ML - Vegas Magazine

2013 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Glamour Returns to Gaming IN THE HIGH-STAKES CLOSED ROOMS ALONG THE STRIP, BACCARAT IS CREEPING UP ON BLACKJACK AS VEGAS'S MOST IMPORTANT TABLE GAME. BY RICK LAX PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRYAN HAINER PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF PHOTOFEST (BOND) Sean Connery as James Bond, winning three consecutive hands of chemin de fer (the French version of baccarat) in Thunderball. E verybody knows what James Bond drinks, but do you recall what casino game he plays? Here's a hint: It ain't poker. Sure, Daniel Craig played a $115 million hand of Hold'em in 2012's Casino Royale, but look back to the original novel, or to Sean Connery in Dr. No or Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye. England's favorite superspy plays baccarat (or its French cousin, chemin de fer). And he's not alone. Earlier this year, the UNLV Center for Gaming Research revealed that baccarat now rakes in nearly half the floor-game revenue at Vegas casinos. In 1985, blackjack accounted for a similar percentage of table-game revenue, but by 2012 that share had dipped to less than 24 percent. Craps fell from 28 percent to nine percent. The lost percentage points mostly went to baccarat. Today, baccarat is so important to casinos' bottom lines that publicly traded gaming companies include major baccarat wins and losses in their quarterly reports. To put this in perspective, in the second quarter of 2012, the net revenue at Wynn was $1.25 billion, down from $1.37 billion in 2011. According to Steve Wynn, Las Vegas revenue in 2012 would have trumped that of 2011—if it weren't for the baccarat losses his casinos sustained. More and more well-heeled baccarat devotees are flying to Vegas—firstclass, if not by private jet —from across the globe. It's played by elegantly dressed Asian men and women, by gray-haired men alongside their lovely young wives and lovely young daughters (good luck telling which is which). And, increasingly, by middle-class Americans. Baccarat is as simple as it is booming: Deal out two hands, closest to nine wins. (Face cards and 10s count as zero.) Unlike blackjack, it's a game of independent trials: zero percent skill, 100 percent luck. Some baccarat players keep track of every hand played. They use former outcomes to calculate future outcomes—or they try. Others surrender to the fate of the shuffle. They view their baccarat performance as an indication of their personal worth, like an old-fashioned Love Tester—one that costs far more than 25 cents to play. But Love Tester machines are played in noisy arcades; baccarat is played in the world's most exquisite rooms. VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 110-113_V_F_Baccarat_Nov13.indd 111 111 10/22/13 10:30 AM

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