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The Worst Baccarat Advice I’ve Ever Heard

| October 1, 2017 12:00 am PDT
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Baccarat strategy is one of the easiest things to learn.

All you have to do to achieve perfect strategy is bet on the banker hand every time.

You can see this by looking at house edges for the three available baccarat bets:

Banker bet = 1.06% house edge

Player bet = 1.24%

Tie bet = 14.36% (w / 8 to 1 pay outs)

Again, you’ll literally play baccarat like a pro just by wagering on the banker over and over.

This is why it amazes me when people complicate baccarat strategy. I know people complicate the game because they’ve tried offering me terrible advice.

I’ve played enough mini baccarat to have received plenty of bad advice. And here are 7 of the worst strategies that people have pushed on me.

Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #1:

Raise Your Bet when the Banker Keeps Losing

Multiple players have told me to bet big on the banker when the banker has lost several hands in a row. The reason why is because the banker is supposedly “due for a win.”

This line of thinking is steeped in logic, but it’s still misguided. I’ll start with the chances of each baccarat outcome happening:

  • Banker hand wins = 45.85%
  • Player hand wins = 44.62%
  • Tie = 9.53%

The banker and player have roughly equal odds of winning.

Trend bettors may not know the exact statistics on the banker’s and player’s odds. But they know that each hand has around a 50 / 50 chance of winning.

And they think that the law of averages means the banker is more likely to win after several losses.

This makes sense in theory. But it also plays into the gambler’s fallacy, where one believes that they can predict future gambling results based on past outcomes.

In this case, pattern bettors think that the banker has better odds simply because they’re on a losing streak and will eventually win.

But the reality is that the odds don’t change just because the banker loses multiple hands. Instead, they stay exactly the same no matter if the banker is winning or losing.

Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #2:

Bet on the Player when the Banker Keeps Winning

A couple of players have offered me another version of the scenario described above. They advised to bet on the player when the banker continues winning.

As I covered above, trend bettors believe that past results can dictate future outcomes. The same thing applies in this scenario because one thinks that they player is due for a win.

We already discussed how the top baccarat bet is the banker hand. And we dispelled the myth that any hand is due for a win since the odds remain the same no matter what.

By taking the player in this situation, you’re merely lowering your chances of winning (1.24%). You need to stick with the banker bet if you want the best possible chance to win.

Of course, the whole reason for playing baccarat is to have fun.

And if switching between the player and banker bets is fun for you, then by all means keep doing it. I’ve read where this is a common practice.

You’re only giving up 0.18% in the house edge department when betting on the player over the banker.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the player’s chances of winning are better just because their losing streak will eventually end.

Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #3:

Play No Commission Baccarat

Given that the banker hand has a slightly better chance of beating the player hand, casinos take a 5% commission from winning banker wagers.

This bet still offers a lower house edge (1.06%) even with the 5% commission taken out. But it mostly evens the odds up and helps the casino maintain a reasonable house advantage.

If you were to eliminate the commission altogether, though, you’d suddenly have an edge over the house.

This is why no commission baccarat is seems so attractive because it offers the illusion of improved odds. In fact, I had a player once tell me that the only reason he was playing at my table is because the no commission tables were full.

True to the name, commission free baccarat doesn’t take a commission from banker wins. Instead, it only pays 50% on any banker win where the banker has six points.

This seems like a harmless rule caveat that won’t hurt your chances too much. But it does have an impact because the banker beats the player with a six 5.39% of a time.

Any no commission baccarat with this rule features a 1.46% house edge on banker bets.

This means that the player hand is actually the most attractive in this situation. It also means that you’re better off playing at regular baccarat tables that take out 5% commissions.

Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #4:

Make Tie Bets when the Payoff is 9 to 1

One of the main baccarat tips is to avoid the tie bet because it has a 14.36% house edge. This makes it one of the worst wagers in all of gambling.

The tie bet normally pays 8 to 1 when you win. And this is when the house edge is 14.36%.

But some casinos offer a 9 to 1 payout on tie bets to make it more attractive.

One time I was at a baccarat table and somebody started talking about how everybody should make the tie wager because the payouts were 9 to 1. They further explained how the payouts are normally 8 to 1.

While this much is true, their advice on how everybody should be betting on ties wasn’t great.

9 to 1 payouts lower the tie bet house edge from 14.36% to 4.84%. This is a significant drop, but it’s still now an attractive wager.

If big payouts are what you’re after, then you’re better off wagering 9x as much on a banker bet.

Yes, you’re risking more money to win a 1 to 1 payout. But you’re also facing a house edge that’s over 4x smaller.

Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #5:

Use the Martingale System

One of the most famous betting systems is the Martingale. And I’ve noticed plenty of baccarat players using this strategy over the years.

