The European version of Baccarat has been around 150 years give or take. It’s distant cousin, Chemin De Fer, played under an entirely different set of rules is far older and was a game favored by Europe’s royalty and wealthy industrialists. This is most likely where it got the mystique of elegance as an exclusively “high roller’s” game.
In the mid 1950’s Tommy Renzoni ran the Baccarat game at the Capri Hotel & Casino in Havana, Cuba. It was said he discovered that particular variation of the game being played in Argentina at the time.
In those days the mob ran the casinos in Havana and it was a popular resort for the very wealthy and Hollywood’s elite. In 1959 when Castro overthrew the Batista regime, he promptly closed the casino doors and the mob was forced out of Cuba. They had a sweet deal for a while but all good things must end.
The timing was perfect though, because Tommy Renzoni was brought in for the opening of the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to run their Baccarat game. So it was Renzoni, through a stroke of fortune, who introduced the American version of Baccarat to Vegas that is played today.
The American version of the game is as simple as they come. You choose to wager on either the “bank” hand or the “player” hand. Pretty much a coin toss. The only other choice would be to bet on a tie hand appearing (a bet no sane person would make although I see it done all the time). It’s an even money bet on either side with the exception of a small commission charged on winning bank hands.
The reason for this is that the rules of the game favor the bank hand winning slightly more often than the player hand. Without the 5% commission the outcome would be tilted toward the bank side.
The object of the game is to get closest to a 9 total. All tens and face cards have a zero value, therefore a 5 and a queen would be a total of 5. There is no need to even know the rules governing the drawing of cards because they are completely automatic and procedures are directed by the dealers and pit bosses.
Compared to craps, blackjack, roulette or even poker, there are no complicated decisions to make. Decide on the amount of your wager and which side to bet on. Nothing could be simpler.
It is the aura that surrounds the game which tends to make it seem off limits to most casino goers. It’s been portrayed through stories of high rollers and in James Bond (007) movies over the years as the hero playing against the evil villain. Keep in mind, all the players are betting against the casino, not against each other. Although the roped off table areas and high stakes table limits can be somewhat intimidating.
Enter Mini-Baccarat. The casinos, always on the look out to make a buck, devised the mini-baccarat table as a way to make it more accessible to the average casino patron. It seemed to work although it still hasn’t garnered the wide spread acceptance of the more well known table games.
In reality, mini-baccarat is ideally suited for most playing and betting systems that do well in an even-money, win/lose environment. Because there can be only one of two outcomes, betting systems that depend on a parlay (doubling up) of wagers tend to do well.
It is common to see runs of 2, 3, 4 & 5 on either bank or player hands. I was playing the Tropicana one night and witnessed an incredible run of 22 consecutive “bank” hands. Luckily, having the sense and instinct to jump on a winning streak after the fourth bank win, I was able to capture 18 straight wins. Needless to say, it was a very good night. That’s an extraordinary run but the game does lend itself well to streaks on both sides.
If you toss a coin you have a 1 to 1 chance of correctly calling the outcome. If a player were to parlay their first win (playing for 2 consecutive wins), they have a 1 in 3 chance of winning that wager. If successful, the player would receive a 3 to 1 payoff. $10 parlayed on two wins would become $40. The odds on calling two consecutive outcomes correctly is 3 to 1.
Playing for three consecutive wins would reduce the player’s winning wagers but the payoff would jump to 7 to 1. A $10 wager would return $80.
Another sound betting system calls for a gradual increase of winning bets. This effectively takes advantage of any extended run of wins that will undoubtedly occur and protect the player’s capital if the outcome is “choppy.”
This type of betting sequence would look like this:
10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50
No wager after the second one in the series would produce a loss for the player.
Following the 1st bet the player is risking $5 and betting $15;
After winning the third bet the player is up $20 betting 25;
On the fourth, the player is up $40 wagering $30;
On the fifth, the player is ahead $65 betting $40;
A series of 7 wins would return $150 and still have a $50 wager as the next bet. All with a starting wager of $10. Following any loss the player reverts back to the starting $10 bet.
With this method the player is increasing their bets with winnings while maintaining a low minimum bet during losing hands. This is the type of smart money management used by professional gamblers that takes full advantage of winning cycles while protecting their bankroll when losing. It insures that their winning bets will be substantially greater than their losing ones.
Although the hands are dealt at a rapid pace, I consider mini-baccarat to be an excellent game, especially for the beginner. It allows them to acclimate to the game and concentrate on their playing strategy and wagers without feeling intimidated by the big money action in the regular Baccarat pit.
If you’ve read any of the stuff I’ve written you know I’m a big fan of Baccarat. As for mini-baccarat, it’s the same game, same low house percentage, low minimums and gives the player a very good chance at some big wins. It might even pay for your next trip the casino.
Best of luck,
Ray Walkoczy is the author of Players’ Casino Club. It’s web site is designed to explain winning playing and betting strategies combined with historical background. The Players’ Club focuses on the four best casino table games of Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Baccarat. Our goal is to present the very best methods to give the casino player the best chance of winning consistently. The information is always Free to anyone interested in learning how to win.