Many people consider poker to be the ultimate high-stakes card game, god-knows we see this way of thinking promoted enough in Hollywood movies. But for gamblers familiar with both the land-based and online casino scene, they know that the real money lies in baccarat. Baccarat is the game of choice for high rollers all over the world after a hard day’s work – and they play to win big. The problem is that with baccarat comes a few misconceptions.
Gone are the clothes of executives and royalty – they join the baccarat tables as humble gamblers, albeit ones with extremely deep pockets. A major part of baccarat’s appeal lies in the low house edge and the lack of blackjack-style decision making. Baccarat is a game where anybody can win until the very end. Plenty of gamblers enjoy poker more, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you ask me, Baccarat is the game that stands head and shoulders above all other casino game types.
Getting That Winning Feeling
Winning feels good. Many gamblers play for the thrill of victory, even if their winnings are not particularly large. But you aren’t just here for the excitement of beating your opponents, are you? You want to see your bank account grow on the backs of other losers’ funds, and often. You want a game that makes this happen as often as possible, without relying on the unpredictability and randomness of plebeian fares like online slots and keno – not that these games don’t have upsides of course.
Casinos expect customers to play dumb – that is, to not maximize their odds of winning while minimizing their chances of losing. Games with high house edges are a perfect example of this. Not long ago, I was watching some videos of gamblers engaging in online betting. What I noticed is that many gamblers would turn to slots, and frequently lose large sums of money. Occasionally they won big, but more often than not they went into the red. To ameliorate these losses, they would usually turn to blackjack and roulette. Baccarat was rarely considered.
In trying to win their original balance back, they would play greedy and raise their stakes high. These plays frequently backfired, and gamblers would walk away much poorer than before. So many gamblers made these mistakes, and few would learn from them. But when they played Baccarat, there were far more cases of gamblers managing to win their losses back, and then some. The more skilled ones would even win enough to put funds back into more slots and blackjack.
Baccarat Has Big Win Potential
The above observations helped me to come to a realization: Baccarat is the superior choice for gamblers who want to win big. Baccarat has several advantages that make it the superior choice for anybody who wants to multiply their funds.
Each bet selection you make has a real chance of winning. Unlike games like slots or keno, where you are completely at the mercy of randomly generated numbers (or RNGs), baccarat always gives the player a chance to win. Hold on though, before I delve into my points further, let me follow up on one particular gambler. Remember, I did say that I was an observer and a player when at the casino.
This player won back his losses with Baccarat and thought his luck would change if he went back to the other games he lost money on. You’d think his performance on Baccarat would change his mind, but he didn’t learn. He lost his additional winnings, and then some. It’s truly bizarre how some people aren’t motivated by a desire to win, but then again gamblers who stick to slots are unlikely to ever be big winners anyway, maybe they’re just in it for the fun, who knows.
Now listen – I don’t want to come across as dunking on people for playing other games. If you truly enjoy playing different kinds of casino games, then more power to you. This guide is designed for the benefit of players who play casino games to make serious money, rather than for enjoyment.
Take Casino Play Seriously
If you treat casino games as a serious matter, then this is the guide for you. But before you jump right into playing baccarat, I recommend that you finish reading this whole guide first. baccarat is a game that is superior to blackjack, but you still need to know how to play it well. I’ll go in-depth regarding the odds and play style of baccarat; I will also explain the probabilities in-depth and how you can use them to your advantage. Ultimately, winning at any casino game means knowing how to take advantage of the odds.
In real-world settings, you can socialize with other bettors. However, the outcome in baccarat cannot be quickly altered, since drawing rules dictate how the cards are dealt (unlike blackjack). The best hand you want is nine – any other combination with nines (or two nines) will force a tie. Baccarat is especially well-suited to online gambling since the outcome is dictated purely by how the cards must be dealt with.
Unlike Blackjack, there are only two decisions to make when you play baccarat:
- Your total wager size
- The side you place your chips on (the Player or the Banker)
When a tie happens, the original bets are returned to the bettors. The house edge for any tie bet is 14.4% – keep that in mind if you feel like pushing your luck. You receive a 1 to 1 payout on the Player side, and a 19 to 20 payoff on the Banker side due to the house’s deduction – this always equals 5%.
Based upon an eight-deck shoe, the total edge of the house after all outcomes are considered for both sides is:
- Banker – 1.06%
- Player – 1.24%
- Not considering ties, the chance of winning in each game is:
- Banker – 50.68%
- Player – 49.32%
If ties are not considered, then the actual house edge comes out to be:
- Banker – 1.17%
- Player – 1.36%
Bear in mind, if you’re playing Punto 2000, a commonly played variant of baccarat, then the typical 5% deduction is not taken for Banker wins. What happens is that instead, the payout is 50% of your wager. The winning number is usually 6, though this can vary between houses. In other words, instead of a 1 to 1 win, you get a 1 to 2. For example, a $50 payout yields a $75 win, rather than $100.
For Punto 2000, the house edge comes out to:
- Banker – 1.45%
- Player – 1.23%
Blackjack is Riskier Than You Think
By contrast, blackjack is riskier because the outcome is still in flux even after the cards are dealt. Winning or losing boils down to whoever busts first, the dealer or the hand. If you play blackjack, there are only three combinations that make you safe:
- Your hand consists of an Ace and a 10. This is referred to as a natural, and you immediately receive a blackjack win. This gives a payout of 3:2, unless your dealer also gets a blackjack, then things get slightly more complicated.
