Origins of Baccarat

Baccarat is known as the card game of the rich and famous. Baccarat was so enigmatically linked with the wealthy upper classes and rich and famous and as a result many people shunned the game its triumphant emergence online.

Baccarat is one of the easiest of casino games to learn and play and can really generate some excitement when played at an online casino. There is no skill involved in the game as the rules determine each hands action. The only variable involved is the betting. In short, Baccarat is a game of chance.

Baccarat is thought to have originated in either France or Italy during the middle Ages. The word baccarat is a derivative of the Italian word for zero. In the middle ages the game was played using Tarot cards as opposed to the modern day card used today.

As Baccarat’s popularity increased across Europe, as with most of the other forms of gambling in those days there was some rigorous opposition from the Church. The Church viewed Baccarat as the game of the devil and those who played it were carrying out the devil’s work.

Tarot cards were first used in a game of Baccarat by Felix Galguiere. The Etruscan nine gods are said to be the basis for Galguiere’s version of the game. In this early edition of Baccarat, dice were rolled to determine the fate of a woman since the nine gods required the sacrifice of a blond virgin.

A roll of either an eight or nine made her a priestess; a six or seven and she was banned from religious activities; a number less than six and she walked into the sea and disappeared.

This early Baccarat variant became the game of choice for the upper classes and aristocracy and eventually evolved into ‘Chemin de Fer’ and European Baccarat it is thought that this took place at approximately 1500. The game, even though extremely popular, was illegal at first, as any form of gambling was. Eventually, the government made it legal and placed taxes on it. This made the game even more popular because people could rationalize that they were doing something for the good of the poor when they played baccarat thanks to the tax involved. The game began to lose its popularity during Napoleon’s reign when it was again outlawed. It remained illegal until the early 1900’s. At around this time many of the grand casinos were established along the French Riviera.

This version is the one that eventually made it way over to America but was a different version of the game that came from England. Baccarat was legal in England during the period that it was illegal across the rest of the Continent.

The English version of Baccarat reached the shores of Argentina in early 1950, where it was called ‘Punto y Banca’. When the game eventually reached Havana, the aim of the game had differed somewhat as now the player played against the house. It is this version, American Baccarat that was played in the casinos in Havana.

The Capri Casino version is the Baccarat variant that migrated to Las Vegas in the mid 1950s via Francis Renzoni, after a Las Vegas casino opened a baccarat pit. The game began it new life in America as an unpopular addition to the casino game selection. Las Vegas adapted the game and made the banker the UK casino or house position. This made it possible to bet for or against the house with the banker position. This is the Baccarat variant that is now so popular in the United States, England and Australia.

Before the game of baccarat had reached Las Vegas, it was already being played in New York and Florida. The game was played at the Saratoga race track and at the Palm Beach resort in 1910, forty years before it was played in Las Vegas.

Since its origins in the Europe during the Middle Ages, Baccarat has steadily made it’s way across each continent eventually becoming one of the most famous and respected casino games in the world.

There are variations in play depending on the location at which you are playing, so it is always best to check the house rules. And, as so may other forms of gambling, baccarat has made its way onto the internet. Most online casinos offer baccarat games with some variation in house rules; the biggest I have found is that there are only two hands: the banker and one player. Again, it’s advised to check the house rules before you play. Some online casinos also play the game with a single deck of cards, which is unusual in a land-based casino.

Howard Hughes and the Silver Slipper

Another of Las Vegas’ most iconic signs belonged to the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall. Originally opened in 1950 on the Last Frontier property, it was named the Golden Slipper because the Silver Slipper name was already taken, but shortly after they opened, the Silver Slipper folded and the name moved to its new home on the Las Vegas Strip. The Silver Slipper was never a big casino, but due to its central Strip location and proximity to the Last Frontier, it was very popular with families and offered the best 49-cent breakfast buffet in town.

