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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: A low house edge and EZ to play

22 February 2013


Dear Mark: Do you know of a game called EZ Baccarat? Please let me know the percentages for the casino. Also, what is the house edge for the casino if I bet the Dragon 7 and the Panda 8? John A.

EZ Baccarat, also known as "No Commission" Baccarat, is played in the same manner as traditional baccarat. The draw rules do NOT change. What does change is that there is no longer a 5% commission on a winning banker bet. To compensate for dropping the 5% charge, the game changed the payoff for a winning banker hand that has a three-card total of seven (the Dragon 7). If the banker wins the hand with this three-card total, the banker bet is a tie, or a "barred" hand.

On a standard commission-based game, baccarat and mini-baccarat carry the same house edge on all three wagers. The player bet has a 1.36% casino advantage, the banker wager, a 1.17% house edge (here bettors must pay a five-percent commission on winning banker bets), and the tie bet, a wager no one should ever make because it has a hefty house advantage of 14.1%.

With EZ Baccarat, and the 5% commission dropped from the banker hand, the house edge on a six-deck shoe becomes 1.018%, which is a tad lower than the 1.17% casino advantage on a traditional baccarat game. The verdict for EZ Baccarat: Two thumbs up.

All the same, John, be wary of those two optional wagers EZ Baccarat offers: the Dragon 7, which I mentioned above, was a three-card total of seven, and a Panda 8, a three-card total of eight. Although the Dragon bet pays 40 to 1, and the Panda 8 bet pays 25 to 1, the Dragon Bet carries a casino advantage of 7.61%, and the Panda 8 has a house edge of 10.19%.

Readers of Deal Me In only make wagers that have less than a 2% casino advantage, so neither optional bet will stand up to your, my, or any other reader's 2% standards (see contrary advice below).

Dear Mark: If you were to make one wager in the casino, one in which you do not adhere to your "only make bets that have a casino advantage of less than 2%," what would it be? Jason A.

Over the years, Jason, I have hit this $1, walking out the door wager, far more than my fair share, putting this frivolous bet in the "I'm way ahead" category.

With a buck in hand, I would belly-up to a roulette table and put one dollar on 22 black, straight up. If it hits, I then parlay my winnings, $35, along with my original $1 wager. If 22 were to repeat, your payday is $1260.

I am probably into this bet, $300, maybe $400 maximum over a 30-year period, and I have hit it four times. So, Jason, what's your favorite number?

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "With spots quadrangular of diamond form, Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife, and spades, the emblems of untimely graves." - William Cowper
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.