The shouts of “Mr. Roo” and “Billy Bain” were running through my head as I remembered the trips to Vegas during my younger days. Back then I was known simply as “Mr. K,” and my colleagues got the doors for me. Shouting “Dollar Yo” got us 15 to 1 odds that the next roll of the dice at the craps table would bring an 11. It was also a rallying cheer to get us hyped again after a downturn, or when 4 AM rolled around and we found ourselves in some two-bit casino like the Imperial Palace.
Times certainly have changed since I ran with that old crowd. Mr. Roo ran off and got married, and now he’s CEO of a supply chain software company in Davis Square. And Billy Bain, once so na‹ve in the ways of the world, graduated HBS a Baker Scholar. More importantly, the stakes at the craps tables would multiply tonight from dollars to hundreds of dollars. Of course, back then we were actually playing with real money.
I found myself standing in Spangler, preparing to take play money from the innocents in the Class of 2003 at the HBS Orientation Casino Night. But there were tangible prizes on the line in the Williams Room, and no one involved currently had any income, so why not?
To be honest, even with my experiences as Mr. K behind me, I was pretty nervous. While basic craps is a simple game, tens of new sub-games begin with every roll of the dice, and as Mr. K, I was always amazed at the abilities of craps dealers to keep track of all the bets on the table. Would Uncle Jordy be able to keep up at his advanced age? Fellow dealer Patrick Manzanares and I huddled, and decided we would simplify the odds on the complicated bets to make everyone’s lives a little easier. We also put up a little sign that said “Favors promised if you get the dealers a drink.”
Eight o’clock passed, and the crowd started to trickle in. Would they be beginners? Could Uncle Jordy snow them with his limited knowledge of the game’s intricacies? Or would they sink him by throwing chips and shouting the lingo, “Place 6 and 8 for five hundred each, hundred dollar C and E, five hundred on 10 the Hard Way, thousand dollar Come?” I expected the worst, as it takes someone with serious cojones to saunter up to an empty craps table and be the first to throw the dice shouting, “Baby needs a new pair of shoes!”
My fears were allayed when the first players set the tone. “I’ve always wanted to learn craps. How do you play this game?” I breathed a long sigh of relief and Patrick and I talked them through some practice rounds. They got the hang of it, and while they were too busy to notice, we practiced moving the dice around the table with that stick-hook dealers use like an extension of their hand. It wasn’t so bad. We started making change, and making payouts. “Lady” Lek Venugopalan took the dice, set the place on fire, and the masses started migrating to the table. Derek Mendez showed up, and he knew how the game was played. We almost ran out of money. The table went cold and we got most of it back. Other people in, other people out. Some old pros, most just learning.
The next thing I knew, it was eleven o’clock. I’d had a blast, and I was exhausted.
“Seven out! Next shooter.”
Mr. K will be re-appearing at a bachelor party at the Flamingo Hilton on September 21st, live from Las Vegas Stay tuned for future reports.