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7 Amazing Baccarat Secrets No One Tells You About

By Randy Ray in Baccarat
| February 16, 2020 7:30 am PDT
7 Amazing Baccarat Secrets

Baccarat boasts a reputation as one of the casino’s most mysterious and secretive games, and for good reason.

A game of chance derived from French and Italian origins, baccarat is nonetheless beloved by members of the Asian community. In every casino in this country, and all over the world, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean gamblers flock to the baccarat tables to sweat every turn of the cards.

And unlike every other card game in the casino, high-stakes baccarat allows players to bend the cards while they savor the sweat. Known as the “squeeze,” slowly bending the third card dealt out to either hand is a time-honored ritual among baccarat regulars.

By taking their time to bend the decisive third card, baccarat players squeeze out every bit of anticipation before flipping their fate onto the felt with a flourish.

This unique gameplay element alone leaves folks who are unaccustomed to baccarat confused, and also intrigued. Throw in the typical placement of “big” baccarat tables within secluded high-limit parlors, and this game is definitely unlike any other.

This page revealed seven amazing baccarat secrets nobody bothered to tell you about.

1 – Baccarat Winners Are Beholden to Sound Strategy

Ask a handful of experienced gamblers about how to play baccarat the right way, and you’ll inevitably catch a few odd looks and shakes of the head.

For many players, the idea of applying skill and strategy to baccarat is a misnomer, simply because the game stands out as a pure game of chance.

Offering players no partial information decision making, a la blackjack or video poker, baccarat relies on random chance alone to determine whether the banker or player hand will wind up reaching the closest total to nine.

But baccarat differs from another famously popular game of chance, roulette, in one crucial way.

While wheel spinners have several betting options to choose from, the game’s probability to payout ratios ensure that the house edge on every possible roulette wager remains identical across the board.

It doesn’t matter if you bet on red or black, odd or even, single numbers, or a four-number “corner.” In each and every case, you’ll face a house edge of 2.70% on European single-zero wheels and 5.26% on American double-zero wheels.

This standardization completely removes strategy from the equation for roulette players, turning the affair into a mere guessing game.

On its face, roulette would seem quite similar, challenging players to nothing more difficult than guessing whether banker or player will wind up getting closer to nine in the end.

In reality though, a design element of baccarat gameplay which dictates that the banker hand always decides on its third-card draw last changes everything.

With the banker hand always “acting” last, it holds a slight statistical advantage over the player hand when assessed in long-run terms as you can see in the table below.

Baccarat Base Bets by Win Probability
BET WIN PROBABILITY
Banker 45.86%
Player 44.63%

Blessed with an additional 1.23% of win probability on every deal, the banker hand always offers bettors slightly improved odds when compared to the player hand.

That bears out in the two hands’ respective house edge rates, too.

Baccarat Base Bets by House Edge
BET HOUSE EDGE
Banker 1.06%
Player 1.24%

Knowing these mathematical facts, a baccarat player attempting to apply perfect strategy need do nothing more than bet on the banker every time out. Of course, you might grow bored making the same wager over and over again without interruption, but doing so gives you the highest expected return on your money.

2 – Betting on the Tie Is One of the Worst Gambles

Every so often, at the baccarat table, you’ll hear a happy winner start whopping it up more loudly than usual.

These players aren’t celebrating yet another even money payout though, they’re stacking a mountain of chips after scoring an 8 to 1 return on the tie bet.

In baccarat, the fact that neither hand can go “bust” by exceeding a certain total means the banker and player will occasionally end up tied. This is better known as a “stalemate” to baccarat enthusiasts. While it only happens on 9.51% of deals, many players love to chase the longshot by backing the tie bet.

Unfortunately, with true odds of right around 10 to 1, and payout odds of only 8 to 1, something just doesn’t add up. That ratio creates a house edge of 14.36%, and no, I didn’t miss a decimal place there…

You read the number correctly, as the tie bet in baccarat ranks as one of the worst wagers ever offered in the casino. To see just how bad betting the tie really is, check out the table below to compare a handful of the most infamous “sucker” bets ever rolled out.

