I love "baak ga lok"
by Desmond Lam

I love "baak ga lok"

This is Macau, I am a Chinese and "baak ga lok" is my life. Nobody loves my game more than I do. I know they call my game "baccarat" in Vegas. But over here in Macau, "baak ga lok" is what it is. This game contributed as much as 85% of our gaming revenue (including VIP rooms) in 2005; compare this figure to 37% in 1977.

My game of "baak ga lok" is simple and fair. I get to pick to be "banker" or "player" and bet on pair or tie. I really love the 300-dollar (HKD) gaming table in my casino. It is common for me to bet hundreds or thousands above that minimum. Playing "baak ga lok" is fun, exciting, and has become part of my livelihood. At the end of the day (and/or night), I play mainly to win the monies from the house.

My friends and I know our game inside out. We will enter the casino and wage a war against the house all day/night long. I love the way I am allowed to read my cards. I will peel them slowly one by one, and side to side. I find it stimulating bending my card on each side to test my destiny. The suspense, excitement and attention that I get when I do that is enjoyable. The feeling is absorbing and sensational, and makes me forget about all other things. I do not care if the cards are badly folded. The casino should be prepared for this. I will throw the cards in the air back to the dealer. The way I see it: this is my game, I pay for it, and I want to do it my way.

Sometimes we shout "deng" to stop the bad cards and other times, we "cheui" to blow them (bad cards) away. I pray for the right cards by shouting for the patterns – "yi bin" (2 patterns), "saam bin" (3 patterns) and "sei bin" (4 patterns). No one can stop me from shouting, as this is my game. I will bet more if I win and stop for a break when they change dealers. When I am thirsty, the waitress who comes around my table with drinks cannot ignore me. When I want coffee, I mean it.

I dislike some of those people standing behind me. They can be real nuisance and make me lose my concentration. Why do they always crowd around me when I am winning? Whatever it is, they had better not touch my shoulders as that brings me bad luck. These people ride on my luck and some even try to peep at my cards. It can be fun but at times they over-do it. Once, this guy with only a hundred whispered to me for help. I reluctantly let him put his chip on mine. Unfortunately for me, this guy eventually stole my luck. I lost that hand and the trust others have on me.

My fellow gamblers sitting at the table are more interesting – some like to share their time and fun with me. We love to track our winnings with our scorecards and share our ideas on what to bet next. Sometimes we pit against each other, sometimes we pit against the house. I believe everyone at the table must be united in order to win the house. The one with the luckiest hands shall read the cards. After all, we are here to win the house.

I am a Chinese and this is my game of "baak ga lok".

Date Posted: 08-Mar-2006

*DESMOND LAM is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Macau, China. He can be contacted at DesmondL@umac.mo.

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