Baccarat is a classic game of chance, and that’s what makes it so much fun to play. Step up to the table and make a decision; will you bet on the banker, the player or a draw?
Once you place a bet, you cannot change the outcome of the game because you are licensed according to predetermined rules – you cannot choose. However, this does not mean that you cannot manage your money and ensure that you get to the online baccarat tables with the best odds.
We interviewed Baccarat expert Professor Elliott Jacobson shortly after he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 World Game Conservancy Conference in Las Vegas, where he gave us tips on how to handle the game.
What tips would you give to a new Baccarat player at the table for the first time?
The most important thing is to understand all the minor rule variations that can occur. There are several variations of baccarat. There is the regular version of Baccarat, which charges a 5% commission on the dealer’s bets. Then there is the so-called EZ Baccarat, where if the dealer draws three winning 7’s and you bet on the dealer, that’s a push.
Then there is another variation where if the house wins by 6 and you bet on the house, the odds are 1 to 2 – half the odds. So usually, as someone who is committed to making players lose as little as possible, my advice is to bet as little as possible on the bets with the smallest edge in the casino, because everything is a loss. You always lose, so who wants to lose money?
So, bet on the bet with the smallest house edge, which could be either the house or the player, depending on the variant. Know the rules, know the house edge, know which bet has the smallest edge, and stick to it.
What is the best way to play Baccarat?
By far the best variant is EZ Baccarat, in which the dealer wins an all-in bet on a three-card 7. Normally players bet with a 1.24% casino edge; when the dealer bets, you get anywhere from 1.02% to 1.43%, depending on the variant. In the EZ Baccarat variant, this is a 1.02% advantage on the dealer’s side, so if you can find this and avoid the side bets, which are the temptation of the variant, it will be the best game.
Is there an optimal game style or strategy (e.g. blackjack)?
Yes, the idea of the basic strategy is to minimize losses.
If you talk about the basic strategy of blackjack, the strategy assumes that you have no additional information – all you know is the two cards you hold and the cards you draw along the way, as well as the dealer’s upcard. Thus, the loss minimization strategy means reducing the house advantage to the smallest possible amount.
In baccarat, you don’t make any decisions other than bets – that’s the only strategy that works for you in the game. Adopting a loss minimization strategy means always betting on the side of the casino with the least advantage.
Simply put, betting as little as possible on the bets with the smallest edge in the casino – that’s the end of the baccarat story.
Does card counting work in Baccarat?
The way I measure it is by comparing it to blackjack. Let’s say you bet $100 at blackjack as your absolute maximum bet, and you play 100 hands as a count. Let’s say we’re playing a shoe game, so when that number is very juicy and high, you have a maximum bet of $100. It turns out that for every 100 hands played in a shoe game, you’ll probably make around $20 to $25 in profit.
Let’s compare it to baccarat. Yes, you can make a card count on either the dealer or the player bets. There’s a card counting system there, and I’ve studied it and simulated billions of shoes with this card counting system, so I know exactly how much it’s worth. In baccarat, a bet of up to $1,000 gives you $0.90 per 100 hands, so you bet ten times as much to earn about a 20th of your earnings.
Not only that, but if you just sit on your hands and wait for the opportunity when the shoe is rich enough for you to get an advantage, then you will bet once or twice every eight hours.
So, the perfect baccarat card counter would put a stack of $1,000 chips in front of him, wait patiently until the count was good enough, and then every three, four, or five hours, he would take out a $1,000 bet. In the final analysis, what is he going to do? He’ll probably make enough money to buy a donut and a cup of coffee and thus get the expected profit.
Does it depend on the rules of the baccarat draw – because there are very strict rules about when cards are awarded?
Not really – it’s really because there are no good or bad cards. In blackjack, if you think of a face or an ace, these are very good cards because if you get a blackjack, you get a 3 to 2 payoff, but if the dealer gets a blackjack, he only takes your money.
In baccarat, there is no card that makes you say this is a very good card for the dealer or this is a very good card for the player. Neither side has a good hand. So that’s the real point: it’s not the draw rule, it’s the fact that everything in the game is so symmetrical that there’s no good or bad for either side in any particular way.
Can you tell us why players often bet on certain patterns in baccarat?
Baccarat is more susceptible to the mythological mindset than any other casino game. The casino wants individual players to believe that they can gain some meaning or depth by reading patterns or stripes that simply aren’t there.
There is something called information: information is valuable, it means knowing where a particular card is, or sorting the table edges so you can identify high and low cards, or using a calculator to gain an advantage. These are tangible pieces of information.
If you look at a blackjack table, you won’t see them posting a card to tell you what the count is, or how many aces and face cards are left in the shoe, because that’s information you can use to beat the game.
Therefore, one way to make sure that there is no useful information on the board is to use them in entertainment cities. They use them for two specific reasons: first, they speed up the game compared to manual scoring, which is the old-fashioned way of scoring. By not letting people record their bets, they can get more decisions per hour, and each decision is revenue for the casino.
The second is that they show patterns and stripes and various images that the player can believe are real. The more you can convince players that something is not happening – continuously – that it is actually happening and predict it into the future, the more likely they are to bet based on this non-information. Any increase in the size of a bet is an increase in the casino’s profits.
This is something that is more inherent in Baccarat than any other game. I think it is important that we as individuals understand the difference between meaningless noise and what is information. We need to know the difference between illusory patterns and actual information that will give us an advantage or allow us to make the right decision.
One of the best tips for winning at baccarat is to consider the casino advantage. When betting on a draw, the Casino has a 14.4% advantage. On the other hand, the house bet has a 1.06% advantage, while the player bet has a 1.36% house advantage. There is also a 5% commission on bookmaker bets.
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