture. Each table game is like a province in a country, with its own distinct dialects and mores. To not feel like an unwanted foreigner, you have to understand the language and culture -- and then you must assimilate. The casino is Lady Luck’s melting pot. And there’s only one way to do things when in a casino - the casino’s way!

The Buy-in
      Before you can play any casino table game, you have to exchange your cash for chips. Here certain rules apply. Never hand your money directly to the dealer. He isn’t allowed to take anything directly from the hands of a player. In fact, a dealer isn’t even allowed to shake the hands of a player! You must put your money on the layout.

      The dealer will take the money on the layout and spread it for the camera and the floorperson to check. The floorperson is the man or woman not in uniform who oversees several tables in a pit. A pit is a group of tables, usually of the same game, in a given area of the casino. The person in charge of a pit is a pit boss!

      Once the floorperson okays the amount of the buy-in, the dealer then takes chips out of his chip tray and counts out stacks that will equal the amount of the buy-in and stuffs the cash into a hole in the table where it is collected in a drop-box. Again, the floorperson checks to make sure that the dealer has counted everything out correctly. When the dealer gets the nod, he slides the stacks of chips to the player, usually saying, “Good luck.”

      The casinos are sticklers for the proper buy-in procedures. They have to be. The most frequent source of theft in a casino is from the casino’s own personnel. Often such theft is in collusion with a player, who is either a friend or relative of the dealer. By making the physical contact between dealer and player verboten, it reduces the possibility of, say, the player announcing he’s buying in for a $100, getting $100 worth of chips, when, in fact, he handed the dealer a $10 bill which was quickly stuffed into the drop-box.

      Of course, even with all the proper procedures in place, cheating dealers can sometimes be so ingenious in their tricks that they are able to rip off their employers anyway. Frank saw a video, presented at a security seminar, where a dealer was able to shovel chips directly into her sleeve as she counted out chips or collected chips from losing bets. Once she had several chips up her sleeve, she would then raise her arm slightly and the chips would go down into her shirt. If you weren’t told what to look for, you would never have seen the move - it was that fast! In the past, dealers have shoveled chips into their pants (usually they’d have a sock in their crotches that would hold the chips), their mouths, and some dealers have even “accidentally” (but fast) dropped chips that their player-henchmen would later “find” on the floor.  You’ll note that many casinos now have dealers wearing shirts that have sleeves that cling tightly to the wrists and aprons that surround their pants or dresses.

Betting Procedures
      Casino chips come in all sorts of denominations and colors. Usually, $1 chip are white (sometimes blue); $5 chips are red; $25 chips are green; $100 chips are black; $500 chips are purple; $1,000 chips are gold or grey, and $2,000 chips are orange. It’s rare to see denominations larger than $2,000, except in some high roller rooms. The sizes of the chips vary as well. The $1 to $500 chips are the same size but, usually, the $1,000 and higher denominations are somewhat larger.

      Once you have your chips, you can begin to bet. However, even here there are certain protocols that must be followed. When you are betting different denominations of chips, you must place the highest denomination on the bottom and go up accordingly. So if you want to bet $131, you’d put a black chip on the bottom, a green chip on top of that, a red chip on the green chip, and a white chip on the red chip. With the exception of roulette, all casino table games within the same casino use the same denominations and colors. Because individual bets from a variety of players are stacked next to and upon one another, roulette games have many different colored chips, the denominations of which are determined by the player. When a player buys in at roulette, he’ll state what he wants the value of his particular colored chips to be. Although a player can, at times, bet the normal casino chips at roulette, he can usually do so if he’s the only one betting accordingly.

      Each individual game will have certain protocols as well. Suffice it to say that if you want to know how to hitch a ride, or if you’re trying to figure out the nature of the class you’re taking, it’s always best to ask first, before you get yourself upset or into hot water.

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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