On rare occasions you might hear a cheer or two coming from a blackjack game, usually a weak cheer: “Oh, wow, I won a hand.”
It is rare you’ll hear more than one person ever say a loud, “All right!” at a roulette game. No one ever cheers at baccarat for that game is way, way too sedate for anyone who is prone to yelling, applauding and backslapping. Single big winners at slots might give a holler and a hoot, but slot players only win one spin at a time and no two slot players win on the same machine at the same moment.
While playing casino games is fun, the real maddening frenzy only occurs on a craps table -- or as Henry Dalton, someone I just met at a craps table, said, “Craps is a riot!”
Indeed it is. First let’s take a look at the various meanings of the word “riot” lifted and paraphrased from the American Heritage Dictionary.
• A wild or turbulent disturbance created by a large number of people.
• A violent disturbance of the public peace by people assembled for a common purpose.
• An unrestrained outbreak, as of laughter or passions.
• A profusion: The garden was a riot of colors in August.
• Unrestrained merrymaking; revelry or debauchery.
• An irresistibly funny person or thing: Isn't she a riot?
• To live wildly or engage in uncontrolled revelry.
• To waste (money or time) in wild or wanton living.
Obviously, the “vibe” at a craps table fulfills all the qualifications of a riot. When you hear a “wild or turbulent disturbance created by a large number of people” in a casino where do you tend to look? All you have to do is turn your head to a craps table, where such a wild disturbance is likely taking place.
While craps is not violent in the “I punch you; you punch me” school, there is much hearty back-slapping and high-fiving going on during a hot roll. There are almost choreographed moans and groans during a cold roll. I am convinced that some craps players have actually turned into werewolves by the sounds of their howls and growls.
What about laughter and merrymaking and revelry and intense passions and debauchery? How about wild behavior and wantonness? All of these words certainly define the “profusion” of players at a craps table. Just check out the faces of the sober and often not-too-sober players and you will see a kind of “rioting” right before your eyes.
But real riots and intense demonstrations often leading to riots also have another thing in common: churning emotions that will make rational thinking next to impossible.
If you have ever been in a riotous demonstration you know what I am talking about. A person is swept on a wave of emotion, often doing things they never thought they would do – curse and harass other people, throw stones and bottles at the police or break the windows of private businesses, for example. (An aside: When the riots in England were in full inflamed swing, only one type of store did not have its windows broken and its products looted by the rioters. Can you guess? Bookstores! Seems no one is interested in reading anymore.)
Thoughtlessness is encouraged in a riot. Note how often demonstrators and rioters will say the same phrase over and over: “Down with capitalism! Down with capitalism! Down with capitalism!” Or some such litany. Doing such a mantra destroys rationality.
Everyone at a demonstration or riot gets caught up in everyone else who is there. The lowest common denominator usually characterizes their behaviors. Just as the stupidest student in a class dictates how fast a teacher can go through the material, the most impassioned and radical slogan-spouting rioters usually dictate where that riot will go. The more sloganeering, the better the chance of a dangerous situation.
Mindlessness at craps is a common occurrence too. Just look at all the extremely bad bets craps players make at the table. Why would anyone of sane mind make bets that come in with double digits? For example, why would anyone make the any seven bet with its expected loss of $16.67 per $100 wagered? Why makes bets where your expected loss can be 10 to almost 17 percent per $100? Perhaps only a riotous mind can do such a thing.
I seriously believe that many players at a craps table get caught up in a kind of mindless madness, a frenzy, and this madness and frenzy causes them to throw caution to the wind and follow the betting patterns of the most impassioned and radical players at the table. (These radical players might also be labeled “stupid.”) They get caught up in the game to the point where they give the casino an amazing amount of action – and to the casinos, “action” has a simple definition: How much can I expect to make from this player? A player giving a lot of action on bad bets is a rioter following the lead of those who wish to use that rioter for their own benefit.
It is not easy to be at a craps table and see stupid bets hit, making the radical bettor money, without wanting to imitate that bettor and have happen to you what just happened to him. But doing so is like taking a knife to the throbbing heart of your bankroll.
Craps is a great game to play; but if you get into the riot mode, it might just turn out your own windows will be broken.
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