Baccarat takes getting used to.
First, the outcome of each hand is independent of your decisions. There is literally nothing you can do to increase the odds of winning any given hand. Unlike blackjack, where you can influence things by hitting, standing, and splitting, you have zero control over whether you win or lose a hand in Baccarat.
Second, it employs a unique method of ranking hands to determine the winner. In blackjack, all you have to do is count the face value of your cards, with Jacks, Queens, and Kings counting as 10. For example, if you’re dealt a 4 and and a 5 (i.e. 9) and draw a Queen, you know you have 19. It’s simple.
Baccarat is less intuitive. Only cards 2 through 9 are counted at face value. Face cards have a value of zero and Aces have a value of 1. You’re dealt two cards at the outset. But you don’t simply add them together. You add them and drop the tens place value.
For example, suppose you’re dealt a 7 and a 9, totaling 16. You would then drop the tens place, leaving you with a hand value of 6.
Your goal is to bet on the hand that comes closest to 9, either the player or banker.
A third card is drawn automatically based on the values of the Player’s and Banker’s initial two-card hands. You’ll find a complete chart showing when a third card is drawn at Bovada Casino and Slots.lv.
The rules might sound confusing. As I said, the game takes getting used to. But keep in mind, everything is done for you. The only thing you have to do is decide how to bet – the Player, the Banker, or on a Tie. Everything else happens automatically.
With that in mind, here are my top 10 tips for winning at online Baccarat. While there’s little you can do to influence outcomes on a hand-by-hand basis, there’s a lot you can do to improve your odds of winning over the long run.
Familiarize Yourself With Baccarat Odds
First things first. If you’ve read other articles and tutorials on this site, you know I consider casino game odds to be very important. Can you enjoy playing Baccarat without having a clue regarding the odds or house edge? Absolutely!
But if you want to form realistic expectations about the game, it’s worth recognizing your chances of winning over the long term. And that means noting the following details:
Bet on Banker
- Odds of winning: 45.843%
- House edge: 1.06%
- Odds of winning: 44.615%
- House edge: 1.24%
Bet on a Tie
- Odds of winning: 9.543%
- House edge: 14.36%
These numbers assume a Banker’s tax (also called a “commission”) of 5%, which is standard at most casinos. The odds and house edge will deviate from the above at casinos that charge a different commission.
Do NOT Bet On A Tie
The first thing that’s clear from the above odds is that you should never bet on a tie. It’s a sucker bet. The house has an edge of 14.36%. That’s worse than betting a hard 4 on craps.
So why do so many Baccarat players make this bet? Because it pays 9 to 1. That large a payout is enticing, and for some, even irresistible. The problem is, ties occur in fewer than 1 in 10 hands.
Bottom line: betting on a tie could pay off big. But you’re more likely to waste your bankroll on what professional Baccarat players consider a bad bet.
Bet on the Banker
Besides the amount of your bet, the only decision you need to make is whether to bet the Banker or the Player. (Remember, you don’t want to bet on a tie since the odds of winning that wager are terrible.)
This should be an easy decision. Take another glance at the house edges on the Banker bet and Player bet. The edge on the former is slightly lower than the one on the latter (1.06% vs. 1.24%, respectively).
Assuming a 5% commission (i.e. Banker’s tax), you should bet the Banker. It is statistically the best bet in the game.
If You’re Using a Progressive Betting System, Bet the Player
This advice may seem to contradict what I recommended above. After all, I first advised betting the Banker. Now, I’m advising that you bet the Player.
It’s true that you have a better chance of winning any given hand by betting the Banker than you do by betting the Player. But there are situations where doing the latter is the optimal choice.
Let me explain.
A lot of folks swear by progressive betting systems. The best known of the lot is the Martingale system, which entails doubling the amount of your bet after each loss. The problem with using such a system while betting the Banker is the commission.
Here’s an example…
Suppose you make four losing bets, followed by a fifth bet that wins. For the first four bets, you wager $25, $50, $100, and $200 (doubling your wager after each loss). You bet $400 on the fifth bet.
On the first four bets, you lose $375. With the $400 winning bet, you receive a payout of $380 ($200 less the 5% commission). You walk with a profit of $5.
If you had bet on the Player, you would have been better off. You would have walked with a profit of $25 because you wouldn’t have had to pay a commission.
To sum up, if you’re using a progressive betting system on Baccarat, bet the Player.
Recognize the Flaws of Baccarat Betting Systems
I’m not a fan of betting systems.
Why? Because they don’t work. All of them are inherently flawed.
Whether you’re using the Martingale, Contra D’Alembert, Labouchere, Paroli, or Fibonacci system, none guarantee you’ll win.
There are two types of betting systems. The first type are known as positive progression systems. They advocate increasing your bet each time you win a bet. Others are known as negative progression systems. They recommend increasing your bet with each loss (e.g. the Martingale system).
