Gaming insights Gaming

EZ Baccarat’s modern twist

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of WGM.

MGM Macau will offer players a chance to trial popular baccarat variant EZ Baccarat on more than 100 of its Live Multi-Game terminals.

They say a fast game is a good game and that is certainly the case at MGM Macau where local gaming machine manufacturer LT Game will install revolutionary baccarat variant EZ Baccarat on its Live Multi-Game terminals.

Better known as Dragon 7 across Asia, EZ Baccarat is the first baccarat game in the world to do away with commission completely – allowing more hands to be played in a shorter space of time with the added advantage of a lower house edge. Now it promises to be even faster, with MGM Macau the first casino to trial the electronic EZ Baccarat game on over 100 of its LT terminals.

“This is the right time for EZ Baccarat to make its move into Macau and I think it can be a real boom for us and for the players,” EZ Baccarat co-founder TJ Tejeda tells WGM.

“One thing we know is that the Macau market needs to broaden its appeal and LT Game’s machines do that. Not everyone wants to be at a table with 50 other people. Some people like to just quietly spend some time playing.

“The sophistication of the machines is first class too like on an airline, so I think it’s just the right time for us.”

The two organizations first teamed up in April 2015 when LT Game was signed as the exclusive distributor of EZ Baccarat in Macau, but it is only now that the partnership is truly starting to bear fruit. One reason for this is the changing dynamics of the local gaming scene.

Macau has quickly shifted from a heavy reliance on VIP customers to a mass market focus as the government looks to broaden the city’s tourist appeal.

“I have nothing but praise for those guys,” Tejeda says of LT Game. “Clearly they understand that it is part of the charter that they have to be looking for solutions for a different market. The structure that was in place before and was built to service a certain type of market, really that market is not here anymore.

“Macau is now in competition with nations it never worried about before like the Philippines and Korea. I think it’s a very healthy situation for Macau because they really are in play now and nothing makes you produce your best like good competition.

“We feel that we can be very much part of that. Broadening your offerings – whether it is hotels, attractions, shows or games – I think can only be good and so LT Game and EZ Baccarat is going to bring this game that is so popular in the United States and Canada to more customers here in Macau.”

The premise of EZ Baccarat is simple. In traditional baccarat, a five percent commission is charged on all winning Banker bets, meaning the dealer must constantly calculate commission and pay accordingly based on the size of the bet. The advent of no-commission baccarat helped alleviate that problem by replacing the five percent charge with a single 50 percent commission on hands where Banker wins with a total of 6. But that’s still a commission.

EZ Baccarat takes the concept one step further by never charging commission. Instead, all banker wins on a three card 7 become a push.

“It’s much easier for the dealers to deal because it doesn’t have any commission, it’s good for the players because they don’t have to keep track of commission and it’s good for the casinos because it moves forward at a very good pace,” says Tejeda.

LT Game Chairman Jay Chun with EZ Baccarat co-founder TJ Tejeda at the recent MGS Entertainment Show

“If you think of it like horse racing, in a typical day at the track you might have seven races – with this game you can have 10.”

Although still relatively new to Macau, EZ Baccarat has spread like wildfire across the west coast of the United States and into Canada where savvy players recognize its benefits – including a house edge of just 1.02 percent on Banker bets. That compares to 1.06 percent in traditional baccarat and 1.46 percent in no-commission!

“It is immensely popular on the west coast of the United States in California and British Colombia,” Tejeda explains. “We’re now heading for 900 tables and in terms of games that have a brand, 900 would make it probably the second largest game behind only Three Card Poker. And we’re still growing at a fairly good clip.

“We’ve now kind of obtained critical mass and the customers drive the market. For example, a couple of casinos in Ontario, Canada have now asked for EZ Baccarat. That wasn’t part of our marketing campaign but customers were coming from Vancouver and were saying ‘Which way to the EZ Baccarat games?’ and the staff were asking, ‘The what?’

“Players now travel to Hong Kong and Macau, they are very international, so I think that is starting to have an impact.”

LT Game Chairman Jay Chun said the addition of EZ Baccarat to some of the company’s popular Live Multi-Game terminals – of which there are roughly 4,500 in Macau – could prove to be a game changer.

“We’re thrilled to integrate EZ Baccarat on our Live Multi-Game system,” he said. “Undoubtedly it can greatly enhance the baccarat player gaming experience and MGM Macau can also benefit from the additional side bet features. We believe advancements in gaming technology brings the most benefit to both operators and players.”