Baccarat is one of the easiest casino games you can play and it has a house edge lower than most other games, including slot machines, craps, roulette, and almost every table game other than blackjack.
But you can’t just sit down and start playing if you want to play like a professional gambler. If you don’t play the right way, you give the casino a higher edge than you need to. If you want to play baccarat like a pro, keep reading to learn four things you need to do.
After you learn more about the four ways to play baccarat like a pro, you may want start playing online right away. Our website has great recommendations on the best US casino sites.
1 – Pick the Right Baccarat Table
Most casino players who play baccarat are actually playing mini baccarat or midi baccarat. These two variations are basically the same game. In mini and midi baccarat, you play at a table roughly the same size as a blackjack table and the casino provides a dealer who takes care of everything, much like when you play blackjack or other table games.
Mini and midi baccarat is easy to play, because all you have to do is choose which of the three available wagers to make and how much you want to risk. The dealer takes care of everything else.
Traditional baccarat is played on a larger table, and in most games, the opportunity to deal is passed around the table. The casino still has personnel running the table, but the players each have more opportunities to be involved in the game.
At the end of the day, all three baccarat versions are the same as far as your chance to win.
Why does it matter what variation you pick to play in the casino?
The best table for you depends on your overall goals and how much you bet on average. Because all baccarat tables have a built in house edge, the more you play the faster you lose. This means that the slowest table is usually the best table, because you don’t play as many hands per hour as you do when you play at a fast table.
The slowest baccarat tables are usually the traditional tables. The problem is that most traditional baccarat tables are in high limit rooms or areas, and they have higher betting minimums and limits than the midi and mini baccarat tables.
Traditional baccarat is slower than mini and midi baccarat because the players take turns in the dealing process. This adds a little extra time on each hand. But this is only valuable to you if you already play for higher stakes. It’s not worth it to bet more just to play at a slower table.
Here’s an example using both a traditional baccarat table and a mini baccarat table.
For this example, the minimum bet at the mini baccarat tables is $10 and the minimum at the traditional table is $20. At the mini baccarat table, you play 80 hands every hour and you play 60 hands an hour at the traditional table.
The casino house edge on the banker bet is 1.06%, so you can determine the average loss every hour based on the amount you bet and the number of hands you play every hour. To determine the average hourly loss, you multiply the amount you bet on each hand times the number of hands you play per hour times the house edge.
Mini baccarat table: $10 x 80 x 1.06% = $8.48
Traditional baccarat table: $20 x 60 x 1.06% = $12.72
Even though you play fewer hands every hour at the traditional baccarat table, you still lose more every hour because of the higher average wager amount.
2 – Bet the Banker
Each of the three types of baccarat tables listed in the last section offer the same three betting options. You can bet on a tie, the player hand, or the dealer hand. When you make a wager on the dealer hand, you pay a 5% commission when you win.
The house edge is different for each of the three wager options, with the tie bet being the worst and the banker bet being the lowest.
A bet on the player hand holds a house edge of 1.24%. As you learned in the previous section, the banker bet has the lowest house edge of 1.06%. The 1.06% is the edge after the casino takes their 5% commission, so it’s the only bet you should ever make playing baccarat.
3 – Know the Expectation of Baccarat
As you learned in the last section, the house edge for the banker bet is 1.06%. But do you understand what this means when it comes to your expected results at the baccarat table?
The first thing that it means is in the long run, you’re going to lose more than you win unless you can change the game in some way. In the next section, you’re going to learn a few things you can do to alter your results a little bit, but there’s really not a good way to eliminate the overall edge the casino holds in baccarat.
A house edge of 1.06% is lower than most games offered in the casino, so it’s a good choice when you want a simple game that you can play to stretch your money and manage your bankroll. But it’s still not a game you can win. Here’s how to use the house edge to determine what you can expect in real numbers playing baccarat.
The house edge is the average percentage of every bet that the casino keeps for revenue. It’s based on the overall amount wagered at the game over a long period of time. In the short term, the actual results fluctuate, but over a large sample size, the numbers get closer and closer to the expectation.
If you wager $100,000 on the banker bet playing baccarat, over time, your expected loss is $1,060. To determine your expected loss, multiply the house edge of 1.06% times the total amount you risk.
The actual results for any hand or playing session don’t change the expectation. When you play a single hand of baccarat, you either win or lose. If you bet $20 on the banker, you either lose the entire $20 or you win and get back your $20 and a win of $19.
The reason you only get back $19 on a $20 bet is because of the 5% commission on the banker wager. But the 1.06% house edge already has the commission figured in, so it doesn’t change the edge.
Your expected loss on a $20 wager is just over 21 cents. The actual number is 21.2 cents, or .212.
Both the long term example using $100,000 and the single hand example are somewhat useful, but I find it’s more helpful to look at your expected loss per hour playing baccarat. You can plug in the actual amount you bet and the number of hands you play every hour to get the expected loss number for the way you play once you see the formula in action.
If you bet $20 per hand and play 50 hands every hour, here’s how to determine your expected loss every hour.
$20 per hand times 50 hands every hour is $1,000. $1,000 times the house edge of 1.06% is $10.60. On average, you’re going to lose $10.60 every hour you play. This is a realistic representation of playing baccarat live.
If you play baccarat online, you can play many more hands per hour. It’s possible to play 400 or more hands per hour online, but you control how fast the game plays online, so I’m going to use 200 hands per hour in an example.
200 hands per hour at $10 per hand is a total of $2,000 wagered. $2,000 times the house edge of 1.06% is $21.20. You can expect to lose $21.20 per hour on average in this scenario.
4 – Comps and Online Bonuses
The only thing you can do to keep the house edge as low as possible playing baccarat is to always bet on the banker hand. But there are two other things you can do to help offset your losses. Anything you can do to offset your losses basically works the same as reducing the house edge.
The first thing you can do is find online casino bonuses for online baccarat play. All of the online casinos listed on this site offer bonuses, and this site never recommends a casino where I wouldn’t play with my own money.
When you find a good baccarat bonus, it increases your bankroll, which lets you play longer and have a better chance to hit a winning streak.
When you play baccarat in a land-based casino, you need to sign up for the player’s club. As a member of the player’s club you earn comps for your baccarat play. The level and value of comps you receive depend on how much you gamble and at what stakes. But even if you only earn a free meal from time to time, it saves you money.
If you want to play baccarat like a pro, you need to make sure you’re playing at the right table. Only bet on the banker hand and understand your expected results before you play. The final tip is to find a good online bonus and/or sign up for the player’s club and earn comps.