Baccarat Baby: On Becoming A Bacca Rat
It’s baccarat, baby! A friend of ours has been coming over to give us all lessons–and homework!–on baccarat. It’s a pretty simple game, so you wouldn’t think it would take a course to learn it, but find the simplest things in life and we humans will find a way to complicate it. Just name anything, and then tell me I’m wrong: Eating (what, when, where, and how?); sleeping (what, when, where, and how?), going to the bathroom (what, when, where, and how?); etc, etc, etc.
Baccarat is not like eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, I hasten to add–unless you refuse to ever leave the gaming table, which happens, as evidenced by people going to the bathroom in their pants at the aptly named craps table- but it is mighty absorbing. Our friend has been playing it for a couple of decades now. He always talked about it and I’ve wanted to go with him and learn it, but never seemed able to schedule it. Baccarat is one of the best games to play because the player has a better edge than in most other games. The banker bet pays over 50%, which is why the player has to pay a commission on it.
Our friend had discovered a new system of playing baccarat–there are a ton of strategies for every game out there–and it’s been working for him. He has not gone home without a profit. He treats playing like a job; he goes at certain times, stays for around two hours, and goes at least three days a week.
Despite five years of dealing blackjack at The Golden Nugget and living in Las Vegas, I’d never played baccarat and had only dealt it once as a relief dealer. On that occasion, I’d had one player at the table, an older man from Texas who sank 15 thousand down the table in five minutes and then said he wasn’t going to cover the credit from the casino because he hadn’t won. That went over like a lead balloon with the pit boss. Watching $15,000 disappear in a few minutes wasn’t a joy ride for me, either.
Baccarat is not like blackjack or poker–the players never touch the cards. There are a few side bets, but Rule Number One is never to bet on the side bets, such as the Tie. There are a lot of Rule Number Ones in this new venture. Another Rule Number One (or Two as it’s known in the real world), is never to draw attention to yourself. Ergo, don’t bet so big they start watching you. Don’t be the “alphabetter.” There’s a strategy for betting, whether winning or losing, and if followed, the player won’t endlessly chase his or her money.
Jay Silva is the strategist we’ve been learning. His real life training is expensive, ‘natch, but he has a lot of videos on YouTube University. Our friend found him last year when all the casinos were closed (apparently, casinos don’t count as “essential,” even though they probably employ more people in Las Vegas than any other business in existence.
I spent three days watching the videos, making notes, we had two training sessions with our friend at the dining room table, and I did practice sessions with a simulator on the computer, but I still wasn’t clear on exactly what I was supposed to do–which includes making notations in columns on each hand played. For that I took a notebook and kept track of Banker and Player wins by making little dots in the columns, and I circled the ones I had won. Finally, I decided to go to a real live casino and play for real. (There happen to be several near to where we live.)
The first lesson I learned was that the ATM in the casino doesn’t accept my debit card from USAA, so I used my credit card and they charged me $12 for that privilege. It took the cashier in the cage a long time to verify that I am the person depicted on my driver’s license. I don’t have Player Reward cards, because we never gamble, and because they can keep track of you with those, and that would break Rule Number One, version 3: “Never let them keep track of you.”
I guess just by writing this I’m kind of breaking that rule, but if Jay can do it, I can, too.
There was no way I was going to sit at a real table and play quarter hand minimums as a noob. There are other options, though. The casino I chose has a computer baccarat game. The hands are live, but the players sit at baccarat machines with a $5 minimum. OR…..there are baccarat slot machines! That was what I wanted to try my first time out.
I looked around for the banks of baccarat slots and couldn’t find them. I asked one of the cleaners, who radioed the slot supervisor, who asked a pit boss, who didn’t know, either. Finally, the supervisor spotted it near the computer baccarat game and not far from the pit.
I sat down and fumbled a bit with the money, and she asked me if I had ever played before. I told her no, and she said, “Oh, boy.” Haha! See, there are humans who inhabit casinos! And you thought they were all Shylocks in Training.
After making myself comfy, I fed a twenty dollar bill into the slot machine and Wahla! A game started! You can’t just hit buttons on this machine; you gotta “interact” with it. You have to use the touch screen to get the cards to “turn over” and and you have to touch the player or banker, depending on which one you bet. I discovered if you hit the chip denomination more than once, it raises the value–touch the $10 chip two times and you’ve just bet $20, and so on.
The minimum bet is $1 on the machine, which was perfect for me. At least to begin with. After an hour or so, I was feeling pretty comfortable and my credits had grown to over $80. I began betting with $5 chips. I kept track of every single hand and tried to remember my lessons. If you don’t write down the TI (trending indicator), with a plus or minus, Jay says you’re gambling. I guess I was gambling, but I don’t have that part nailed yet. You also have to look at the last five hands played to know what the TI is for that shoe and whether the Player or Banker is predominant. Out of five hands, one of the two will be predominant.
