Even the most elementary research efforts will tell you that the banker bet is your best choice in baccarat. That same research probably revealed that the player bet is only a slight underdog to the banker bet.
Players look at the similar house edge, and the commission for the banker bet and decide to go with the player. Look, this isn’t the craps table, where betting with the shooter is par for the course.
There’s no “hot hand” slinging 7s like machine-gun fire in baccarat and making the table rich. Check out why you should always make the banker bet in baccarat.
Examining how the baccarat game is played will help to understand what makes the banker bet so good.
In a baccarat hand, the player and dealer each receive 2 cards; the object is to get as close to 9 as possible. Note that 10 thru King are valued at 0, and Aces are valued at 1.
If the total of the 2 cards reaches 10 or more, the first digit is dropped. So, 17 becomes 7.
If either the player or the dealer has 8 or 9, it’s considered a natural, and no more cards are dealt. If there’s no natural dealt, the player is dealt another card on 5 or less. The player stands on 6 or 7.
The dealer stands on 7-9. However, what the dealer does beyond those 3 is determined by the player’s hand.
The drawing strategy for the banker’s hand is where the banker bet gets its advantage. The fact that the banker’s hand will only draw a third card if the player draws is a tremendous advantage.
Still, depending on the third card results, the player will determine if the banker’s hand draws at all.
In real money blackjack, the casino gets its advantage in much the same way. The player must act first. Of course, the player may bust and lose immediately in blackjack. You don’t have that worry in baccarat.
Conversely, you’re not going to sit tight on a weak hand and hope the dealer busts. The baccarat table takes all of the choices from the player and makes them for them.
The only decision a player needs to make is to bet on the banker, the player, or a tie.
You Have Choices
That’s right, in a game that eliminates all gameplay choices, the player has one critical decision to make.
That’s deciding where you’re going to place your bet.
Baccarat gives you only one chance to make a decision. You have 3 available betting options to choose from at the baccarat table.
These are to bet on the banker, the player, or a tie.
Let’s start with the tie bet.
The tie bet pays out 8:1 if the player and banker tie the hand. Many players like the thrill of making the tie bet in hopes of cashing in on the 8:1 payout as opposed to the standard 1:1 for a win. Some players may get behind and see the tie bet as a way to recoup some of those losses quickly.
There are a few fundamental problems with this bet. Firstly, all ties at the baccarat table push. So, you’re risking money that you really don’t need to be putting in danger.
Secondly, bets occur in less than 10% of hands. You’re taking a 1 in 10 shot at an 8:1 payout. Does that math click for you?
In its most basic form, the tie bet is a total sucker bet, and you should never, under any circumstances, make this bet.
The banker bet and player bet are the only 2 you should ever consider while playing baccarat in a casino, online, or through a mobile baccarat app. While the 2 share a similar house advantage, the banker bet remains the slight frontrunner.
The Math Favors the Banker
The banker’s hand wins roughly 46% of the time. The player hand is lower at slightly below 45%, with ties accounting for the remainder.
However, because a tie pushes, it effectively raises the banker’s hand to 51%.
The banker’s hand is such a great bet that all things being equal, the player would actually hold an advantage over the casino.
Imagine how much money you could fleece the casino if you were guaranteed to win 51% over the long-term.
Obviously, the casino can’t have tables full of players taking the casino’s money with impunity. So, they charge a commission.
This small commission tilts the edge back to the house. Even with the 5% commission, the house charges, the edge is still an incredible small 1.06%.
Unfortunately, you’re still going to lose in the end if you play long enough. However, the small edge means you can get a hot streak going and take some incremental wins.
Baccarat is one of the best games in the casino for the player. You’ll be able to play for longer and walk away from the table a winner more often.
Games with a small house edge are perfect for beginners and anyone wanting to stretch their bankroll to its absolute limits.
How the Commission Affects Your Winnings
So, exactly what is this commission on the banker bet, and how does it affect your winnings?
The house charges a 5% commission on all winning banker bets. So, if you’re playing baccarat for $20 per hand and betting on the banker, you’ll receive $19 for every win.
For a winning bet on the player, a $20 bet would net $20 in winnings.
This $1 seems inconsequential, but remember it’s not a $1 commission; it’s 5%. That’s an important distinction because it takes the edge away from the player.
If you are a whale playing for $10k per hand, that’s a $500 hit for every single win. Of course, if you’re paying $10,000 per hand, $500 clearly has a different value to you than it does me.
Still, that’s 1 full bet for every 20 wins. That makes a significant swing when you’re losing as many as you’re winning.
You should pay close attention to the baccarat table’s rules before you sit down. Some casinos institute a firm minimum commission.
These minimum commissions may be as little as $1. If you’re playing for $5 per hand, that’s suddenly a 20% commission.
This exponentially raises the house edge. If you’re not able to play for at least $20 per hand, you’re better off finding another game.
I’ve asked everyone from casino executives to professional gamblers to explain the minimum commission trend to me, and not surprisingly, I’ve been given tons of different answers.
It boils down to two schools of thought. If you’re in the casino industry, it’s all about convenience and offering the best possible player experience.
If you’re a player, it seems easiest to chalk it up to greed.
Either way, you need to be wary of tables with a minimum commission.
Why the Banker Bet Is Your Best Bet
The banker bet offers some of the best odds in the casino for you. It’s well worth the commission when you factor in your expected loss and see how far your money will go.
For example, let’s imagine you are playing for $20 per hand and play 100 hands per hour. That means you’re putting $2000 into play every hour.
We know the expected loss is 1.06% due to ties. So, that works out to about $21 in losses per hour.
You don’t need a massive bankroll to spend all day playing baccarat for real money. You’ll obviously need enough to weather a losing streak, but it’s not as much as you’d need playing slot machines or roulette.
In fact, you’re facing such tight margins that you may be surprised how regularly you leave the casino a winner.
If you’re in the market to stay on the tables longer and win more often, baccarat’s banker bet is one of the best options in the casino.
Baccarat Strategies to Avoid
Now that you have a clear cut strategy to focus on the next time you fly to Las Vegas let’s look at some of the baccarat pitfalls that you’ll want to avoid.
Many baccarat players will bet with the “big player.” It’s akin to betting the “pass line” on the craps table.
Look, I know that it’s appealing to want to bet against the house. When it comes to casino gambling, it’s very much us against them.
Don’t ever place a bet to spite the casino. They don’t care, and you’re going to lose.
Successful gamblers are able to make their decisions completely void of any emotional bias.
It would be best if you also ignored the trends. Baccarat tables will prominently display the results of several previous hands.
Have the casinos suddenly decided to take a philanthropic turn and sprinkle this beneficial knowledge amongst the struggling gamblers on the floor?
Not at all.
Misguided players believe they can spot trends and turn the tables on the casino. I’m going to say this once, casino games are games of chance, and the cards don’t care about probabilities or previous results.
Know that you have a better understanding of why you should always make the banker bet in baccarat, you’re ready to launch yourself on a course of casino gambling success.
Keep in mind that you’ll still have an expected loss, but you’re going to spend hours on the tables, enjoying all of the exciting action.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …