There are two casino games that are so intriguing they have been known to drive men...well...a little mad.
One is dice.
The other is horse racing.
I have chosen these games over all the other casino games for this particular column because these particular games can bring in money quicker than any other game of chance I know of, including my favorite game, poker.
Poker is a great skill game. But even with skill playing such a huge factor in the outcome, a player's game can turn to poison when the cards turn bad. It hasn't happened to me often, thank goodness. But I have been at poker tables where the cards refused to be kind to me no matter what I did. While I have heard of such slumps lasting for days and even weeks before the cards change, my slumps have been confined to hours.
One of the best dice players I ever met was a newspaper publisher in West Palm Beach, FL. John owned a weekly newspaper that paid the bills. He was a tall good looking bachelor who liked the women and they appreciated his gentlemanly ways and style.
Once a month he and I would fly to Paradise Island in the Bahamas. We would rent a cottage on the beach surrounded by palm trees, with twin hammocks in front of our abode. There we would entertain the local island girls with rum drinks and good chardonnay wine. They would return the favor by cooking us island food -- jerk chicken, conch salad, plantains, beans and rice, and whatever else they might come up with.
Money was never a problem for John. But he loved the challenge of going for the big money at the dice table On more than one occasion, I saw him walk away from the dice tables with $20,000 or more after a weekend of managing his money, pressing his bets, and using that suave controlled roll of his that scored point after point.
'I think a person could make a million dollars shooting dice,' John declared one tropical evening. Philena, a beautiful island girl who was a part-time model, had just served us two scrumptious plates of crispy jerk chicken, mangoes and plantains. 'You would have to be willing to bet big, but I think it could be done.'
How?,' I wanted to know. 'How do you keep from rolling a seven when you have all those numbers covered with big bets?'
John shrugged. He gave Philena a hug and winked. 'Will power,' he said.
I have never known anyone who won a million shooting dice. But Charlie Stoll, a retired tungsten miner who lived in Oatman, AZ., a tiny ghost town 12 miles from Laughlin, NV., once made over $150,000 at the dice table. Charlie wasn't a drinker, just a gambler. Like my friend, John, he was comfortably wealthy and had a bank account in the seven figures.
Maybe it helps when you don't have to win on that roll in order to pay the rent or buy groceries.
While most dice rolls end in five to seven rolls (that supposedly is the average number of rolls before you throw a seven), I can remember two memorable occasions when I held those dice for 45 to 50 minutes before tossing that accursed seven. In both cases, I increased my original stake by hundreds of times and paid for my trip several times over.
The other game where you can make or lose money fast is the horses. A horse player needs an attitude to win. He needs to tell himself AND BELIEVE that the nine horse is going to win the next race by three lengths. Now he knows the nine is a sure winner -- but who is going to finish second?
Will it be the three horse which is 6/5 odds, the five horse at 5/2 -- or might it be the 10 horse at 55 to one?
If you watched the Preakness, you saw American Pharoah go off at 4/5 odds. The horse that finished second went off at more than 50 to one odds and the $2 exacta paid $120.
In closing, you may never become a millionaire in a casino setting. But if you have heart, an iron will and true grit, you can feel and act like a millionaire. That is my attitude tonight when I join two people for a visit to Talking Stick Casino in Scottsdale, AZ.
I want to be a millionaire. But like my friend John Carroll, I am willing to settle for less. Let the games begin.