The Joy of the Grind

A blackjack playing acquaintance of mine showed me a screen shot from his player profile in a Vegas casino known for sweating advantage players. Don’t ask me how he got the screen shot – I have no idea. But the screen shot was intriguing. It described this gent as an “advantage grind” player. In other words, he didn’t mind spending eight to ten hours a day making minimum bets, waiting for an opportunity to lock up a win on an occasional big bet when the deck composition was right, before moving on. In these days of multi-deck shoes, poor penetration, and unfavorable rules, it’s about the only play left for many counters.

Playing the grind has long been a favorite of a certain breed of craps players. Grinders are usually Don’t players who limit themselves to one or two bets. They play with a limited bankroll apportioned into “per shooter” amounts. This enforces a strict loss limit per shooter. It’s not an advantage play, but its’ not a bad way for precision shooters to stay in the game while waiting for the dice.

Here’s a grind system with built-in money-management moves I call the ten-four-fifty. It’s a spin-off of one of Sam Grafstein’s old strategies he described in The Dice Doctor – one of just a handful of craps books I believe every crapster should have in his gaming library.

As described, the ten-four-fifty requires a $450 session buy in. Once you receive your chips, break them down into ten, $45 betting stakes. You’ll be betting on the next ten shooters, and risking no more than $45 per shooter. If your session buy-in is larger, bet sizes can easily be adjusted. Since the money management moves are built in, once you master the rules you won’t even have to think about it. Here are the rules for playing this strategy:

1. In a $5 game, wait for a new shooter, and then play $10 on the Don’t Pass. If the shooter rolls a natural and the bet loses, do not replace the bet. Instead, take the remaining $35 from the betting stake for that shooter and place it in the back of your rack. You do not chase losses on an individual shooter. You simply wait for the next shooter and begin the series again with a new betting stake.

2. If the shooter tosses a Don’t Pass winner of 2 or 3, parlay the entire $10 winnings to the Don’t Pass. Your second wager will be $20. If he tosses a box number, it becomes the point for that hand. Lay single odds against the point. If the point is four or ten, lay $20 odds. If the point is five or nine, lay $15 odds. If the point is six or eight, lay $12 odds. The exception to this rule is if the shooter establishes a point on a parlayed Don’t Pass wager. In this case, you do not take odds. Your odds are “built-in” due to the effect of the parlay.

3. At this point you will have between $20 and $30 in action on the layout. Now make a $5 Don’t Come bet. Should the shooter roll a box number and establish a Don’t point, once again you will lay single odds. Lay $10 on the four or ten, $9 on the five or nine, and $6 on the six or eight. Should the shooter toss an eleven and knock off the Don’t Come bet, you are through betting on this hand. Simply wait for a decision on the Don’t Pass wager. If the shooter tosses a 2 or 3 craps and the Don’t Come wager wins, parlay the winnings to a second Don’t Come wager and follow the same parlay rules we set down for Don’t Pass bets.

4. Now you will have anywhere from $30 to $45 in action on the layout, and as much as $15 left in your betting stake. Feed those remaining chips into your back rack and wait for a decision on your bets. If either or both of your wagers win, place your winnings and the original wagers in the back rack as well. You will continue to play with a new betting stake on the next shooter. If either or both of your wagers lose, you will risk no further action against that shooter. If BOTH of your wagers lose, you will risk no further action against that shooter, and you will SKIP the next shooter. The purpose of this move is to interrupt the player’s natural tendency to chase losses.

5. Continue this betting pattern until you’ve played each of the ten, $45 betting stakes. Then count your chips and determine where you stand in relation to your original $500 buy in. Next, apportion your chips into ten additional betting stakes. If, for example, you end up with $700 in the back rack you will have ten $70 betting stakes. If you want to continue playing, remain at that same table, as it is a winning game. Likewise, if you’ve lost money you’ll apportion your chips into ten additional betting stakes. Let’s say you had $350 left in the back rack. You would break this down into ten $35 betting stakes. Like the winner, you can continue to play. However, you must move to another table. Always choose the open, low-limit table with the fewest players.

Of course, there are frequently long strings of seven-outs at the tables. Any time you are fortunate enough to be playing the Don’ts when that happens, feel free to lock up a win and say “color coming in.” That is the true joy of the grind.