Blackjack and baccarat have a ton in common: two cards dealt randomly, even money payouts on most winning hands, and multiple decks stuffed into the dealer’s shoe. They’re also the two most popular table games in the world, at least according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s monthly casino win statistics.
But blackjack fans and baccarat aficionados are often like dogs and cats, disagreeing vehemently about which game is truly the best. Below, you’ll find nine reasons why baccarat is a better real money gambling game than blackjack.
Gambling Shouldn’t Feel Like Taking the SATs
When I head out to the casino, I’m doing so to blow off a little steam and have a blast.
Sure, I want to walk away a winner, but I also know the score when it comes to the house’s inherent advantage. So, winning is always a bonus, but any money I lose is viewed as an entertainment cost, just like buying tickets to a movie or grabbing a new video game. As long as I had fun, I definitely don’t mind dropping a few bucks along the way.
Enjoying myself is the name of the game when gambling, which is the main reason why I’ll go to bat for baccarat over blackjack.
When I’m at the blackjack table, I tend to tense up while trying to recall the right play based on basic strategy—and for good reason.
Of course, many of these are no-brainers—why yes, I’d like to hit on this 6 total dealer, thanks for the help—so you don’t really have to memorize 250 different plays. Nonetheless, when you face a tough spot like a hard 14 against the dealer’s 5 up card, it pays to know that standing is slightly more profitable than hitting based on expected value.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t come to the casino to rack my brain and solve math equations. Again, I’m just there to enjoy myself and mix it up at the card table, so baccarat’s simplicity is more appealing than blackjack’s complexity.
High-Limit Baccarat Rooms Make You Feel Like James Bond
You know what’s really fun, at least for a classic movie buff like myself? Dressing to the nines and strolling into the high limit gambling room like old “007” himself.
James Bond is one of the most iconic characters ever created, a suave and sophisticated super-spy who sports a license to kill. He always gets the girl, he can seemingly dodge bullets, and he always seems to have the right tool for the job thanks to his trusty quartermaster “Q.”
Oh, and he’s one hell of a baccarat player, too. In the very first Bond flick Dr. No (1962), audiences are introduced to Bond as he casually bets big bucks at the chemin de fer tables. That’s the French predecessor to modern baccarat, but the game is essentially the same except for players taking turns banking the action—and boy is Bond a literal natural.
Played perfectly by the late, great Sean Connery, the secret agent sits across from a beautiful brunette. Immediately, he turns over a natural 8 to win the first hand, then a natural 9 to scoop the second. When the woman confidently flips over an 8, Bond simply shrugs and flashes yet another natural 9.
I’m no James Bond, but putting on a nice suit and stacking chips after making a natural is the next best thing.
The House Edge Is Very Low Compared to Other Games
In my colleague’s primer on blackjack supremacy, he pointed out that his favorite game offers a very low casino house edge of 0.50%. To his thinking, the fact that baccarat’s house edge rates are higher—1.06% on the banker bet and 1.24% on the player bet—makes it the inferior game.
The casino is home to several other games of chance in which strategy plays no role whatsoever, namely roulette and craps.
And what do you know? Baccarat is a major bargain compared to both those alternatives. The pass line bet in craps incurs a 1.41% house edge, single-zero roulette runs at 2.70%, and double-zero roulette rises to 5.26%.
Add it all up and you just can’t beat baccarat’s house edge when compared to other games of chance.
You Can Turn a Tied Hand Into a Sweet 9 to 1 Payout
In blackjack, when you wind up holding the same exact total as the dealer, your bet is simply returned in a “push.”
Ties can happen in baccarat too (we call them “stalemates”), and sure enough, any player or banker bettors get their wagers back. But when a stalemate shows up, you’ll often see a player at the table start celebrating like they just won the lottery.
That’s because baccarat offers a third betting option called the tie. And when you win it, you’ll collect a juicy 9 to 1 return on your money.
The tie is technically a “sucker” bet, as it offers a steep house edge of over 14%. Even so, splashing around on the tie every so often offers a refreshing change of pace, and you’ll score a winner right around 10% of the time.
Dragon 7 and Panda 8 Are Much Cooler Side Bets
Blackjack fiends love to cap their base game bet with a buck or two on the “Lucky Ladies” side bet. They’re shooting for premium payouts ranging from 4 to 1 all the way up to 1,000 to 1, but the house edge is humongous at 17.64%.
There are a slew of Baccarat side bets as well, and my favorites are the Dragon 7 and the Panda 8. The Dragon 7 pays out 40 to 1 when the banker hand wins on a three-card total of 7. And the Panda 8 serves up 25 to 1 when the player hand wins on a three-card 8.
Even better for side bettors, at 7.61% and 10.19%, respectively, the Dragon 7 and Panda 8 are both hold lower house edges than Lucky Ladies.
“Squeezing” the Cards to Sweat the Outcome Is Fun
One of the ironclad rules at a blackjack or poker table is to take care of the cards. Bending, creasing, or otherwise damaging a casino’s cards can quickly earn you a property ban.
The suspense of squeezing cards isn’t for everyone, but once you’ve tried it, going back to blackjack’s wham, bam, thank you ma’am pace isn’t easy.
Regulars Can’t Berate You for Making the “Wrong” Move
It seems like every time I play blackjack, I see some grizzled veteran of the gambling trenches lecturing the last player to act.
When you’re in the “third base” seat, you act on your hand directly before the dealer does. For this reason, many gamblers irrationally believe that a bad player making the wrong decision can change the dealer’s draw.
So, when a newbie hits when they should stand, draws a face card that would’ve busted the dealer, and the dealer proceeds to pick up a low card to win, then regulars go ballistic.
I’m not about anger and stress at the casino, so I’ll stick to baccarat and keep smiling.
EZ Baccarat Lives Up to Its Name in More Ways Than One
If you’re intimidated by the velvet ropes and huge tables found in traditional baccarat rooms, ask around for “EZ Baccarat” instead.
It’s almost identical to the original, just without all of the bells and whistles. By taking old-school baccarat and turning it into just another table game like Three-Card Poker, EZ Baccarat is the best way for beginners to learn the game.
Watching the Superstitious Players Is Hilarious
Baccarat and gambling superstitions go hand in hand, so regulars believe that tracking previous hand results can help them divine what the future holds.
That’s poppycock, of course. But watching old ladies frantically scan the display screen showing the “Big Eye Boy” and the “Cockroach Road”—just patterns based on prior hands—is pure comedy.
Again, it’s all about having fun for me, which is why baccarat is my game of choice.
Give Baccarat a Try Instead of Blackjack
Too many casino gamblers scoff at games of chance like baccarat, haughtily assuming that anybody playing them must be a sucker off the street. I know better though. And while I understand the appeal of skill games such as blackjack, the casual nature of baccarat fits my personality.
If the casino floor is where you go to escape from life’s stress, ditching the tense and serious blackjack table for a little baccarat action is the way to go.