Baccarat is based on math, just like all gambling games that use a deck or decks of cards. Most baccarat games use eight decks of cards, but the number of decks in play doesn’t change the math.
Playing baccarat in a way that gives you the best chance to win is simple and you don’t really need to know much about math to do it. You’re going to learn the best way to play baccarat in this article about six ways you can use math to improve your chance of winning when you play baccarat.
1 – Baccarat Banker Wager Math
Baccarat games have three main betting options. Some baccarat games have one or more options, but these are always optional side wagers. The three baccarat base options are banker, player, and tie.
In the first three sections of this article, you’re going to learn about each of the three options and what the math says about each of them. This is clearly going to show which option is best.
In baccarat, the best option is clear. The banker wager is always the best baccarat option. Here’s why this is true.
Banker option house edge: 1.06%
Banker option return to player percentage: 98.94%
You can compare these numbers to the numbers in the next two sections to see why you should always bet on the banker.
The banker bet pays a commission on winning wagers. The normal commission is 5%, but occasionally you might find a baccarat table offering a reduced commission.
These tables offer an even better return. The numbers listed above are after the commission is taken. No other baccarat wagers require a commission on winning bets.
2 – Baccarat Player Wager Hand Math
Here are the numbers for the baccarat player wager.
Player option house edge: 1.24%
Player option return to player percentage: 98.76%
The player numbers aren’t bad, but they’re not quite as good as the banker option. The difference isn’t huge, but it does cost you a little every time you make the wrong bet on average.
A trick I use is multiplying the house edge times the total amount of money I risk to get the expected losses.
If you do this for both the banker and player wagers over a large number of bets, you can see how much making the player option costs you.
If you bet $8,000 on player, your expected loss is $99.20.
You might not think you’re risking anywhere close to $8,000 when you play baccarat, but that’s only 800 $10 wagers, 400 $20 wagers, or 80 $100 wagers.
And you can play between 50 and 100 baccarat hands every hour in a live casino, and 100’s every hour when you play online or mobile baccarat.
3 – Baccarat Tie Wager Math
I saved the worst baccarat wager for last. You just saw that the banker and player wagers were close, with the banker being slightly better. But the tie wager isn’t anywhere close to the other two betting options. In fact, it’s worse than almost every other wager available in the casino.
Here are the numbers for the tie bet option:
Tie option house edge: 14.36%
Tie option return to player percentage: 85.64%
To put this in perspective, look at the expected loss if you make the tie wager on $8,000 worth of wagers. $8,000 times 14.36% equals $1,148.80. Yes, that number is correct. You lose over $1,000 more on $8,000 worth of wagers when you make tie bets instead of the banker or player options.
No matter what you do when you play baccarat, never make a bet on the tie. The few times you get lucky and win a tie bet, the payout looks good, but the numbers you just saw prove how bad this betting option is.
If you make the tie bet in baccarat, you’re better off playing a slot machine with a progressive jackpot. And slot machines are always some of the worst games in the casino for house edge and return to player. We prove that in this article about the numbers behind the slot machines.
4 – Bonuses for Mobile and Online Baccarat Play
Online casinos and mobile casinos offer bonuses to entice gamblers to sign up and make a deposit. Most of these bonuses are good for baccarat players, but you have to read the terms to make sure baccarat is one of the games you can play.
These bonuses are the best way to get a bigger bankroll when you play baccarat. It’s easy to find bonuses that double your bankroll, and some of them give you 200% or 300% of your deposit amount.
The only drawback of baccarat bonuses is they make you agree to play a set amount of bets before you can clear the bonus. And if you don’t clear a bonus, you can’t get cash out of the mobile or online casino.
I always read the rules first and then decide if it’s a good bonus or not. And if it’s not a good bonus, there are plenty of other casinos that offer bonuses.
But these types of bonuses are a good way to try the baccarat game at a casino using software you haven’t played before.
5 – Baccarat Compensation Schemes
As you saw in previous sections, baccarat has a low house edge and high return percentage. This makes it one of the top games casinos offer to gamblers. And there’s something else you can do when you play baccarat that can offset the already low edge.
A few online and mobile casinos and the majority of live casinos offer compensation schemes to their players. All you have to do is sign up at the club, whatever it’s called where you play, get a club card, and present it every time you play baccarat.
The casino keeps track of all of your baccarat play, and you earn rewards for your play.
I can’t think of a single good reason not to sign up for compensation when it’s available. You’re planning to play baccarat anyway, so you might as well earn some free stuff while you play.
If you get $50 worth of compensation, even if it’s not in the form of cash, it helps make up for some of the money you might lose playing baccarat.
6 – Baccarat Systems and Edge Sorting
You can find a few systems that are supposed to beat baccarat. But all of these systems promise something that they can’t deliver. Gambling systems of every type are scams. They make money for the people selling the systems and cost you money in payment for the system and in additional losses.
People can learn how to count cards to beat blackjack games, but counting isn’t worth your time when you play baccarat. You can’t get a good enough count early enough in the shoe, and you can’t bet enough when you do get a good count to erase the house edge.
The only advantage play that can work with baccarat is called edge sorting. The problems with edge sorting are that it’s hard to do, and the casinos have almost all replaced the card backs that make edge sorting possible.
The bottom line is that there’s no good way to get an edge or use advantage play at the baccarat table. Your best strategy is to make the smallest wagers that you can and only use the banker wager option. This gives you the best mathematical chance to win.
The most important math lesson you need to learn about baccarat is that there’s only one bet option to make if you want to have the best chance to win. The banker is better than any other options, even with the normal 5% commission. On tables that offer reduced commission, it’s an even better option.
Baccarat systems don’t work. Edge sorting can work, but most casinos are aware of it and make it impossible to use.
When you play baccarat, you should either get compensation or use a baccarat bonus. And if you can use both at the same time, it’s even better. These two things can turn a decent game into a good game.