Baccarat is an easy game to play. You only have one decision to make each hand.
You must choose one of three options to bet on. The rest of the hand plays out in a pre-defined manner.
Even though it’s simple, baccarat, like most casino games, has a proper strategy.
Always learn the best strategy for the games you want to play. The casino almost always has the edge.
But you can reduce that edge as much as possible.
Here’s what happens when you do:
You get to play longer.
You have a better chance of winning.
The Three Possible Wagers
The three possible wagers on baccarat are:
The Tie Bet
The house edge on the tie bet is over 14%.
You should never bet on the tie.
The Player Bet
The edge on the player bet is 1.24%.
The Banker Bet
Something unusual happens when you bet on the banker:
All winning bets pay a 5% commission.
But the edge on the banker wager is only 1.06% after the 5% commission.
A few casinos only charge a 4% commission on the banker bet. Playing at one of these reduces the house edge below 1%.
Which Bet Should You Place?
Always bet on the banker.
No other bets or systems offer a long-term return as high as the banker bet.
Players try all kinds of systems and theories, though.
None of them work.
Baccarat and Gamblers Fallacy
Suppose you flip a coin. Half the time the coin will land on heads. Half the time the coin will land on tails.
But what if you’ve flipped a coin ten times in a row?
And what if it came up heads every time?
What are the odds of it coming up heads on the eleventh toss?
The correct answer is 50%.
What happened on the previous coin clips doesn’t affect the odds on this next coin toss.
Each flip of the coin is an independent event.
A lot of people think that you’re more likely to get tails on that eleventh coin toss.
These people subscribe to the gamblers fallacy. They think that the odds are supposed to even out.
But they don’t necessarily even out on the next coin toss.
How does this apply to baccarat?
The banker and player win roughly the same amount of hands in the long run.
What conclusion do many baccarat players draw?
You often see baccarat players tracking the recent results to help them decide how to bet on the next hand.
The cards that have been played already do change the odds of the next hands to be dealt.
But not always.
It only changes the odds if you’re still playing from the same shoe.
This leads some players to one of two different misconceptions.
The first one is that you can gain an edge against the casino by counting cards in baccarat.
The second fits into the gamblers fallacy discussion.
Baccarat is usually dealt from an eight deck shoe. The change to the probability with each card is miniscule. You can’t improve the accuracy of your predictions based on this. The deck has too many cards in it.
Reverse Gamblers Fallacy
The opposite of the gamblers fallacy is the belief that a result is more likely to occur if it’s been happening a lot.
Take the coin flip example. A believer in the reverse gamblers fallacy might predict that tails have gotten “hot”. They think that the odds of getting tails on the next coin flip are higher than 50%.
This isn’t a fallacy in all games. Here’s an example:
Some roulette wheels are imperfectly balanced. Some numbers on those wheels really DO come up more often.
But finding a biased roulette wheel is next to impossible.
But in baccarat (or coin tossing), previous events have nothing to do with the probability of future events.
It’s tempting to look for trends. It’s human nature.
But trends in gambling usually only exist in hindsight.
They can’t help you predict the future.
The cards have no memory.
Looking for trends is useful in some games. Here are a few examples:
- Horse racing
- Dog racing
- Sporting events
Trends in these can help you predict future performances.
But trying to predict where the next spin of the roulette wheel is going to land or predict some other random event based on the past is simply impossible.
The Martingale Betting System
Most gamblers have either thought about doubling their bets after a loss or seen someone else doing so. This betting strategy has a name:
The Martingale is used in dozens of ways.
The basic concept is that you start with a certain sized wager. Then you double your bets after every loss. When you eventually win, all of your losses are covered. And you have a profit equal to the bet you started with.
Here’s an example:
Your first bet is $10.
Now you bet $20.
You lose again.
Now you bet $40.
This sequence continues as follows:
$80, $160, $320, $640…
When you finally win you have enough money to cover all of your losses and a profit of $10.
