Macau gamblers 'blow' their money away in baccarat

Jun 10, 2013 8:11 PM

Few gamblers, it seems, are able to get through a session without exhibiting some form of superstition. For the late Chuck Di Rocco, founder of this newspaper who built a recognizable gambling persona under the name of Bill Bravo during the 80’s and 90’s, believed strongly in “imaging.”

In playing his favorite game, blackjack, Bill Bravo would focus his mind on a needed card by seeing the image of that card in his mind’s eye. If, for instance, he had a 16 and needed a 5 for a winning 21 hand, he would place the image of a 5 card in his mind and concentrate on that selection.

For a substantial period of play, as Las Vegas Strip dealers during that period would attest, the Di Rocco “imaging” system was phenomenal.

In Macau, where baccarat is the favorite game, writer Kelvin Chan notes in a lengthy piece for the Associated Press tells of the favorite Chinese practice of “peeling” one or both of the two cards dealt to a player.

By peeling the card back only partially, gamblers look for clues about what the face value might be from the shapes on the edges. If it appears to be an unwanted higher number, “they blow on the card,” Chan writes.

A player from China explained, “If you’re not Chinese, I’m not sure you’ll understand. It’s a superstitious technique. You’ve got this card, and you want a smaller number, so you blow, blow, blow. The reason is to blow away the big numbers. You want to have a small number for yourself. It’s a kind of hope, a kind of superstitious notion.”

Another explanation came from Raymond Yap, director of international premium markets at Galaxy Casino on the Cotai Strip.

“They (the players) are allowed to touch the card, and with the thrill of touching the card they feel they are in control of the game,” said Yap.

Surely, baccarat game supervisors on the Las Vegas Strip could come up with far more superstitious movements from the players they encounter, as baccarat has grown into a major factor in determining whether gambling revenues on the Strip will exceed those of past months or years.

“Baccarat is simple and it offers the opportunity to win big or lose big,” explained the Chinese visitor in the Chan article.

“’I’ll know right away if I put all my money down in one hand…I’ll know if I win or lose. The Chinese gambler usually does not have patience to wait for the outcome,” added Yap. “Once they know the outcome of the game they want to move on very quickly to start a new game.”

It’s that kind of action that has helped Macau, with gambling revenues of $38 billion annually, to become the world’s leader.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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