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Baccarat Strategy and Game Guide

Baccarat Strategy

There’s no denying that baccarat is in a league all its own. The elegant casino game isn’t just James Bond’s pastime of choice. It’s also the undisputed favourite of affluent players in the United Kingdom and around the world. At many live casinos, the game is often reserved for high rollers. You might even find that the baccarat tables are cordoned off by velvet ropes to deter commoners from playing. Yet even if you aren’t wealthy, it’s simple to play and win, especially since baccarat has a remarkably low house edge. Keep reading this strategy guide and learn how easy it is to prosper.

Getting to Know the Game at Hand

Although baccarat is a comparing card game, there are multiple versions that operate under the same name. The version played by James Bond is known as chemin de fer, which is the original French variety of baccarat. While that game has its merits, it’s a bit of a rarity in Britain and you won’t typically find it on the internet. Most online and live casinos in the UK, Canada, Macau, Australia, and America offer a version of baccarat called punto banco, which is the focus of this strategy guide. There’s also a third style of play known as baccarat banque that is closer to chemin de fer than punto banco.

Unlike chemin de fer and baccarat banque, punto banco doesn’t force you to keep tabs on who the banker is and you’ll never have to fight for that role. That’s because the house is the banker and the position is largely irrelevant in this game. In other words, punto banco players will have the opportunity to bet on any of the outcomes. You can either wager on the banker, player, or a tie in every round of play. More importantly, you’ll never need to make decisions after placing your bet. While you’ll be playing a game of pure chance, there are certainly several strategies you can use to improve your performance.

How Hands Are Scored

Baccarat Strategy

The real beauty of playing punto banco is that you can win without understanding how cards are scored and drawn. This is important because the scoring system can look complicated on the surface and may even deter some people from giving the game a go. In reality, the game is less intimidating than the presence of those velvet ropes might lead you to believe. After placing your bet, the dealer and player hands will each receive two cards. The winning hand is the one that’s closest to a sum of nine, except cards with a value of ten are worth zero. In addition, if a hand exceeds 10 then only the left-hand digit counts. Of course, the game rarely ends here as the banker and players can draw additional cards.

The player hand will receive an additional card on totals of 5 or less, unless the dealer has a total of 8 or 9. The rules governing whether the banker gets additional cards are a bit more complicated as they depend on both the player’s hand and dealer hand. Fortunately, you can sit back and watch knowing full well that the outcome won’t affect your strategy.

What You Must Know About Baccarat

  • When playing in the UK, punto baccarat is the most common form of baccarat.
  • Punto banco baccarat is a game of pure chance.
  • After placing your bet, you’ll have no additional decisions to make.
  • Unlike tie or player bets, banker bets are subject to a 5% commission.
  • Even factoring in the commission, the banker bet has the lowest house edge.
  • The smartest strategy is to always bet on the banker.
  • While betting on the player is within reason, never bet on a tie.

Understanding Your Chances

As we mentioned earlier, baccarat features just three possible bets. You can either wager on the banker, player, or a tie. Bets on the banker and player both pay even money with one small condition. You’ll be forced to pay a 5% commission on your banker bets. While this might deter you from betting on the banker, the odds of the banker winning are higher to begin with. That’s because the rules which dictate whether a hand gets an additional card are inherently set up to favour the banker. In fact, even when you factor in the commission, the house has a 1.06% edge on banker bets and a 1.24% edge on player bets. That means you should always bet on the banker if you want to tilt the odds in your favour. Even though a difference of 0.18% might seem insignificant, winning gambling strategies require you to put yourself in the best position to win at all times.

“The smartest baccarat strategy requires you to always bet on the banker. It’s the easiest way to reduce the house edge.”

Unskilled players often fall into the trap of betting on a tie. With ties paying 8 to 1, the appeal is understandable until you dig deeper. Hands have just a 9.543% chance of ending in a tie, which is roughly one out of eleven times. As you can tell, that pales in comparison to the seemingly generous 8 to 1 payouts, which leaves the casino with a whopping 14.36% house edge. Even if you are new to casino games, it’s obvious that you should keep your chips away from the betting region marked tie.

