Did You Hear the One About . . .

I’ve talked in the past about visual distractions; late bets, hands dangling over the rail, piles of chips in your landing zone, and new money on the table. All of these can be distracting for a DI. But some of them cross over into the field of aural distractions as well. A late prop bet, for example, is accompanied by a shout of “Dollar Yo” and the clap of the chip as it hits the table. Hands dangling over the rail may prompt a “Hands high – dice are out” shout from the stickman or another player. A player may say “no action on this roll” as he drops his new money on the layout. And any or all of these distractions may cause yours truly to shout “Off on my bets.” IMHO it’s not superstition. It’s smart.

Awhile back Fox Sports did a series that examined issues like this in sports science. One thing I learned from that series was that different parts of the brain decode visual stimuli and aural stimuli. And as it turns out, it’s easier for most people to “tune out” visual distractions than it is to tune our aural ones. To that end, it’s no wonder we get distracted when the waitress reaches down do clean the drink rail and asks if you’d like a fresh drink. It should come as no surprise that a call of “seven out” on a table adjacent to yours will result in an “echo effect” at your table. And has anyone ever heard “Long and strong, shooter. We need both dice to hit the back wall every time.” What happened next?

So how do you get past these issues? Well, we could do what musicians do. On any given evening a concert pianist may play thousands of notes. Most will be the right notes, but odds are he’ll play a few wrong ones as well. Most of us, if in the pianist’s position, would get shaken and undergo physiological changes at the first wrong note. After all, there are thousands of people in the audience listening with rapt attention. We might start to sweat, feel butterflies in our stomachs, and lose focus. And in doing so we would end up making more mistakes. But that’s not what happens with the concert pianist. He never loses his cool. He simply continues to play.

Why doesn’t the concert pianist get stressed out? Two reasons.

1. He practices a lot. And the more he practices, the fewer notes he’ll miss in live performance.

2. He puts himself in pressure situations often. This guy doesn’t wander down to the concert hall three or four times a year to battle Mozart. He’s there every Friday and Saturday evening and for two performances on Sunday.

What’s the old saying – it’s not “practice makes perfect,” it’s “perfect practice makes perfect.” We can’t expect to have perfect results in the casino if we don’t practice regularly and to the best of our ability. Likewise, we cannot expect learn how to deal with pressure if we never step up and do it in live action. You have to play the game regularly and often.

Why do we put ourselves through all this? Because those “once in a lifetime” rolls that practicing DI’s toss once or twice a month in the casino stay with you forever. You never forget the experience of your first hour-plus roll. But you never forget the second one either. Or the third. Or the fourth. And certainly not the last one. But practicing our art – then taking it to the casino – does something else for us. If we maintain discipline and play the way we know will kick off the optimum results then we build character. And character translates into every area of your life. You have more confidence. You are better focused and more poised. You are a quicker thinker in high-stress situations. I think you actually become a better human being. And that’s one of the best distractions I’ve ever heard of.