I once made the mistake of asking a Martingale user next to me if the system works for him. He then started lecturing me about how I should be using it too.

Originating in 18th century France, the Martingale sees you double your bet following every loss. You make the minimum bet as long as you’re winning.

The Martingale is commonly used on even money bets like baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette, where you have almost a 50% chance of winning every time.

The idea is that you can’t lose for too many times in a row when odds are this good. As long as everything goes according to plan, you always win back losses along with a small profit.

  • You bet $10 and lose.
  • Your next bet is $20; you again lose.
  • Your third bet is $40; you win this time.
  • You’ve earned back your losses along with a $10 profit.
  • Now you return back to the base bet of $10.

You may have read before that no betting system can overcome the long term house edge. And this is certainly true.

But the Martingale is the only system that theoretically works. As long as you have infinite money and no table limits, then you’d win back your money plus small profits every time.

But the problem is that casinos limit maximum bets on tables. And long losing streaks happen, meaning you eventually won’t be able to double your next bet.

Let’s look at an example using a table with a $10 minimum bet and a $2,000 max:

  • You bet $10 and lose.
  • You bet $20 and lose.
  • You bet $40 and lose.
  • You bet $80 and lose.
  • You bet $160 and lose.
  • You bet $320 and lose.
  • You bet $640 and lose.
  • You bet $1,280 and lose.

At this point, you can only wager the $2,000 table maximum. Even if you win the ninth bet, you’ll have lost $560 overall.

The odds of losing 8 straight banker bets are very low. But it can happen.

And when you suffer through a lengthy losing streak, then all of your profits from previous Martingale successes are wiped out. I don’t suggest using this strategy, especially when you can’t absorb the losses.

Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #6:

Count Cards to Gain an Advantage

A baccarat player sitting next to me once started discussing the viability of baccarat card counting. He theorized that players can gain an advantage over the house since baccarat is also dealt from a shoe.

The player wasn’t exactly giving me advice. But he did seem rather gung ho to start learning in the near future.

The truth is that they’re indeed right about baccarat giving you an edge over the house. However, the problem is that this edge is so small that it’s not even worth pursuing.

I’m talking an hourly profit worth pennies – and this is only if you keep an accurate count and spread your bets when necessary.

Noted gambling authors from Ed Thorp to James Grosjean have admonished baccarat card counting as a pointless pursuit.

Here are a few problems with counting in baccarat:

  • Baccarat doesn’t have any cards that give the player or banker a huge advantage.
  • Most blackjack players count in games with lower house edges than baccarat.
  • Baccarat games are normally dealt from an 8 deck shoe, meaning you need a lot of deck penetration to win.
  • Maybe you’re interested in learning baccarat counting for fun so that you can gain a small edge or break even. But I suggest sitting back and enjoying the game instead because it already has a low house edge.

    Worst Piece of Baccarat Advice #7:

    Bet More when the Pit Boss is Around for More Comps

    One more piece of bad baccarat advice that I’ve been given is to bet more when pit bosses are around. I’ve heard the same thing from fellow blackjack and roulette players.

    The logic is that the pit boss will see you betting more and shower you with comps afterward.

    This advice can occasionally work, making it semi reasonable. But it usually doesn’t work and leaves you stranded with bigger bets that you’d like.

    • You’re betting $25 at a mini baccarat table.
    • You see the pit boss making rounds and closing in on your table.
    • You increase your bets to $150 to make the pit boss think you’re a big player.
    • They stick around for five hands.
    • You’ve now bet $750 over the course of five rounds.
    • This is $625 more than you’d normally wager over five hands.

    Again, keep in mind that the pit boss probably won’t be fooled. This is especially the case if they make a surprise trip by your table and see that you’re only wagering $25 per hand.

    Even if the pit boss is prepared to rate you as a $150 per hand player, the dealer may tell on you.

    In the end, you take far more risk by increasing your bets just to get a few more comps than you stand to gain. This is why I suggest that you avoid betting more than you’re comfortable with.

Conclusion

Like I said at the beginning, baccarat is a simple game that doesn’t force you to think much. All you need to do is make the banker bet to achieve perfect strategy.

Anything that you do beyond this should be purely for fun.

This includes pattern betting, commission free baccarat, card counting, and betting on the player when you feel like it.

A few obsoletes that I suggest you always following include:

  • Avoid the tie bet – both 8 to 1 and 9 to 1 payouts.
  • Don’t use the Martingale.
  • Don’t make larger bets than you’re comfortable with just for comps.

The tie bet is never a good idea, even if you’re getting the more favorable 9 to 1 pay out. And the Martingale is a terrible idea because you’ll eventually go on a really long losing streak.

Baccarat already gives you a near 50 / 50 shot at beating the house. This means that you sit back, relax, and still have a solid chance to beat the casino in any session.

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