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Best of Barney Vinson

Gaming Guru

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Barney Vinson's World

10 May 2002

Why do people keep score while playing baccarat?

They're tracking the hands, in hopes they may spot some pattern in the way the cards are falling. Remember, though, that eight decks of cards are used in baccarat. Consequently, each hand is independent of all the others. Baccarat is strictly a guessing game, and keeping score isn't going to change anything.

The dealer will shuffle all eight decks, then offer them to a player to cut. Then the dealer turns over the first card. Let's say it's a 9. The dealer will then deal nine more cards face down, and these will go into the discard rack. The rest of the cards will be placed in the shoe, and the game gets underway.

Here's another interesting fact. In larger casinos, where big bets are an everyday experience, the casino will use brand new cards every time the shoe is emptied. This guards against any improprieties by either the players or casino employees.

Can I bet the hand ends in a tie?

Yes, it's the only proposition bet on the table, and a bad one at that. In the event the hand ends in a tie, you are paid 8 to 1. Statistically, a tie comes up once every 10.5 hands, giving the house a 14.4 percent advantage. Enough said?

Are there any strategies I can use at baccarat?

Many experts are convinced that baccarat is a game of streaks, and that taking advantage of these streaks is the best way to beat the game. One so-called expert says you should watch the first hand, bet the next round on the winner of the first hand, then bet progressively if the steak continues. Then the expert goes on to say that if this doesn't work, then wait for a streak to occur and bet the other way. (And this guy's an expert?)

If baccarat is such a great game, why don't more people play it?

Because it's intimidating. Let's face it, who wants to play a game where the dealers are dressed better than the customers? A recent survey showed that only 1 percent of casino patrons play baccarat, and that's why mini-baccarat was introduced. You can play the mini-version for as little as $5 in some casinos.

I notice that the players get to deal the cards at baccarat. It looks complicated.

This is part of the European charm of the game. Here you are in Vegas, everyone's eyes are on you, the tension mounts, then you nonchalantly slide the cards out of the shoe and flip them to the croupier. Let's face it, you are one classy guy! So don't let the dealing part of the game scare you. The dealer--er, croupier-- will tell you what to do.

Didn't the casinos use paper money at one time in Vegas baccarat rooms?

Yes, paper money was used until the mid-seventies, which made baccarat even more glamorous. The money (ironed every night so the bills would stay crisp) was bet in neat stacks, and crowds would watch as the stacks of money changed hands (usually from the players to the casino). But the process of counting the bills after each hand delayed the game so much that the casinos began using chips. Now the game is much faster--and not nearly as exciting.

How do I pay my commission in baccarat?

In regular baccarat, the dealer keeps up with your commission of 5 percent on winning banker hands by the use of marker buttons. When the shoe is finished, each player's commissions are settled. In mini-baccarat, the commissions are usually settled after each hand.

What is the oldest casino site in Las Vegas?

The Las Vegas Club in downtown Las Vegas sits on the site of the Overland Park Hotel, which opened in 1905. The oldest continually-running casino, however, is the Golden Gate, which opened in 1906.

What was the first casino in Las Vegas?

The Northern Club received the city's first gaming license on March 20, 1931. Today the property, at 15 East Fremont, is known as the Coin Castle.

What was the first casino on the Las Vegas Strip?

It was the Western-themed El Rancho Vegas (now a vacant lot across from the Sahara), which opened in April of 1941 with 63 hotel rooms, a casino, and a 250-seat showroom. The hotel fell on hard times in 1960 and ironically burned to the ground that same year. One insider said the fire was choreographed by the same people who produced Oklahoma, Hello Dolly, and the two Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fights.

Who discovered Las Vegas?

Some say it was Howard Hughes, but let's look in the old history book. The area was long the home of the Anasazi Indians, but the first non-Indian on the scene was a young Mexican scout by the name of Rafael Rivera. He was looking for water off the Old Spanish Trail, and found it in the Las Vegas Valley around 1830. Of course, it wasn't called the Las Vegas Valley then. In fact, it didn't even have a name, but the area resembled a giant meadow. Hence the name Las Vegas, which means "The Meadows." Rivera immediately applied for a gaming license, liquor license, cabaret license, hotel license, zone variance, land easement, and commercial building permit--and opened the Riviera Hotel somewhere between 1848 and 1954.

How many hospitals are there in Las Vegas?

There are 8 acute care hospitals, 4 hospices, more than 2,000 hospital beds, several licensed nursing homes, and a couple of private psychiatric clinics. The psychiatric clinic where I stayed for 8 months was really nice, and I made many lifelong friends--including my agent, editor, publisher, and many of my readers.

Have you written any new books?

What a great question! And what perfect timing! Yes, I have a new book from Bonus Books called Ask Barney. It's filled with hundreds of questions and answers about Las Vegas. If you have trouble finding it you can go to Amazon.com to order a copy, or have one mailed to you directly from Bonus Books at 1-800-225- 3775.

Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson
Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson