One of the most respected craps dice dealing instructors of all time – ROBERT M. (BOBBY) JONES
When I published this interview I received e-mail from people in the casino business telling me about their experiences with Bobby as a student or co-worker. He has indeed touched the lives of many. Most say he was “The best they ever seen dealing craps in Atlantic City”.
I’m so pleased you’re taking the time to do this Bobby. You’ve been an influence in my ‘casino life’ as well as hundreds of other crap dealers around the country!
Thank you. When I was an Instructor, I think I trained about 1500 dealers. Quite a few ended up in Vegas with you guys.
Boy, you’re not kidding. I work at NYNY and we have at least 12 dealers/floor that you trained back in Jersey and that’s just one casino down here.
I really enjoyed that job, but as you know being an instructor yourself, sometimes you just want to pull your hair out! I’ll tell you this Scott, anyone can teach a 21-year-old kid how to deal. The older students, well that’s a different story. You really earn your pay most of the time. It’s not easy. You need a great deal of patience to develop a break-in craps dealer, that’s for sure.
You know, speaking of break-in dealers, I got into trouble when I was a young dealer ten years ago trying to learn some of those moves you had on your ‘Advanced Craps’ dealing Video! I tried your $72 for $44 move on the 6&8 ($24 each to $36)…. and my boxman literally came flying out of his seat! Scared the shit out of me! For some reason I never forgot that moment in part because the guy on the stick laughed his ass off knowing he and I watched your film.
I know what you mean. After I made the video, I took a summer job dealing at Trop World. I use to piss off the box people there on a regular basis! I knew the game better than they did, so they didn’t want to say much when I was dealing all the various moves. Finally one night my box said ” Damnit Jonesy, I realize you know what you’re doing and all – but can you at least explain it to me before the Floorman gets in my ass.”
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I literally wore that tape out! (Made a shitload of copies for my buddies back then by the way!) We would practice on a makeshift table in my back yard trying to outperform each other with some of those moves.
Can you define ‘Shitload of COPIES’?
Umm …. One or two I think? Yea, maybe it was just one copy. Yea, that’s the ticket…Just one copy…. Anyway Bobby let’s start at the beginning of your gaming career How and when did it all begin?
The desire to get into the casino business began after a cross-country trip in 1976 with my two best friends, Mike Cook and Bruce Baker. We just turned 21 and Vegas was unbelievable. Booze, broads and big bucks…………. Between drinking, Craps, BJ and bj’s if you know what I mean, what more could a 21 year old ask for? I was hooked. When we got back from that trip, my buddies and I knew we wanted to be in the casino business. The following year we decided to become dealers and we were all set to move to Vegas when casino gaming was passed in New Jersey. It was then we decided to try to become dealers. In January 1978, I was accepted to be one of the original 500 dealers to be trained for the casinos in Atlantic City. The next four months of training was both exciting and intimidating. All 500 dealers cut checks 8 hours a day for the first five days before they even decided what games they were going to deal. That is when they separated the “lumps” from the ‘future mechanics’. If you had good hands and were tall, you were in Craps. If you were a “lump” and short, you went to Blackjack. Everybody in between was split between the other games. The next fourteen weeks of training to become a Craps dealer was at times a real pain in the ass but without a doubt was the best thing I have ever done. It was a decision that would forever change my life……….
So your first dealing job was at Resorts International?
Yes, that’s correct. Imagine if you will …one casino within three hours drive of twenty five million people. Players would line up starting at daybreak and by the time the casino opened the line literally stretched seven blocks down the boardwalk. Less than a minute after the casino opened they literally ran to the tables! I saw Benjamin Franklin’s face more that first day of work than I had my entire life. I would give up all I’ve accomplished to be able to relive that first year of dealing dice at Resorts. The action was incredible!”
Not only was it busy, but I hear the players we’re very educated in craps and vicious toward dealers at times in the beginning. True?
Yes the players were very educated. The better players use to really piss off most of the dealers. Myself, I loved them. After five minutes at my
table, I knew they knew more than I did. So rather than bustin my ass trying to figure out the payoffs, I would just ask them what it paid in a low tone so my box wouldn’t hear. Half of the boxmen didn’t know the answers back then anyway. It would take me two or three rolls to double check their answers, but believe it or not, they were always right. The good players never tried to take advantage. I credit a lot of my knowledge to those players.
Don’t get me wrong. I had some strong boxmen like Jimmy Gussis, Bill Kilduff and others, but if you let those players teach you, a young dealer could learn.
