Baccarat’s roots date all the way back to late-1600s’ Italy. The contemporary offshoot EZ Baccarat now offers a unique progressive bonus whose top prize can go to only one player at a table.
The optional Dragon 7 Panda 8 Progressive bet adds the possibility of a five-figure bonus tied directly to the basic play of the most successful brand in baccarat. The addition comes about a month after Galaxy Gaming became the game’s distributor in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean.
“The key is that this offers a single jackpot winner on a community game. That’s the holy grail of a baccarat progressive,” said Steve Cvetkoski, vice president of product for Galaxy and inventor of the new bet. The EZ Baccarat game and progressive bonus are on display in Galaxy Gaming’s booth, No. 4016, at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
More than 800 EZ Baccarat tables are in action in 150 casinos worldwide. Equipment manufacturer Cammegh Ltd. distributes the game in the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand. Roger Tomás, CEO of Interra Latin, distributes it in Latin America.
Payouts for the Dragon 7 Panda 8 Progressive are based on the composition of a three-card Player hand that wins with a point total of eight or of a winning three-card Bank hand with a point total of seven. The progressive bonus is paid when all three cards of both hands are in a designated suit combination, such as hearts for Player and clubs for Bank; each spot at a table has its own suit combination, which ensures the progressive goes to only one player. Bettors can win eight prizes besides the progressive bonus, including a secondary-level bonus if both hands are suited, but not in the designation for that seat. The smaller prizes increase the hit frequency; players can bet on Panda 8, Dragon 7, or both.
Cvetkoski said the probability of the Dragon 7 combination is about one in 115,000; for Panda 8, one in about 60,000. The overall house advantage is about 20 percent; the bonus is funded through wagers on the progressive.
Gaming veterans Robin Powell and Francisco “TJ” Tejeda invented EZ Baccarat and placed the first tables in 2008. It has the same drawing rules as traditional baccarat, but doesn’t charge a commission on bets for a winning Bank hand. Instead, winning on Bank or Player pays even money, except when Bank wins with a three-card total of 7. In that case, bets on Bank push.
“Baccarat makes more money than any other table game on Earth,” said Powell, who weaves a fascinating chronology of the game from its beginnings as a home gambling game in 17th century Italy to France, South America, Cuba, Las Vegas, and Asia.
Baccarat is a strong performer despite a house edge slightly more than 1 percent on Bank or Player bets. The reason is simple math, according to Powell. “Would you rather have one percent of $100 or 1.5 percent of $50?”
Collecting the commission on winning Bank bets slows the game, cutting the number of bets that can be made in an hour, week, or year. Talisman, founded by Powell and Tejeda, boasts that EZ is the fastest baccarat game on the market in terms of hands per hour.
The progressive side bet is unlikely to have a significant effect on game speed, as it’s simply an extension of an existing side bet in the game.
Progressive bonuses in community games such as roulette and baccarat are typically split among multiple bettors as they’re based on a rare event. “We’re showing a way that you can individualize it,” Cvetkoski said. “This isn’t the first, but it is the best.”
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