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EZ Baccarat makes baccarat even easier

12 June 2012

Baccarat always has been among the easiest casino games. It's a guessing game. Does the banker hand or the player hand come closer to a total of 9?

You can bet either side, and you have no decisions to make after you place your wager. After the banker and player hand each receive two cards, the totals determine whether a third card is dealt on either hand. It's all according to rule, with no options.

So when a I come across a game called EZ Baccarat, which has been carving a small niche in casino jurisdictions across the country, it makes one wonder just how much easier it can get.

It turns out the EZ part has to do with the bet on banker. In traditional baccarat, bettors must pay a 5% commission on winning banker wagers. If you bet $10 on banker and win, 50 cents of your $10 in winnings go to the house. Banker wins more often than it loses, and the commission is the casino's way of getting a 1.06% edge on one of the best bets in the house.

In EZ baccarat, there is no need to pay a commission. Instead, the house gets an edge with one minor change in the rules. When banker wins with a three-card total of 7, banker bettors don't get paid. The bet pushes, and bettors just keep their wagers.

That's enough to give the house a 1.02% edge, according to the ezbaccarat.com website. It's equivalent to giving the casino a 49.14-cent commission on a winning $10 bet instead of the usual 50 cents. That's a close match, and the casino gets more hands per hour in the bargain since it doesn't have to take the time to collect commissions.

Other than that change, the game is still standard baccarat. The hand that gets closer to a total of 9 wins. Number cards through 9 still count as their face value, including aces as 1 point, and 10s and face cards count as zero. In totals that exceed 10, the digit in the 10s column is disregarded -- a 9 and a 6 is not a 15, it's a 5.

The method of drawing cards does not change from the standard game. Both player and banker hands stand on totals of 8 or 9. Player also stands on 6 or 7, but hits 5 or less. If player stands, banker hits 5 or less. If player draws, banker always hits totals of 0, 1 or 2 and stands on 7, 8 or 9; hits 3 against all player draws except 8; hits 4 if player draws 2 through 7; hits 5 if player draws 4 through 7; and hits 6 if player draws 6 or 7.

There is no change to the player bet, where the house edge remains 1.24%.

There's an optional side bet, called an "insurance" bet on the EZ Baccarat site, but often called a "Dragon" bet in casinos. It allows you to collect on those hands that have been turned from winners into pushes under the no-commission rules. If you make the side bet and the banker hand beats player with a three-card total of 7, you collect a 40-1 payoff.

True odds on banker winning with a three-card total of 7 are 43.4-1. If your $1 Dragon bet won and brought you $43.40 in winnings while you kept your original bet, it would be an even wager, with no house edge. But since you get paid $40 instead of $43.40, that shortfall of $3.40 represents the house advantage.

To put it another way, a banker's winning three-card 7 shows up on 2.25% of hands, and the EZ Baccarat site shows a house edge of 7.61%.

With a slightly lower house edge than regular baccarat, the EZ game is a good option to have. Just stick to the base game and skip the Dragon.

DRAGON BONUS: Some baccarat tables offer a Dragon Bonus bet that's different from the insurance-type bet at EZ Baccarat. It's a side bet that your chosen hand will win by 4 or more points. You can bet the Dragon either on banker or player, and get an even-money payoff if your choice wins by 4, 2-1 if you win by 5, and increasing to 4-1 by 6, 6-1 by 7, 10-1 by 8 and 30-1 by 9.

On his wizardofodds.com site, Michael Shackelford calculates the house edge on the player side as 2.65% in an eight-deck game, 2.67% with six decks and 2.70% with four decks. On the banker side, it's 9.37% at eight decks, 9.39% at six decks and 9.42% at four decks.

As with most side bets in most games, the house edge is bigger than that on the main game. I'd skip it entirely, but if you're tempted, limit that temptation to the player side.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski