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Gambling Blues ... frustration!  
BY:  Michael Vernon

Recently, I received an email and a telephone call from two craps players. One was a Playing 4 Keeps student, the other, a craps player who has called me several times during the past year. Both players used the word, “frustrated”. I am going to give them fictitious names, Al, and Bill, respectfully, and share the stories.  
 
Al loves the game and plays craps about once a month. He attended my Do’s and Don’t of Dice workshop, December 2003. Al likes to place bet the 6/8, along with a line bet. In his email, Al described his last session where he lost 8 units before quitting. Al’s email to me: "On Tuesday, I went to the Hollywood Casino in Aurora and I did play. There was never a run of more than two passes. Finally a streak of seven outs, with no passes, hit the table and I bailed, down 8 units. The "table support" was not there for place bets, and being aware of that did save me money. I wanted to place the 6 & 8, but kept asking myself if the support was there. That question prevented me from making the bet. Most of the shooters were careful about how they threw the dice but we did not do well. I observed a lot of people bet a lot of money on the field and the stuff in the middle of the table. I am frustrated that I have not been able to achieve that first "win".  
 
My response to Al:  
 
Good for you Al, you recognized that you were in a lousy game and got out with most of your bankroll intact. Small consolation I know, but you must accept the obvious. If you had continued to play and placed the 6/8, you surely would have lost more, if not all, of your bankroll. You gave me plenty of information to help you. Basically, you provided your own answers. Games when the dice are not passing are going to cost everybody, especially place betters and come betters. Asking yourself, what action the table is supporting, is smart! You identified the lack of support for the 6/8 place bet and saved yourself money. It may not feel like it, but you are making progress. Pat yourself on the back and think of it as a win. You protected your betting stake. You were aware of the game and you cut your losses sooner rather than later. Being aware of a losing game and not getting sucked in, is 98% of the battle.  
 
In a hopeless game, it is common to witness a streak of seven outs. That is a craps game showing no promise for profit. You will see short hands, point and out, five or more outs in a row without a pass. You indicated that the longest hand was two points. Al, you should have been on the alert, looking for the exit. In a cold game, when you witness a streak of seven outs, it is the confirmation to end the session. The trick is to recognize early when a game is going nowhere and make sure you are coloring up while the seven keeps rolling. Remember, you do not have to lose money confirming table support. When you feel doubt about a game, it is okay to pull out and watch. Watch and see if what you suspect, a losing game, is confirmed. If you don’t know, don’t go. It is never wrong to check out the scene in more detail. You do not have to pay for your craps lessons.  
 
Al, when I say "pick your game and pick your playmates", your example is of playmates and a game that I would avoid. When I see players making field bets, and the proposition bets are getting action without results, I am hardly impressed. A consideration for a game, as you describe, is the lack of rhythm. My predilection is to find a game not handicapped by a slow pace. Prop betting can grind a game to a halt. I find that frustrating. When there is a lot of prop betting, a game has a difficult time gaining momentum let alone consistency. Momentum and consistency are expressions of metaphysical energy. The game you describe is like a plane laden with too much baggage. It can’t get off of the ground. It never really had a chance.  
 
Next, I will respond to the phone call from Bill. Bill plays about four times a week at Foxwoods. He told me that he had just completed yet another craps seminar, and he has lost every session but one using the new system. Bill called the presenter of the seminar for advice. By Bill’s account, he was told his failures were his own fault and not the fault of the system. The advice Bill received was that "he must not be playing right".  
 
Bill is an aggressive player and likes place betting. The system he recently learned is a kind of "wait and see" method of playing, designed for place and come betting. Bill waits until certain conditions develop, and then makes his place bets. Bill told me he follows the system "to the letter" and every time he gets the place bets up, the game sevens-out. Bill is frustrated with what he called, "another system that does not work".  
 
My response to Bill was one of support and therapy, I hope. No system works all the time and any system will shine during a hot roll. Knowledge is key. Know why the playing method works or is suppose to work. You must recognize, no matter what system you use, that the necessary conditions to support the play need to be present in your game. This is a huge part of what I teach in my seminars; observation, alertness, awareness, noticing all things. If the prevailing conditions are not present, it is like a sailboat in the doldrums. The wind necessary to keep the game moving is missing.  
 
Playing frustrated is no good. I suggested to Bill that he might be playing too much. I thought that he should take a break and pull back from the game for a new perspective. To get perspective, I suggested that his next time out, he buys-in to have a seat in the game but not play, just watch. I felt Bill needed to gain confidence in his new system. It is important to believe in whatever play you use, in order for it to have a maximum effect. At the same time, playing on paper will not cost Bill, and he can witness if the new method has merit. If he continues to lose on paper, he gets his confirmation without it costing him more money. I believe there is usually a learning curve for any method of play. While one is learning, training wheels are not a bad idea. The purpose of this exercise in observation is for Bill to back away from the game and separate from the negative emotions of losing. You have to feel comfortable and confident playing craps, not frustrated, angry and dejected.  
 
Perhaps for both players, it is an issue of control. When emotions buy into the belief that you can control an outcome, that attitude comes with expectations. "Now that I have a clever system, I have control over the game". "I can make it happen." As the Dice Coach often says, "No one can control the dice, but you can have influence." Frustration arises from dashed expectations.  
 
Becoming frustrated in any game is fatal. Demoralized, the player had a plan and feels handicapped when it does not manifest. Being angry because life did not conform as planned, is destined to continue a losing slump. All of a sudden, the player fails to experience any pleasure playing the game. Bill admitted that he plays craps for the money. I encourage my students to be honest about their intentions. Do you honestly play the game because you enjoy the thrill of playing craps? If not, there are better ways to make money than pursuing a zero sum game. The happiness and excitement of riding a wave of energy is what creates the fun that leads to success. Wanting to control, push, maneuver and fighting against the roll and tumble of the game is a recipe for frustration and possible losses. Compulsive gambling, feverishly chasing money, may be a sign of a bigger problem and that would really be frustrating.  
 
Craps is not a game where, if you play longer, you can eventually chase down profit. You cannot make the win happen just because you play five times a week and keep throwing money at the game. It is not a matter of playing clever systems until the game turns back your way. It is a matter of the odds, and the odds always favor the casino. You are expected to lose a majority of the time. So how can you ride that wave and be successful?  
 
You cannot "make the win happen", but at least you have influence over your actions. Being "in the flow", going with the current, sensing direction or having a perception of energy, enables you to operate separate from the negative emotions of thinking life can be controlled. If you want control, learn to control your own impulsive behavior and emotions. Self-discipline is perhaps the best way of influencing a craps game and protecting yourself from frustration. Accept that the game is outside the realm of control, no matter what flashy system is employed.  
 
Frustration comes from trying to control an outcome. Success comes from alignment and acceptance of the situation at hand. It is frustrating to fight the current. When you have to cross a river, you cannot control the river, but you can control how you approach the crossing. It is the difference between the deep, swift current and the sallow, gentle current. Either way, you will get wet when you cross. With one, however, the water is up to your knees, while the other, may be well over your head. Take charge over those things you actually can influence so that frustration does not overtake you. Become empowered by accepting the natural flow of the rest of life’s games and events.  
 
Copyright © 2004 Michael Vernon  

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