The World Craps Championship
Mr. John Grochowski
It was Saturday, July 22, about 8:30 in the morning as I pulled up at the Atrium Suites hotel in Las Vegas, ready to roll in Frank Scoblete's World Craps Championship.
In the corridor outside the ballroom were some old friends. Fellow authors Scoblete and Henry Tamburin --- I always enjoy our get-togethers. Members of the Golden Touch Craps team , including Dominator, Billy the Kid, Street Dog --- all these craps guys have nicknames.
Then, as I entered the ballroom, one shooter glared at me.
"Grrrr," growled Linda "Low Roller" Mabry, flashing her claws as well as growling. "I hate you today."
Now, I'd met Linda when I was speaking at a Scoblete-sponsored gamblers jamboree in Tunica, Miss., a few years ago, and she seemed nice enough. She writes a weekly gambling column for the Sun Herald in the Biloxi/Gulfport area in Mississippi, and has a Web site, www.thelowroller.com.
Why was I now the object of our hatred?
"We're matched against each other in the first round," she said. "Grrrrr."
I laughed, then "grrrrrred" back.
The World Craps Championship was set up match-play style, with nine events. Nearly all the competitors --- 167, when Scoblete initially had hoped for 32 --- had taken Golden Touch's dice control classes and were ready to put their skills to the test. Not everyone competed in all events. Two players would go head to head, with the winner advancing to another round, until the 96 players divided among six tables had been whittled down to six finalists. At the final table, play would determine winners of the first, second and third-place plaques and checks. The top two finishers in each event would advance along with 14 wild-card draws to make up the 32 players competing for the title of World Champion of Craps.
Linda and I were paired in the first event, the Comeout Roll Championship. The object was to roll 7s or 11s, the numbers that are winners on the comeout.
I had six rolls to see how many 7s or 11s I could roll. I took the dice, set them, took a nice pendulum swing, released the dice and … 7. Third roll: 7. Fourth roll: 7.
I had three 7s, and Linda was looking perturbed. She looked even more perturbed when the 7s didn't come for her, and she was eliminated. But then she smiled, we shook hands … friends again.
There were more events to come, and the match-play setup meant that every player had some highlights and some lowlights.
My best events turned out to be the field championship and the crapshooters championship. In the field event, I was up against Dave from Niagara Falls. He went first, and came up with three field numbers --- 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12 --- in four rolls.
I laughed. "Well, this has been fun." "You'll be saying hello to Hilda real soon," the boxman running the table joked, referring to the event rules that required losing players to report results to Hilda at the scorer's table. But my first roll was a field number, and my second … and my fourth. Sudden death overtime.
Dave rolled a number outside the field, and I rolled a 5. Suddenly I was the comeback kid. Dave grinned, "Win or lose, that was a GREAT match," he said. And it was. I made the final at the table, but lost 2-1 to Charlie "Sandtrap" Romano, who went on to be one of the top scorers for the day.
My final highlight was in the crapshooters championship, where I was paired with Jeanne from Henderson, Nev. The object here was to roll 2, 3 or 12 --- not easy to do. With a random roll, there's only 1 chance in 18 to roll 3, 1 in 36 to roll 2, 1 in 36 to roll 12.
Nevertheless, I amazed myself and Stick Dog, the boxman at the table. His call on my first three rolls: "Three, craps." "THREE, craps!" "THREE! CRAPS!" Jeanne looked at me and said, "I USED to like you." Just kidding, of course.
I made the final at that table, too, but didn't advance.
Linda "Low Roller" Mabry, meanwhile HAD advanced, making one final table and finishing second. That qualified her for the big event.
Along the way, we met once more, in the No-Sevens challenge --- first 7 loses. In this one, we were both on a roll. I rolled 5, 6, 8, 6, 6, while Linda rolled 6, 8, 6, 6, 6. On my last roll, I could feel the dice separate as I released them, and the dice tumbled wildly to a 7. "That felt terrible as soon as it left my hand," I said, and others nodded in sympathy. Linda's roll: another 6.
That was the end for me, but not for Linda. At the final table, she needed to roll four point numbers in a row to win it all. Pressure on … and the point numbers came rolling out. Four in a row, and she wore the crown --- literally, a real crown --- as World Champion of Craps.
I may have fended off that initial "Grrrr," but in the end the Low Roller rolled best of all.
Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager and International Gaming and Wagering Business.