As far as vicious players, I heard a lot of dealers complain about them but to be honest with you, as long as you could deal, they left you alone. We’re talking about a bunch of New Yorkers that have grown up with craps. They learned it on the streets as a kid, and then flew to Vegas all the time as an adult. These ol boys had been around the block once or twice. I had a few assholes at my game those first few years but I use to kill them with kindness or fire back at them with comments the box couldn’t hear. I want to share with you the best come back line I have ever heard to an asshole player. I would like to take credit for it but it just wouldn’t be fair to the dealer who said it. The dealers nickname was Five-O, a Hawaiian kid. The player was in the hook and was verbally abusing Five-O to no end, I was on stick and several times I told the guy to watch his mouth. Finally, he called Five-O a mother fucker and Five-O leaned across the table and said “Sir, if you kept your mother off the street, I wouldn’t fuck her”. This player went nuts!!!!!!! He tried to come over the table after Five-O. We had to call security and throw him out. The box and Floor kept asking Five-O what did you say to him to get him so mad. Five-O replied I just asked him if he wanted the same bet. Then they looked at me and said Jonesy you were on stick; what did Five-O say and I replied “same bet”. Whenever Five-O and I got together after that, we would just laugh our asses off. That is how you deal with vicious players. The bottom line is I learned from them. The way you control these players is with dealing knowledge – knowing how to deal the game. As we all know if you can’t deal – a real gambler will chew you up and spit you out! Especially one from NY
How long did you stay at Resort’s?
I worked at Resorts for two years. Loved each and every minute of it!
I’ll bet you made some good friends over there.
Yes I sure did Scott, some of the people I worked with besides Gussis and Kilduff were Jim “Bounce” Covert, Jimmy Peace, Roger Deaton, John Smith, Frank Helmich, Lenny Snelgowski, Scott Beamon, and Pete Demos, Nick Boscia, to name a few.
Remember any of the dealers back then?
Well let’s see, some of the original dealers were
Mike Cook, Joe DeRosa, Gary Massey, Steve Calendar, Mark Brown, Mike Frawley, Hal Tendler, Barksdale Bush, Jackie Kashey, Pat McKenna, Jack Kessler, , Steve McClintok, Dominic Del Vecchio, Beryl Tweedle. I apologize to those I forgot.
Joe DeRosa rings a bell. Why do I know that name from somewhere?
Joe was the manager of Career Institute of Atlantic City and did some consulting work in Mississippi, California and Las Vegas. He is currently General Manager of Fantasy Springs in Palm Springs, California
Where to after Resorts?
After Resorts I went to the Brighton Casino, which is now called the Sands. I stayed there for a year and then went into teaching Craps at Casino Schools Inc.
Someone said you invariably purchased the school? Is that correct?
No, I never owned the school. When I first started teaching I had no intention of doing it for long. But I fell in love with it almost overnight. There is something about the amount of pride you feel when you take a classroom of students who know little to nothing about the game and twelve weeks later they are starting a new career. Don’t get me wrong, working in the casino was fun, but there was never any end result of the work you did. With teaching, there was always a measurable outcome so you could tell what kind of job you had done. For anybody that has never taught its hard explain the feeling. I was hooked. I taught fifteen hundred students over the next twelve years. And it was the most rewarding twelve years of my career. This is something you can relate to Scott. I know that is what YOU are all about. Rumor has it that I did lots of partying and dated lots of my students but the only thing I will admit to is I met and married the prettiest student I ever taught, my wife, Sandy.
Well said, where to now Bobby?
In 1990, I was offered an opportunity to move to Iowa and run several gaming schools for a company called Steamboat Casino Cruises. Today it is called Isle of Capri Casinos. I decided it was time to spread my wings so I packed up the family and moved to the Midwest. Although teaching had made a name for me, it had also limited my career growth. Everyone thought that all I knew was Craps. By moving to the Midwest it allowed me the opportunity to do more than teach. Over the next ten years I managed five different gaming schools, taught all the games and more importantly, got back into Casino Operations. I have been a Pit Boss, Shift Boss, Casino Manager and Director of Table Games. Which brings me to my current position as Executive Director of Operations. I am responsible for Player Development, Host, Cage Operations, over 50 Table Games and almost 1300 slots.
What do you say?…….. Slots?
Yes I did say slots. If you are going to have a future in this business, all of us table game people better learn the slot side of the business, or we will become the dinosaurs we use to talk about when we broke in. The gaming business is changing. It’s all about customer service now and technology (slots-computers) One must change with the times or your going to be left behind. Learn as much as you can about each and every aspect of the business, each and every game. This business wants the “jack of all” not the “master of one”
Good advice. Thank you for your time Bobby Jones. You have touched the lives of many.
I am flattered to have done this interview on this website of yours. I surely wish I had this as a tool for training back in my teaching days. Thank you so much for having me here and am proud of the fact there is still people out there that remember the hippie with the long hair and the “flavor saver” that taught them