If You Can't Stand The Heat ...
BY: Michael Vernon
If you can't stand the "heat", you may want to take a personal look at your gaming demeanor. Casino "heat" gets batted around quite a bit. Casino "heat" means to be under the scrutiny of casino personnel while you are in a game. Contrary to popular opinion, pit supervisors are not lying in wait for the next advantage player to ambush them with harassment.
The player has to do something blatant against casino rules before receiving a warning about their play. Pit bosses are there to protect their game, it is true, but the notion that advantage players are on a hit list is preposterous. Without winners, there would be no casinos.
Now, when it comes to blackjack and dice, I have always said that there is no such thing as casino heat, if you play your cards right. I have never experienced it. If a player attracts the attention of the casino personnel, the player has done something bring it on themselves. Keep in mind that you are like an invited guest when you walk into a casino. You may have thought that you were the customer and that the customer is always right. However, a casino is not some bawdy arena where you may act out your alter ego, forgoing etiquette and manners. Just as you would do with any inappropriate guest in your home, a casino has the authority to protect their game and withdraw their invitation to play. It is their game, their house and their rules. The casino has the privilege of telling players what they can and cannot do. If you do not know the rules, or if you deliberately infringe, you are likely to garner attention from the casino personnel. Do not confuse negative attention from the casino as "heat", or believe that you are picked on for no apparent reason. Casinos do not stay in business by chasing away their players. At the same time, they are not going to put up with nonsense from anyone.
For the blackjack player, take the head down, blinkers on approach. Simply focus on your game. Don't get involved with other players. Avoid conversation and opinion. Here, with proper table etiquette, minding your own business and keeping your mouth shut, you will not give anyone from the casino staff cause to engage you. The only other attraction would be outlandish play. Usually this would be a large increase in your betting style, coupled with consistently winning the overstated bets. The savvy blackjack player always masks their play and never bets out of the bankroll. To do so would likely draw the ire of the pit personnel. When you catch a run playing twenty-one, don’t over stay your welcome. How you play will either draw attention or be considered normal play or perhaps lucky. You control you. There should be no reason for someone else to feel justified in taking away your control and assert their own.
During a recent trip to Las Vegas, I was at the craps table. A couple of players joined the game and I recognized them to be dice setters from a previous meeting. There were six players in the game. The dice came to where the two dice setters were playing. The first player rolled a short hand of no consequence. The second player caught the casino heat that I say does not exist. It started of with the box man asking him to hit the back wall with both dice after two short rolls. No big deal, it is a reasonable request and a craps rule. After a short time, the box man told the shooter that he was taking too long with the dice. It was true. The shooter was slow and obviously not skilled with arranging and picking up the dice. He was holding up the game fumbling with the sets. It is a reasonable request by the casino to keep the game moving. The heat turned up high when the shooter challenged the box man. He asked the boxman what difference it made how fast the game was going. He went on to say that the game was for the players and without players the casino would have no game.
I could not believe the ignorance (not arrogance) of this player. This fellow engaged ego and emotion, defending his lack of skill. He was taking mention of his inept play personally. The player was wrong. The boxman called the pit supervisor over and discretely spoke with him. The pit supervisor then spoke to the player, politely informing him that if he continued to hold up the game, that he would lose the dice to the next player. This only fueled the fire. The slow player muttered something unkind, and did his best to roll faster in a passive aggressive manner. Of course, he sevened out. He and his partner colored up, in apparent disgust, making a big show of it before leaving.
Side note: At the first sign of trouble, I pulled down all my bets. Arguments in the game always break the energy and the inevitable consequence is losing.
There was no "casino heat". The shooter was slow with his setting. Singled out for being slow, instead of accepting it, the shooter went on the defensive. He tried to defend with reasons why he should be allowed to be slow. Now, if this guy had put in the necessary practice time, as Thom Morgan teaches, my bet is that there would not have been any mention of holding up the game. No hold up, no heat! Additionally, the surly attitude was the kiss of death for these two.
I had been playing at this table for awhile. I had at least three previous turns before the arrival of the two setters. I was setting the dice and I know I unintentionally missed the back wall a time or two. The boxman did not reprimand me, nor did I receive any attention for selectively arranging the dice. For my part, I take less time with the dice than the average random roller. I have put in the necessary practice time at home.
Everyone has their own style of tossing. I am not saying, "look at me or do it my way". As an example, I use to teach archery. When shooting free style, you knock an arrow and look at your target. You bring the bow hand up as you draw back the arrow. You anchor and release. It is a kind of a 1-2-3-release fluid movement. I do the same thing with my dice toss, 1-2-3-release. I know what set I am going to use, how to arrange the dice and my intended target, all before the dice are passed to me. I know what I want to do, (should any adjustments be necessary) prior to getting the dice. When I get the dice, it is "1-2-3, show me the money". It is not a race. At the same time, I want to lock in a quick rhythm. I’ve noticed that with this technique no one has accused me of holding up the game.
Avoid casino heat by not giving the casino a reason to give you the negative attention. It was a huge mistake for the guy in my story to engage and defend in an argument. To argue with the boxman is just dumb. I assume that he was also losing, which usually evokes ego and anger. The two disgruntled players colored up and headed off to another casino where they likely found a similar treatment. See what I mean? If the guy is slow in one casino, he is going to be slow anywhere he plays. He created the situation that drew attention.
As you develop your skill becoming an advantage player, you must also learn to mask your play disguising that you are skilled at your craft. It is the similar bluff used at the poker table to pull the win. When you take your game to a new level, you must also take your deception to the next level. Yes, it is obvious that I am a dice setter when I am at the craps table. Yet I put a lot of energy into not to drawing attention to myself. I know the house rules for tossing dice. I also know how appear as "no threat" to the game. At the blackjack table, my front is such that I get advice while pretending to be stuck on a decision. Sometimes even a pit boss will butt in telling me how to play. All the while, I am just stalling to appear inexperienced while I adjust for the count.
Learn to play the game inside the game and you will never experience casino "heat". If you can't stand the heat, you better learn how to act when you are in another's kitchen.
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