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If not for two tribal casinos willing to try something new, EZ Baccarat might never have become North America’s most popular no-commission baccarat game.

“We owe the tribes for all of our success,” co-creator T.J. Tejeda said, citing the game’s first placements in 2008 after 10 years of rejections from Nevada operators. Barona Resort and Casino near San Diego, operated by the Barona Band of Mission Indians, and Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, Calif., operated by the Pechanga Band of Indians, took the plunge. Barona installed two tables, Pechanga six.

“They actually made the leap from having (standard) baccarat tables, which they were paying nothing for, to bringing in a product that they were going to pay $600 a month (per table) for,” Tejeda recalled. “It took true bravery to do that.”

Sixteen years later, tribal casinos are EZ Baccarat’s largest customer base and California is its most important tribal market. Eight of the top 11 tribal casinos nationwide feature EZ Baccarat, including Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in the East and Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma. Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel has 18 EZ Baccarat games occupying its entire no-commission baccarat pit. It’s operated by the San Manuel tribe that bought the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The first two customers have increased their table count; Barona now has eight and Pechanga 14.

“Tribes have given us, over many years, a chance to prove the value of the EZ brand above all others,” Tejeda said. “For this trust, we are eternally grateful. It wouldn’t have happened without them.”

During the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention April 8-11 in Anaheim, Calif., EZ Baccarat will be featured at the booth of its U.S. distributor, Galaxy Gaming.

Tejeda and fellow gaming veteran Robin Powell invented EZ Baccarat, which eliminates the 5 percent commission the traditional game imposes for payouts on a winning Bank hand. Instead, winning bets on Bank or Player pay even money, except that a bet on Bank pushes if the hand wins with a three-card 7. While the game has a low house advantage, only 1.02 percent on Bank wagers and a tad higher on Player wagers, EZ Baccarat makes up for it by dealing more hands per hour than any other baccarat game.

EZ Baccarat offers two side bets. Dragon 7 pays 40-to-1 if Bank wins with a three-card total of seven; Panda 8 pays 25-to-1 if Player has a three-card total of eight. Galaxy Gaming is adding a progressive bonus paid when both events happen on the same deal and the cards of each hand are in a designated suit combination. Each betting spot has its own suit combination, ensuring that only one person per deal can win the top prize. To increase the hit frequency, the progressive offers eight smaller prizes based on the makeup of the two hands.

Tejeda said EZ Baccarat was the first baccarat game to offer competing side bets and called the Dragon 7 and Panda 8 “organic” to the game.

He also noted that EZ Baccarat’s biggest advantage over its competitors is the trust it has built among operators. “Trust is the most difficult thing to gain, because you have to earn it over time.”

Tribal operators tend to pay particular attention to the shelf life of any deal they make, he said. EZ Baccarat’s pricing – $600 per month per table, whether one or 100, with the operators keeping all revenue they generate – hasn’t changed in the years since Barona and Pechanga signed up.

“If you have a small casino and want just two tables, you get the same deal as Caesars Corp. or Yaamava’,” Tejeda said. “We made a promise all those years ago that we would behave in a certain way. And we’re still doing it exactly that way, 16 years later.”