- The cards you decide to keep are equal to the dealer’s score. This is referred to as a stand-off, and you receive your original wager back. This only applies to card sizes between 17 and 21. If you’re 16 or below, the dealer is required to draw another card. They are allowed to draw another card if they have a “soft” 17, and this has a noticeable effect on the overall house edge.
- The dealer busts, and you win with whatever score your hand was. This gives you an even payout.
The other possibilities are either losses or ties. These are the scenarios in which that happens:
- You exceed a total of 21 – this is a bust.
- Your dealer’s score is higher than yours.
- Your score is equal to the dealers. This results in an even payout.
Each time players at your table decide to hit or stand, the odds of winning change. This is because the cards that remain in the deck change until the dealer’s hand has concluded. You always want to try and beat the dealer at their own game, but you can’t always count on your fellow players to make calculated decisions that maximize their own odds of success. In some way, shape, or form, you are at least partially reliant upon the whims of other players when playing blackjack. In many ways, your success is beholden to other players at the table, as their reckless play could undermine your entire strategy.
Another choice that can greatly affect the final outcome is when a pair is split. It’s really frustrating to lose a game of blackjack because another player did or did not choose to take another card. Additionally, if you aren’t allowed to split aces, this affects the total house edge.
The point I want to emphasize is that casino games are exciting because there is real, tangible money on the line. Games are fun, but they’re much more thrilling when you stand to potentially gain something. When another player’s bad decision costs you a winning combination, it can feel really bad. That’s the risk you take when you play with other players.
It’s not common that you get to go up against the dealer directly. Whether you’re at a real casino or online, you’re likely to be paired with other people. If you want to have a shot at a one-on-one session, try going to a real-world casino during their off-hours (i.e. during business hours). The same can semi-apply online, but it’s a little hard to find those much-sought-after quiet tables, so be aware.
Another game you can play is Casino War if you’re after a challenging variant. This game makes it so that the odds of your hand winning depends on which players open boxes. Like blackjack, the decisions that players make ultimately affect the final outcome. Seasoned blackjack players will sometimes risk their hand if they believe that there is a better-than-even chance that the dealer will go bust. Such blackjack players like to collude with other players to try and influence the outcome if they’re playing in a real-world setting. Honestly, Casino War provides a different change of pace to “standard blackjack”, but it might not be a game you wish to overcommit to due to the number of variables.
Here’s an important tip to consider. I once met a professional blackjack player from the United States in a London casino. He told me something as he finished his dinner, whenever he plays Blackjack, he always opens two hands. Why? For the exact reason I just mentioned, it can help you control the table more, obviously at a higher cost.
It’s a Matter of Odds
Blackjack has many different varieties. However, the odds of victory in each format will generally come down to these factors:
- The number of decks that the house is using
- How many cards have been dealt versus how many remain
- The house’s insistence on shuffling decks after each play. Remember, they want you to play dumb – card counters don’t take for easy marks
- The ability to double down on your hand
In the most popular version of Blackjack, the house edge is generally under 1%. This doesn’t vary too much overall, but it can go as low as 0.5% depending on how many of the aforementioned factors are in play. For most games, the odds of winning, losing, or drawing are as follows:
- Win – 42.22%
- Lose – 49.10%
- Draw – 8.48%
Beware of Shifting Variables
When I first decided to write this article, I intended to lay out the advantages of playing Baccarat over Blackjack despite the fact that baccarat has, on paper, a higher house advantage. As you now know, the odds of winning a hand in blackjack depends on factors outside of what your hand is. That is if your hand hasn’t already busted.
Shifting odds of victory are not something that you want, because it makes it hard to control the outcome in a way that is favorable to you. When things change after you’ve placed your bet, it introduces additional confounding factors that reduce your odds of winning, as well as make it harder to produce consistent results between game sessions. Baccarat is the casino game that gives you the most control over the final outcome, which – if you ask me – gives it the edge over blackjack, in spite of it having a better house edge.
Another disadvantage that blackjack has is that the house edge can increase by as much as 2% due to human error. Baccarat takes the need for decision making away by requiring a coin flip – there’s no need to make further decisions that will ultimately reduce your odds of winning in the long run. This works especially well in an online format, and it makes the odds much more favorable than Blackjack, where you can lose due to factors beyond your control.
Baccarat Has the Edge Over Blackjack… Fact!
Look, both of these casino games are fun, enjoyable, and have great upsides, but if you are like me you always have at least one eye on the bottom line. You’ll always be able to flip the cards for cash in blackjack effectively if you know what you’re doing, but the variables just increase the risk and, in my opinion, take a bit of a shine off this famous game.
Baccarat might be on the back foot when compared to blackjack and poker, maybe it’s just been out of the spotlight for a little too long, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It has everything you could want from a money-making casino game, even if the game is an unsung hero of the casino world. Great odds, impressive player control, and a high tempo that keeps the game flowing. If you want my advice, next time you rock up to an online casino (or physical casino if that’s more your scene) give baccarat a try, I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.