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Gambling in Casinos with Borrowed Money

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Money is the real name of the game in the casino. What about borrowed money? In 1960, when I first started to gamble in casinos, currency was frequently used as a betting unit in baccarat. Players would put greenbacks on the betting squares and, if they won, the dealer would count out paper money to pay off the bet. $100 chips were top dollar betting units at both blackjack and craps, with higher denomination chips mostly in play at the baccarat table. The cry, "Money plays," with the bettor tossing greenbacks onto the green-felt cloth, was heard frequently in casinos.

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I promised you that this book would be anecdotal, so I can't resist telling you about the most unusual loan I ever got. I went along on one of book publisher Lyle Stuart's all-expenses-paid trips to the Sands in Las Vegas for his office crew and friends. As this was during my fledgling years, I was still learning the art and science of wagering, and I was not adroit in either blackjack or craps. The result: My bankroll soon slimmed down to almost nothing. I sometimes tagged along with Lyle on his gambling sprees but, as I was just about tapped out, I explained to my friend that, with the meager funds left at my disposal, I was going to cool it for the rest of the trip and stick with the slot machines. Obviously amused, Lyle led me to the Sands' baccarat table, where he was greeted warmly by the dealers. Lyle stood there, with his hands in his pockets and just stared at the table for a couple of seconds. Then he simply announced, "Two thousand on Player."

That was it. Lyle, just standing there, didn't even take his hands out of his pockets, and of course he didn't put up any money.

"$2,000 on Player for Mr. S," intoned the Caller as the cards were dealt. "The Bank has a natural eight," the Caller announced.

The player at the table with the biggest bet on the Player's side turned his two cards face-up.

"A natural nine for the Player. Player wins, nine over eight. Pay the Player's side."

The dealer counted out twenty-$100 bills and placed them on the cloth. Now, for the first time since we got to the table, Lyle took his hands out of his pockets and reached down to pick up his winnings, which he handed over to me.

"Here, kid, here's a loan. C'mon, let's head over to Caesars. Their baccarat table opens in twenty minutes."

With my newly enhanced bankroll of borrowed money, I resumed my custom of tagging along with Lyle. We went to Caesars and I had my usual exciting time watching my bon vivant friend in action. Did I gamble with Lyle's windfall loan? Not a penny, dear reader. Not a sou. Which brings me to my next rule for you. If you want to be a winner, never—NEVER—gamble with borrowed money. I returned the twenty $100 bills to him as soon as our return flight to New York was in the air.

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