Finally, after a bunch of time had gone by and I hadn’t even glanced around me, I was down to fifty cents in my credits and I’d already fed the machine another twenty dollar bill and a ten dollar bill out of my “bank” of a $100. I really didn’t want to lose an entire $100, so I told myself, said I, “I will play the dollar bills I have”–there were five of them in my purse–“and that’s it. I’ll leave when that’s gone.”
I managed to get that five dollars up to almost $500.00. Each time I hit another hundred dollar increment in credits, I tried to get it to go higher. But I was getting tired and bored. I kept losing to under $200, and then $100, so I risked $50 on a couple of bets, plus some $30 bets and $40 bets and won most of them. I did it because at that point it was in credits and I wanted to see if I could win.
It wasn’t just luck, betting those bigger increments. I was following the trend indicator the best I could, and had I stuck with the “dragon tail,” like I was told to do, I’d have won sooner. There are a couple of player runs in my notebook that went up to 8, but like a ninny, I switched to banker instead of riding it out.
Rule Number Whatever This One Is says that you go to the right if you lose, for no more than four losses (going to the right or left is the betting strategy), and you go the left if you win, which means you bet less. The strategy is good for not losing everything you’ve won back to the casino and for teaching you not to chase your money with more and more money. The problem I have with the slot machine is that I don’t know if those virtual cards are “real” cards. Most games of “chance” are always in favor of the house, but they are also dependent on who’s spinning the wheel, or who is shuffling the cards.
The casinos came up with a way to beat that loophole, too. They now use machines to shuffle the cards and the machines have a way of shuffling the cards in the casinos’ favor. Jay’s strategy compensates for that, which is why studying it and doing homework is necessary.
Since all bets double and I won most of the big ones I’d made, I was back up to over $400 pretty quickly. When I was down to $398, I went once more, won, and cashed out at $400.50. I still had $60 of the original hundred. I was feeling pretty good.
It was around 2pm when I started playing, and by the time I stood up, it was a full four hours later. It had felt like five minutes. My legs were so stiff, I almost fell over. My neck was killing me and so was my “playing arm.” But I’d made $100 an hour.
Our friend drew up a timetable for how many units–money–we would play each week. If the three of us go (although I’m not sure Don should go unless it’s early morning because I felt like I’d smoked a pack of cigarettes by the time 6pm rolled around, which is why our friend’s friend goes at 6am when the casino is dead), we are to bring back $100 a week for the first two weeks, which is no more than $10 a bet, assuming we play four days a week. We are to divide that three ways: a third to the Boss (the bank), a third to ourselves, and a third to the SHF, the Shit Happens Fund.
In our case, I would skip the middle man and put 2/3rds into the SHF. SHF is almost all we’ve got going on, the house needs so much work.
By the time the money graph is over–by the second month–we would each be bringing home $16,000 a month. That’s almost $50,000! In a month! I nearly passed out when he said that. True to form, I started worrying about hiding the equivalent of El Chapo’s money somewhere safe, because Rule Number One, version four is, “Don’t Put the Money in a Bank. It makes the Feds very, very curious, and that’s never good.”
We started talking about this non-existent money and where to keep it. We could bury it, fly it down to funky Nassau like the Pan Am pilots used to do to hide their money from their first and second wives, stuff it in hollow fence posts, or hollow beams in the house, or in a hollowed out mattress. Which started me worrying about fires, naturally. There goes our profit! Up in smoke.
Finally, I gave up. If we manage to bring home $50,000 a month in cash, I’ll buy someone to hide it for us.
45 thoughts on “Baccarat Baby: On Becoming A Bacca Rat”
You’ve got my head spinning, but the best part was the revelation of another aspect to Gigi.
A Blackjack dealer!
I’m amazed and impressed!
Did the tea take care of the stiff legs?
I had a cup last night and I feel pretty good today. My neck is still a little stiff and my back feels sore if I start to do housework, so I just don’t do the housework. It’s a sacrifice, but I will manage. How’s your reverse exspearamint working? Yes, a million years ago, I was a blackjack dealer. Most of the time, very boring. Occasionally fun.
So far so good on the tea front.
It may be a big coincidence,
but as long as I feel good every morning, the tea stays.
Wonderful! It doesn’t seem to help Don on a consistent basis, but that’s okay. Nothing is a miracle worker.
Careful. If a handsome man walks up and says “Bond, James Bond” get outta there.
Do I hafta??? Haha! I’d be shaken, not stirred, though.
But it’s Don you need to warn!
Yeah! Although, he might be okay with it. I’ve never axed him. “Hey, honey! Is it okay if I cheat on you with anyone who looks like Sean Connery? Come on, baby. Don’t say no!”
