Should You Always Make the Banker Bet in Baccarat?

Dealer Dealing Baccarat

Baccarat doesn’t offer many bets to choose from. The main wagers include the banker hand, player hand, and both hands tying.

As I’ll discuss later, the banker bet is the best among these from a strategy perspective. It features the lowest house edge and provides the best chance of winning.

Common sense tells you to wager on the banker in order to win more often. But should you place the banker bet in every case?

The following post discusses more on this popular wager. It also provides an answer on whether you should always place the banker wager.

Why Is the Banker Bet Normally the Best?

The banker and player wagers are closely related in terms of your chances of winning. However, the banker hand is slightly better regarding the house advantage.

It carries a 1.06% house edge, making it one of gaming’s best wagers. It’s even a great bet despite the fact that 5% commissions are taken out of wins.

The player wager runs a close second with a 1.24% house advantage. If you ever get tired of wagering on the banker hand, then the player side makes for a suitable alternative. Nevertheless, it still has a slightly lower chance of winning.

The tie wager is attractive because it offers an 8:1 or 9:1 payout. The downside is that it carries either a 14.36% (8:1 payout) or 4.84% (9:1) house edge.

Instances Where You Shouldn’t Make the Banker Wager

You can see when the banker bet is normally best in baccarat. It consistently provides a stronger chance of winning versus the player and tie wagers.

Therefore, you might be tempted to make this bet in every single round. You normally wouldn’t be wrong in doing so from a strategic standpoint. As you’ll see below, though, two instances exist where you should bet on the player instead.

Certain Versions of Commission Free Baccarat

As mentioned before, casinos usually take 5% commissions out of winning banker bets. They must do this to retain their advantage on the banker hand.

However, some casinos also offer commission-free baccarat. As the name implies, this version doesn’t take commissions out of wins involving the banker hand.

Closeup of a Baccarat Hand

This game immediately seems attractive on the surface. After all, you don’t have to pay a commission when winning with the game’s top bet.

However, casinos that offer this wager include one or more special rules to maintain their edge. With some commission-free versions, these rules make the banker wager a worse proposition.

Nepal baccarat, for example, doesn’t take commissions from winning banker wagers. However, it only pays 1:2 on a winning banker bet with a total of 6. This rule modification raises the house edge to 1.46% despite the lack of commissions.

Card Counting

Baccarat card counting doesn’t get much attention. Unlike blackjack, this advantage play method doesn’t offer a noticeable edge in baccarat.

Nevertheless, you can count cards with this game and gain a slight advantage. I truly mean “slight” because you’ll make less than a dollar an hour.

The premise is that you’re trying to decide whether the banker or player side has a better chance of winning. You wager on the player with a count of +16 or better. Meanwhile, you bet on the banker with a count of +15 or lower.

You wouldn’t normally know when these situations arise. However, card counting helps you figure out when the player has better odds of winning.

The Banker Bet Is Otherwise the Best

The banker wager may not give you the best opportunity to win 100% of the time. In almost every case, though, you’ll do better with the banker bet than any other option.

First off, most tables do take commissions out of banker wins. You’ll be dealing with standard rules in these cases.

Secondly, you’re probably not going to count cards in baccarat. Card counting is largely a waste of time in this game.

Assuming you’re like most players, you just want a solid chance of winning without putting in lots of work. Furthermore, you likely don’t see $0.50 an hour as a worthwhile endeavor.

Hand Placing Poker Chips on Baccarat Table, Question Marks

Long story short, you don’t usually have to worry about if the banker bet is the best choice. It’s the top option in almost every case.

Other Baccarat Tips

You’ll be using optimal baccarat strategy in almost every case just by wagering on the banker hand. You can potentially improve your odds even more, though, with a few tips.

Systems Don’t Guarantee Profits

Baccarat doesn’t feature an immense amount of strategy. Outside of betting on the banker, you can’t do a whole lot to boost your chances of winning.

Therefore, some gamblers turn to a betting system with this game. Systems like the Martingale or the Paroli. They feel that a betting system will bring them more profits.

The Paroli is a simple example of a baccarat system. It calls on you to double wagers following every win. You return to the table’s minimum wager if you happen to win three straight bets.

Here’s an example of how it works:

  • Bet $10 and win (+10)
  • Bet $20 and lose (-10)
  • Bet $10 and win (0)
  • Bet $20 and win (+20)
  • Bet $40 and win (+60)
  • You’ve booked at $60 profit
  • You return to the $10 minimum wager

Assuming you’re on a hot streak, then you’ll benefit from something like the Paroli. However, betting systems don’t erase the house edge.

You’ll still be facing the same house advantages with the banker, player, and tie bets. Systems, meanwhile, only manipulate your short-term results for better or worse.

Some Casinos Make You Pay Commissions at the End

You don’t always cover 5% commissions on baccarat hands right away. In fact, some land-based casinos want you to pay them at the end of the session.

This way, the dealer doesn’t need to pause and handle commissions between hands. They can keep the game moving much more smoothly this way.

Casino Baccarat Table

As an experienced player, you may have no problem with this setup. You’ll be good at keeping track of your commissions and saving the necessary money.

If you’re new to the live dealer baccarat experience, though, then you might mess up this aspect. The last thing you want to do is reach the end of a session and not have enough to pay commissions.

Use Smart Bankroll Management

Baccarat may offer excellent odds in comparison to the average casino game. Nevertheless, it can put you through some losing streaks.

You’ll be better able to survive these downswings when you have good command of bankroll management. The latter involves properly budgeting how much you can dedicate towards gambling.

For example, you might have $300 that you can put towards baccarat and other games. You want to stick with this amount so that you’re not dipping into important finances.

You can go even further by figuring out how long your bankroll stands to last. Here’s an example of doing this:

  • You wager $5 per hand
  • You see 150 hands an hour
  • 150 x 5 = $750 wagered per hour
  • The house edge is 1.06%
  • 750 x 0.0106 = $7.95 in hourly losses
  • 300 / 7.95 = 37.74
  • Your bankroll will theoretically last for 37.74 hours

Watch Out for the Game Speed

Baccarat plays at a fast speed, both live and online. Even in a land-based casino, you might see between 150 and 200 hands per hour.

With that said, you want to be mindful on how fast this game moves when choosing stakes. You’ll be playing approximately double or even triple the number of hourly hands with blackjack.

Online Baccarat Table on Top Live Dealer Baccarat Table on Bottom

Assuming you want to last for a while on the tables, then you should start out with more conservative stakes. $5 tables are nice places to begin when you’re playing live. Online baccarat allows you to wager as little as $1 per hand.

Take Advantage of Baccarat Bonuses

Some online casinos offer baccarat bonuses. You should take advantage of these deals if you’re going to play the game online.

After all, baccarat bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars. For example, a casino might offer a 100% match bonus worth up to $500.

You should always check the terms and conditions, though, to make sure that baccarat qualifies. Otherwise, you could be looking at a slots-only bonus.

Final Thoughts

You’ll be well off with the banker bet around 99% of the time. Most games see this wager offer the lowest house edge at 1.06%.

The only two exceptions include commission-free baccarat and when you’re counting cards. With the commission-free version, a special rule causes the banker house edge to shoot up to 1.46%. When counting cards, you’ll find opportunities where the player bet is better.

If you really want to simplify the game, though, you can just wager on the banker hand every time. You’ll almost always be in the right when doing so.