Telling the tale,
M. Paul-C. Roux of the casino's Direction des Jeux staff, pointed out the
futility of the attempt.
"All the tricks
are well known," he said, "and we observe for them."
The casino also
protects itself against attempts to counterfeit its chips. The chips are
prettily made of translucent plastic. When they are held to the light an
intricately distinctive design is seen. In addition, they are checked from time
to time in a machine that rejects a counterfeit.
roulette wheel could cost the casino money, too, since any system player would
be quick to note the pattern of an out-of-true wheel, with its tendency to stop
frequently in a certain quarter. So in the casino basement there is an atelier
where eight craftsmen make and repair roulette wheels so finely constructed
that they are expected to last at least 10 years and may go as long as 50, with
only their moving parts replaced from time to time. "They are the world's
finest wheels," said M. Roux.
The casino also
makes its own rakes for the croupiers, each with a handle as sensitive as a
good fishing rod. The ivory balls, shaped to a tolerance of 1/100 of a
millimeter, are obtained in Paris. The green table covers, made in the north of
France, are of extremely durable material but, even so, a given cover will last
only about six months. They are hand-printed in the atelier, in designs suited
for the various games, by a process which is the secret of the casino.
The casino's cards,
specially made, are burned after every game. The dice, bought in Las Vegas, are
burned every three to six months.
Every four years or
so, when need becomes apparent, the casino conducts a school for croupiers. An
effort is made to draw croupiers from other casino employees who have been
employed there at least two years, but the requirements are so strict that the
company is forced to hire French, Belgian and Italian croupiers, too.
Candidates are given physical and psychological examinations testing such
qualities as dexterity, memory, poise under pressure and ability in mental
arithmetic. A special security check is made for integrity and extends to the
students are taught the professional jargon (a roulette wheel is a
"cylinder") and to utter the standard phrases—"Messieurs, faites
vos jeux!" and "Les jeux sont fails, Hen ne va plus!" with a
certain elegance. They must address the players as "Messieurs" even if
only ladies are at the table. It is a tradition, dating from a day when only
men and co-cottes were seen at gaming tables.
After six or eight
months of schooling, during which the students learn to pick up all losing bets
with a single movement of the rake and, indeed, to do everything with deftness,
they are given a second medical examination. Those who pass are assigned to a
quiet table where they work under the eyes of experts trained to watch for
signs of the young croupier's worst enemy: stage fright. The strain of a game
is great; concentration is intense. Once in a while a rookie croupier may even
The croupier is
paid a salary of $100 to $140 a month, depending on his seniority and position,
but expects to take in at least three times as much in tips from lucky players.
The tip is dropped into a table slot known to the roulette fancy as No. 37.
Seventy percent of this take goes to the croupiers (until a few years ago it
was 50%) and 30% to other personnel.