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Gaming Guru

 

Evolution versus Creationism: What Works Best for Table Games?

13 March 2000

Don Catlin's article "Baccarat, Sort Of" is very welcome in the sense that there is very little worth reading on the mathematics of baccarat or its variations. Catlin explains the mathematics of the new version of baccarat, so I shall try to explain the psychology behind it.

Firstly, why invent a new version of baccarat? What was wrong with the old one?

One crucial problem with big table baccarat from the casino's point of view is that it is very slow. As few as 30 hands might be dealt in an hour at the big table. This is chiefly due to the ceremony and ambiance of the game. Fewer hands means fewer profits from the casino's point of view.

The casinos have long been aware of this and introduced "mini-baccarat," a game that is mathematically the same as big table baccarat but without any elaborate ceremony, in order to speed things up.

There is a further problem: the 19:20 payoff on the bank hand is unpopular, awkward and, again, slows things down. Why not just get rid of it? Consequently the casinos have been experimenting for the last few years with various types of no-commission games.

One further problem: if you design a new game, will card-counters be able to find a way to beat it? Some new games have passed into the folklore of history as disasters. Remember Twist-a-Jack, Seven and a Half, or Yin-Yang-Yo? Nope, and the casinos would rather you did not know about them, too. Casinos got royally screwed by gangs of professional gamblers who could analyze their own games better than they could.

Finding out whether a game can be beaten by card-counting is time consuming and complex. There is however a quick and dirty way around it. If you make two wagers mutually opposed to each other and perfectly symmetrical, then there is no way a game can be counted. The effect of removing a card in the game Catlin analyzes can give never give either bank or player the advantage. Sneaky, huh?

So, have the casinos got it made with this new game?

Nope. You can only mess about with games so much. New game developers face a virtually impossible task trying to replace the big five table games: blackjack, poker, roulette, baccarat and craps. These games were developed over hundreds of years. They are as they are because the people who played them decided how they should be. This is called a "continuous feedback process".

Most new games follow a pattern of initial success owing to public curiosity and then slowly fall out of favour.

A final word of wisdom to the gaming developers: People know what they want in a game, why not ask them?


For more information about baccarat:

Baccarat for the Clueless by John May
The Baccarat Battle Book: How to Attack the Game of Baccarat by Frank Scoblete
Winning Baccarat Strategies: The First Effective Card Counting Systems for the Casino Game of Baccarat by Henry Tamburin
John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May