Win after you place the $40 wager, you have bet a total of $70 ($10 + $20 + $40).
You get back your $40 wager plus another $40 for a total of $80. Deduct the $70 wagered. You’re left with the $10 profit.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
How can you lose in the long run?
You’re bound to win eventually to cover all of the previous losses.
So why doesn’t the Martingale system work for baccarat and other casino games?
- Betting limits. Casinos know all about the Martingale system. Lose enough times in a row, and the system breaks. You won’t be able to place the next bet because the casino won’t take a wager that large.
- Finite bankrolls. No one has an unlimited amount of money to bet. It’s rare to lose four or five times in a row. But it’s not as rare as you think. Long losing streaks happen more often than most players think.
Here’s another reason why the Martingale system is lousy:
You bet large amounts of money for tiny returns.
Here’s what happens after your $640 bet in the progression described above:
You’re betting 64 times the amount of profit you’re shooting for. You’re trying to net a $10 profit. If you lose, you’re down another $640.
Most casino set their table limits so you can’t double more than six or seven times.
The highest limits I’ve seen only allow for doubling your bet eight times. That was unusual.
And even at eight doubles you will eventually lose.
The Martingale system LOOKS like it works. Sometimes it looks that way for long periods of time.
But a losing streak will eventually do you in.
The casino’s odds don’t change because you’re changing the size of your bets.
Counting Cards in Baccarat
You can count cards in baccarat.
Here’s the problem, though:
You won’t gather enough information to place bets in your favor until only a few hands are left.
You’ll need to place huge wagers to gain a tiny edge.
It isn’t worth it.
Here’s the only way to do it profitably:
Count down the entire shoe without playing any hands until toward the end.
Then place large bets on the last few hands.
You might be able to get away with this once or twice.
But the casinos will catch on.
Then they’ll put a stop to it.
Want to beat the casino by counting cards?
Other Baccarat Systems
I’ve seen baccarat systems advertised for years. Supposedly new systems come out. The sales pitch always promises riches. They claim some new discovery of a hidden secret you can use to best the casinos at baccarat. Some of these systems cost less than $100.
Others cost $1000s of dollars.
No system can beat the game of baccarat.
No system ever will.
The game has been around for decades. The mathematics have been studied by the top minds in the gambling world.
There’s only one way to beat baccarat:
Figure out a way to cheat.
Most systems include the Martingale, some confusing money management system, or both.
You know the Martingale doesn’t work.
But what about other money management based systems?
A money management system tries to convince you that by changing the amount of your bets you can change the house edge.
Some systems increase your bets after wins.
Some increase your bets after losses.
I’ve seen systems where you have to make advanced calculations after each hand and check with a chart to size your next wager.
These are just camouflage to cover up the fact that no money management system can change the house edge. The size of the bet doesn’t matter. The edge is always the same.
Want to know the one money management system that really does completely reduce the house edge on baccarat to zero?
Don’t waste time and money on baccarat systems.
You know who’s making money on these systems?
The people selling them.
NOT the people using them.
If you actually had a system that could consistently beat the game of baccarat, even one that offered you an edge as low as 1%, you could make millions.
You surely wouldn’t be selling it for a few thousand dollars or less.
You probably wouldn’t ever tell a soul. You’d be afraid the casinos would figure out what you were doing and change the game or rules so you couldn’t win any more.
Next time you’re tempted to buy into the hype and rhetoric surrounding a baccarat system, remember this:
If the system worked they wouldn’t be selling it.
The best strategy for baccarat is to bet on the banker every time. If you’re lucky enough to find a casino that only charges 4% commission on the banker bet instead of 5% you’ve reduced the house edge even more.
The best strategy (mathematically) is not to play baccarat at all.
Want to play a casino game where you can gain a real edge?
Learn how to count cards in blackjack.
Or learn how to be a winning poker player.
Both require a more work than baccarat.
But they offer a real chance to win in the long run.