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The Wisdom of Craps



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Noam Scheiber (h/t Andrew Sullivan) comments on the ethical implications of the recent Time story that contrasted Obama’s canny poker playing with McCain’s reckless craps habit. As someone who spent way too much time in casinos in an earlier phase of my life, both pieces read to me like they were written by guys who’s closest brush with the business end of a craps table was in a graduate seminar on Veblen.

What neither seems to realize is that cards are work and craps is vacation.

Beyond this, a craps table is the last bastion of true democracy in America: a diverse group of people working together for a common purpose. Looking around a craps table one person at a time is like the platoon sergeant in a WWII movie taking roll call in the foxhole: Johnson!, Martinez!, Weinstein!, Strombowski!, …

Now, Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods, and craps is not free. As a retired player, however, I am prepared to share with you Jim Manzi’s three rules that will guarantee that you win at craps.

1. ALWAYS bet on a man in a hat.

2. If you are throwing dice at some casino in the Caribbean, and the Fat Boys invite you on a booze cruise, ALWAYS go.

3. NEVER bet the ‘don’t pass’ line. This is the behavior of an anti-social freak. It is wearing a Yankees cap at Fenway or short-selling the entire stock market. You succeed when all those around you lose. If this is how you get your kicks, perhaps you’d be more comfortable over there at the poker table with Mr. Obama.



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