How to Win at Baccarat

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Perhaps more than any other casino game, Baccarat is noteworthy for its spectacular wins and harrowing losses. Many of the biggest names in gambling have been Baccarat players, such as Australian billionaire Kerry Packer (1937~2005). Indeed, few opportunities exist to win millions one week and drop millions the next other than inside the private Baccarat salons of major casinos.

Because the card drawing rules of Baccarat are so strict, the game almost plays itself; skill is much less important here than in most other table games. It helps to be lucky, of course, but certainly any technique that can help increase the possibility of “good fortune” is worth exploring.

Like all casino table games, Baccarat gives the House an inherent advantage or edge. For example, bets placed on Banker hands earn the casino an expected a return of 1.06%. In other words, over the long term players should lose about £1 for every £100 that they wager. At high stakes tables, the House anticipates £10,000 being retained as gross revenue out of every £1 million that crosses the table.

Assuming the House edge ensures that casino must profit in the long-term, a player’s surest path to winning must necessarily be over the short-term, whether that might be a single hand, a single session, or a single brief period of time. The total amount that can be won is a function of (a) the average amount wagered and (b) the number of hands played. Fortunately, these two aspects of the game are completely under the control of the player, not the casino.

Uppermost in the player’s mind should be having an achievable profit objective. A player at a £2 table cannot realistically expect to turn £100 into £1,000, but doubling the bankroll to £zero might be possible. Happily finishing a session with a profit of 50% or more is a reasonable goal, too. On the other hand, creating an “earnings per hour” target may only lead to discouragement, as some hours will be negative and others positive.

For those wagering at high stakes Baccarat, getting ahead just a little can equal a sizable win. Flat-betting £1,000 per hand, gains and losses may vary as much as +/-£5,000 in the short-term. By quitting the table whenever winnings exceed a certain fixed amount—£3,000, for example—an hour may be quite sufficient for success.

Another way to improve the odds of winning at Baccarat is to avoid miscues, such as betting on a Tie. It makes no difference whether the odds offered by the casino are 8-to-1 or 9-to-1; the House edge is too high, so this is always a bad bet. In general, side bets carry heavy costs, including Pairs, Double Dragons, and so on. Just skip them.

In much the same way, the even-money odds offered for wins on the Player hand may seem attractive compared to paying a 5% premium for wins on the Banker hand. It’s only natural to want to receive a full payout. But betting the Banker hand has the greatest probability of success. A winning approach is to mix up the wagering, betting on the Player hand sometimes and on the Banker hand somewhat more often.

Another factor to consider is the number of decks used in play. Fewer decks typically mean better the odds for the Banker hand. There is not much difference between a six-deck game and an eight-deck, but when four decks or fewer are used, betting on the Banker is always the percentage play.

In versions of the game where the Bank can be bought, the House advantage accrues to the participant who holds it. That should be good enough reason to always buy the Bank when it is offered.

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