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Mention of card depletion at baccarat might lead you to wonder whether a card-counting system like those used at blackjack could be developed for beating the game of baccarat. Just about every serious blackjack card counter has wondered the same thing at one time or another. Several of the world's leading blackjack theoreticians have investigated the possibility. All have concluded that it can't be done. In fact, no less an authority than Dr. Edward Thorp, the man who revolutionized blackjack play through the introduction to develop a card-counting system for the player and bank hands at baccarat that would give the bettor an edge.

A couple of years ago, two authors wrote a book that did purport to offer a card-counting strategy for baccarat. Unfortunately, unlike card counting at blackjack, this system did not give the player an edge over the house. It only cut the house edge slightly. Considering the great amount of work required to keep the count during the game, most gambles concluded that it was not worth the trouble.


When baccarat was first introduced in Nevada, the casinos did everything they could to surround the game with an aura of wealth and luxury in the hope of attracting high rollers. They proved highly successful in that goal. Then they started worrying about all the grind action they might be missing out on from small bettors who were potential baccarat players but couldn't handle the high table limits. Similarly, those casinos that catered to small bettors were interested in making the game available to their clientele. The answer they eventually settled on was mini-baccarat. Mini-baccarat was first introduced at the Silver Slipper Casino in Las Vegas in 1974. Today it can be found in a number of casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City.

Mini-baccarat is the game of baccarat with all the fancy trappings stripped away. It is played on a table that resembles a blackjack table. In fact the similarity is so close that players often mistake mini-baccarat tables for blackjack tables. Like a blackjack table, it seats seven players. In front of the players' seats are betting spots like those found on blackjack tables. However, in this case there are two spots in front of each player. One is marked for bets on the player hand; the other one is for bank-hand bets.

As in blackjack, the game is conducted by a single dealer who stands behind the table. The dealer is the only person to touch the cards. He deals them from a shoe at his left, dealing the player hand to the spot marked PLAYER on the layout at his right and the bank hand to the spot marked BANK on the layout at his left. All the cards are dealt face up. After the initial hands have been dealt, the dealer draws cards as required to each hand, following the same rules as for regular baccarat. In fact, all the rules for mini-baccarat are identical to those for regular baccarat. Only the style of dealing differs - that and the table limits, which are always either a five - dollar or two - dollar minimum and a five-hundred-dollar maximum. When playing off bank-hand bets, the dealer records the 5 percent commission due the house in the small numbered boxes on the layout in front of the check rack. Because of the lower minimums, a good supply of small change is kept at the table both for recording the commissions and for making change for players when they pay the commissions at the end of each shoe. The commission on a five-dollar bet is a quarter, while on a two-dollar bet the commission is a dime. Since the rules for standing and drawing at mini-baccarat are the same as at the regular game and since the same 5 percent commission is charged on bank-hand winnings, the house P.C. remains the same as at the original game. What does change is the tempo of the game. Many more hands can be dealt per hour at mini-baccarat than at regular baccarat because of eliminating the time-wasting procedure of having the players handle the cards. This means that the house percentage, although still small, gets to act on your money more often.

Mini-baccarat is a good training ground for anyone who wants to try his hand at baccarat but wants to familiarize himself with the game before tackling the big table with its big bets. It is also a good game for anyone who is attracted to blackjack but doesn't want to put in the effort to learn basic blackjack strategy. If you enjoy gambling but can't be bothered with learning strategy and don't want to take a chance on making any embarrassing errors, then baccarat is the game for you. It is a game that offers glamour, excellent odds, and almost no room for either brilliant maneuvers or dumb mistakes.

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