Managing Your Bankroll

Baccarat Strategy

Now that you know to always bet on the banker, it’s worth exploring another way to improve your overall performance. If you want to succeed at any game, it’s important to manage your bankroll effectively and baccarat is certainly no exception.

Bankroll management begins with placing bets that are in line with your budget. Imagine you’ve set aside £500 to gamble with tonight. Even though your goal is to win big, it’s important to understand that might not happen right away or at all. If you were to bet £500 on a single hand and lose, your evening would be over. That’s why it’s essential that you place bets that are in line with your budget. Your exact bet size should depend not only on how much money you have, but how much you hope to win, and how fast you play. When starting out, you shouldn’t bet more than 5% of your bankroll at once and some experts suggest betting half that amount.

Baccarat is considered to be a low variance game. Except for the relatively rare ties, it’s similar to flipping a coin. Yet even with a coin flip, it’s entirely possible to land several heads in a row or go long stretches without seeing too many tails. Although live and online baccarat games are fair, it’s important to understand that the odds only manifest themselves over time, which encompasses much more than your individual playing sessions. That’s good news for players since it means that anything can happen over the short term and it’s entirely possible to perform better than the house edge might otherwise suggest. Sound bankroll management will help you stay in the game so you can have a chance to ride a winning streak or two.

Baccarat Odds at a Glance

When you play punto banco, which is the most popular variety of baccarat in the United Kingdom, the only decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to bet on the banker hand, player hand, or a tie. See how your betting options stack up:

  • Banker Bet - Pays 1:1 and has a 1.06% house edge.
  • Player Bet - Pays 1:1 and has a 1.24% house edge.
  • Tie Bet - Pays 8:1 and has a sizable 14.36% house edge.

A Word About Baccarat Betting Systems

The internet is filled with so-called fool proof betting systems that claim to give you an edge. While we don’t blame you for wanting an advantage, it’s important to remember that punto banco baccarat is a game of chance. Beyond betting on the banker and managing your bankroll, there is no secret to success. Betting systems like the Martingale, which requires you to double your bet when you lose, are flawed since if you lose enough times in a row you’ll exceed the table limit. Still, these types of systems can be fun and help you to be a more disciplined player.

Frequently Asked Questions About Baccarat

What is baccarat?

Baccarat is a popular comparing card game that’s available live and on the internet. Although there are several variations of the game, punto banco is the most popular version in the United Kingdom and online. Unlike other comparing card games like blackjack, punto banco is a game of pure chance. No skill is required to play or win.

How do you play baccarat?

To play baccarat, you simply need to decide whether you wish to bet on the banker hand, player hand, or a tie. Just place your chips in the designated betting area and watch the action unfold. When the game begins, both the player and banker hands will each receive two cards. Although the winning hand is the one with the highest score, both hands may be eligible to receive an additional card. Fortunately, hitting and standing happens automatically.

How do you win at baccarat?

To win at baccarat you’ll need to successfully bet on whether the banker or player has the superior hand. It’s also possible to wager on a tie if you prefer. Unlike blackjack, scoring is a little more complicated and you won’t be responsible to decide whether you want to sit or stand when playing punto banco baccarat.

What are the rules of baccarat?

The rules of baccarat are simple. Before the game begins you need to decide whether you want to bet on the player hand, banker hand or a tie. Next, both the banker and player receive two cards. Although the hand that is closest to 9 wins, there are a couple of stipulations.

The value of each hand is calculated by adding up the card numbers with some exceptions. First, face cards and tens are worth zero. If a hand adds up to more than 9 then 10 is subtracted from the total. It’s also possible for the player and dealer to receive an additional card, although this will happen automatically depending on the value of the hands.

What are the odds of winning at baccarat?

The odds of winning at baccarat depend of which bet you place. If you bet on the banker or player, you’ll be paid even money if you win. Tie bets generally pay 8 to 1. Bets on the banker have a 1.06% house edge, while bets on the player have a 1.24% house advantage. If you wager on a tie, the house edge rises to 14.36%.