Baccarat and Card Counting Isn’t a Great Match

Casino Cards on Left Thinking Man in Center and a Closeup of a Baccarat Table on Right

Baccarat is by far the most played game in Asian markets and is quickly gaining popularity in casinos across the United States. As players discover that the basic principles of baccarat are easy to follow, more gamblers are filling seats.

That’s what makes baccarat such a classic casino game; there’s no need to understand complex strategies to enjoy it. Most people get drawn to baccarat for the lack of any real decisions in the game.

Yet, some players insist on taking things to a higher level. These gamblers want to work every angle and use strategy to turn the edge in their favor.

I’ve devoted a lot of time to enhancing my advantage gambling techniques, and I’ve discovered that baccarat and card counting isn’t a great match. Let’s look at card counting and baccarat basics to see why the juice isn’t worth the squeeze when pairing these casino institutions.

Understanding the Principles Behind Baccarat

Baccarat is a straightforward game once you learn to ignore the scoring of hands. I’d never suggest that casino gamblers completely ignore the basics of how a hand is scored if we weren’t discussing baccarat.

But the plain truth is that players don’t need to know anything about how baccarat works to enjoy the game. That’s because the player’s sole decision in a hand is to place their bet on the banker, player, or a tie.

That’s the extent of player responsibility in baccarat. It doesn’t matter how the cards come because the dealer will play both hands per the house rules.

So, novice gamblers can sit down without any prior knowledge and bet the primary bets of the banker or the player with similar results to veteran players.

Baccarat is a pure game of chance; no amount of strategy is going to turn the tide the way it can in poker or blackjack. The results in baccarat are as random as the spins of a slot machine.

However, baccarat has an enormous advantage over slots. The house advantage on slot machines ranges from 5% on the low end to well over 12% on the worst games.

Combine that with the speed that slot machines move, and you’ll watch your bankroll quickly vanish. Baccarat combines a low house edge with a decent pace that keeps the most fragile bankrolls alive and well for extended sessions.

What Makes Baccarat So Popular?

If you think that most casino gamblers want to make consistent decisions and use strategy to beat the casino, you’re sorely mistaken. Most gamblers merely want to be entertained, so they head for the games that don’t require much strategy.

Slot machines are by far the most popular games in U.S. casinos to drive this point home. That’s true for most of the world, and slot machines account for a vast majority of casino revenue.

Baccarat falls directly in line with that line of thinking. Since players don’t make decisions that affect the game’s outcome, they feel safe.

One of most casino gamblers’ biggest fears is making a mistake that costs them money. That’s why the games where the perception is that errors can easily be avoided are the most popular.

But you’ll see hundreds of failed casino games that left everything to chance and still fell by the wayside. The casino needs games that guests will want to play, which necessitates a degree of entertainment.

Casino Baccarat Table

People love baccarat for different reasons, but they all get the required level of bang for their buck that has made baccarat a casino staple.

I play baccarat for the low house edge. A game where the house’s advantage hovers around 1% is a perfect place to break free of an intense session in the poker room or blackjack table.

The game allows me to kick back, enjoy a few drinks, and chat with friends without any fears of putting my bankroll in jeopardy. Many of the casino veterans I know appreciate baccarat for the same reasons.

However, some players refuse to spend a single minute with casino games that don’t allow them to gain the edge. When advantage gamblers try to employ their tactics in baccarat, they’ll often see mixed results.

Why Players Consider Counting Cards in Baccarat

The reason players are interested in card counting with baccarat is reasonably straightforward. In blackjack, card counters are able to get an advantage over the casino, resulting in long-term profits.

So, baccarat players aim to get the same advantage by counting cards. It seems like it should work on paper since both games have a similar scoring system and use the same decks of cards.

Knowing what cards are remaining in the shoe is one of the primary tenets of card counting, providing an edge. Players can win more when the count is hot by significantly increasing their bet size.

The biggest challenge facing blackjack players is saturation. The casinos rarely allow gamblers to get more than three-quarters of the way through a shoe.

That makes capitalizing on crucial opportunities nearly impossible. Yet, the casinos are more than happy to allow players 100% shoe penetration in baccarat.

Furthermore, the casinos aren’t vigilant about thwarting card counters the way they are in blackjack. The fact that casinos don’t mind whether you count cards or not in baccarat should tell you all you need to know.

The Argument Against Card Counting in Baccarat

The reasons that baccarat and card counting aren’t a great match are simple. You can’t gain a long-term advantage. That means that in the long run, the casino will always win.

Players can get a slight advantage in short bursts, but players will eventually lose due to the game’s rules. Blackjack players get the edge because the payouts for blackjack are 3 to 2. In baccarat, you’re looking at a 1 to 1 payback for a win, and that doesn’t include the 5% commission for winning banker bets.

Closeup of Hand Betting Chips on Baccarat Table

If you played 1 million hands of baccarat and used the perfect card counting strategy for every hand, you may squeak out a slight edge that leaves you with a profit. However, the advantage is so tiny that your effort wouldn’t come close to matching your returns.

The reality is that you’d regularly see recreational gamblers who were hardly paying attention to the game leave with more money than you. Card counting is a viable advantage technique for blackjack players, but the juice isn’t worth the squeeze in baccarat.

Will Card Counting in Baccarat Yield a Profit?

Can a player walk into a casino, utilize their card counting skills, and walk out a winner?

Yes, but you could walk into the same casino and leave a winner without any strategy whatsoever. That’s what makes baccarat such a popular casino game.

Over a long enough stretch, your profits will become muddled. You could profit due to your card counting, but the margins would be nearly non-existent.

So, if you’re on the fence about learning to count cards to improve your baccarat returns, you may hold off on that. However, if you’ll use those skills elsewhere in the casino, you’ll be thrilled with your results.

How Card Counting Can be Useful for Gamblers

Merely because card counting won’t yield a substantial long-term profit in baccarat doesn’t mean that gamblers should completely write it off as useless. There are enormous opportunities for card counters at the blackjack tables.

A skilled card counter can sustain a considerable edge over the casino. That leads to incredible profits, and some players turn the activity into a full-time career.

Card counting does come with a new set of challenges for blackjack players. First, you must pay close attention to every hand of blackjack.

When you make mistakes or deviate from the perfect strategy, you lose the advantage. If you lose track of the count, the entire shoe is a waste of time and money.

Downtown Grand Baccarat Table

Card counters must also mask their activity from the casino. If the casino suspects a player of card counting, they’ll make it impossible for the card counter to win.

How to Approach Baccarat the Best Possible Way

Even though baccarat may not have many advantage opportunities, there are best ways to approach the game. The ideal strategy for baccarat is to bet the banker.

By betting the banker and holding to a flat bet amount, players will stretch their money as far as possible. The house advantage is close to 1%, and the small commission won’t affect that figure.

It would be best if you always avoided the tie bet at the baccarat table. Many players see the increased payout of the tie bet and see it as a way to recoup losses.

However, the tie bet goes over 14% with the house edge. Stick with the banker, and your bankroll will float you through in-depth sessions.

In Summary

Unfortunately, baccarat and card counting aren’t a great match. Still, that doesn’t mean a thing to recreational gamblers who are only interested in entertainment.

Advantage gamblers can use baccarat to decompress at the casino as a low-risk way. But they’ll never make the consistent profits needed by focusing on card counting in baccarat.