Baccarat Odds

Published: 26/04/2012

Baccarat provides players with some of the very best odds of all casino games. Just consider the House edge for other popular table games. European Roulette offers the House a 2.70% margin. Pai Gow Poker gives up a 1.46% advantage. Pass Line bets at the Craps table afford the House a 1.41% advantage. Yet in Baccarat, for betting on the Player hand, the House edge is just 1.23%, and on the Banker hand it drops to 1.06%.

Of course, when the House Rules are favourable to the player, Blackjack gives the lowest margin to the casino, but the opportunity exists to wager on just one hand—the player’s. Baccarat’s attraction is the ability to wager on the Banker and on Ties, too, thus allowing every potential outcome to be backed.

Baccarat rules are make the odds of winning a bet on the Player hand a virtual coin flip. When Ties resulting in a push are excluded, the Player hand should be successful on 49.32% of all deals and the Banker hand should win the remaining 50.68%. The gap that separates the two is the gross value of the House edge or 1.36%. Taking Ties into consideration, the House’s net margin reduces to 1.23%. Because the payout for a win is even money (1-to-1) on Banker and Player wagers, Baccarat is clearly one of the best bets available in the casino.

Because the Banker hand can be expected to win slightly more often than the Player hand, the casino should actually be at a disadvantage paying 1-to-1 odds for a win. That’s why a commission—the so-called “vigorish”—is charged. It is most commonly a deduction of 5% from any winnings on the Banker, which nets out to reduction in the Banker’s expectation of winning from 50.68% to 48.15%. That is equivalent to a 1.17% gross House edge excluding Ties, or 1.06% net when Ties are included.

Obviously, Ties are part of the game, so they can’t be ignored. Indeed, the probability of a Tie occurring on any given hand is 9.52%, and most casinos offer a payout of 8-to-1 for any successful wager on a Tie. Players might be tempted to back these higher odds, but the Tie is not a good choice at all. By offering far less than true odds, the House obtains a net edge of 14.36%. Even in casinos that pay 9-to-1 odds for a Tie, the advantage to the House is still 4.84%.

One special Baccarat side bet that should also be avoided is the “Pair.” It pays 11-to-1 when the first two cards in a selected hand are a match. Similar to the Tie bet, the real odds of this occurrence are poor—only 7.47%, which translates into a House edge of 10.36%. Whenever this option is offered as part of the game, the best move is to ignore it; the player’s stake is much better invested at even money odds.

For all of the Baccarat percentages calculated above, it was assumed that eight decks would be in play, since that is now the most common form of the game. Unlike Blackjack, removing decks does not affect the odds very much. With just six decks in play, House’s net advantage is almost exactly the same for each type of bet.

When playing with a single deck, wagers on the Player hand face a 1.29% House edge, while the House edge versus Ties goes up to 15.75%. Only the Banker hand is very much impacted, with the House margin falling to 1.01%. Unfortunately for players, single-deck Baccarat has become a rarity in casinos.

Published on: 26/04/2012

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