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There are three forms of baccarat that are currently played around the world. Baccarat banque, chemin de fer and punto banco. Punto baccarat is by far the most popular, to such a degree that when gamblers speak of playing baccarat at the casino they will more often than not be referring to punto banco, especially if they are used to playing their baccarat online. This strategy and odds article will focus on the punto banco form of the game.

What baccarat really boils down to is a rather sophisticated and suave looking way to bet on what is effectively the toss of a coin. There are in fact three betting options available to the punter, namely a bet on the player to win, a bet on the banker to win and a bet on the tie. Attempting to develop a successful strategy for wagering on the outcome of the toss of a fair coin is rather difficult. Such is the case with baccarat, nevertheless there are a few pointers that will improve the outcome for a player over time.

Don’t Bet On The Tie: Bet On The Banker

Bets on the player and banker options both pay even money, however any banker wins are often subject to a deduction by the casino which is usually 5% as standard, although some casinos offer reduced commission games. This may initially make the player bet seem like the better option. However when we look at the return to player percentage, this turns out not to be the case.

Using the example of the commonly used eight deck shoe, a gambler betting on the player to win can expect to lose 1.24% of his total stakes over time. The total loss when betting the dealer to win is 1.06%. Only a small difference, but that 1.06% figure is based upon the casino charging 5% on banker wins. Better deals are available if you shop around. Common offerings are a 4% charge which reduces the edge to 0.6%, 3% which knocks it down to 0.14% and 2.75% which results in an edge of just 0.026% in favour of the casino. 0% baccarat is not unheard of but doesn’t tend to last very long as in this case the odds are in fact in favour of the player to the tune of a very tasty 1.24%. You should always look around for the best deal available but whenever the tax on winning banker bets is 5% or lower, you will always be better off betting the banker option.

The third betting option of the tie should be avoided at all costs. Its odds of 8/1 can initially seem attractive when compared to the player and banker bets. Don’t be sucked in though, the edge against the player for this bet works out at a most unfavourable 14.36%. Some casinos do offer slightly better odds of 9/1 for the tie but even then the edge is 4.84% for an eight deck shoe. That’s significantly better than 14.36% but still substantially worse than either the player or banker bets and a lot worse than many other casino table games.

Avoid The Side Bets

Many casinos, both real world and online, have sought to spice up the game through the inclusion of side bets. The most common of these is a bet on the player or banker to be dealt a pair in their initial two card hand. This generally pays an enticing 11/1. Again though, this is best avoided as the edge in the casino’s favour is a whopping 10.36% and whilst the odd 11/1 win might appeal, in the long term you’re sure to lose.

Another bet sometimes offered is a long shot option of betting on a hand resulting in a tie of a specific total. E.g. both the player and banker hands resulting in a total of seven. The odds on these bets range from 45/1 for a tie on 6 or 7 all the way up to 225/1 for a tie on 2. Casual players are often tempted by these lucrative odds but the edge ranges from 6.39% to 12.45% and so is yet another baccarat bet best left well alone.

Card Counting in Baccarat

As baccarat has some similarities with the famous card counting game of blackjack, efforts have been made to develop a similarly successful strategy of tracking successive deals. The aim being to switch the odds in the player’s favour. It turns out there is a method that can give the player an edge. Sadly the system is completely unworkable. Firstly the player is required to memorise point values for each of the cards dealt, next they must keep three running counts in their head which they must continually divide by the number of cards remaining in the deck. Having done this they must then wait and only bet when the deck is in their favour, unfortunately this turns out to be only once in every 475 hands or so! For all this work a gambler is rewarded with an edge of just 0.01% in his favour, effectively rendering the notion of card counting in baccarat rather pointless, although many players still like to keep track of what hands have been drawn previously.

Keep it Simple

As often proves to be the case with casino games it is best to keep it simple in baccarat. Ignore all exotic bets and the tie and stick to betting on the banker, although in truth not much is lost in siding with the player.

As with games such as roulette, many will tout staking systems such as doubling down or meticulously tracking the results and waiting for a pattern to emerge, as possible ways to improve your results. Always ignore such methods and remember that as with the roulette wheel, the cards have no memory and each deal is an independent event much like the tossing of a coin. Never believe anyone offering up an infallible baccarat “system” – especially if they are asking money for it.