I find it interesting from a marketing perspective that most of the Strip hotels used desert or pioneer themes for their casinos: Hacienda, Sands, Aladdin, Dunes, Frontier, Sahara, Desert Inn, Stardust, El Rancho Vegas, and the Bonanza. A few hotels even referenced their Cuban and South Florida roots: Flamingo, Tropicana, and the Riviera.

Considering that hotels and casinos on the Strip didn’t begin sprouting up until the late 1940’s with the El Rancho Vegas and Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo, it’s interesting that they all chose to stay within a particular set of themes, but then again the mafia has never been known for their creativity or risk taking, unless said risk-taking involves a new and improved style of murder or extortion. I guess they were less concerned about design awards and more interested in the skim.

Riding the wake of the sale of his Trans World Airways for $546,549,171, Howard Hughes came to Las Vegas with an eye on the future and a boatload of cash, but Hughes wasn’t convinced Las Vegas was where he wanted to set up shop. After two years of bouncing back and forth between the East Coast and Las Vegas, and some careful study of Las Vegas’ financial potential, Hughes decided to stay and moved into the two top floors of the Desert Inn with the resolve to reshape the Las Vegas landscape. Why? Who knows, but Howard Hughes found sufficient intrigue to keep him an active participant in Sin City’s growth and with a billion dollar bankroll, he was an instant force. In fact, his name was so big, the Nevada Gaming Commission all but rolled over when it came time to review his application to own a casino. Something that took most potential owners months and years to complete, with Howard Hughes, the ink was dry before his aides left the hearing.

So what’s the Silver Slipper got to do with Howard Hughes? It seems fair to say that when Hughes’ moved to Las Vegas, his apparent bi-polar behavior and companion paranoia was well established. Hughes moved into the Desert Inn with the express agreement he would stay no longer than 2 months. This arrangement was fine with the ownership, but the penthouse suites on the top two floors were earmarked for the hotel’s stable of high-rollers that came to play over the Christmas holidays, and Hughes’ staff who were all Mormons, non-gamblers, non-drinkers, and they just weren’t spending money at the casino or bar. Hughes was asked to leave and when push came to shove, Hughes wrote a check for $13.2 million, assumed ownership of the Desert Inn, and launched a spending spree unlike anything Las Vegas had ever seen.

But Hughes wasn’t satisfied and as his neurosis and paranoia grew. Memories of the McCarthy anti-communist hearing also began to weigh on his psyche. This was amplified by the fact that his suite faced the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall across the street and the rotating slipper rotating on the Strip marquee would reflect light into his room. It not only get him up at night, he got the notion that hidden in the toe of the shoe were cameras with the sole intent of photographing the Desert Inn, his suite, and the hotel entrance all in an effort to chronicle his comings and goings. So incensed by the sign, Howard Hughes sent a telegram to his chief aide, “I want you to buy that place, that damn sign is driving me crazy, it goes round and round and round.” On April 30, 1968, Howard Hughes bought the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall for $5,360,000 million, and rumor has it that his first edict was to stop the rotating Silver Slipper and fill it with concrete. Surveillance cameras or not, Howard Hughes would finally get a good night’s sleep. Maybe.

The Hughes Corporation owned the Silver Slipper until June of 1988 when it was purchased by Margaret Elardi who owned the Frontier Hotel and Casino next door. The Silver Slipper was demolished shortly thereafter with plans to expand the Frontier, but a union strike and tough economic times put an end to that.

Today, the iconic Silver Slipper sits perched above Las Vegas Boulevard at the Neon Museum just north of downtown Las Vegas. The slipper is available to see 24/7, but the museum is only open by appointment only. Go to their website for more information about their tours and costs. For anyone who revels in the nostalgia of “Old Vegas,” a trip to the museum is well worth the trip.

Howard Hughes moved to Las Vegas on November 24, 1966 and died on April 5, 1976 at the age of 70. His impact on Las Vegas in the 60’s and 70’s is monumental and came at a time when mafia interests were waning and corporate Wall Street interest was on the rise. We’ll look into this fascinating time in Las Vegas’ history in future posts.

