Baccarat Online has been around for centuries now and part of its appeal is how easy it is to understand the rules of the game. Card values are straightforward, there are only a limited number of possible actions once the hands have been dealt and there are only three outcomes a player can bet on, excluding any extra side bets.
It’s no wonder this game has remained so popular in both casual and formal gambling settings. Seasoned players look to strategies to help them make the most of their time at the baccarat table, whether it is a virtual one or a real one.
With that in mind, we have put together the most commonly used betting strategies for baccarat players and dismiss a few misconceptions about the game and what constitutes the optimal strategy. Read on to learn all this and more.
Table of Contents:
- Understanding the house edge
- Different bets and their odds – bet on banker!
- Should I count cards?
- Betting on “trends” or against them at online baccarat
- Betting on rare events – should I?
- Frequently asked questions about Baccarat strategy
The easiest way to explain the house edge is to describe it as the in-built advantage the house (i.e. the casino/operator) has over the player. This house edge is how the casino or operator makes a profit and pays the bills. The entire gambling industry is effectively built on the house edge.
As an example, think of all those times you have spun a slot and not won anything. That is the house edge, expressed as a percentage of the number of times a player is likely to lose.
To use the slots example again, it is the opposite of the RTP. A game with an RTP of 96%, therefore, has a house edge of 4%.
Now, when it comes to table games, that house edge is not as easy to calculate so we’ll just give you the numbers outright. Baccarat has a low house edge on two of the three possible standard bets. The Player and the Banker bets’ house edge is 1.26% and 1.06%, respectively.
The Tie bet has a really high house edge of 14.4% and that’s why it is the poorest choice. This high house edge comes from the fact that a tie result is highly unlikely so a bet on a tie is equally unlikely to be a winner.
We can rank the three available baccarat bets in order of their likelihood of winning as follows:
- Banker – wins 45.84% of the time
- Player – wins 44.61% of the time
- Tie – wins 9.54% of the time
Now, this ranking is affected by two aspects – the probability or odds of this result taking place and the consequent house edge. Let’s explain further.
The Banker winning is the most likely outcome, taking place 45.84% of the time. The Player wins slightly less often, 44.61% of the time. A tie outcome will take place 9.54% of the time, which is very small in comparison to the other two options.
The Banker is statistically the most likely winner and so players will be keen to make this bet. As a result, casinos usually charge a 5% commission on any winning Banker bet. This means that 5% of the amount won will automatically go to the casino. Some operators charge less commission but even at 5%, the Banker bet is generally the most profitable.
Card counting is a popular strategy in blackjack and some might consider this strategy for baccarat too. Putting aside the fact that counting cards is strongly frowned upon in most land-based casinos, counting cards in baccarat is generally viewed to be unhelpful in games of baccarat.
The main problem with this strategy, when applied to baccarat, is that, unlike in blackjack, the game is very symmetrical. This means that there aren’t any cards that strongly favour the player or the dealer. In blackjack, the face cards and aces favour the player while the dealer benefits more from the 2-6 number cards.
This is not applicable to baccarat as the ‘favourable’ cards are determined by the hands dealt, which change every round. Counting cards is for nothing if there is no clear understanding of which cards are desirable.
While there are baccarat card counting strategies out there, these are generally very impractical and cumbersome, so much so that even professional players do not set much store by them as a beneficial strategy.
Looking for trends or patterns in baccarat is a commonly used strategy, though it does come with one major caveat – outcomes in baccarat are completely random. The croupier or software, if you’re playing online, shuffles the cards after every hand. There is roughly a 50% chance of the Player or the Banker winning each time, with a tie being less likely.
That said, watching out for trends is a strategy in itself. It relies on the player noting patterns over a number of rounds, such as Player streaks, Banker streaks or a zigzag between the two. The player can then choose to bet on a trend continuing or on a trend stopping and going the other way.
As with any strategy that attempts to predict the unpredictable, this one should be used cautiously.
A rare event in baccarat is one that is considered very unlikely to happen. You might come across the phrase ‘riding the pony’, which essentially means betting on rare events and is often seen in high roller games.
As you might imagine, a ‘rare’ event is one that doesn’t happen often so putting money on this outcome is inherently risky. However, it can prove to be quite rewarding for lucky players.
Experienced baccarat players will have noticed other players who place their chips on ‘Banker’ or ‘Player’ and leave them there for the duration of the game. This is a way of riding the pony in that it is very unlikely that a streak will go on for seven or eight more rounds but it can happen and is lucrative when it does.
There is always an element of risk with any strategy and betting on rare events is no exception. There’s a good reason this one is more popular with high rollers. However, it can pay off. Players just need to be comfortable with the thought of losing several rounds in a row and can afford to do so.
Conscientious baccarat players are always on the lookout for ways to improve their game and baccarat strategies can help to do that. A solid understanding of the mathematical foundations of house edge and odds are crucial to being able to delve further into the details of this exciting game.
While strategies will not guarantee that a player will win every time, they do help to provide structure in a player’s gameplay and can make it easier to decide how to bet.
While the rules of baccarat are simple, baccarat strategy can be more complex, particularly for inexperienced players. Below we have compiled answers to the most commonly asked questions about baccarat strategies.
Is there any good strategy to baccarat?
In this case, the word ‘good’ is subjective. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for any casino game and baccarat is no exception. Players might find they prefer one strategy over another for any number of reasons, including how easy it is to implement, their bankroll budget and the type of baccarat they prefer to play.
No matter which strategy you choose, the best way to play baccarat well is to understand the fundamentals – house edge, probabilities, identifying card values and being familiar with the hit/stand rules for both Player and Banker.
Does card counting work at online baccarat?
Card counting is not an advantageous strategy in baccarat. While players can certainly count cards if they want to, doing so does not really impact gameplay in a positive way so most players don’t bother.
What is the house edge at baccarat?
The house edge differs between the three possible bets in standard baccarat. The Banker and Player bets have a similar house edge, at 1.06% and 1.26% respectively. However, when we then consider the Tie bet, we are looking at a very high house edge of 14.4%. This, coupled with the bet’s low probability of occurring, makes the tie bet the least popular bet.
What is the best bet?
Statistically speaking, the Banker bet is the one most likely to occur so betting on the Banker is more likely to result in a win. Even with the 5% commission most casinos and operators apply to Banker wins, this remains the best bet to make in baccarat.
Should I bet on trends?
Betting on or against trends or patterns is a risky strategy, which can result in significant losses. However, these rare events are rare, not impossible, so they can and do happen. Betting on trends is a strategy most often used by high roller players, who can absorb the risk of multiple losing rounds in a row in anticipation of a rare event win.