Shuffling through the gaming mailbag:

Q. My usual spot (when rolling the dice in craps) is slot right of stickman and I try to kerplunk the dice in the same area on the right side of the back wall. Same arc, same drop every time. So I’m hitting all sorts of numbers (I had my 6 up to $180) and the pit boss comes over and says, “We have a policy here of hitting the CENTER of the back wall.” I didn’t want him to get into my head, but I still said, “Really? Is the center part of your policy in writing?” (He was dumb enough to say it was.)

So I shift my body a little bit and start throwing to back wall CENTER, but it’s too strong, dice off table. Next toss 7.

I took it up with him after, not pleased at the cooling. I left about $400 on the table. Have you heard of this before? What do you do?

A. I’ve not had this happen to me personally, but I have witnessed hot shooters have conditions layered as they rolled. “You need more arc.” “That’s too high. Not so much arc.” “Speed it up, no dice setting.” And my favorite, when a shooter was on a roll: “Gotta be the wall and two bounces here, or no roll.” No one had mentioned that until the shooter made his first three or four points.

All you can control in the situation is yourself. Neither the pit boss nor his supervisor is going to drag out the written internal controls to show you this was the actual policy. You have to keep calm and relaxed, and try to give it as natural a roll as you can with a different target. Afterward, you can express your displeasure to somewhere higher up, and if you get no satisfaction, make an informed decision about whether to return.

I had a further email exchange with this player, and was told the incident came at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas. He wrote a letter and received a response from an exec, who said, “I am sorry that you had such a difficult experience but I would like to assure you that I have reviewed the surveillance video of your play and have spoken with the supervisor from the game that evening. My review reveals that the supervisor’s actions were in concert with all of our procedures and protocols. That being said, as an experienced dice player, I’m sure you know that not every caveat in a table games policy manual is posted throughout the casino.”

That’s a response that essentially says the exec is backing his on-the-floor team and hopes the customer will buy it. It does not quote the policy manual on the rule, nor explain why it was applied only after the shooter was putting up numbers.

Q. Blackjack has always been the most popular table game, far more popular than poker. So can you explain why video poker is so much more popular than video blackjack?

A. I wouldn’t go so far as “always,” but yes, blackjack has been the most popular table game for about the last 50 years. Before that, craps was more popular.

Video poker offers players an opportunity at a big jackpot, which video blackjack doesn’t. In video blackjack, a winning $5 bet is going to bring back $5 in winnings most of the time. In video poker, that $5 bet could bring back a $4,000 bonanza, and there are frequent wins that will triple your wager or better.

Early video blackjack games didn’t even pay a bonus on two-card 21s. Even if you were dealt Ace-10, your $5 wager would bring back just $5 in winnings. That format survives today in some video blackjack units, and it leaves a game the returns in the neighborhood of 97 percent to a basic strategy player, depending on other rules. Many video poker games pay 99 percent or better.

So in video blackjack, you often see a lower-paying game with no jackpot possibility. That’s made it a specialty game for niche players.

Gambling author and columnist John Grochowski’s weekly newspaper column began at the Chicago Sun-Times and is now syndicated nationally. He also regularly makes TV and radio appearances about gambling. His column appears weekly. Look for John Grochowski at, on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).