As one that gambles occasionally, I've often contemplated the reasons for the desire to gamble. In some this is a compulsion resulting in financial ruin. For most, it is simply a fever that must be fed a couple times a year. Specifically, I have noted that craps is especially addictive among the choices that one has in a casino. There are several unique features to the game of craps that makes this that case and will be discussed in this essay.
Determiner of Fate
The most unique aspect of craps is that fact that the individual players are the key agents of fate in determining the fortunes for themselves. The shooter, who throws the dice, controls not only whether or not he will win or lose, but also whether (mostly) everybody at the table wins or loses along with him. The "mostly" does not apply to the small amount of bettors who bet "on the don't" which essentially is hoping that the dice crap out, in which case the "right bettors" all lose. In no other casino game is one player the main determining factor in the outcome of the event for all the players. The novelty of having this power draws many to the game. Many are very nervous in the position of being the shooter, but most still get a thrill out of it. For some, they are too scared and pass the dice. Perhaps this is an issue of low self-esteem thinking they are not "good" enough to have a good roll and don't want to have people mad at them when they lose miserably.
The act of being the shooter can get people to stay in the game longer. After a shooter's turn is down because he has crapped out, the dice are passed to the next person around the table. The previous shooter's reign as Master of Fate is over. Two feelings may be going around in his mind. If he had a good throw, he is applauded by everyone for the nice long run he had and everyone is grateful to him for winning the table money. He is also, of course, happy about winning himself, but as I've found, I almost receive more pleasure in the fact that I made other people money. Usually, this is due to the fact that while I am shooting, others at the table are actually betting more money than I am and hence I am more happy for the others since they won much more money than me after a hot roll. The good feeling that being a successful shooter leaves in one's mind propels him to desire to reenact that feeling again with another similarly successful round of shooting.
The other feeling is a feeling of shame. A bad roll is one where you lose maximum money for everyone at the table. It could consist of a couple snake-eyes, followed by a point and then promptly crap out with a seven on the next roll. This has that effect of causing the failed shooter to wish to redeem themselves and make up for their failure at controlling fate when the dice come around to him again. Perhaps he is fretting of the fact that he altered his throw a bit from usual and this may have caused his demise. Maybe he hit a stack of chips and this bad karma caused the Gods to rule against him. Next time will be different; he will make up for his past transgressions or bad throwing.
The simple fact is that throwing dice in a craps game is just fun. It's a novelty to control the outcome in such a way like that. You can add a bit of flair and style to your throws and do all sorts of superstitious things that add to the drama of the game. It's a nice change of pace from the passive placing of chips that you do the rest of the time someone else is throwing. The added enjoyment that being the shooter in craps hold for most people is definitely a significant factor in increasing gambler's playing time and in fact may also be a significant draw for many to play the game at all.
I have touched upon this aspect a bit in the prior section. In craps, unlike any other game in a casino, everybody at a table wins and loses at the same time. The only exception is the don't bettor, which are rare. Blackjack can have spurts where everyone at the table does well at the same time, but not with the regularity of craps. This aspect of the game makes for craps tables to be the liveliest games in a casino. When a table is hot, everyone is cheering. People feel more comfortable celebrating their good fortune because they know everyone is doing good and so it's in good taste. In another game, you might be doing well, but won't make a big celebration about it because the guy next to you is losing and you don't want to piss him off. It's also just fun to cheer together, everyone with a common cause. It makes you feel closer with your fellow gambler. The added good feelings that this camaraderie holds for craps players causes them to play longer to keep the good camaraderie going on. It also makes you feel like you're not being a "team player" if you bail out on a hot table while everyone else is still at it. As everyone knows, the longer you play, the more likely you will come out negative as the odds shift in the house's favor. The usual end is that the good feelings cease as a losing streak starts up but people still keep playing with the memories of the good camaraderie still in their minds. Some may take their winning and leave once the table turns sour, but most will stick it out and die a slow death.
The other effect of craps camaraderie is to draw new people to the table that already aren't part of the party. Everyone playing the slow game of roulette, the serious and usually quiet game of blackjack, and the loner and mindless slot machine, will hear the loud cheering that erupts from a hot table and want to be part of their joy. They might not be able to get into the table because it is already full, but the cheering is a sort of free advertisement for the casino which will be on the minds of these potential players for their future gambling sessions. Of course, the opposite advertisement, when a table is sour, is much less noticeable because people are much quieter in their disgust at losing than in their excitement at winning. Therefore, there is a constant impression that only joy emanates from a craps table making an alluring game to try.
A full craps table can hold about 16 players at one time, this amount of people is by far the most number of people all betting on the same object to come out in a good result. The large number and close proximity of players makes for some bonds to form. The fact that your outcome is linked to that of your neighbors' is sort of reassuring, versus most other gambling games where you're on your own. It makes it seem like your chance of defeat is less because of it. After all, how can all these people be betting, basically on the same thing I am, if they don't think they have a chance? The fact is that it seems harder to fathom that everyone at that table is going to be a loser, versus just you yourself losing due to bad card in blackjack. Of course, we know that number of players makes no difference to the chances of winning or losing for yourself, but it just seems like it's less likely for everyone to lose because that would just be bad for so many people, Fate couldn't let that happen, could she?
Or maybe it's just that other people losing along with you makes it easier to take. You can get a sort of solace from the fact that everyone else is miserable along with you, and many lost much more money than you too.
