After securing an exclusive deal with LT Game in Macau, and Scientific Games acquiring distributor DEQ Systems, it’s no surprise Francisco ‘TJ’ Tejeda compares his best-selling EZ Baccarat brand to a horse finally hitting its stride.
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]Z Baccarat co-creator Francisco ‘TJ’ Tejeda has been a proactive participant in the evolution of table games for almost five decades. Starting as a Harrah’s dealer in Reno, he worked his way up as a marketing executive at Caesars, and then the Trump organisation, before finally moving to the MGM Grand where he ran one of the most successful baccarat rooms on the Las Vegas strip. Along this journey TJ also evolved, from a participant of the industry to a pioneer, and so EZ Baccarat was born.
Played in the same way as the traditional game, EZ Baccarat eliminates the taking of the 5 percent commission after every winning Bank hand without modifying any of the existing drawing rules. There is a single rule that makes the commission disappear: when the Bank hand wins with a 3-card 7 the Player, the Panda 8 and the Tie lose; the Bank pushes and the Dragon 7 bet wins.
So, no surprise then that this unique brand has become the most popular baccarat game in the whole of North America, and after securing a deal with LT Game, as well as distributor DEQ Systems being acquired by Scientific Games, EZ Baccarat is poised to conquer Macau before setting its sights on the whole of Asia.
Francisco Tejeda, or TJ as he is more widely known, is co-creator of EZ Baccarat along with Robin Powell, both of whom are principals of the Talisman Group. They operate with an unrelenting enthusiasm and energy, but more importantly an understanding of how the market moves and sways.
“Finally all the pieces have come together for us,” Tejeda explained. We have had a relationship with LT Game for a long time, we admire the company and so we are incredibly proud that they have gone ahead and chosen our product to be the first one to be added to their Live Multi-Game Systems.”
EZ Baccarat’s alliance with LT Game carves out an exclusive deal in Macau for the Paradise Entertainment subsidiary, with the company’s chairman, Jay Chun, being a partner Talisman was eager to stand beside when breaking into such a tough market.
“Compared with Macau everything else in Asia shrinks, not because they are small markets, but because they are not as concentrated. For LT Game, it was really important for them to have an exclusive deal where they are the powerhouse, and it’s the same thing for us, we really wanted an alliance with LT Game. We know and respect Mr Chun greatly.”
With LT Game poised to carry the EZ Baccarat game on 4500 LMGs, Talisman’s vision for the product over 10 years ago is finally coming to fruition thanks to long term success with Asian players in North America.
TJ added: “We’re very popular in the US and Canada, which would seem that it’s not pertinent to Asia, but of course they have large communities of Asian citizens, and just like here, baccarat is the favourite game. About 80 percent of the table games in British Columbia are EZ Baccarat, and most of the players are expats and international businessmen from Hong Kong and Shanghai. That’s also the case in Los Angeles and Southern California, which has an enormous Asian community of over four million, and there a majority of all the games are EZ Baccarat. Mr Chun travels all over the world and he saw how popular our product is, which was the genesis of the LT Game deal; our brand seemed like a perfect fit for the Macau market”
Another company that has seen the success and enormous potential of EZ Baccarat is Scientific Games, which acquired the brand’s distributor DEQ Systems in part so it could attain the licence to EZ Baccarat.
Tejeda explained: “DEQ has been a great company to work with and has served our purpose really well after distributing our product for such a long time. They have other products, but one of the jewels in its crown is EZ baccarat and that’s what Scientific Games wanted.”
In early 2017, Scientific Games will hold the distribution rights for EZ Baccarat and attempt to carry the product into more markets in Asia, which has been the target for TJ since the brand’s conception.
“When we were putting the game together it was very clear to us that the market was going towards Asia, so from the very beginning we thought all the icons and symbolism should be Asian, in particular Chinese. Why? Because it’s the biggest population of all, and you may as well go with the strongest suit. So the game was conceived particularly with Asian players in mind, and then Macau opened and the rest is history. Now there’s heavy competition here which is very healthy for everyone, and across Asia the Philippines is really coming on, so is Korea, and Japan is on the brink.”
With EZ Baccarat finally hitting its stride, TJ understands that to continue evolving,Talisman must diversify by creating a suite of products.
“We need to make sure that this is a franchise and we’ve been moving on this for a couple of years now. We believe that the halo of the brand is strong enough, that we can diversify in ETGS and Live Dealer, but also on the internet. In New Jersey, for example, they have monetised internet casinos in the state, so there are opportunities there.”
While knowledge, ambition and patience have all been vital ingredients in making EZ Baccarat a worldwide success, it is Talisman’s ability to delegate that is really resounding. As the brand moves forward Talisman will take a chairman’s approach to the operation, trusting partners LT Game and Scientific Games to have the specialised knowledge necessary to market and distribute its creation around the globe.
Mark your card: EZ Baccarat is a product that is going from strength to strength.