Sailing Ships, Steamboats, Horse Carriages and Baccarat
by Steve Karoul

Sailing Ships, Steamboats, Horse Carriages and Baccarat

What in the world do sailing ships, steamboats and horse carriages have in common with Baccarat? Nothing, other than the fact that they all succumbed to innovation and new inventions. What about the Polaroid camera or for that matter, film cameras? Again, replaced by innovation. True casino innovation is rare these days so when something innovative does come along it is especially exciting. We also know that our industry is known as a copy cat industry where most casinos copy new or innovative ideas in lieu of developing them. There is nothing wrong with that if the innovative new idea is a productive idea.

Casino gaming has also gone through an evolutionary development and has also experienced its fair share of innovation. Just look at the recent developments and success of slot machine gaming. Slots now out-perform table game revenues in most markets around the world except in Asia. That could possibly change as well as the innovation process continues with machines and programs designed to attract Asian players. However, for now, table games and in particular, Baccarat is still the preferred game in Asia.

However, Baccarat is the only game of the traditional big 4 table games (Roulette, Craps, Blackjack and Baccarat) that does not have a built in mechanism to produce the House Advantage. It is unique in relying upon an external devise, i.e. the collection of commission. Baccarat, especially in Asia, is the only traditional game that has forfeited the rhythm (hands per hour) of the game to the players or customers. The thought of a customer holding a pair of dice while thinking what to bet next (or what to have for dinner) sends shivers down the spines of seasoned casino managers that have this phrase forever imprinted in their minds – “MOVE THE DICE!” Time is money and the number of hands per hour represents money to most casino operators. Yet, this is exactly what happens in Baccarat pits today as a matter of fact. Consequently, Baccarat usually suffers from a very weak overall hold. In some casinos the Baccarat HPH (hands per hour) is down to 35 hands per hour or even lower. Baccarat (Mini- Bac) was a casino game that used to clock over 100 HPH. As a result of today’s “squeeze” games where the players slowly squeeze open the hands the speed of the game has decreased dramatically and as a result the turnover is also decreased.

In an effort to compensate this low Baccarat hold percentage, innovative operators have therefore concentrated on developing and incorporating high percentage “proposition” bets into the game. The unintended consequence of these offerings is that they cause the game to slow down even more by offering more options to just a few players. The great majority of players are too educated to actually bet expensive “prop” bets in Baccarat on a consistent basis. How many Craps players would bet “boxcars” on a regular basis? Consequently, the big money for the casino lays with the low odds bets – Pass / Don’t Pass, Banker / Player – period.

Upon examining Baccarat by breaking down the different components of the game under actual operating conditions, one will find that the commission process takes up to 60% of the total process time in Baccarat. That’s right, 60% of the time since the dealer is involved with calculating, taking, mistaking, fighting, apologizing and defending the unwieldy commission. By the way, looking at the other side of the table, the customer is taking the opposite position and also going through the same process. This is not a formula for happiness with both casino management or with your customers.

So, how does one resolve such a bugaboo or dilemma in casinos around the world? One can resolve it via casino innovation. A relatively new version of Baccarat known as EZ Baccarat is just such an innovative new product that plays without the commission dilemma. This is not a new game but rather a new operating system for Baccarat. It is the Microsoft Windows of the world of Baccarat. It is that innovative. This is one of the best solutions to the problem that Baccarat has faced for the past 100 years or before Baccarat was bankrolled by the customers themselves resulting in casinos being forced to take the 5% commission from the pot. This new version called EZ Baccarat now puts the game on par with other table games that do not stop the winner every time to ask him or her to fork over part of their winnings to the casino.
The last time a traditional table game was superseded by an innovation that proved to be unstoppable was French Roulette (the game with tuxedos, 3 dealers, one or two supervisors, the same color chips, etc.) by a brash newcomer called American Roulette. Every one of the arguments being brandied about in the defense of Baccarat versus EZ Baccarat were heard before in the defense of French Roulette, e.g. “the players love it’s tradition and will never change to a new style of Roulette; possibly only the little players will play it but the VIP player will never change from French Roulette, etc., etc.” You remember French Roulette – or do you?

Along the same lines, long suffering table game managers who can fall asleep waiting for the next hand of Baccarat to be played, there is help available today via EZ Baccarat. EZ Baccarat has solved the dilemma of how to collect commission without affecting the traditional game which is favored by their Asian players in particular. With a single rule, borrowed from Craps where the 12 is barred on the “don’t come / don’t pass” bet, it manages to avoid collecting commission with effectiveness, practicality and pure elegant simplicity. Here is the trick: when the Bank wins with a 7 made of three cards, it is a “push” on the bank. That’s it. As long as those three must-have conditions are met, then you have what is known as a “Dragon Seven” (more on this later). This little piece of DNA or casino innovation changes everything that needs to be changed, namely, no more collecting of 5% commission on winning Bank bets. Everything that is related to the commission collection process magically disappears; from figuring out the amounts, to collecting it, to disagreements, to doubts and calls to Surveillance, to the customers complaining to the dealer or from the Table Inspector or Pit boss fighting with the customer. All of this disappears and the qualitative indicators of the game become superb in the eyes of the player. The dealers are less stressed, the supervisors now have the time to take care of the customer’s needs without risking the integrity of the game and the customers, yes, the customers, are also quite happy and stress free as well so they hopefully will also do what we want them to do –stay and play longer at the table.

Qualitative advantages for customers are oftentimes quickly dismissed by frustrated casino managers or supervisors. However, if each customer stays at the table just for an additional 30 minutes of play time because they are having a good time the results will show in the revenue increase or hold percentage of the game. Remember, time is money and EZ Baccarat can also result in more HPH as well as increased seat time. The developers of EZ Baccarat also point out some of the benefits to the customers as well and why they believe that many players will want to convert to the EZ Baccarat game. The equivalent commission percentage in EZ Baccarat is 4.94% versus the traditional 5% which even though small it is still more advantageous to the customer. Correspondingly, the overall house odds goes from 1.058 % to 1.018% which is also, albeit, a very small reduction in favor of the customer. In addition, the player will now enjoy a hassle free, commission free game along with a chance to cash in on the new Dragon Seven bet which pays 40 to 1.

What it is:
The EZ Baccarat table game solves the principle problem

Date Posted: 01-Mar-2009

Steve Karoul is one of the top casino marketing consultants in the world today with almost 30 years of experience with the best casinos both within the U.S. and internationally. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in over 90 countries around the world. He is a contributing writer to several different major casino publications often injecting his own hands on experiences. Steve can be reached at Tel. (1-860) 536-1828 or by E-mail: skaroul@comcast.net or www.euroasiacasino.com

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