Baccarat Strategies

Although many have likened Baccarat to a “coin flip” game—“heads” Banker or “tails” Player—the right strategy can certainly help improve the odds of winning. What’s missing that one usually finds in designing table games strategies is a methodology for decision-making during play. The rules are such that play is predetermined once the initial two cards are dealt.

That means Baccarat strategy comes down to the two areas that a participant can control—which hand to bet on and how much to wager. Making the right choices is not merely a matter of luck, either. It requires a functional understanding of odds as well as a keen ability to manage one’s money.

Which Hand to Bet in Baccarat

Located on most Baccarat tables will be scorecards and pencils. These are put there for participants’ use, to track the results of each hand. Inevitably, there will be several bettors copying down every Banker win, Player win, and Tie, analyzing the outcomes and looking for patterns that will help them decide on which hand to wager.

Frankly, this is a huge waste of time. With eight decks in play and no choices to be made about when or when not to draw, the order of wins is almost certain to be random. Even if every single card seen is recorded, what remains in the deck favors neither the Banker nor the Player. That’s why card counting has never proven effective in Baccarat. Again, this might seem like a coin flip.

But there is one indicator that can be used in choosing the hand to bet on—the odds. The way the drawing rules are set up, the Banker hand is slightly favored. Over the long term, it should win 45.86% of the tie versus just 44.62% for the Player hand. The balance of the hands, 9.52%, will be Ties. That means betting on the Banker hand is always the preferred strategy.

Of course, the deduction of a 5% House commission from winning Banker hands must also be taken into account. However, this is purely a money issue, which has no effect on the outcome of the deal or draw. The Banker hand will win more often than the Player hand, so it should be the preferred choice.

Also, based purely upon the probabilities, it is unwise to ever bet on Ties. The payout for success is just 8-to-1 in most casinos and 9-to-1 in the best of them, neither of which can justify the high House edge of 14.4% in the case of the former or 4.8% for the latter.

Wager Sizes in Baccarat

Similar to other table games, the amount that is bet at Baccarat should be a function of the amount of funds available. A good rule of thumb is to wager no more than 2% of the bankroll on any single hand. Another way of looking at wagering is that the bankroll should be at least 50 times the average bet made.

Don’t make the mistake of sitting at a table where the minimum bet required is too rich. With a bankroll of $500, a comfortable betting range is $5~$10 per hand. To sit at the $25 table will require a bankroll of at least $1,250 and preferably $2,500 or more.

It is absolutely possible to use progressive betting systems with success at the Baccarat table. The most promising ones are ones that can survive a string of four or five consecutive losses without requiring huge bets to make up money lost, such as Labouchere, d’Alembert, or the 1-3-2-6 system.

Wagering on the Player hand will yield true even money payouts, but it is wise to mix in wagers on the Banker hand, too, for the reasons previously given above.