Baccarat’s popularity has increased greatly over the past decade. Case in point, baccarat now accounts for 10% of Nevada casino winnings.
This game is also extremely popular in Asia, where it commonly takes up 70% to 80% of gaming floors. Asian gamblers essentially treat baccarat like their version of slot machines.
But as baccarat becomes more popular, more lies begin to surface about the game. Gamblers spread these lies to explain phenomena that they don’t understand.
However, you can easily cut through these misconceptions by learning the most-ridiculous background lies. That said, I’m going to discuss nine of the game’s biggest mistruths.
Baccarat was once a game for the wealthy and elite. It was introduced as a high-roller affair in American casinos in the 1950s.
For the next few decades, baccarat would be played at a big table in roped-off areas. These tables, which are still available in select casinos, seat 12-14 players.
Big baccarat requires a dress code, with men needing formal wear and women having to don evening gowns. However, some people take this to think that all baccarat games feature a dress code.
This lie couldn’t be further from the truth, though, because the vast majority of baccarat tables are just like any other casino game. You can dress casually and still buy in at mini baccarat tables.
Mini baccarat, which seats up to seven players, is commonly found on the main gaming floor and doesn’t discriminate against people based on how they’re dressed.
Of course, you at least have to dress to the code of the casino. But under regular circumstances, anybody can play mini baccarat without formal attire.
High minimum bets are another characteristic from baccarat’s high-roller days. The big tables require minimum wagers ranging from $50 to $100.
The average gambler can’t afford to play very long at these stakes. Therefore, some players complain that baccarat is simply too expensive.
However, this is yet another lie when looking at the modern baccarat scene.
You do have to watch out for the rate of play because mini-baccarat moves quickly. You might see up to 150 hands per hour at a table with few players. But even at this rate, baccarat isn’t too expensive when factoring in the low house edge (discussed later).
The game is even cheaper at online casinos. Most gaming sites only require a $1 minimum bet.
You can play hundreds of online baccarat hands per hour and sometimes not even lose a dollar. Virtually any gambler can afford to play in these cases.
Baccarat can be as easy or hard as you make it. The scoring system is complicated in comparison to the average table game. However, you can actually play rather easily without learning the scoring.
All you must know to get started are the three main bets. You can wager on the banker hand winning, the player hand winning, or both hands tying.
You should focus on the banker bet because it features the lowest house edge. Wagering on the banker hand every time leads to an extremely low 1.06% house advantage.
You’ll find that this is among the smallest house edges in all of gaming. This is impressive when considering that casinos even take a 5% commission out of banker bets to retain their edge.
The player bet isn’t bad either since it only carries a 1.24% house advantage. Of course, you have little reason to wager on the player when considering that your best chances lie with the banker bet.
Learning how the scoring works is optional. You don’t actually have to know the scoring system to place bets or use optimal strategy.
I just discussed how baccarat doesn’t feature much strategy. You simply need to bet on the banker hand every time to have the best chance of winning.
Of course, some gamblers can’t accept that the strategy is this simple. They instead develop their own strategies for winning and try to get others to follow their lead.
This concept works by either wagering with or against the hot hand.
Most players who subscribe to this strategy bet against the hot hand. They believe that if a certain hand is winning a lot, then the other outcome has to start winning to even out the odds.
Here’s an example of this philosophy:
Bob’s strategy seems to have some logic. If both the player and banker win almost half the time, then the player has to eventually win.
However, all he’s really doing is making a bet with slightly lower odds of winning. Odds don’t change based on previous outcomes, no matter how many times a certain hand has won or lost.
Assuming there’s no tie, the banker and player hands will always have 50.68% and 49.32% chances of winning, respectively.
Thinking that you’re due for a win is an extension of the philosophy above. This concept is based on the idea that a losing streak somehow improves your odds of winning the next hand.
Believing that you’re due for a win also comes from the thought that odds must even out. You can theoretically only lose so long before you have to win.
Gamblers who believe in this philosophy often double or triple their next bet in anticipation of wins.
Here’s an example:
Thinking that you’re due for a win is based on the gambler’s fallacy. This fallacy contends that previous results can influence future outcomes.
But as touched on in the previous point, fixed odds don’t change based on past outcomes. They’re always going to be the same no matter how many times you’ve lost.
You need to treat every wager as a separate entity. Don’t increase your bet size under the assumption that you somehow have a better chance to win after losing several wagers.
The tie bet is an overlooked entity in baccarat. It can have up to a 14.36% house edge, which isn’t terrible in the grand scheme of casino gambling.
Only keno, certain craps prop bets, and the lowest-paying slot machines have a bigger house advantage than this. The tie bet is sometimes labeled as the worst, or one of the worst, bets in gaming.
However, the key thing to consider is that the tie bet only has a 14.36% advantage when 8:1 payouts are involved. Many casinos now offer a 9:1 payout for a winning tie wager.