Worst Bets in Casino Gambling (by House Edge)
GAME BET HOUSE EDGE
Big Six Wheel Joker/Logo 24.07%
Big Six Wheel $5 22.22%
Casino War Bet on Tie 18.65%
Michael_Phelps 28 Swimming
Craps Any Seven 16.67%
Slot Machines 2% – 15%
Baccarat Tie 14.36%
Craps 2, 12, & All Hard Hops 13.89%
Craps Any Craps; Hard 4, 10 11.11%
Big Six Wheel $1 11.11%
Pick ’em Poker 0% – 10%
Craps Big 6, 8; Hard 6, 8 9.09%
Three Card Poker Pair Plus Side Bet 7.28%
Wild Hold’em Fold’em 6.86%
Craps Place 4,10 6.67%
Roulette Double Zero 5.26%
Craps Field (2:1 on 12) 5.56%
Caribbean Stud Poker 5.22%

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3 – Scoreboard Towers Are to Trick Superstitious Players

Spend any amount of time lingering around the baccarat table, and you’ll inevitably hear what sounds like a bedtime story being told.

The “Big Eyed Boy” heads down the “Big Road,” where he meets a “Cockroach Pig” traveling up from the “Small Road.”

These aren’t the beginnings of a bad fairy tale though, their colloquial names for the scoreboard systems used by superstitious baccarat players. For an in-depth explainer on baccarat scoreboards, head here to brush up on the basics.

But in a nutshell, many baccarat players believe that previous results can be used to predict how future hands will fall. By tracking various patterns and streaks from prior banker and player wins, these players hope to divine insight into which hand will win on the next deal.

That’s all poppycock, of course, as previous outcomes have no impact on completely independent and random events in the future. Nonetheless, baccarat regulars love their scoreboards, so you’ll never fail to see somebody scribbling info down and anxiously scanning the figures flashing overhead.

4 – Baccarat Is a Big Moneymaker for the Casino Industry

In 2018 alone, casinos in Nevada hauled in more than a billion dollars on baccarat.

That puts baccarat in the upper echelon of casino industry favorites, as shown by the annual win data compiled by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB).

Nevada Casino Net Win in 2018 (by Game)
GAME 2018 WIN
Penny slots $3.3 billion
Baccarat $1.2 billion
Blackjack $1.1 billion
Craps $386.4 million
Roulette $384.1 million
Sportsbook $301.0 million

5 – One Player Won Over $12 Million in a Baccarat Tournament

In the casino world, tournament play is largely reserved for the poker room, where players pony up cash buy-ins for tourney chips before competing for an escalating prize pool.

Tournaments can also occasionally be found amongst blackjack players and slot spinners too, but these are far less common. It’s one game that doesn’t seem to lend itself to the tournament format, but nobody told Chinese card sharp Lin Haisan.

Back in March of 2015, while attending the World Series Baccarat Championship at the Sheraton Macao Hotel, the Hong Kong native beat out all comers in a one-of-a-king baccarat tournament. As a reward, Haisan was awarded a massive cash prize of $12,890,500, establishing a new Guinness Book of Records mark for largest baccarat payout ever won.

6 – Macau’s Casinos View Baccarat Like Vegas Views Slots

If you thought the billion-dollar win from baccarat in Nevada was big news, wait ‘til you hear about what’s happening in Macau.

The Chinese-controlled Asian gambling mecca has 40 casino resorts operating within a condensed metropolitan area.

And in 2017, those casinos generated $33.2 billion in total win, with a whopping 88% ($29.2 billion) derived from baccarat alone.

7 – Phil Ivey Used Edge Sorting to Win $20 Million

This tale is a wild one, but a few years back, poker superstar Phil Ivey and his partner discovered a way to use defects on the back of playing cards to their advantage.

Known as “edge-sorting,” this trick enabled them to win $10 million apiece from two major casinos during whirlwind high-stakes baccarat sessions.

Ivey ended up in a legal battle as he was accused of cheating.

Conclusion

Baccarat’s air of mystery is undeniable, and it undoubtedly plays a role in making the game one of the most popular casino gambles on the planet.

But now that you’ve come this far, learning about the seven baccarat secrets listed above should shine a new light on this centuries-old game of chance.

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