There is a good reason why Baccarat is a favorite game among the super high-rollers. This game has one of the lowest house edges in any casino games, meaning your money will last longer – hopefully long enough for you to hit some winning streaks. You can enjoy wins in this game over the short-term, and have a lot of fun along the way. This article explains the key principals involved.

First up, you will some more detail on the low house-edge, including the bets to avoid. After that a quick-run through of the rules, since winning at any game is only possible if you do not make any mistakes. The key factor of bonuses and comps is covered next; these can make a significant dent in the house edge. Finally, betting systems are covered. These can smooth out the variance in the short-term, though will not beat the house edge over time.


Understanding the Odds

There are three main bets in Baccarat, you can either bet on the “Player” square, the”‘Banker” square or on a tie. Before I go any further, the ‘Tie’ bet needs to be ruled out completely from any winning Baccarat strategy. This will happen approximately one in 11 times, and the payout is 8-to-1 (sometimes with player / banker bets remaining for the next hand). These odds are nothing short of horrific, and so the tie bet should always be avoided.

Here are the odds of the Player and Banker winning and the tie:

  • Banker: 44.615% - Payout 0.95-to-1
  • Player: 45.843% - Payout 1-to-1
  • Tie: 9.543% - Payout 8-to-1

This creates a very low house edge and simple gameplay, with the 5% ‘Banker tax’ as standard the house edge is around 1%.

Since the banker will win a little more often, it does not make any difference whether you choose to bet on this square or the player square. Since the house edge is always present, you’ll go on enjoyable winning streaks in this game, however over time your bankroll will diminish by 1% of each bet made.

Note that some casinos offer side bets on this game, for example on the hands being paired. These are significantly negative bets and should be avoided.


Understanding the Game-Play

The rules for which cards are drawn (and when) can feel complicated for new players. What you need to bear in mind is that the dealer will handle the drawing of cards (or the computer when playing Baccarat online). From the perspective of the player the game play is quite simple, you bet on either the Player or Banker winning the hand, or on a tie.

Every hand can be broken into three discreet phases, starting after the bets have been placed.

First the player and banker are dealt two cards each, some hands will stop at this point (depending on the scores)
The ‘Player’ will draw a third card with some totals next.
Depending on what the player drew, the dealer will then draw a 3rd card (these are the most complex of the rules).
From your point of view, the only important thing is to see who gets closest to nine points, with 10s and picture cards counting as Zero and any total over 10 losing the left hand digit.


Bonuses and Comps

With a low house edge, Baccarat is ideal for players looking to clear casino bonuses or generate VIP club points or comps. Remember to check the terms and conditions at your casino to see which games are included in their bonuses before you start.

Bonuses and their play through requirements vary massively between different online casinos. One might require a 20x play-through, while another casino - seemingly running identical back-end software - might require 50x. If you are not sure then this information should be available in the bonus terms and conditions on your casino’s website.

Likewise there can be huge differences in the comps or loyalty scheme benefits offered by your casino. These make a big difference to how much you can mitigate the house-edge. If you are not receiving the best possible deal then you should start shopping around today.


Betting Systems

Users of betting systems often defend them with almost religious fervor - however the mathematical facts are the mathematical facts. Each bet has an independent expectation of -1% in Baccarat, and while systems smooth out the ride, they can’t overcome this core math in the long run. For those interested, there are two main themes to casino betting systems.

Negative progression systems include the infamous Martingale sequence – and many more complex derivatives based on this. The idea is simple: you double your bet after a loss, returning to the initial unit after a win. This works because sequences where you lose 6+ times in a row are very rare, and 10+ sequences extremely rare. Eventually, you’ll hit the table limit, or hit a sequence which breaks your bankroll. The fact that the casino’s welcome Negative progression bettors with open arms, while chasing Blackjack card counters looking for a <1% edge out of the door should be all you need to know.

Positive Progressions like the Paroli system are great fun for the small stakes bettor, though will not beat the house edge over time either. These systems take advantage of winning runs, doubling you up 3 times so that you will sometimes receive a windfall before reverting to your usual stakes. There are many complex variations on this theme too.