Why Casinos Love and Fear Baccarat, The World’s Biggest Gambling Game
It is without a doubt that baccarat has been one of the most popular games in online casino world since the beginning of time. This casino game traces its history back to the gambling salons of Europe, specifically of Italy and France. Notably, its popularity and fame has been increasing steadfastly in the casinos globally, in the past thirty years, mostly in Asia but also increasingly in the United States. Baccarat has made it as a game in which casino managers and players across the world flocking to.
So how popular is baccarat exactly? Since the infamous Macau Casino has dethroned Las Vegas in the year of 2006, it is evidently made more money than any casino in the world ever since. Just last year alone, the 40 casinos in Macau collectively made a profit of more than 88% of their $33.2billion from baccarat alone. Singapore casino also likewise gain much of their revenue of this particular casino game, and even on the Las Vegas Strip, where it has been shown that many of the players are not even fully aware of the rules of the game! Baccarat contributes to 18% of the total casino win. It is only second to slots, in terms of the number of wins in Las Vegas casinos. However, you should take note that there are considerably more slot machines in Las Vegas than baccarat tables!
According to the former Agent of the Nevada Gaming Control, Bill Zender, who is also currently a consultant who has wrote a book on managing casinos, he stated that he has seen the game of baccarat grow considerably over his career, over the last 40 years. “Before the influx of Asian players, to get people interested in the game, we really had to dress it up,” he says. “So you had the big double tables, dealers in tuxedos, and attractive women in evening gowns standing around.”
He said that over the past 20 years, Asian high rollers have universally made baccarat their game of choice. This is because the game suited to their cultural preference. “The cards are shuffled, and they are put into the dealing shoe,” he says. “There is no hitting or standing for the player—it is all based on pre-determined rules. So they believe that their luck flows into the shoe. This is very important. It used to be that we would burn [discard] a card if a dealer made an error, but when we did that the Asian players would leave the table; they thought it ruined their luck. So we started saving the card and dealing a dummy hand instead.”
How does the game of baccarat work, practically?
Despite the fact of baccarat being tucked in high-limit gaming areas, it is actually one of the simplest games to play. What the player has to do is to make a choice of whether to bet on the “Player” or the “Banker” hand, then sit back while letting the dealer do the rest. The objective of the game is to get cards closer to nine than the opposite hand. If the cards that the player holds totals above nine, the first digit is dropped.
There is a set of rules to be followed in determining whether a third card should be drawn. Therefore, the only decision for the player to make is which hand to bet on, and how much to bet on.
Why is baccarat so popular among players in the casino?
Alex Czajkowski, CMO at RTG Asia has explained his opinion as to why is baccarat so popular and well received by players across the globe. The reason why high rollers across the globe are so attracted to the game of baccarat is that it has one of the lowest hold percentages, in comparison to other games in the casino, with an average house advantage of about 1.2% on banker and player bets. Players can also, alternatively, bet for a tie, which, if both hands equal the same number, pays off eight to one, but it has a much larger house edge—over 14 percent. Most serious players, then, stick to player or banker.
The dangerous thing about baccarat for casinos though, is this, due to the huge amount of money that high rollers are willing to place on one single bet and because of the thin house edge, the players have a serious chance in winning big money, which needless to say, would be on the expense of the casino. How high do the betting limits go? Zender cites casinos in Singapore, which take bets as high as $750,000 SGD (about $550,000 USD) on a single hand, and shares that casinos on the Las Vegas Strip might take bets as high as $150,000 per hand. While casinos can potentially make millions in a few hours, they can also lose millions.
Before the increase in players from the East entering the city and entering the world of baccarat, baccarat was initially dressed up. According to an interview conducted with Forbes, Bill Zender who was a former Agent of the Nevada Gaming Control, casino dealer and executive, he said that baccarat was a game at big double tables, in which the dealers had to be dressed up in tuxedoes, and attractive women in an evening gown. It was exactly like how it was portrayed in James Bond, that was what baccarat was like.
However, as Vegas’ appeared more appealing to Asian visitors, so did the game of baccarat. As high rollers from the east involved in the high-ended game, less emphasis was placed on the exterior, the pageantry, and the James-Bond. It became about the potential of the game itself.
Looking at the popularity of the game at its current state, we predict that baccarat as a casino game will remain and continue to be popular among high rollers globally. We also foresee that the casino throughout the world will continue supplying this game due to its popularity.
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