Didn’t we have a discussion about older women and their sexuality?
Sounds like yours is still intact.
Snort. It’s still revving along now and then. Maybe it’s the NADs! No, not THOSE nads. The supplement! I got some and I’ve been taking it!
Most of my female acquaintances (sadly) appear to have given up.
I can’t believe we’re talking about NADs.
Only Gigi. You are unique!
By the way, tomorrow the Pan Amers are meeting for lunch at the Legends Oyster Bar. Oysters! Ooh, la, la!
Unfortunately, oysters don’t make you a sex-machine.
That’s a myth, like the female aphrodisiac Spanish fly.
But if they make you think about sex, enjoy them!
Well, they don’t, but I sure like them! We are all done with restrictions, apparently. You guys coming out for a vacay soon?
I will never get a COVID shot, and I won’t wear a mask.
I may be stuck here until the administration changes.
You don’t have to! Yay! Masks are up to each person- some wore them in the casino, some didn’t. No more temp taking at the pool. When I asked, people would say “If you’re vaccinated,” but I just said, “Great,” and left it at that. No one asked to see proof.
I was talking about “vaccine passports” and masks still required to fly.
The remaining airlines are all “woke” corporations.
As much as I would love to meet you, there are other barriers as well.
I’m not with Wendy anymore. I can’t keep ignoring our huge ideological differences.
And then there is my grandson who lives with me.
I homeschool him year-round.
Sounds like a bunch of excuses, but such is life.
Come see me!
I live in a very small carriage house, so I couldn’t put you up, but there are hotels not too far away, with pools for your exercise.
I’m guessing Tennessee would be a huge change for you.
You’re in Tennessee? Wow. Well, I’ve been bugging Don to get on the road so we can drive to Florida and parts east to visit people. There’s no reason Tennessee can’t be on the list. I’m sorry you broke up with Wendy, but homeschooling your grandson has got to be a hoot! I homeschooled my son through the fifth grade and other than the daily fights and struggles with a child, it was great. At least in retrospect it is. I actually taught someone to read.
Masks will soon be a thing of the past on airlines, for sure. They won’t require a vaccine passport for intercontinental travel, will they? Regardless, if I find out how to get a jimmied one, I’ll let you know. If they can jimmy IDs, they can jimmy those. In fact, they already have, I think.
Good old Oregon is trying to take the flakiest state title away from California. Half the state would rather be Idaho.
Are you still stiff today? You were up late making comments (late by my standards).
You said something about homeschooling that I used to say all the time; it is one of the most underrated and significant accomplishments to teach someone how to read. Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.” If you teach someone how to read, they can eventually teach themselves.
By all means, if you take that trip, please stop by.
You need to see this! It will remind you of home!
They remade Army of the Dead! My favorite part of the original was the hand tapping its fingers on a pile of books, the top one being A Farewell to Arms. So funny. Why would it remind me of home? Where was it filmed? I always think of California as my home state, if I have one. I was born in Georgia, though, if people count that.
Oregon–why did you think that was my home state? I did go to high school and some college there, but left as soon as I could. Too much rain, although I look back on it now as being very beautiful. We had such a nice home and property, and I had a horse. It was great. But you’re right, it’s disgusting what so many of the people are doing to Oregon. Which is ironic; Oregon used to be one of the worst of the Jim Crow states, and now it’s done a 180 and hosts a bunch of commie ninnies.
You mixed up the two posts.
The new Army of the Dead is filmed in Las Vegas, your current home.
My oldest son lives in Portland, and It makes me very sad. It may as well be Sodom.
He was a fine Christian gentleman when he left home.
Now his sympathies now run with the street rabble.
It was filmed here? Very cool. I’m surprised I didn’t hear about it. It must have been this year or before last year?
I’m so sorry about your son. It would upset me, too. Brandon actually went right even though I was always more left. The result of being “raised” by the internet, I guess, but he made me aware of a lot of things, and you know I left the Democrats. Can’t abide them anymore.
The best thing about this essay is this. Two years from now Gigi will post another essay, and I already know that the first paragraph will be one of these two:
“Your move”, I said. Whoever blinks first loses.
“Okay”, she said. “Let’s do this.”
She wrote a number on an envelope and slid it across the table to me. It was more than I had made in the last ten years combined. It wasn’t my tax bill: It was the amount she was willing to reduce the tax, if I paid it now and didn’t go to trial. Sure, I could pay it now, five times over. So I wrote on the envelope and slid it back.
“No dice”, it said.
“Your move”, I said. Whoever blinks first loses.
“Okay”, she said. “Let’s do this.”