The camaraderie aspect of craps, resulting from a high correlation in the fortunes of each player at the table, is certainly a significant factor in the allure of the game to many. That is why you see craps tables with nobody at them for so long. No one wants to play a craps game by themselves because then the benefit of camaraderie the game has to offer is not present. Usually, it takes a moderate group of friends to start a table going, then the single gamblers can latch on and things build from there.
The Lady Shooter
Because of the fact that gambling is a mostly male enterprise and the fact that there is some feeling of pressure on having all the players' stakes resting on your roll of the dice, you don't see too many woman playing craps. Those that do, often pass the dice. But when there is a lady shooter, there is a big deal made by the croupier who announces the fact to everyone like some exotic animal on a safari has just been sighted. Most women throw dice "like a girl." That is, similar to young girls throwing a ball, they don't have a very elegant shooting style. This can be seen as sort of an innocent aspect of the women shooting and be sort of a touching site to see her innocence at play in such a manly and seemly enterprise as gambling. The novelty of it is enough to get players to stick at a table longer to wait till the women in line gets her turn to roll. Maybe because of the exotic nature of the female shooter, the players thing that she is good luck. Maybe she looks like rookie and this has the double-impact of female and beginners luck. And of course the attractive female shooter is the key attraction in this category. The ultimate incentive for the gambling man to stay at a craps table is to get a chance to see an attractive woman with good amount of neckline showing lean over the table to throw some dice. I can't explain it, but it's just sort of alluring and I think it's just another part of the game, unique to craps, that makes people want to play it and keep playing at a table with possible woman shooters.
In most gambling games, there are times when no matter what decision you make, you still will lose a particular round of the game. For instance, many times in blackjack, no matter if you hit or stand, you will lose the hand because the dealer will beat you or you'll bust no matter the choice you make. Roulette, you can't bet everything because there are just too many things to bet on and doing so, will make it so you won't win anything even if you do.
In craps, though, every roll, you could have bet on something that made you a winner. Especially if a shooter is rolling a lot of numbers, if you aren't betting a lot of things, you will not be taking full advantage of the shooters good fortune in avoiding the dreaded 7. The craps dealers are constantly trying to get people to bet these poor odd side bets like "hard eight" which bets a double-4 will come up before a 2-6, 5-3, or a 7. There's others too they yell out for people to pony up for all the time. When they come up and no one had bets anything on those bets, the craps dealers rub it in that no one was betting it and the weak-minded players at the table are shamed into placing one there the next time. Once they get in this habit, they feel they must always place this bet or else get the scolding by the casino for being so stupid for not betting it that one time it wins. Every time you see others cashing in on these side bets that you didn't make, it make you wish you had made them. This is natural. But to then make the bet after the fact is just plain stupid. It's like people are easing their conscience by placing the bet after the fact because they feel they've sinned by not having faith in the dice to come up winners. But this is the case in many craps players and another reason why the game is addictive. Most people hate having regrets for past inaction, but the nature of betting in a craps game makes for a simple way to aleve this feeling by atoning right after the fact on the next throw. Though of course, there is no logic in it, the important thing to the bettor is the easing of the unsettling feeling of lost opportunity, the regret of a wrong choice made. Perhaps this same person has made other bad choice in their lives. Maybe they quit school to be in a band that flopped. Perhaps they ruined their marriage with an affair. Those things, they cannot ever correct, but this failure to bet on a winning outcome, they can. Simply place it on the next throw, and that way, there is no chance of regrets. Of course, you'll lose more money faster, but that's a small price to pay to rid oneself of the uneasy feeling of missed opportunities.
Crazy Money Action
One thing about craps that differs from most gambling is the fast pace of it. To a first-timer, the game is too confusing to understand. Even to an experience player, it can get a little crazy with all the bets flying out every which way. One result of this fast pace is that many times, you are not actually aware of how much money you have bet on the table at one time. During a hot streak, you might be "pressing" winning bets and making new ones such that you might actually have a lot of money of the table. If you actually realized you have $100 bucks scattered on the table that would put you up for the trip, you might cash in, but the game is going and you just don't have time to make the calculations.
Or perhaps you know but don't care. One of the fun things about craps is all the bets you can do. You can make it so that a lot of numbers will win for you and it's fun when a hot shooter avoids rolling a 7 and every number that hits has the dealers shoveling money towards you. The action in craps makes it so that there is a potential money paying outcome every few seconds, unless a point or craps is thrown in which case the house has to take a bit of time paying everyone or raking in the chips the players all lost. This instant gratification is appealing to the impatient gambler for whom blackjack is just plain too slow.
Also related to the crazy money action is the unique ways you can bet in craps versus other game. You get to just throw your money and announce you bet and say colorful stuff like "hopping hard-ten" or "horn high yo" or "snake eyes". I think people like throwing their money and sort of putting themselves on a stage by announcing to everyone the boldness in their betting. In addition, the act of throwing may symbolize literally their throwing away of money to the casino, which in turn may be the underlying reason for gambling in the first place. That is, they have come to gamble because they subliminally feel the need to lose, perhaps because they feel they don't deserve the money they have or because they just have a sadomasochist tendency and enjoy the financial pain of losing money. By throwing their money into the table for the bet, they get extra satisfaction in their losing of it by the physical action simulating actual throwing away of garbage in a trash can.
In addition to its unique aspects, the general gambling thrill that exists
in any risky proposition exists as well in craps. But it is the factors mentioned
in the above paragraphs that makes craps have an especially powerful hold
on many gamblers. It is also what makes the game very fun to play, as long
as you can control yourself. So get out there are throw some dice, but just
keep in mind this essay so that you can identify yourself being won over by
the game's powers and hence have the strength to break out of the mold and
leave a table with some money in your pocket.
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