This larger payoff doesn’t magically make a tie bet superior to the banker or player wager. But it does lower the house edge to 4.48.
For practical purposes, you can continue ignoring the tie bet when considering that its house edge is four times the size the banker bet. But if you like big payouts with little risk involved, making a tie bet with a 9:1 payout isn’t the worst decision in the world.
Blackjack card counting is a legendary advantage play method that’s featured in many movies and TV shows. Hollywood often portrays a dynamic card counter making five or six figures in a single night.
These dramatizations blow card counting out of proportion. Real counters have almost as many losing nights as they do winning ones. Nevertheless, blackjack card counting does work over the long run.
After all, baccarat is dealt from a shoe and gives players an opportunity to track card values, just like blackjack.
Some players immediately reason that they must be able to make big profits with baccarat card counting too. However, any advantage you gain will be so minuscule that it’s not worth the effort.
To understand this, you must first look at why blackjack counting does work. A blackjack counter’s goal is to figure out when the deck will be rich in aces and 10-value cards, which indicates when there’s a better chance of getting a natural blackjack (21 on first two cards).
Many blackjack tables offer a 3:2 payout for a natural, which is 50% better than the standard even-money payout. If you raise your bets by a significant amount before getting a natural, then you stand to make big profits.
Baccarat differs because it doesn’t offer bonus payouts for a natural (9 on first two cards). You therefore gain little value by tracking cards and figuring out when you’re about to get a natural.
Famed gambler James Grosjean put it best when he said that baccarat card values are too symmetric to make counting worth the effort. Author Peter Griffin once wrote that a baccarat advantage player will make less than $1 an hour in profit.
Baccarat card counting can be a fun challenge if you’re looking to keep the house edge around zero, but it should never be viewed as a way to make serious profits.
Betting systems are used in a variety of table games. A betting system consists of placing wagers in a certain manner in hopes of manipulating the odds.
Some baccarat players swear that betting systems help them win more money. Their strategies range from simple ones like the Martingale to more complex plans that involve betting different units at specific points.
But no matter how complex the strategy, no betting system has ever been produced that can overcome the baccarat house edge. Instead, these strategies only give the illusion of winning when they’re successful in the short run.
Here’s an example using the classic Martingale, which requires doubling the bet size after every loss:
Kyle winds up with a $10 profit at the end of the string. In theory, he could continue using the Martingale and always win back his losses, plus a little extra.
The problem with the Martingale, though, is that it assumes you have an infinite amount of wealth to bet with. If you were as rich as Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, you could theoretically always use this system and win profits.
However, nothing is outside the realm of possibility in gambling. You could technically lose 30 straight banker bets, which would leave you needing to wager $536.9 million to win back all of your money.
Of course, nothing this extreme will ever happen with the Martingale. Land-based casinos have betting limits at each table, which prevents you from using the system at a certain point.
The Martingale is just one example of a system that fails due to certain deficiencies. Never listen to a baccarat player who tells you that they have an unbeatable strategy, because one doesn’t exist.
One general gambling lie is that you can win more money with the right superstitions. And baccarat offers some of the most sophisticated superstitions of all.
Asian players are especially notorious for a variety of rituals. For example, they like to bend cards while slowly peeking at the numbers.
Here’s an example of how this works:
The point of this ritual is to use the sides to guess the card value. For example, a 2 has one side at the top and none on the long edge. The player doesn’t, however, actually want to see the card value yet.
Gamblers also avoid looking at the center with this ritual. Seeing a suit in the middle could be a dead giveaway on the value.
Of course, it’s not possible to bend cards in American casinos without being thrown out. Macau casinos, on the other hand, are perfectly fine with the practice when considering baccarat’s popularity.
Another common baccarat superstition involves blowing on the cards. Gamblers believe that they can blow the bad numbers away.
Here’s an example of how it’s commonly performed:
These elaborate superstitions can certainly add more entertainment to baccarat. However, just like a lucky rabbit’s foot or shirt, they have no real bearing on reducing the house edge.
Baccarat is filled with just as many lies as other prominent casino games. Some of these fibs are harmless and won’t hurt your chances of winning, while others can actually result in bigger losses.
You definitely don’t want to fall for the worst lies that can cost you money. For example, being duped into using betting systems or wagering more when you’re already losing can cause a bankroll catastrophe.
Likewise, buying into the idea that pattern betting will result in winnings could also lead to serious losses. Betting on the banker hand again and again is the absolute best strategy you can use.
Other lies simply hurt the game’s reputation. No, baccarat doesn’t require you to wear a tux or bet $100 to play. Mini and online baccarat make the game accessible to everybody.
You also don’t want to fall for the idea that card counting works. While counting cards in baccarat probably won’t cost you major money, it’s a huge waste of time.
Baccarat offers the great combination of a low house edge and simple strategy. You merely need to bet on the banker hand to lower the house edge to 1.06%. Don’t let anybody convince you that baccarat nor its strategy is any more difficult than this.
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