Anger and Stress in Casinos

Casino employees are often vulnerable to a range of physical and emotional problems. Employees who work in casinos are expected to always treat customers with respect, smiles and dignity. Shelly Field, who counts “100 Best Careers in Casinos and Casino Hotels” among the 20 books she has written, said the 24-hour go-go atmosphere found in casinos piles stress on workers. “In the casino business you always have to be `on,’ and that adds to stress. Having to smile and be customer-service oriented on a constant basis becomes stressful in some instances,” said Field. The primary goal is to keep customers in the casino happy in spite of their attitude or behavior. Customers may often be intoxicated or angry over gambling losses. Employees are expected to tolerate rude and often insulting behavior. This can lead to stress, depression, hypertension, heart disease and anger. Since anger is a secondary emotion it is almost always preceded by frustration, stress or some other intense emotion.

Unrecognized and/or untreated workplace stress and anger can lead to an increase in sick day usage, accidents, interpersonal conflicts and poor morale. The resulting frustration experienced by the employee can trigger an angry outburst or employee burnout. According to an article published in CasinoDealers.net. Stress is extremely problematic among casino workers: 75% of casino workers identified stress as a significant cause of job dissatisfaction.50% of surveyed casino workers reported “a lot” to moderate stress.15% of medical claims among casino workers are reported to be stress related. Medical providers report that stress is a major contributor to most physical and mental health problems. Substance abuse, excessive eating and gambling are the principle occupational injuries of white collar and customer service workers. Stress indirectly costs employers $150 billion annually. Unfortunately, 25% of all surveyed managers believe that anger is an acceptable management strategy oblivious to the cost to the company as well as to employee morale. Stress is expensive emotionally, physically and financially for both employees and their employer.

Enlightened risk management and human resource consultants are aware of the business and legal exposure to organizations that ignore the need to address workplace stress, interpersonal conflicts, anger and person directed aggression. The average cost to an organization to defend itself against litigation charging workplace abuse, is $700,000. The introduction of anger management courses which include techniques for recognizing and managing stress, managing anger, improving communication and increasing empathy have been shown to effectively address workplace stress and interpersonal conflicts.

Research conducted at the University of South Florida, demonstrated that when an anger management program was introduced to students in one class, the entire school benefited. Similarly, a twelve month study conducted in one unit consisting of 16,000 employees in the U.S. Postal Service resulted in a savings of 1.7 million dollars. There was an increase in morale, increase in workplace performance, and reduction of sick day usage, a reduction in accidents and a dramatic decrease in workplace conflicts.

In addition to offering anger management to employees who exhibit problems managing stress, communicating effective and demonstrating emotional intelligence; anger management classes can be a cost saving intervention relative to preventing workplace conflict and improving employee morale.

A typical program can be implemented by providing brochures, or pamphlets explaining what an anger management class is and is not. Often, employees are reluctant to attend any program which may imply mental or emotional disturbance. Therefore, it is essential that the course be explained in simply language as a class designed to teach skills in managing stress, anger and improving communication and increasing empathy.

In order to address the stress and frustration often found among casino workers a good anger management program can provide the workers strategies to manage their stress and anger. In addition the essential components of a good anger management program should include skills to improve communication and increase empathy. This is not a program to deal with severe emotional problems and therefore employees should not experience any stigma associated with attending such a class. These courses are generally taught in small groups with approximately 20 employees with separate groups for management and line staff so that each can feel free to express themselves openly. Management staff often benefit from additional training on how to recognize signs of employee stress or depression in their work units.

Conclusion

Casino workers experience a high degree of workplace stress and anger based on the unique nature of their work environment. Like doctors, firemen and law enforcement officers, the stressful nature of the work is not likely to change. Instead, it is the employee who must be taught skills to manage his or her stress in ways that increase rather than decrease his job performance and team morale. The introduction of anger management courses are a cost saving intervention for business and industry.

