Chinese gamblers fill baccarat tables around the world. They’ve single-handedly changed this game from a stuffy affair reserved for the elites to the most popular table game in many gambling destinations.
Gamblers from China definitely love baccarat. But why have they chosen this previously irrelevant casino game to obsess over? I’m going to cover the biggest reasons behind baccarat’s popularity rise in China.
Lucky Number 8
The number eight plays a prominent role in baccarat. It serves as the second-highest score that the player or banker can achieve.
The banker and player receive two cards to start a hand. The winning side is determined by which hand scores closest to nine.
A score of eight or nine within the first two cards is considered a “natural.” A natural automatically wins if the other side doesn’t match or exceed this score.
Coincidentally, eight plays a very important role in Chinese culture. The word “eight,” which is pronounced “ba” in Chinese, translates to “wealth” and “success.”
Assuming your chosen side gets an eight, you’re going to be successful the large majority of the time. Many gamblers from China are highly attracted to this element.
If you want evidence on just how much the Chinese revere this number, then you need only look at the Beijing Olympic Games. The 2008 Summer Games started at 8:08 on August 8th (the eighth day of the eighth month).
Many people in this country also go out of their way to associate themselves with eight in any way. They try getting phone numbers, house numbers, and sports jersey numbers with eight on them.
Heavily Based on Luck
Chinese culture’s affinity for luck goes far beyond just numbers. They strongly believe that they can influence gambling results by bringing good fortune to themselves.
Baccarat strategy is not overly complicated. You merely need to wager on the banker hand to maximize your winnings. If you’re in the mood for something different, the player hand isn’t a bad choice either.
After placing a bet, you’re leaving everything else up to luck. The baccarat rules and scores dictate whether the banker or player hits or stands.
This game isn’t like blackjack where you decide what actions to take. Again, you simply place your chips in a betting circle and wait for the results.
Low House Edge
Chinese gamblers might be all about luck. However, they’re also mindful of their odds of winning. Many know that baccarat provides one of the best chances to win in the casino.
Assuming you wager on the banker hand winning every time, you’ll only be dealing with a 1.06% house edge. This is even after the casino takes a 5% commission out of each winning banker bet.
Wagering on the player hand to win isn’t a bad proposition either. You’ll enjoy a low 1.24% house advantage when gambling on the player.
The tie bet is the only one that you need to watch out for. It carries either a 4.84% (9 to 1 payout) or 14.36% (8 to 1 payout) house edge. In the latter case, it’s one of the worst wagers in all of gambling.
Simply put, you only need to wager on the banker hand to use perfect strategy. You can also bet on the player occasionally, but you’ll be facing a house edge that’s 0.18% higher.
Great for High Rollers
Macau, a special administrative area of China, has exploded over the last 15 years thanks to high roller play. It routinely draws players who are willing to bet five or even six figures per hand.
Some Macau casinos are willing to accept baccarat wagers worth up to $500,000 USD! Most of the players who bet at or near those amounts are homegrown in China.
The same high rollers spread their play around the world, too. They gamble for huge stakes in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Australia.
For whatever reason, baccarat lends itself to high stakes play. And casinos worldwide are willing to accommodate these gamblers.
Given that Chinese baccarat players believe in luck so much, it should be no surprise that they’re also a superstitious lot. They enjoy using many rituals to try and improve their fortunes.
These players also blow on the back of cards after the deal. The thinking here is that they can blow away the bad numbers.
Finally, they’ll even tear apart cards after losing hands. Their logic is that they want to get these bad cards out of the shoe.
Of course, not all casinos allow players to touch or tear up cards, especially in North America and Europe. But given the popularity of baccarat in Australia, Macau, and Singapore, major casino destinations in this region are quite liberal with the rules.
Not Legal on the Mainland
The international gambling community is sometimes fascinated by just how many Chinese people play baccarat. There’s an easy explanation for this: baccarat and other casino games are illegal on the mainland.
Only the special administrative areas of Hong Kong and Macau can offer casinos. Gaming is illegal literally everywhere else in the country.
The lack of legal gambling opportunities in China push avid players either to underground casinos or abroad. The latter option is much more favorable from a legal perspective.
After all, this country features strict anti-gambling laws and exercises the right to throw violators in jail. Players who can afford to travel, or at least live near Macau, avoid the potential headaches associated with playing this game illegally.
Of course, online baccarat presents another option. Certain brave game developers are willing to provide internet casino games to the Chinese.
Those who play illegally online face a far lower chance of ever getting caught. Online baccarat is quite hot in this country as a result.
Countless Tables in Asia
Baccarat may not be legal on the Chinese mainland, but it’s widely found in many other casinos throughout Asia. Macau, Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia all feature countless baccarat tables.
These casinos fully realize what the most popular game is in the region. Therefore, they make sure to offer numerous tables for gamblers to enjoy.
With so many tables throughout the continent, it’s no surprise that almost every Chinese gambler becomes interested in baccarat at some point.
Of course, baccarat gives players a much better chance to win than slots. Gamblers can make their bankroll stretch further with this game.
As mentioned before, baccarat was once an elitist affair that involved high stakes bets. Tables of the past required either a $50 or $100 minimum wager.
These days are long gone thanks to mini baccarat. The latter generally features stakes that range from $5 to $10 in land-based casinos.
People can play this game for even cheaper at a real money online casino. The average internet baccarat game only requires a $1 minimum bet.
Chinese gamblers don’t look ready to stop playing baccarat anytime soon. In fact, they love this game more than anything else in the casino.
The biggest reason why is the combination of luck and eight being a prominent number. Players use all sorts of superstitions to swing good fortune their way.
What’s more, gamblers can enjoy this luck-based play along with a low house edge. Baccarat only features a 1.06% house advantage.
Finally, this game is more prevalent in Asian casinos than anything else. Most Chinese players can’t help but find baccarat interesting at some point.