The Twelvefold Tao of Craps

I have always been interested in culture, society, and philosophy. Since both of my children are active in the martial arts, I am particularly interested in Eastern philosophy. A few years ago I took some of that philosophy, applied it to the game of craps, and published the article on several websites. The article – The Twelvefold Tao of Craps – is one of the most popular pieces I have ever written. It is reprinted here:

Tao 1: In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.

Interpretation: Nobody has all the answers. Including your favorite computer simulation. Try to keep an open mind toward the opinions of others.

Tao 2: There are many roads to the Celestial Highway.

Interpretation. Yours ain’t the only way to win.

Tao 3: One cannot ladle out the sea with a shell.

Interpretation: Always size your bets to your bankroll. If you don’t have sufficient bankroll – do not play.

Tao 4: The white crane does not stand in the water. There are no fish in the pond.

Interpretation: Learn to read the table before you walk up and place your bet. If no one is playing at the table it should tell you something.

Tao 5: The bee gathers nectar from the flower without marring its beauty or perfume.

Interpretation: Behave yourself at the table. Nobody wants to play with insects or assholes.

Tao 6: It is better to do nothing than to do what is wrong.

Interpretation: Just because you’re standing at the table does not mean you have to bet on every shooter. Just because you have bets on the table does not mean they have to work for eternity.

Tao 7: Your neighbor’s blossoms are always pinker.

Interpretation: Don’t change your game plan just because the guy playing the field and all of the call bets is winning more than you.

Tao 8: The fool is his own enemy. Seeking wealth, he destroys himself.

Interpretation: Don’t play with scared money. Don’t chase your losses. It never works.

Tao 9: Plant a green tree. Perhaps a singing bird will come.

Interpretation: Tip the dealers. They’re underpaid, they work hard for it, and they deserve it. It always comes back to you.

Tao 10: A wise man does not sit and meditate while the house burns.

Interpretation: Set reasonable loss limits. If you hit them, make like the Clanton gang and get the hell out of Dodge.

Tao 11: It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Conquer yourself and you are your own master.

Interpretation: It ain’t you against the casino, folks. It’s you against you.

Tao 12: A quote from the great Zen master, Maharishi Casey Stengel. “Good pitching will always stop good hitting, and vice versa.”

Interpretation: All good streaks must come to an end.