NCAA Basketball Betting: How to Make Money on the Mid Majors

The vast majority of people analyzing the college basketball betting board, or squares as we call them, will always gravitate towards the lines of the top 25 teams. The big names in college basketball such as Duke, UNC, Kentucky etc. Games between ranked teams and teams in the power conferences always attract the most action with bettors but experienced college basketball handicappers will often look for the soft lines involving mid major teams or teams that rarely play on national television. Listed below are the reasons why you too should start to bet less on the marquee matchup and more on the mid majors. Betting Action

As we eluded to above, the majority of the betting public doesn’t care about mid major teams until March Madness. This is a mistake. When you’re looking at the daily odds take notice of the amount of action that is bet on the two teams. Whenever the betting action is heavier on a college basketball game the more concerned you should be with wagering your money. You’ll often find that with a top 25 game between two top programs the line can move depending on the public loyalties and smart money. Often times the value will be bet out of a line due to the books adjusting to the betting action. When you bet mid major teams the lines move much slower due because sportsbooks aren’t as concerned with their exposure. This is your chance to find significant value and you can become far more profitable then betting to name brand teams. This is where real college basketball handicappers make their money.

Public Knowledge and Media Coverage

The average college basketball fan knows may know a lot about Kentucky, Duke or UNC or about a specific conference such as the ACC. This is no surprise considering that ESPN will air games featuring ACC or Big East teams on a weekly basis. It’s no shocker that Dick Vitale has a love affair with Duke and UNC and so does the majority of America. The public consumes vast amounts of information regarding the major conferences and very little amounts of information on the mid majors. But did you know that Rhode Island’s starting PG E.C. Matthews, who lead the team with 16.9 PPG in 2014-15 and was a key component to Rhode Island going 16-10 ATS last season, will miss 2015 due to a knee injury? Public knowledge is general knowledge so you’ll need to dig deep and have a depth of knowledge pertaining to all teams in college basketball. With over 300 teams it’s hard to know everything about every teams so pick out a mid major conference such as the WAC or the Colonial Athletic Conference and become familiar with the team and players. Follow them on social media and receive alerts and updates relating to these teams. Your goal is know more about the lesser known teams then the general public. This is where real college basketball handicappers make their money.

Talent and Experience

Every year there is a new team that emerges on the national spotlight during the NCAA Tournament. George Mason in 2006, VCU in 2011, North Florida in 2013 and the list is long and wide of teams that gain national attention by upsetting major conference teams during the tournament. Often times you’ll find that these teams have starters that are juniors and seniors and have played together for several years. While power conference teams with the top recruits are starting true freshmen and sophomores will very little experience playing when the game is tight, win or go home. A lot of the top programs have adopted a “one and done” recruiting mentality. When the NBA required players to attend 1 year of college before entering the draft, teams like Kentucky were recruiting magnets for the top talent. It took Coach K and Duke several years to adopt this mentality and it paid off last season when they won the National Championship. What happened when the season ended? Duke lost their 3 top recruited freshman who were drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NBA Draft. This type of overhaul doesn’t happen to the mid major teams which is hugely beneficial when it comes time to play the big boys. There is more of a team cohesion and team first mentality which pays big dividends when wagering. A good tip to remember is to research the teams rosters and player history. Teams with starting point guards that have experience are great teams to back. Experienced players with game tested nerves are often times a smart wager.

The above represents just a fraction of what experienced college basketball handicappers and bettors will research before placing a wager. You have to remember that more times then not the value is with the mid major programs and not the media darlings. Sharp bettors focus on soft lines and they can be spotted with the lesser known teams. So the next time you’re researching college basketball don’t forget what we discussed and look for the value in the mid major basketball teams. I would love to have you join me and commit to winning some money this season. Luck!