She wrote a number on an envelope and slid it across the table to me. It was longer than I had ever been in one place at one stretch in my entire life. It wasn’t my sentence: it was the amount she was willing to reduce my sentence if I didn’t go to trial. I didn’t think I could last that long. So I wrote on the envelope and slid it back.
“I’ll take it”, it said.
Just kidding. Not about that being a future essay, but the best thing about this one. The best thing is all the funny parts, like only three sentences in: “Just name anything, then tell me I’m wrong.”
And of course i’m kidding about the future essays. We all know it will be the first one. Can’t wait to see it happen.
Your off the cuff comments make the greatest stories ever! Am I a tax attorney in the future? I was a little confused there, but still. I love the dialogue you write and the semi-plots you come up with. You’re very lucky, because I am sort of your writer’s diary. I am keeping all of them.
Thank you. I’m blushing. But you overstate.
In the tax example, no, you are sitting in the IRS’s office, and you have been so successful at baccarat that they have assessed you a mammoth tax bill, such that the amount the agent has offered to come down if you settle now – not the tax bill, just the reduction in her offer – is more than you have made in the last 10 years. Heck, its not the money you are worried about. Money, you have. But you’ve gotten so good at betting the odds that no, you’re not paying what she’s offering.
OH!!!! That’s wonderful! It reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on what. A book, a movie, something.
I can’t imagine ever being comfortable enough with gambling to actually “gamble.” I did it somewhat yesterday, but I really felt as if I had a handle on most of what was going on so that it wasn’t really a gamble. We never go to casinos; the last time we went, years ago, was to play Bingo with a computer. That was interesting, but this is better.
Ah, I see. If I had used “he” for the agent you would not have been confused about who was who. My bad.
You are “taxed” with coming up with ingenious ways of hiding 50k a month. For this small favor, I will pay big. I mean, BIG. Biglier than you can imagine.
I am so on it.
And have admitted this on a social media sight. Hi, IRS; say, what should I tell her?
Don’t axe them! And don’t believe a word they say about me. But whatever happens, don’t donate our furniture without checking the insides first. Remember the couch where someone found 30k?
David – brilliant and Gigi hilarious and educational (in more ways than one) as usual. Once in Beirut’s famous casino, I watched dealers with awe. How long, where and how did you train for that five year job? Btw I lost playing on another’s bet at a Blackjack table and had to walk at night back to the city (casino up in the hills quite far outside). Luckily I was accompanied by the person who insisted on the trip and also lost. Lesson: I don’t trust myself so have never entered a casino since. But your ploy, if successful, could be a new house!
David’s stories and dialogues are great. Each one is a little story in itself.
That’s too bad about the bet; Rule Number One: Never bet anything you can’t afford to lose. When I used to play blackjack, which was only on occasion, because I know every game favors the house, I never risked more than $20. Couldn’t afford to lose the rent or gas money!
There was nothing wrong with having fun and placing a bet, though. Blackjack has a strategy, too. It’s pretty simple and I’ve seen people win a lot. But the more decks of cards there are–there are eight decks in a shoe–the less chance the players have to win, because there are more tens in play, which are all the face cards, and the tens, of course. So the players bust before the dealer does. With only one or two decks, blackjack is a lot more fun. There are entire books written about each game.
When my mom and I and Brandon moved here from Colorado, I was planning on going into real estate. But instead, I went to a six week school to learn to deal blackjack. Once I was done with that, I “auditioned” at a break-in casino. It was kind of an awful place to work. With experience, I went to the Nugget and made more money for awhile, but I still never really liked the job. It’s very tiring and unless you have fun players, it’s just mindless rote.
That’s the plan! To win enough over time–the three of us–to get another house and move up north. First pay off debt, then fix some things on this house, then find one in Modoc or Siskiyou.
If you have Netflix, it debuted last night.
It wasn’t actually filmed there, surprisingly, but it takes place there in the movie.
Principal photography began on July 15, 2019, in Los Angeles, California, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Filming also took place at the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey which had been closed since 2014.
Well, I would love to see it. How convenient to have a closed hotel to film in. I wonder why it was closed?
We do! I thought it would be in theaters, but if it’s not, we’ll watch it tonight.
The Atlantic Club permanently closed on January 13, 2014, largely as a result of dwindling casino visitors to Atlantic City due to increased competition in neighboring states. A third of Atlantic City’s boardwalk casinos closed the same year, the others being Revel, Trump Plaza, and Showboat Redevelopment proposals include a water park.
Originally, I only mentioned it because of the Las Vegas connection,
but you continue to surprise me.
I can’t believe you watched the first one!
I always enjoy reading your stories ‘
Hi Carolyn! Thank you so much! It was nice to find something that doesn’t require a lot of skill or practice or building a website, etc, etc, where I could make a bit extra. Fun!
I enjoyed reading this blog. Learned so much from this! Keep on posting