Editorial

Can Baccarat be Beaten with Strategy?

Baccarat is one of those card games that attract people to it for reasons of its simplicity, ease of learning and its adoption by the aristocratic high class, high roller gamblers.

Because of its simplicity, baccarat leaves very little to the skill of the player to gain any kind of advantage over the house. However, that minor detail hasn’t prevented some of the more mindful and determined gamblers from devising strategies for trying to influence the game’s outcome in their favour. Can baccarat be beaten with strategy? Let’s look at some of the thinking behind the strategies that exist and their effectiveness or otherwise.

First of all, the game itself has been surrounded in a shroud of high society glamour due to its situation in casinos. The baccarat tables are usually sectioned off from the main gambling hall which gives the appearance of keeping them exclusive. Those on the outside have understandably viewed the game as one with incredibly high stakes and set aside for the likes of the very rich, affluent and well to do guests. In reality, the stakes are not necessarily high and anyone can join in as baccarat is one of the easiest card games to learn and play.    

One of the most favoured features of baccarat amongst serious gamblers is the fact that the game carries very good odds that are not adversely affected by a house edge. These odds will vary only very slightly depending upon the number of decks used, with a single deck shoe favouring the player slightly more than an eight deck shoe. According to the game rules, the probabilities are slightly in favour of the banker winning (50.68%) and slightly less for the player winning (49.32%) as long as there isn’t a tie.

At first glance, these odds may seem like the house can be consistently beaten by just betting on the bank, but any player advantage is wiped out by an additional “fee” in the form of a 4-5% commission that must accompany any bet on the bank. But this doesn’t stop those that believe in working a system to try to gain any advantage over the probabilities in order to win.

The first thing to remember when trying any strategy is that baccarat is purely a game of chance. Just as the outcome of a spin of the roulette wheel cannot be predicted, nor the roll of the dice in craps, neither can the cards that create the outcome of a game in baccarat be second guessed. Despite this drawback, there are, however some ways to improve your chances of winning at the game.

The most obvious strategy to increase your chances of winning at baccarat is to thoroughly familiarise yourself with all the rules of the game as well as all of the card combinations that form the value of each hand. This will ensure you do not throw money away by not knowing what you are doing.

The next strategy is to be very strict when it comes to money management. By looking at the long term game and the odds that are given, you can see that statistically you must lose over time. Sometimes though, you can hit a lucky streak and have a string of several wins in a row. Then it comes down to knowing when to quit. A good place to do that is when you are ahead. This is infinitely preferable to winning big but continuing to play in the hope of finding another winning streak to add to the first. It just doesn’t happen. Often big winners will eventually plough their winnings back into the game and end the session well down for not knowing when to quit.

Counting the cards, as can be done with some success in blackjack, is of little or no use in baccarat, as there is no facility to increase your bet in mid play as there is in blackjack. Also, used cards are returned to the shoe in baccarat, further negating any card counting strategy.

The often promoted strategy of following player or banker winning streaks has many variations and there are some who claim great success with them, but they can become unnecessarily complex and difficult to work for the small if any advantage they may provide.

Choosing to bet on either banker or player and sticking with your choice seems to be one of the best strategies as either bet provides good odds. Betting on a tie may seem attractive with a higher payout, but with a house edge of anywhere between 8% and 14%, it really is a bad bet.

All in all, there are really no sound strategies that will help you beat the house at baccarat, but you can minimise losses by following common sense and sticking it out as long as your funds hold up in the hope of hitting a good streak, then quitting while you are ahead.

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