7 Reasons Why Baccarat Sucks

Since being introduced to casinos in the 1950s, baccarat has become one of the most-popular casino games around the world.

Many players appreciate its great odds and simplistic betting structure. In Asian gambling destinations, such as Macau, gamblers like using a number of superstitions in this game.

Baccarat is no doubt liked by the masses. However, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t so perfect. In fact, there are 7 reasons why baccarat sucks!

1 – The Scoring System Is Complicated

Unlike poker games, baccarat doesn’t merely see you try to get a higher-ranking hand than the dealer. Instead, it calls on you to have a higher score than the banker.

As I’ll explain later, you don’t need a higher-scoring hand to win. You just need to wager on the side that wins.

Regardless, the results need to be determined somehow. Baccarat uses a scoring system ranging from 0-9 to determine which side triumphs.

On its surface, the scoring system seems relatively easy to understand. Most cards are worth their numerical values (e.g. 6 = 6), an ace is worth 1, and face cards (J, Q, K) are worth zero.

Both the banker and player side receive two cards to start. If either of their scores hit double digits, then the first digit is dropped (e.g. 17 = 7).

Simple enough so far, right? Unfortunately, the baccarat scoring system goes wildly awry from here.

Below, you can see the rules that determine if the banker or player draw for a third card:

  • The player or banker win automatically with an 8 or 9 (a.k.a. natural) if the other side doesn’t have a matching score.
  • The player draws for a third card if their score is under 5. They stand with a 6 or 7.
  • The banker receives a third card if their score is 5, while the player has 6 or 7. They stand with a 6 or 7.
  • Assuming the player does get another card, the banker draws based on this table:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
7
6 D D
5 D D D D
D D D D D D D D
3 D D D D D D D D D
2 D D D D D D D D D D
1 D D D D D D D D D D
0 D D D D D D D D D D

The only solace, though, is that you don’t even need to understand how the scoring works. You simply place one of the wagers covered below.

2 – Baccarat Only Offers 3 Bets

Based on the scoring covered above, you might think that baccarat is the optimal choice for the sophisticated gambler. Sort of like the antithesis to slot machines.

Baccarat is anything but this, though. Again, you don’t have to know how hands are scored to play. You simply need to place one of the following three bets:

  • Banker hand winning – pays 1:1
  • Player hand winning – pays 1:1
  • Banker and player tie – pays 8:1 or 9:1 (varies by casino)

Table games like blackjack, craps, Let It Ride, and roulette feature a complex set of decisions and/or bets. They often appeal to experienced players who want more from their gaming experience than just a few thrills.

Baccarat doesn’t fall into the same category as these games. It’s a fine choice if you’re new to table games and want an easy transition into the matter. But it doesn’t provide the same mental stimulation as many other table games.

3 – One Bet Is Terrible

The great thing about baccarat is that it gives you a strong chance to win money. The banker and player bets only feature 1.06% and 1.24% house edges, respectively.

These are some of the lowest house advantages in all of gambling. Considering that you gain just a little more value when backing the banker, you might consider placing this wager exclusively.

But what about the tie bet? Once again, baccarat presents another extreme just like with the complex scoring system vs. only three bets.

The tie bet features a 14.36% house edge when it pays 8:1. This house advantage is on par with some of the worst propositions in gambling, including Big Six, keno, and craps prop bets.

The extreme aspect comes when comparing the player and banker wagers to this monstrosity. You have two bets with close to a 1% house advantage on one end and a third with over a 14% house edge.

The latter figure can drop to 4.85% if the casino pays 9:1. Even still, you’re better off avoiding the tie bet altogether.

4 – The Casino Takes a 5% Commission from Winning Banker Bets

The banker wager is the best in baccarat. In fact, it gives you a 50.68% chance of winning.

You won’t find any other house-banked wager in gambling that sees you win at this clip. However, the banker bet comes with one major caveat: the house takes a 5% commission from all wins.

The casino takes these commissions in order to retain their advantage. After all, they’d lose money if they paid you at 1:1 on a bet that wins over 50% of the time.

Of course, the idea of paying commissions on top of winning bets is pretty dumb. I’ve seen it done with some craps prop wagers and think the concept is stupid here too.

With commissions, the casino is basically saying that they’re offering an inefficient bet and must shave money off the top to beat you.

In some land-based casinos, you need to keep track of your own commissions. You settle them when cashing out from the table.

This situation makes matters even worse, because it could cause you to gamble away commissions without realizing. If so, the employees will make sure that they get your information and enforce the debts if you don’t pay them later.

5 – Baccarat Doesn’t Feature Any Real Strategy

Some table games contain in-depth strategy that can stimulate you and make the gambling experience more entertaining.

Judging from its complicated scoring, you’d think that baccarat would also fall into this category. The truth, though, is that it’s as simple as slot machines.

You merely need to wager on the banker hand winning every time to achieve perfect strategy. The baccarat house edge will be just 1.06% in this case.

Some gamblers try to inject more strategy into the situation with trend betting. For example, they’ll double bets following a loss because they’re due for a win.

However, trend betting and other gambling systems don’t improve your baccarat odds. You’ll still be facing the same 1.06% house advantage.

6 – You Can Win More Money with Other Games

Baccarat offers some of the best odds in casino gaming, but it doesn’t feature the best odds. Certain other games can give you a stronger chance of winning.
Here are the most-favorable wagers available in the casino:

  • Jacks or Better video poker – 0.46% house edge
  • Blackjack – 0.5% (w/ right rules)
  • Craps – 0.61% (pass line w/ 2x odds)

These games can all feature an even lower house advantage under the right circumstances. Double Bonus video poker, for example, will even give you a 0.17% edge with perfect strategy.

The list of casino games that offer a better chance to win than baccarat isn’t extensive. Nevertheless, baccarat doesn’t provide the absolute top odds in gaming.

7 – Mini Baccarat Tables Move Extremely Fast

I’ve mentioned multiple times how baccarat has close to a 1% house advantage. But this ultra-low house edge isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

The vast majority of baccarat games take place on “mini” tables. The latter refer to tables that seat up to seven players. This version differs from a “big” baccarat table, which holds up to 14 gamblers.

Games move much faster on a mini baccarat table. They can see as many as 200 hands dealt per hour when just 1-2 players are seated.

On average, a mini table will deliver around 130-140 hands an hour with more players. This rate is still incredible fast compared to the average table game.

Here are common hourly play rates for different games:

A couple of reasons fuel baccarat’s quick play rate. Number one, the dealer handles the cards and all of the action on a mini table. Number two, players don’t need to worry about using strategy like in blackjack, for example.

Baccarat may carry a favorable 1.06% house edge. However, it can cost you just as much money over time when factoring in the game speed.

Conclusion

This post is meant to play devil’s advocate on baccarat. I don’t actually believe that it entirely sucks, but I also believe that it has plenty of holes.

Baccarat is among the least-sophisticated table games in existence. You can’t use in-depth strategy to improve your winnings.

That said, you shouldn’t play this game if you enjoy stimulating strategy and the ability to push the house edge close to zero. On the other hand, baccarat is appealing if you’re looking for a simple game that provides a good chance to win.

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Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016.

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