They’re all hogwash. None of them make you more likely to win at Baccarat, or any casino game for that matter.
Some of these systems CAN have limited value in the context of managing your bankroll. But even that’s questionable. (We’ll talk more about bankroll management in a moment.)
If you’re thinking about using the Martingale or any other betting scheme on Baccarat, don’t. Whatever systems you choose is likely to do more harm than good.
Set a Profit “Goal” For Each Session
Whenever you play Baccarat, you should have in mind the amount of profit at which you’ll stop playing. Commit beforehand that when you reach that figure, you’ll end your playing session.
For example, let’s say you set a goal of $50. After 30 minutes and with a little luck, you finally reach your goal. At that point, walk away from the game.
Having a profit “goal” in place, along with a commitment to quit while you’re ahead, is a form of bankroll management. It locks in your winnings and helps to preserve your cash.
Remember, you can always play a new session tomorrow.
Slow Your Roll
In a way, playing Baccarat is like playing slots. There’s no strategy to use on individual hands. It’s like pulling a slot machine’s arm. After placing your bet, there’s nothing to do but wait for the outcome.
The reason I mention this is because you can literally play hundreds of hands in a single session. I ran a quick test and played 12 hands in 60 seconds. That’s the equivalent of 720 hands in an hour.
The game is almost hypnotic because you’re not required to use your brain. It’s easy to immediately click “Rebet” at the end of each hand. The danger is that you can potentially blow through hundreds of hands, causing your bankroll to slowly erode (thanks to the house’s edge).
The important thing to remember is that you’re in control online. When you play Baccarat at Bovada Casino (my favorite online casino) or Slots.lv (my wife’s favorite), you dictate the pace of the game.
Slow things down. Your bankroll will last longer.
Try Pattern Betting
This tip isn’t designed to improve your long-term odds of winning. Instead, it’s intended to make playing the game more engaging.
There are a number of ways to engage in pattern betting.
For example, try alternate betting. Bet the Player on the first hand, the Banker on the second hand, the Player on the third hand, and so on.
You can also bet according to streaks. For example, bet the Banker until the Player wins three straight hands. Then, bet the Player until the Player loses. When that happens, go back to betting the Banker and wait for another streak.
Here’s another method of pattern betting: bet the Banker, but alter the amount of your wagers according to whether the Banker or Player wins a given hand. For example, if the Banker wins, bet $10 on the next hand. If the Player wins, bet $5 on the next hand.
Again, pattern betting won’t increase your chances of winning. But it’ll make the game more fun to play. It gives you something to do instead of just watching the outcome of each hand while the software does everything for you.
Understand “Commission Rounding”
If you’re going to bet the Banker (and you definitely should), it’s important to realize the house will round up the commission to the nearest quarter. Knowing that, you can make bets that minimize the size of the commission as a percentage of your wagers.
For example, suppose you bet $11 on the Banker. If the Banker’s hand wins, you’d receive a payout of $10.25. You might be thinking, “Wait a second. A 5% commission on $11 is only $0.55. Why is $0.75 being deducted from my winnings?”
The answer is commission rounding. The $0.55 commission was rounded up to the nearest quarter, or $0.75.
That tells you that you should bet in $5 increments ($5, $10, $25, etc.). Otherwise, you’ll pay an extra tax due to the casino rounding up. For example, if you were to bet $1 on the Banker, you’d pay a $0.25 commission, or 25% of your wager, on every winning hand. That’s five times the normal 5% commission!
It is normal for casinos to take a commission on some bets with a very low house edge. This is similar to playing pai gow poker. Different casinos games have high and low house edges. Baccarat is one with a low edge.
Create a Sound Bankroll Management Plan
You’re going to lose more hands than you’ll win at Baccarat. Remember, the house has an edge of 1.06% on the best bet in the game (the Banker bet). There’s no way around it.
That being the case, it’s useful to come up with a strategy for managing your money while playing Baccarat.
I recommend a three-pronged approach.
First, keep your bets small. Stick to $5 if you have a limited bankroll (and plan to bet the Banker). That will allow you to avoid the negative effect of commission rounding as described above. Again, if you bet the Player, you can bet as little as $1 since you won’t pay a commission on winning hands.
Second, set a loss limit. End your playing session if your losses total a predetermined amount – for example, $50.
Third, limit the number of hands you play per session. Commit to walking away after playing a certain number of hands. For example, quit after playing 100 hands, even if you haven’t met your loss limit or profit goal. Take a break and give your brain something else to focus on.
Baccarat is fun to play if you’re looking for a game that requires minimal decision-making and offers a low house edge. It’s also a great way to earn out your online casino bonus. If you’ve never played Baccarat, visit Bovada Casino and Slots.lv to play for free. You’ll receive $1,000 in practice money that you can use to learn the ropes.
While you’re there, be sure to register your accounts and claim your welcome bonuses. That way, you’ll be ready to place real-money bets – some of them with the casino’s money – when the mood strikes.
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