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When my friend Rashad suggested we drive my Hyundai (which had no air-conditioning and a busted radio) to Atlantic City to play craps, I thought he was high. My father had a bad habit of blowing rent money on the Pick 3—so I wasn't eager to tease my gambling gene. We flipped a coin for it. That was the only bet I lost that day.

I'd only seen the game played in the movie Casino. But since Rashad called himself Craps God 2001, I agreed to be his disciple. When we got there, a man attached to a portable oxygen tank tossed the dice first.

"Ten the hard way," the dealer said.

"Yessss. I'm gon' buy me a new truck!" the old man said between hacking coughs. The crowd, a mix of hookers and church folk, stomped and hollered. The hard way means betting on the number to come out identically split on both dice. It did, and the new-truck owner doubled his $200 bet.

Meanwhile, Rashad broke down the table dramatics and explained different players' strategies.

When it was my turn to throw the square bones, I spit on my palms and said, "Give me $40 on ten the hard way," swearing that I'd walk away if I lost $100. After 30 minutes of running Rashad's three-hitter-quitter play (pulling my chips off the table after three consecutive wins, then reentering the game after somebody else rolled a 7 or 11), I did leave the table—with more than $300.
—Chee Gates

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