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Frank Scoblete - Damned When You Don?t

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  • Frank ScobleteI will confess that I am an inveterate ?right bettor? at craps. A right bettor is one who bets with the shooter or the dice and, in the point cycle of the game, against the seven. That means I make Pass Line or Come bets, perhaps place the 6 or 8, and buy the 4 or 10. I don?t want the seven (except on the initial come-out roll). I don?t like the seven.

    And, despite my recognition that ?wrong bettors? or ?don?t players? or Darksiders are not really playing against me but against the house, I just can?t make myself believe it on a deep emotional level. As far as I?m concerned, when they win, I lose. If we?re on the come out and the 2 or 3 rolls, they win, I lose. On the point cycle, if the shooter sevens out, they win, I lose.

    So, yes, I do take it personally when a don?t player is glaring down the felt at some shooter who is beginning to have a hot hand. I do take it personally because I can read his nasty little thoughts, ?Come on seven! Come on seven!? I do take it personally when a shooter sevens-out and that same don?t player gets that smug look.

    One thing about don?t players, or at least most don?t players; they are usually very quiet at a table. They know that in the pantheon of craps deities, they rate under the foot of the offal digger. So at least they know their place.

    But the other night at Wild Wild West Casino in Atlantic City I experienced one of the most sublime, beautiful, thrilling, funny, wonderful and amazing spectacles ? a don?t player getting his?and getting his with a vengeance.

    Let me set the stage. The table was cold to cool; that meant most of the shooters were sevening out before the 5-Count. (For those who don?t know what the 5-Count is, it is the Captain?s method for selecting which shooters to bet on.) So these shooters weren?t hurting me. However, enough shooters, myself included, had sevened out just after the 5-Count that I was losing money and, naturally, I was not happy.

    And then there was this don?t bettor. He was about my age, around 55 or so, thin; looked like a left-over from the radical 60s, although he was clean shaven. He had some kind of fishermen?s cap or painter?s cap pulled down low over his forehead. His graying hair came down on either side of his cap. He was wearing a green army jacket, baggy army pants, and he was betting $50 on the Don?t Pass with each and every shooter. And he was cleaning up. He had this little permanent sneer, as if he were saying: ?Look at you, you fools, playing the right side and look at me, you fools, and how much I?m making. You are all fools.? Sneer.

    Now, many of you ?don?t players? don?t realize that we ?do players? are acutely aware of your presence at our tables ? just as we are aware of a mote in our eyes. Don?t players are that irritating and this guy was irritating me and irritating the guy next to me, a young fellow who had been taking a shellacking.

    And now the dice were being passed to the don?t player.
    Usually don?t players aren?t arrogant enough to pick up the dice and shoot, but rather they pass the dice on to the next right player while hoping their wicked hopes and dreaming their deadly dreams. Not this guy. He picked up the dice, looked right (he was on stick right so he was looking away from where he was shooting the dice) and he flung them with disdain.

    ?Seven! Winner seven! Pay the line, take the don?ts.?
    ?I hope he keeps this up,? I said to the kid next to me.
    ?Yeah,? he said. ?I hope he kills himself.?
    The don?t player was passed the dice again and this time he rolled a 4. He looked at the rest of us at the table and put $200 in odds on his 4. The only time he took odds was if the point were 4 or 10 ? the longest shots at the table when it comes to point numbers. So he was a two-to-one favorite to hit a 7 before a 4.

    He looked away and disdainfully flung the dice.
    ?Four, winner four! Pay the do?s, take the don?ts!?
    ?Yahoo!? yelled the kid next to me.
    The don?t player just kept that sneer on his craggy face. He put out another $50 Don?t Pass bet.

    ?Winner eleven! Yoooooo-eleven!?
    ?Yahoo!? yelled the kid.
    He flung the dice again.
    ?Seven, winner seven!?
    ?Yahoo!?
    ?Oh, God, let this last forever!? I said to the kid.
    ?This is great,? he said to me. Then to the shooter: ?Keep up the good shooting!?

    The don?t bettor?s jaw started to twitch. He was grinding his teeth.
    He flung the dice down the table, sneering, not looking.
    ?Nine, nina, nine is the point!?
    The don?t bettor didn?t lay odds on his nine. He flung the dice.
    ?Nine! Nina! Nina! Winner! Nine! Pay the do?s, take the don?ts.?
    ?Yahoo! A nine!?
    For a half hour this don?t player stubbornly, persistently, dog-headedly ? gloriously -- made those $50 Don?t Pass bets and hit sevens and elevens on his come-out rolls or, when he established a point, he made the point! Players were cheering wildly ? lead by the kid next to me. ?Yahoooo! Keep up that hot hand, shooter!?

    At the half hour mark, with the table hooting, jeering, sneering and cheering, with chip racks filled to overflowing, the don?t bettor looked at the table layout with a dead look on his face. He was busted, broke; he didn?t have a single chip left!

    He stormed off. ?Wait! Wait!? yelled the kid. ?Come back! You didn?t finish your roll!?

    One old guy cackled loudly: ?I?ll put up a bet for you so you can keep shooting!?

    Whether the don?t player heard this, I don?t know; but I do know, he had one heavenly roll ? and he was damned because of it. Yahoooo!

    Some of Frank's most popular books can be purchased by clicking one of the image links below:

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