We’ve noted in the past that Calgary is peppered with little slices of Monte Carlo or Las Vegas with its six casinos. Over recent months, casino gaming has been a hot topic across Canada, with Ontario and Nova Scotia each introducing their own government regulated online casino platforms. Will Alberta follow? Time will tell, but it is surely a case of “when” not “if.” 

In the meantime, there are literally dozens of reputable online casinos that Albertans can use. By necessity, they are based offshore, but those of a cautious nature can use payment methods like prepaid cards as a safe alternative to parting with bank account details. The Gamble Online review site provides more details at https://www.gambleonline.co/en-ca/deposits/prepaid-cards/ 

Baccarat is back 

One of the intriguing trends that has emerged, both online and in Alberta’s land based casinos is the revival of a game that had fallen completely out of fashion in the 1990s and early 2000s. Yes, slots, blackjack and roulette are still the most popular games. But baccarat is snapping closely at their heels, and having been almost extinct 20 years ago, today it is right up there among the most popular casino games in Canada. 

The 1954 novel Casino Royale centres around a tense game of baccarat between James Bond and criminal financier Le Chiffre. If you have seen the 2006 movie, that might come as a surprise. The film makers decided to change the game to poker due to the hype surrounding Texas Holdem at the time and the fact that nobody would understand baccarat! 

A simple game with a low house edge 

In fairness, the Bond producers had a point. Chemin de fer, the baccarat variation played in Ian Fleming’s book, does require a little explanation, and today, you’ll only see it in a few casinos. Bond afficionados should pay attention to the opening minutes of Dr No to see 007 playing the game.  

Punto Banco, however, is a baccarat variation played against the house (like blackjack), not against other players. With simple rules, low volatility and a house edge that’s only a little over one percent, there is a lot to like. Cards are dealt for “banker” and “player” and you simply have to decide whether to back a player win, a banker win or a tie. 

The winning hand is the one closest to nine. In this respect, baccarat is similar to blackjack, but due to its unique numbering system, it is not possible to go bust. Only the last digit is considered, so for example an eight and a nine adds up to 7, not 17.  

Player and banker are each dealt two cards initially. There are complex rules that dictate whether they are dealt a third card, but unless you are planning a career as a baccarat dealer, you don’t need to learn them. Suffice it to say that these rules play marginally in the banker’s favour, which is why successfully betting on banker gives a return of 95 cents to the dollar, while player is even money.  

If you’re late to the game and have never tried baccarat, give it a go. After all, thousands of Canadian casino players can’t be wrong. And one final piece of advice: avoid the tie bet, as it has a huge house edge compared to backing player or banker. 

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