Interview

Behind the scenes jobs at Monte-Carlo Casino: Jérôme, Maximilien and Sébastien are masters of the game

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From left to right: Jérôme Lavagna, Maximilien Agliardi and Sébastien Vimercarti - © Monte-Carlo SBM

In this series of articles, Monaco Tribune and the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) invite you to discover unusual jobs at the Monte-Carlo Casino. 

Dressed in their fine black suits and nifty bow ties, Jérôme Lavagna, Maximilien Agliardi and Sébastien Vimercati are in their element. Because we are sitting around a gaming table as these three Chefs de table at Monte-Carlo Casino answer our questions.

Assigned to baccarat, American games and European games respectively, all three are veritable orchestra conductors. They supervise and make sure the games run smoothly every night, both for the customers and the dealers, who are under their supervision.

This is a complex task, to say the least, requiring high levels of concentration, despite the night-time hours and the excitement that goes with the Casino. But it seems that all three had gambling in their blood.

This place will be 160 years old next year

Sébastien Vimercati

Trained at the SBM Gaming School, Jérôme, Maximilien and Sébastien discovered this world through their families.  “My father worked at the European roulette wheel,” says Sébastien. “So I wanted to do the same.”

More attracted by card games, Jérôme chose to specialise in baccarat, and Punto Banco in particular. Maximilien, on the other hand, went for American games, which include blackjack, pokers, English roulette and craps: “my favourite game to work on and supervise.”

To work on and supervise only, as the three Monegasques are not allowed to play in the Casino. This does not prevent them, however, from ‘window shopping’ from time to time: “There is always a measure of curiosity,” Maximilien admits. “Whenever I travel, if there is a casino around, I always go to check out the atmosphere. There’s a special atmosphere in every casino. It’s a real passion.”

An exceptional working environment

But the three professionals agree: of all the casinos in the world, Monte-Carlo Casino is the most beautiful in their eyes. “Look at this place. It will be 160 years old next year,” exclaims Sébastien. “Some say it’s like a museum, because it’s so full of history. When you see the old nameplates, the old photos of the casino… You can imagine the people who came through here: people from the old American films, from the Belle Epoque ! (…) These rooms have been in many films, such as James Bond.”

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Coco filmshoot (2008) – © Monte-Carlo SBM

And this exceptional setting keeps the troops motivated. Because working in a casino naturally has some constraints. “This is a night-time job. It’s not very common and not always easy. You also have to know how to deal with the customers’ stress”, says Sébastien.

“We work when other people don’t: at night, at weekends, during the Grand Prix, over the Christmas holidays, in the summer… You have to be responsible and have a healthy lifestyle to find a balance with family life,” adds Maximilien.

The gambling world is a real family!

Jérôme Lavagna, Maximilien Agliardi and Sébastien Vimercati

A healthy lifestyle is also necessary to stay focused and disciplined at the table: the two indispensable qualities of the job, according to the three croupiers. “The slightest mistake can cause a lot of upset for the customer. It’s their money at stake, no matter the amount. So you have to make as few mistakes as possible and it’s not easy,” says Jérôme.

“The further into the night you go, the more tired you are, the more tired the customer is, and the more pressure can build up over something minor… There is no school for that, you learn it on the job,” his colleagues confirm.

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August 12, 1976 saw the arrrival of  Punto Banco at  Monte-Carlo Casino. Jean-Pierre Devissi (in the white jacket), gaming inspector, demonstrates Punto-Banco – © Monte-Carlo SBM

Big celebrities at the gaming tables

It is all the more important to avoid mistakes as Monte-Carlo Casino often welcomes prestigious guests. Which ones? It’s a mystery. “We get a lot of them, but we are bound to secrecy,” Sébastien smiles. “We get film actors, top sportspeople, businessmen, politicians… who can sometimes bet astronomical sums !”

And just to feed our curiosity, Jérôme adds: “we could have an anecdote for every day. But what is most striking is that some of these celebrities are totally different from the public image they convey, once they are at the gaming table,” he jokes.

Famous or not, the Casino’s customers can sometimes behave in a surprising, even amusing way, as Maximilien tells us: “We have already seen winning customers run around the table, stand on the chair, or sing a cappella.”

“And conversely, losing customers can get into a terrible state,” adds Sébastien, “even though it is only a game. It’s entertainment: you don’t come to a Casino to win!”

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Salle Médecin – © Monte-Carlo SBM

But despite these minor constraints, Jérôme, Maximilien and Sébastien really love their profession. And as true enthusiasts, what they appreciate most of all is passing on the traditions. “Some games are becoming more and more rare, we are keeping them alive,” says Sébastien.

As Maximilien points out, croupiers have always been trained by their peers. Gaming schools were created to address the need to bring in new dealers. And in addition to that, there is the daily transmission: “we call it ‘stealing the job’. You learn from your elders, they give you advice, they always give you that little something extra that they don’t teach you at school. Our role now is to pass on our know-how to the new dealers. 150 years ago, people were doing what we do, we’re carrying on a tradition.”

Tradition and transmission are therefore part and parcel of this unusual profession. A profession that has created real bonds of friendship and trust between these three colleagues, who unanimously conclude: “the world of gambling is a real family.”