Tournament Baccarat

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One of the more interesting innovations to come out of the world’s renewed interest in baccarat over the past decade has been the launch of tournaments both online and off. In the usual course of baccarat games, players wager against the Bank, attempting to win as much as possible during whatever period of time they choose to play. In tournament baccarat, players vie against one another to see who can accumulate the biggest chip stack over the course of a fixed number of hands.

A typical baccarat tournament will require a non-refundable entry fee that is used to create the prize pool and cover the casino’s costs. A certain amount will be paid out the winners, either as a percentage of the total fees collected or as guaranteed rewards. In some cases, winners of qualifying rounds may receive cash prizes, too, but in almost all cases making it to the final table through the elimination rounds means a tidy return on one’s initial investment.

Tournament baccarat may be structured in a number of different ways. Those with a multi-round elimination process will start out by assigning seats at random to those who register. Several tables full of players will begin play at a fixed time. Each player receives the same number of nonredeemable tournament chips and the round will last from 20 to 25 hands, depending on the rules.

In order to make the betting opportunities fair, it is customary from the player in seat #1 to wager first for the first hand of play, player #2 wagers first for the second hand of play, and so on around the table. Those who bet last have the advantage of seeing the size of their opponents’ wagers, so rotating the betting positions gives all players a chance to be in the first position, last position and all positions in between.

Any player who wagers and loses all of his or her chips is knocked out the round. Additional chips may not be purchased unless there is a provision for “re-buys,” which would mean leaving the table and re-entering the tournament in a separate round. After the last hand is completed, the player with the largest chip stack qualifies to move on to the next round. Quite often the second-ranked player among those remaining advances to the next round, too.

Players may not take their winnings with them into subsequent rounds. They must start anew with a fresh stack of chips identical to everyone else’s. Through the process of elimination, a final round will reached with just one table and the same format apples as in earlier rounds.

In some tournaments, the very last hand requires a “public bet,” meaning it must be identical to whatever was wagered on the penultimate round. In other versions, the final bet is “secret,” written on a slip of paper so that nobody knows the amount under after the last hand ends. There are also tournaments that determine qualifiers by their chip stacks not by table but by the entire group of players. It is therefore important to be familiar with the format prior to paying an entry fee and taking a seat at the table.

As regards strategy, there are now quite a few books published that address the various issues that come up in tournament play. Some advocate minimal wagering to begin, and then adjusting wagers for the later hands after assessing the gap that must be bridged to overtake the table leader. Another strategy assumes it will be almost impossible to catch up later, so aggressive wagering must be conducted early to establish a lead.

Many players believe that outcomes arrive in streaks. They may pursue a strategy of wagering large amounts during following wins and making small wagers when losing. When trailing by a large amount going into the last hand, it may be necessary to bet everything on the “tie” in hopes of a rare payout at high odds. The good news is that the maximum loss can never be more than the entry fee, so there is little to inhibit taking bold actions.

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