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Baccarat and idiosyncrasy21 May 2012
I have to make a confession and I don't want anyone to say, "See, Scoblete likes table games where there is no way a player can get the edge." One such game is baccarat (pronounced bah-cah-rah, not back-a-rat), which has a small but highly intense percentage of players.
There are two types of baccarat: One is the high roller room version, which has a long table seating 12 to 14 players with table minimums of $100 and maximums that can be through the roof. The second version is on a table that is much like a blackjack table, seating seven players, and this version is creatively called mini-baccarat.
Many casinos will not have the high-roller room version since it requires several dealers and is a slow game, coming in with about 50 decisions an hour. Mini-baccarat, on the other hand, can come in with about 150 decisions per hour -- and that is faster than fast. The table minimums here can be $10, $15 and $25, with far lower maximum bets.
The game is quite simple. There are three bets you can make: banker, player and tie. All the cards have their face value with the 10, jack, queen and king counting as zero and the ace counting as one. The object is to get a "natural" nine, which is the highest hand, or a "natural" eight, which is the second highest hand, in order not to have any more cards dealt to the hands.
You bet on one of the two main propositions, bank or player, and you can also add the tie to your selection. The cards are dealt to the player hand and the dealer hand, a decision is reached, and the process is repeated. There are rules for when and how many cards are dealt to hands that fall below eight, but there is no changing the rules so knowing them is not necessary in order to play the game.
The banker hand wins 50.7 percent of the time and the player hand wins 49.3 percent of the time. These percentages do not include tie bets. Your first thought should be, "Wow! If I just bet banker over and over again, I will have an edge similar to the edge the casino has over the player on the pass line in craps - 1.4 percent." That's good thinking, true, but the casino knows that smart players think that thought so they add on a five percent commission on all bank wins. Thus, the casino now has an edge on both the player and the bank bets.
The house edge on the player bet is 1.36 percent and on the bank it is 1.17 percent -- with the tie not considered in the mathematics -- since you should never consider making that bet. The tie bet can come in with extremely high house edges depending on how much the player wins. These edges range up to about 15 percent. Obviously, the tie bet is a bankroll killer.
In the high-roller room version of baccarat, the players can deal the cards. The deal will go around the table and a given player will continue to deal as long as the bank hand wins. If the bank hand loses, the deal goes to the next player.
There are two obvious reasons why this form of baccarat is a slow game. With the players dealing, speed is not of the essence. More important, baccarat players are extremely superstitious and many have odd quirks in bending, folding and looking at the cards. So the player who deals the bank hand will peek in his peculiar way at the cards and so will the individual who has the player hand. Such methods of ascertaining which hands have what cards can eat up quite a bit of time.
Mini-baccarat is far faster because the dealer plays both hands and, as you no doubt know, casino dealers are faster than fast. The players just make their bets, the dealer deals lightning-like, plays the hands, and the round is over and a new round begins.
Many baccarat players are so superstitious that some casinos will not have correct numbers on the layout to indicate seating position. Often the fourth seat will be numbered "five" because many Asian players do not like the sound of the "four" because it is a homonym for death. Since Asian players have an amazing percentage of high-roller baccarat players, the casino will justifiably cater to their fears and superstitions.
Some superstitious players will believe that how you play your hand will affect the outcome of the round. If the player wants to bet opposite you and then you change your bet, thus betting as they do, the result -- should it lose for the superstitious one -- might cause you to get a cursing out. Thankfully, most of this cursing out will not be in English so you'll have no idea that you have just been called the offspring of a sow.
I personally prefer the high-roller room baccarat simply because you are treated like a king when you play this game. Many high end casinos will even bring you food and a small table; drinks are all top-shelf; dealers wear tuxedos. It's like you are in a James Bond film.
How you decide to bet is your business. You can go with or against streaks; bet with someone who has been hot. You can do whatever you want since what you do has absolutely no effect on the game. The edges are set in stone.
But if you have a hankering to play a game that has pomp and ritual, then give the high-roller room version a shot. Just try not to irritate someone who thinks you are the offspring of a you-know-what.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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