In developing the Craps Boot Camp Team Play seminars I do from time to time, I spent a lot of time considering what a professional craps team should look like. Having played a few team sessions in my life I have some insight into the situation. And the answer, like so many things with this game, is “depends.”
There are several ways to approach team play. One way is technically not team play at all. It is what many of us do every time we go to Vegas. A few like-minded players simply get together and take over a table. Each “team member” brings his own stake and runs his own bets. There is absolutely no co-mingling of funds. Some people may win while others lose. Often the table holds it’s own or only wins or loses a small amount. Just about everyone has fun.
A second way to play is as a “hired gun” on a team backed by a high roller. In this type of arrangement, the high roller often runs all of the bets and pays the shooters a pre-determined amount per session plus a percentage of any wins. Some pro shooters insist on controlling the bets as well as the dice, and fearlessly lock up huge wins with no downside risk. On the other hand, from time to time you’ll run across a down-and-out precision shooter who can control the dice but not his bankroll. Often these players will shoot for as little as a $100 table stake. I’ve seen such shooters rise to the occasion and win literally thousands of dollars for the people they are shooting for – only to lose their own meager stake at the same session.
Last of all is the true team concept – the one we’ll be teaching at Craps Boot Camp. In this type of team four or five players get together and take on the tables with a shared bankroll. There are a lot of things that can go right in these types of teams. Shooters are free to focus on shooting. Bettors focus on specific pre-determined betting strategies. Everything runs on auto-pilot. Then there’s the whole synergy effect of playing with a team. On the other hand – there are a log of things that can go wrong.
The first thing that comes to mind is handling expenses. The first mistake many teams make is funding expenses out of its shared bankroll. Believe it or not, mishandling expenses is the primary reason most pro teams fail. Expenses, whether they are in the form of travel, accommodations, meals, or “entertainment,” are a tax on your advantage over the game. Think about it in these terms. Would you step up to a craps table in a casino where you had to pay $100 up front to get in the door? Of course not. But when you pay expenses out of your team’s bankroll, you are already “in-the-hole” when you step up to the table. You are relying on the hope that your as-yet-to-be-realized winnings will offset your already-incurred out-of-pocket expenses. Often that can be a big chunk of change. Give yourself every possible advantage – including the psychological advantage of starting your team session with its bankroll intact.
Record Keeping is the next area where pro teams often fail to make the grade. Avoid these problems by designating one member as the banker and bookkeeper for the team. The banker records the pooled buy in at each session, every wager and its results, and the ending bankroll. He accounts for every dollar that goes on and off the table, supervises the final count, and supervises the distribution of winnings at the end of each session. All parties must be present at all times during the final accounting. This may seem extreme when the team is winning, but it is essential when the dice turn against you. A losing team will quickly collapse under the weight of its own internal mistrust and suspicion. Keeping a team together when it is winning is difficult enough. When the team is losing, it is almost impossible.
Every individual must have a defined job when playing as a team: Often everyone on a team wants to shoot the dice. But on each team there are members who are stronger shooters than their teammates. These are the people who should be handling the dice. A typical pro team will have as few as three members, and may have as many as six. Four to five member teams are the norm. A four-member team might look like this: The two primary shooters who position themselves at stick right and stick left. The “high roller” who plays straight out on one end, runs the bulk of the bets, and doubles as a blocker to keep the shooter’s lane open. The high roller usually passes the dice. Last of all, the banker or bookkeeper, who also serves as a blocker who keeps the shooter’s lane open. This person appears to the world to be a systems player tracking rolls, and he also passes the dice.
Pro teams plan their play and play their plans. That means they have a specific betting strategy established in advance, and no one is permitted to vary the strategy. Typically, the shooter limits himself to a Pass Line bet with maximum Free Odds. The other shooter by-passes the Come Out, then runs something like the Six and Eight Progression. The high roller/blocker may run a Place to Come Kelly strategy designed to cover all of the power numbers while the banker/blocker plays a single Don’t Pass grind while tracking the rest of the action at the table.
It is important to have team members who keep their heads in the heat of battle. For that reason, it is vital that you exclude compulsive gamblers from the team. Such players are quick to abandon the plan when things are not going their way. Likewise, intuitive players who are quick to follow their “hunches” generally do not make good team members. While you may not always recognize a potential problem player in advance, if a team is faced with such a situation it must deal with it immediately, even if that means kicking someone off the team.
In true pro teams, every member is accountable for his or her performance during the team sessions. Team members come into the group because they perform at a certain level or have talents the group needs to succeed. Enforcing standards required to accomplish the team’s objectives can be difficult when the team members are also your friends. However, team members must set friendship aside and focus on the task of winning. If one of your friends is not putting in enough time at the practice table to play with an edge or is deviating from the planned system of play, you must draw the line between your friendship and your bankroll. If you do not, you will ultimately lose both. With that said . . .
Lighten up when you are losing. Everyone has an off day from time to time. If you are doing everything right yet still losing, deal with it, take a few days off, and move on. Losses are going to happen. That doesn’t mean you have to chase them.