It was public most everywhere. Faro tables, the great American gambling game, Monte, the Mexican and Roulette. The Eldorado, on the corner of the plaza, was the most celebrated gambling house of that time. There had been a great deal of money expended in fitting it up. It had an orchestra of fifteen persons. It was run all night and day, with two sets of hands. It was gorgeously fitted up. What they used to stir up the sugar in the drinks cost $300. It was solid gold. Numerous gambling tables, piled up with gold and silver, to tempt the better, behind which were hired dealers. The owners of the Eldorado were not known. Many a miner has come with his few thousand dollars to San Francisco to sail for home, and taking in the sights, visited the Eldorado, got interested in the different games, and lost it all and went back to the gold regions broken and penniless to try his luck over again. I heard of one that lost his all three times in that way. I saw a man once put down a bag of gold, which contained $5,000, bet $1,000 on one turn of the card at Monte. He lost. While I was looking at him in the course of half an hour, he lost it all. I thought what independence that amount would have given some family in the East.
In those early days there was often but a muslin partition between you and the next room, and you could hear every word in the next apartment. About 1 o’clock in the morning I was awaken by two men entering and taking the next room to mine, whom I saw running a Roulette table on the plaza. They seemed to be considerably excited. They said they would be willing to lose some money to get rid of that tapper. Of course, I could not understand, at first, what they meant by that expression, but come to find out from their conversation, they had their Roulette table arranged so that they could make the ball stop on the red or black, as it happened to be for their interest to have it do. So, if there were $20 bet upon the red, the tapper would bet $10 on the black, and they could not make the red lose without making the black win. So the tapper was getting half of their gains. I would advise all my friends to let Roulette alone, unless they are sure they can place themselves in the position of the tapper.
One morning on the plaza I took a look into a gambling saloon. I saw a Greaser that had been betting against Monte all night, and had had wonderful luck. He announced that he would tap the bank for $1,800, which was more money than he ever had before, or could ever expect to have again, which meant that he would bet that amount for whatever sum the dealer could show to meet it on the turn of one card. He lost, and the dealer showed $1,800 in the bank and took all his money. Monte is the great National gambling game of Mexico, and his idea of Paradise is to be able to break a Monte bank.
Mr. B. from Kentucky, whom I took for so rich a nabob, referred to among the passengers when out of New York. I saw him take out his gold watch, a valuable one, and bet it behind the queen, on the game of Faro, for $100. He was evidently about broke. It won. Then he went the $200, and it won again. Then he went it the third time, and it won. In about twenty minutes he had his watch back and $700, then he left. Some one asked me a few months after that if I knew that he was worth $80,000? He had been very lucky, and that he was to run for sheriff of San Francisco county on the Democratic ticket, and that the Whigs had nominated Jack Hayes, the celebrated Texan ranger. Hayes had been in the Mexican war. It was told of him that when the American and Mexican armies were encamped opposite each other, that a Mexican officer, splendidly equipped, came forward on horseback, and challenged any American to meet him in single combat between the two forces. Jack Hayes volunteered to go, and he killed him. He took his horse, gold watch and personal effects. He afterward learned who he was, and that he left a widow. He sent all his personal effects to her as a present. Of course, we were interested warmly on his side, and he was elected. They say Colonel B. spent all his $80,000 on his side and was defeated. No reputable citizen of San Francisco or business man would allow himself to be seen betting at any of the public gambling tables. He would feel that he was losing character. I am trying to portray the scenes of those days exactly as they occurred, and if I left the gambling scenes out it would not be a true history.
At first public offices went a begging; nobody wanted them. Fine clothes were at a discount. He was looked upon as a tender-foot who knew nothing about the gold regions. But a flannel-shirted, roughly-dressed miner was the lion. He could tell something about the gold regions. The governor appointed a loafer fellow, in the early days, Port Warden. Nobody wanted it, and he was indorsed by one firm. As the city grew very rapidly the office soon became valuable. Somebody told the governor what kind of a man he had appointed Port Warden, and the governor wrote him a letter requesting him to resign, stating to him what representations had been made to him about his character, which, if he had known, he would not have appointed him. He wrote back to the governor refusing to resign, saying to him, he had better read the papers and look after his own character. The governor was up for re-election and the opposition papers were pitching into him.