Baccarat is one of the simplest games to play in the casino. You only have three basic choices when making a bet, including the player side, banker side, or both hands tying.
Many gamblers are satisfied with this simplistic setup. However, other baccarat fans crave more betting options.
The same gamblers appreciate when baccarat games feature side bets. The latter offers a chance to win bigger prizes than standard wagers.
The downside, though, is that side bets also carry higher house edges. Therefore, you may wonder if it’s worth wasting your time with baccarat side bets.
This guide discusses many of the side wagers that are available in this game. It also covers whether or not you should ultimately consider these bets.
What Are Some of the Baccarat Side Bets?
Baccarat offers well over a dozen wagers. I won’t get into every exotic bet that’s available in this game, but you can see some common ones that are found in land-based and real money online casinos below.
All Black or All Red: House Edge = 6.53% (All Black) or 14% (All Red)
You bet on whether the player hand will contain all black cards (clubs and spades) or all red cards (diamonds and hearts). The all black wager typically offers a 24:1 payout, while the all red bet normally delivers a 22:1 payout.
Bellagio Match: House Edge = 5.27% (Player) and 8.57% (Banker)
You wager on if the banker or player will get a three of a kind (e.g. three jacks). This bet pays 68:1 if the banker has a three of a kind and 75:1 when the player holds this hand.
Dragon Bonus: House Edge = 2.65% (Player) and 9.37% (Banker)
You’re betting that the player or banker will win with an 8 or 9 (a.k.a. natural) by a certain point margin. The banker or player must win by the given point total for your wager to be successful.
You stand to win more money when betting on higher margins of victory. Here are the available wagers and typical payouts with the Dragon Bonus (same for player & banker):
- 9 points (margin of victory) = 30:1 payout
- 8 points = 10:1
- 7 points = 6:1
- 6 points = 4:1
- 5 points = 2:1
- 4 points = 1:1
- 3 points or less = Loss
Dragon 7: House Edge = 7.61%
This wager revolves around the banker winning with a three-card hand that equals 7 points (e.g. 2 + 3 + 2 = 7). You’ll win 40:1 on your original bet when successful with Dragon 7.
Lucky Bonus: House Edge = 2.34%
Lucky Bonus (a.k.a. Super 6) is a wager on the banker winning with a hand that’s worth 6 points. This bet normally pays 18:1, but it could pay 12:1 when offered as Super 6.
Matching Dragon: House Edge = 16.99%
You bet on how many cards of a specific rank (e.g. 9) will be dealt to the banker and player. The required number of cards and normal payouts include:
- 6 cards = 100:1 payout
- 5 cards = 60:1
- 4 cards = 40:1
- 3 cards = 20:1
- 2 cards = 3:1
- 1 card = 1:1
- No cards of the specific rank = Loss
Panda 8: House Edge = 10.18%
Panda 8 revolves around whether the player can win with a three-card hand that’s worth 8 points (e.g. 4 + 10 + 4 = 8). This wager pays 25:1 when the player side completes the necessary requirements.
Benefits of Baccarat Side Bets
There’s a reason why side bets are available in many land-based and online baccarat games—they’re popular!
Side bets spice up the action by providing more options. You can add Dragon Bonus or Panda 8 to your standard banker bet and take a shot at winning big money.
The standard tie bet also provides the opportunity to win big, but it carries a horrendous 14.36% house edge (with payouts at 8 to 1). Few people care about an 8-to-1 payout when they’re giving away nearly a 15% advantage to casinos.
Side wagers may not be the friendliest propositions on your bankroll either. But most of them don’t feature anything close to a 14.36% house edge.
Cons of Baccarat Side Bets
Baccarat offers a unique combination of a low house edge and simple strategy. You can reduce the house advantage to just 1.06% by making the banker bet every time.
Again, side wagers add variety into the equation. But they also feature a larger house edge than 1.06%. In some cases, you can face even worse odds.
Take Panda 8, for example. It may offer an interesting set of rules, but it also carries an atrocious 10.18% house advantage.
This brings me to another point in that side wagers force you into using bad strategy. Rather than taking the easy route towards more winnings with the banker bet, you’re purposely placing wagers that feature large house edges.
Finally, you also need to worry about the volatility with these bets. The odds of winning most of these wagers are quite high.
You might be looking past these low odds towards the 25:1 payout. But on average, you’ll be waiting quite a while before winning this bet.
That said, you need a larger bankroll to deal with the high volatility of side bets. Assuming you don’t have a big bankroll, you’ll be relying on lots of luck and a quick win to stay in the game.
Are Side Wagers Worth Your Time?
You can see that placing side bets definitely isn’t the best long-term plan. Many of these wagers feature a much higher house edge than the banker or player bet (1.24%).
Then again, any type of gambling forces you into a negative-expectation situation. You should be focusing on the entertainment side of gaming rather than expecting to win big profits.
I certainly don’t suggest that you choose side wagers that feature the highest house address. You could lose serious money by going this route.
On the other hand, though, you should consider side bets if they make the experience more fun. You might even get lucky and win a big payout this way.
Just remember that you don’t have to place side bets in every round either. You could bet on the banker in each round and throw in a side wager every now and then.
What’s the Best Baccarat Strategy Overall?
You don’t need to strain your brain to figure out the best strategy to play baccarat. All you have to do is wager on the banker hand winning in every round.
Again, this strategy reduces the house edge to just 1.06%. And this is even after the casino takes out a 5% commission on banker wins.
Some gamblers will tell you that it’s best to follow a pattern-based strategy. When following patterns, you either raise or lower bets, or even change wagers, based on which side is winning more.
Here’s an example:
- The player hand wins three times in a row.
- You normally bet $10 per round on the banker.
- However, you think that they’re extremely likely to win in the next round.
- You wager $30 on the banker because they’re supposedly due for a win.
It makes sense, in theory that if one side is winning a lot, then the other side is bound to win next. But this logic falls into the gambler’s fallacy.
The gambler’s fallacy is the idea that past outcomes somehow dictate future results. However, this thinking doesn’t apply to fixed-odds games like baccarat.
The banker hand has a 51.6% chance of winning in every round. These chances don’t change just because the banker has won three times in a row.
In summary, you don’t have to do anything fancy to win more in baccarat. You just need to pick the banker side every time.
You can also throw in a side bet every now and then for fun. Just know, though, that side wagers actually give you a lower chance of winning money than the banker or player hands.
Baccarat side bets aren’t the evil to end all evils. They add entertainment and, in some cases, offer fair house edges.
For example, the Lucky Bonus (2.34% house edge) and Dragon Bonus player bet (2.65%) both give you a decent chance to win.
However, you shouldn’t blindly jump at the first side wager you see. Some of these bets feature really high house advantages.
In summary, you stand the best chance of winning by betting on the banker every time. But a side bet here or there won’t destroy your bankroll, especially if the house edge is low.