Saturday, April 28, 2012

The golden touch: Rolling with the lords of the craps table.

A game I've never really understood. As best as I can tell it is all about streak management which is far from precise.
Sure there are the whip shot (spin on a vertical axis without tumbling) and the drop shot (freeze the lower die) but they are more effective beating ten-year-old kids at Monopoly than making money at craps.
From Harpers, 2008 via the author's blog:
For the gambler, dice have long been the best machine with which to turn a small amount of energy into a large amount of uncertainty. For the philosopher, there is no handier piece of rhetoric with which to evoke the foggy relations between God and universe, universe and man, or man and his own affairs. And so as I watched two members of the Golden Touch Craps team construct a dice pit in a windowless conference room of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, I could not help but feel as though I were witnessing the creation of a universe, a green, felt-covered, racetrack-shaped cosmos where the dice are subject to the will of man and the men, therefore, are gods.

The cosmos, in this case, was a bundle of hinges and planks that had emerged the same morning, ex ovo, from the back of Colonel Joe Fox’s Ford. The gods were milling around like Teamsters, lugging boxes and power tools and their own steak-fed bodies, gradually transforming the beige void of the Allegheny Room into a miniature casino, a school for the study of dice control. I myself felt moved to pitch in, holding one end of the scuffed rail as Colonel Fox unrolled the layout with its pass and come solicitations lettered in red and gold. He wore a gold crucifix and four gold rings and a gambling face like something out of the Old West, lines of stony indifference etched around his mouth and eyes. “I musta re-covered three hundred pool tables in my life,” he muttered as a GTC colleague plugged in a tiny vacuum cleaner and ran it over the felt.

The Golden Touch Craps team had scheduled one of their “Crap$ 101” courses to begin the following day. In Crap$ 101, novice players receive two days of hands-on instruction in Golden Touch betting systems, Golden Touch visualization techniques, and, most important, the Golden Touch “controlled throw,” a method of retaining influence over the dice after they leave the hand. Tuition is $1,495, which does not include room, board, or a ticket to Chicago O’Hare; but with eight coaches and sixteen students, the student-to- faculty ratio bests the Ivy League. For an additional $300, students can take home an instructional Golden Touch DVD and the Gripper, a block of green foam designed to enhance the muscle memory of the fingertips. As graduates, students are eligible to enroll in the $1,995 Advanced Course, though some of the school’s wealthier alumni opt for private instruction at up to $10,000 per day. Those who prove themselves capable dice controllers and clubbable personalities are sometimes invited to teach Crap$ 101 as assistants to the assistant instructors. The post includes a $400 honorarium, drawn from tuition receipts.

I spotted Frank Scoblete, the gray-bearded, potbellied Zeus of the Golden Touch, unpacking a box of Grippers. Frank spent more than thirty years teaching high school English on Long Island before reinventing himself as America’s Number One Best-Selling Gaming Author. In person he seemed easygoing, with rounded features and feathery white hair, but when we shook hands his eyes had the watchful opacity of security cameras. He began gambling during the Eighties on the weekends, counting cards in Atlantic City. “I wasn’t addicted to the gambling,” he told me; “I was interested in seeing whether we could beat the casinos, these monsters, this industry that relies on the stupidity of its clients.” On the table beside the Grippers lay a selection of Frank’s teachings: Forever Craps, The Craps Underground, Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! and Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos! On the cover of this last book is a photograph of Dominic “Dominator” LoRiggio just after releasing the dice. The cubes hover in perfect alignment below his outstretched hand, like tiny kites guided by invisible strings. He is dressed conservatively, in a blue Oxford and rimless glasses, but his eyes shine with a mystical blaze....MORE