How to Win at Baccarat

Casino games like blackjack and poker reward strategy and experience over luck. In games like slot machines and keno, luck trumps skill. Blackjack is a perfect example of how learning strategy can make you more likely to win: playing blackjack by the books and keeping a running card count in your head can give you a 1% edge against the house.

Baccarat is not like blackjack. “Strategies” for winning at Baccarat don’t work, thanks in part to the game’s simple rules. There are just not that many options for wagering in Baccarat, and no room for improving your odds through the way you play. Place a bet in Baccarat, and only the luck of the draw can make you a winner.

Like any casino game, Baccarat systems promise to make you a winner through wagering manipulation or betting a certain way. These systems are based on the outcomes of previous Baccarat coups, and these strategies that try to get around statistics with wagering strategy are worthless. Still, you can play Baccarat in such a way that you have more fun during the game and make yourself a little less likely to lose by placing the right kinds of bets.

Here is a guide to winning at Baccarat.

Manage Your Money

If you can walk out of the casino after a few coups of Baccarat with a little money in your pocket, then you’re a winner. The second you think of Baccarat as a game that can be beat or depend on some wagering strategy so that you make a ton of money playing Baccarat, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Let’s say you have $500 in your pocket and you want to have some fun playing Baccarat. The trick is to bet small amounts so that you have fun playing Baccarat for a longer period of time. The best bets in Baccarat give the house about a 1% advantage, and you can expect about 50 coups an hour. If you bet $10 per coup, you only stand to lose about $5 an hour as long as you place advantageous bets. That means two hours of Baccarat should only set you back about $10. Factor in free drinks and Baccarat is some of the cheapest entertainment you can buy.

Never Bet on Tie

The best way to lose playing Baccarat is to chase the 8 to 1 payout offered by a tie bet. Gamblers with big brains have done the math for you and pointed out that ties only happen about 9% of the time, meaning you’ll lose more than 9 times out of every 10 tie bets. The tie bet is a sucker bet, one that could pay off if you’re lucky, but will eventually sap your entire bankroll if you’re not lucky.

Always Bet on the Banker

Some players new to Baccarat see the 5% commission paid to the banker for bets on his side and shy away. Here’s why bets on the banker are the only way of winning at Baccarat.

For simplicity’s sake, pretend you’re wagering 100 credits. The 5% commission you pay on winning banker bets means you win 0.95 credits for each credit bet. The banker’s side wins 50.68% of the time, a slim majority, but one big enough to make the bet worthwhile. That’s because 0.95 (your win per credit wagered) by 50.68 (your odds of winning the bet) and you get a total likelihood of winning of 48.15%. Your chance of losing on a banker bet is 49.32%, giving the house an edge of just 1.17%. That’s why the 5 percent commission on wins doesn’t make the banker bet a losing bet. All it does is protect the casino’s 1 percent expected profit.

Choose Small Shoe Baccarat Games

If you can find one, a small shoe Baccarat game (using just 6 decks) is preferable to a standard 8 deck shoe. Some online casinos offer small shoe games, and these games also require only a 4 percent commission to the banker on winning banker bets. These two rule changes shrink the house edge to just about 0.5% on banker bets, clearly the best bet in Baccarat and one of the better bets on the casino floor.

Quit When You’re Ahead

Part of managing your Baccarat bankroll is establishing a win goal and a loss limit after which you’ll quit playing. Like any casino game, Baccarat will always take your money in the long run. Because of that, establishing a winning amount that you’re happy with can save you from losing your shirt on what can be a player-friendly game.

Enjoy Yourself

Casino gambling is entertainment. Few entertainment options offer a shot at earning money. Baccarat is supposed to be fun. Play accordingly.

That means tipping the dealer, being pleasant with the casino staff, and making friends with other players at your table. If you play long enough, you’ll get free drinks or even some free food or other perks, and the value of those free items are added to any winnings you make at Baccarat. That’s a great way of winning at the game of Baccarat: enjoy the free stuff the casino offers, make a few friends. Even if you lose money playing the game, if you have fun, you’ll still walk away from the tables a winner.