Baccarat Odds and Strategy

Baccarat has a long-held image of gentlemanly refinement and shrewd gamesmanship. But contrary to this reputation, you don't actually need to be an expert to win at the table. In fact, in most casinos today, Baccarat offers some of the most favourable odds of winning, all players need is a basic understanding of the rules and a calm approach.

Now be sure to remember baccarat's favourable house edge comes from the ability to 'side with the dealer', an option rarely offered with casino games and one that can put you at odds with fellow players.

Baccarat Strategy Articles

The Rules

All versions of baccarat involve a simple premise; after bets are laid, the banker or dealer distributes two cards to him/herself and each of the players. The hand which totals closest to nine, wins. >Depending on the sum of the initial deal, a third card may be dealt. Cards are valued as follows:

  • Ace = 1
  • 2-9 = face value
  • 10 = 0
  • Face cards = 0

Game Strategy

In most baccarat games, there is no strategy. Whether or not a third card is dealt depends on the drawing rules, as implemented by the croupier. If either the player or banker score eight or nine, both will stand. If not players with five or more will stand and players with five of less will hit. The banker always hits with player scores of two or less, or:

  • on three unless the player scores eight
  • on four if player scores two to seven, or a face card
  • on five if player scores four to seven
  • on six if player scores six or seven

Odds and Betting

The only areas where a player can realistically affect their chances of winning is by choosing their table wisely, betting on the most likely outcomes, and avoiding panic betting on high odds outcomes. To do this, it's vital to know what the chances of any given betting outcome are.

When playing a game with the standard eight decks of cards in a shoe, the odds are for a banker/dealer win, a player win, and tie. In some six deck games, players can bet on any hand containing a pair. Here are the odds and payouts on each scenario:

  • Banker/Dealer Win = 0.458 (Pays 0.95/1)
  • Player Win = 0.446 (Pays 1/1)
  • Tie = 0.095 (Pays 8/1 or 9/1)
  • Any Pair = 0.074 (Pays 11/1)

This means the house edge is 1.06% on banker bets, 1.24% on player bets, 14.36% on tie bets, and 11.25% on pair bets. Therefore, the banker bet represents the best bet value in baccarat, despite some players considering bad baccarat etiquette to 'side with the dealer'.

In many casinos, banker bets pay 1/1 but are liable for commission. Usually this amounts to 5% of winnings, making the payout essentially 0.95/1, however, some casinos may charge lower rates of commission. Playing at these tables will increase payouts and decrease the house edge even further on banker bets.

Furthermore, if a casino uses fewer than eight decks, the house edge when backing the banker reduces, and the edge when backing the player and a tie, rises. So it's always worth checking how many decks are in a shoe when joining a table.

The Exception

Big table, midi and mini baccarat will always follow the format outlined above, some European casinos, particularly in France, will play Chemin de Fer. In this version of baccarat, the player can decide whether or not to accept a third and fourth card. In these games, rules similar to blackjack should be deployed when deciding whether to hit or stand in order to capitalise on a deal.

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