Your first casino experience can be exciting and scary at the same time. This can lead to mistakes if you jump into one of the more complicated games. But one particular game stands out as a good choice for a first-time gambler.
Baccarat is easy to play, with only a couple of simple choices, and the dealer takes care of everything else. It also offers a low house edge, so it’s always the game I recommend for first-time casino visitors and even beginner online casino players.
The game I’m referring to in this article is sometimes called “mini baccarat” or “midi baccarat.” It’s played on a table that looks like a blackjack table, and the casino provides a dealer to handle all of the action, including dealing, collecting, and paying bets.
Originally, baccarat had players taking turns dealing and banking the game. You can still find this version of baccarat in some big casinos, but mini baccarat is much more popular. Here are five reasons why baccarat is the best casino game for first-timers.
1 – The Rules Are Easy
The best thing about playing baccarat is that you don’t even need to know the rules to play. The only thing you need to do is decide how much to bet and choose from one of three betting options. The actual rules are a bit complicated, but the casino dealer takes care of everything.
You can bet on the banker hand, the player hand, or the tie. I’ll cover this more in the next section, but the tie bet is one of the worst in the casino, so the only real choice is between the banker and the player hand.
Baccarat is a game where two hands are dealt with two cards in each hand. One hand is the banker hand and the other is the player hand. It doesn’t matter how many players are at the table, there are only two hands dealt.
The two hands are compared, and if one or both meet certain qualifications, they receive one additional card. The two-card or three-card hand is then totaled, and the hand with the highest value in the ones column wins.
This sometimes confuses first time players, because in games like blackjack, the cards are added up and the total value is used. In baccarat, if a hand is 10 or higher, the first number is dropped from the total.
Here’s an example—a hand with an eight and nine totals 17. Because it’s higher than 10, you only account for the number in the ones place, so the final baccarat value is seven.
Don’t worry about any of this, because the dealer knows and follows all of the rules and takes care of all of the winners and losers.
2 – The Strategy Is Very Simple
The best baccarat strategy to use every time is easily summed up in one simple sentence.
Always bet on the banker hand.
When you bet on the banker hand, you pay a 5% commission on winning bets, but even after you deduct the commission, the house edge is only 1.06%. This is lower than the player hand, which checks in at 1.24%.
I mentioned the tie bet above, and it has a house edge of over 14%. This is a terrible house edge, and is higher than almost every slot machine offered in casinos.
3 – Low House Edge
Baccarat combines ease of play and strategy with one of the lowest house edges in the casino. At just over 1%, the banker bet offers a lower edge than any craps bet, slot machines, roulette, keno, every table game except blackjack, and most video poker games.
Here’s how the house edge relates to cash wins and losses.
If you multiply the house edge with the total amount you bet, the resulting number is how much the casino makes on average. This is also the amount you lose on average. And the important thing to remember is that the house edge is working on every bet, not just the total amount of your bankroll.
Your bankroll for the playing session might be $200, and you’ll make $10 bets while you play. If you play 100 hands, you’ll make a total of $1,000 in bets. In this example, you multiply $1,000 times the house edge, and this is the number that you lose on average.
So, if you bet on the tie bet, you’re going to lose over $140 on $1,000 worth of wagers. Compare this to an average loss of only $10.60 on the same $1,000 worth of bets on the banker hand. The expected loss per $1,000 in bets on the player hand is $12.40.
The way the math works with the house edge is that the casino is going to make the correct amount of money in the long run. The casino isn’t worried about the short term, because they know that if they take millions in wagers, the house edge grinds out a consistent profit over time.
This also means that the more you play a game with a house edge, the faster the casino grinds down your bankroll. That’s why it’s so important to play games with a low house edge.
4 – Big Online Bonuses
The only differences between playing baccarat in a live casino and playing online are the speed of play and the availability of bonuses when you play online. This makes baccarat one of the best games to play at an online or mobile casino, because you can usually get a big deposit bonus.
Deposit bonuses generally match a percentage of your deposit, which increases your bankroll and lets you play longer.
Let’s say that you find a 200% deposit bonus up to $500. You deposit $500 and get an extra $1,000 in bonus funds for a total bankroll of $1,500. This means you can play three times as long.
Another benefit of playing baccarat online is that the minimum bet is lower than in most land-based casinos. Many online casinos have a minimum bet of $1.
Compare this to table minimums of $10 to $20 in many land-based casinos and you can see how you can play many more hands online than in live play when you play online.
The only thing you need to watch for when playing baccarat online is that you can play hundreds of hands per hour because the software running the game is fast. When you play in a regular casino, the process of dealing hands takes longer.
Some players like to play as many hands as quickly as possible, but the downside is that you end up betting more because of the speed of play. Remember how the house edge works. If you play faster online, you can lose more per hour than playing live, even if you’re making smaller bets.
5 – Plenty of Time for Socializing
Some gamblers prefer to concentrate on gambling and try to avoid interacting with others, many like to visit with other gamblers. Baccarat isn’t exactly slow, but because the dealer takes care of everything, you have plenty of time to socialize with other players at the table.
You can also talk to the dealer if they’re open to it.
I’ve met many nice, friendly, and helpful dealers over the years. I’ve also met a few that were miserable. But for the most part, casino dealers are just like you and me. They’re making a living and trying to do a good job.
If you have any questions about baccarat or anything that happens at the table, ask the dealer. If this is your first bet, tell the dealer that you’ve never played before and you want to make a bet on the banker hand. Ask if the dealer will make sure you don’t make a mistake.
With simple gameplay, easy strategy, and a low house edge, baccarat is the perfect choice for first time casino players. Join a table, make a table minimum wager on the banker hand, and let the dealer take care of everything else. Before you know it, you’re going to be acting like a casino veteran.