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Baccarat Strategy – Everything You Need to Know

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When it comes to gambling, most people will first think of card games, and for a good reason. Card games are among the most favorite betting games in the world, right up there with slots games. But, where slots are simple and unable to be affected by users in any way, card games do require some level of skill that can let you raise your odds of winning.

When it comes to card games such as poker or baccarat, it’s not the skill with cards that you need, but the skill of reading people that sit with you at the table. This is why the famous term “poker face” came to mean the ability to control your face to the extent where it doesn’t reveal information about the cards in your hand.

Of course, reading the players is not the only thing to have in mind. You also need a sound strategy in order to win the game, as well as money.

The thing about baccarat specifically is that it has a low house advantage, and it is pretty easy to master the game. That, in combination with it being featured in popular media, such as James Bond movies, has quickly made it a favorite game of a lot of players. You can find it in virtually any casino, whether online or in the real world. Some casinos feature mini-baccarat tables, while some have high-limit rooms.

Meanwhile, pretty much every online casino has at least one baccarat game, and often multiple versions provided by different game publishers. The point is, that baccarat is easy to find online and offline, and easy to learn how to play. However, that might not be enough, and in order to actually boost your chances of winning, you need to learn some strategies that will give you an edge against competitors. Luckily, there are plenty of them available, and today, we are going to check them out, see what they require you to do, and then you can decide which one to apply in each situation.

The history of baccarat

Before we start talking about actual strategies, let us first go through a few points about the game, starting with its history. Baccarat actually has a very colorful, and downright fascinating history, as its origin was traced back to the 1400s.

It was invented by an Italian gambler called Felix Falgulerein. The name baccarat comes from the Italian word for zero — baccara. The name reflects the fact that all face cards and tens have the value of zero, which remained in the rules to this day.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the game is identical to the way it was back in the early days. Back then, it started with popular medieval tarot cards, but after a while, those were replaced by regular playing cards. As the word about the game started to spread, baccarat eventually reached France, where it got the name Chemin de Fer, which is a variant of Baccarat en Banque. A few centuries passed, and in 18/19 century, the game started spreading throughout Europe.

At some point, it also reached Cuba, which is where a write-cum-gambler, Tommy Renzoni, picked it up and brought it to the US, taking it straight to Las Vegas. The game has been one of the primary games in Las Vegas casinos ever since, as well as in other parts of the US where gambling is legal.

What are the rules?

Next, let’s talk about how the game is actually played. The game can be a bit intimidating at first, although it is really fairly simple, so if you give it a chance, you will pick up the details pretty quickly.

The first thing to note is that baccarat may have a hard exterior, but behind it, there are only three possible outcomes per hand. Not only that but there is pretty much no skill required in order to get started. Even if you don’t know any card game, and you wish to start playing this one, you can learn it very quickly.

With that said, let’s talk about how to play it.

Like most other table games, baccarat uses three to six standard card decks, that consist of 52 cards. The cards are shuffled, and placed in a dealing machine, popularly known as a “shoe.” You still have the croupier who deals the cards as they leave the shoe, and all that the player really needs to do is place their bet, and let the cards decide whether they win or lose.

Now, when it comes to placing a bet, you wager using chips, tokens, or checks on the Player hand, Bank hand, or resort to a tie bet. After that is done, the croupier will deal two cards to the Player and two to the Banker, with all of the cards being dealt face-up. The goal is to see which of the parties will have the count closer to 9.

The cards are counted in the following way:

  • Cards from 2 to 9 carry their face value
  • Tens (10) and Face (J, Q, K) cards have a value of zero
  • Aces are counted as 1

One major rule to remember is that if your total score goes beyond 9, you remove 10 from your score. So, if you get 9 and 7, your total would be 16. However, by removing 10, the total ends up being 6. Or, simply remember to drop the 1 from “16” and you are left with 6.

Another rule to keep in mind is that each hand can hold a maximum of three cards, and there are rules that decide when the player or the banker have the right to get the third card. In most cases, the third card is added when the Player’s hand has a total score of less than 5. If the count is higher than 5, the player must stand. And, if the count is exactly five, the Played can choose whether or not to draw the third card.

As for the Banker, they get their third card if their total count is lower than 3, or as stipulated by the most favorable odds. However, the Banker must also stand if their count is 6 or higher.

Baccarat payouts

One more thing to discuss before actual strategies is baccarat payouts. This includes the three types of bets that we mentioned earlier — Player hand Bets, Banker Bets, and Tie Bets.

Player Hand Bets

If the player's hand is closer to 9 than the Banker hand, then you win, and your payout is double or even. What this means is that the winning wager of $20 on the Player's hand wins another $20, so you win a total of $40.

Banker bets

Alternatively, if you bet on a Bank hand and it wins, then you will be paid evens, minus 5% that goes to the house. So, if you put $20 on the Banker, you get $19 in winnings, while that $1 will be kept by the house.

Tie Bets

Lastly, we have Tie Bets. Essentially, making a tie bet means that all bets placed on the Player and Banker's hand will be pushed, provided that the result is a tie. In that scenario, neither hand wins or loses, and you can either leave the bet, remove it, reduce it or add more chips to it, or switch it.

Now, one final thing to remember is that there might be relevant state and federal taxes involved, so don’t expect to get 100% of what you won, since gambling in places where it is legal is fully regulated, and there are certain rules that need to be followed.

Baccarat strategies

1) Avoid tie bets

With everything above in mind, one friendly piece of advice is to always avoid tie bets.

As casino games go, baccarat is among the safer kind. However, tie bets are extremely risky, and they are far more likely to empty your wallet than to bring gains.

Their payouts are the biggest, that much is true, given that they pay 8:1. However, statistically, it is extremely unlikely that you will win if you go after tie bets. The house has an advantage for this type of vager, and if you were interested, the advantage is as much as 14.36%. In other words, if you entered 100 bets and each time you wager only $1, statistically, you would lose $14.36, and that’s the best-case scenario. That’s a lot of money to just give to the casino simply because you overestimated your luck, especially since the whole point of betting is to fill your wallet, and not empty it.

It is far better to bet on Banker hand which pays 1:1where the house has the 1.06% advantage. That means that you would lose $1 if you make 100 bets where you bet $1 each time. True, there is the 5% commission that you have to pay to the house if you bet on the Banker's hand and win, but if that is a problem for you, it is still better to try your luck by betting on the Player's hand, where the house advantage is only slightly higher — 1.24%. This is still very low compared to 14.36% of the tie bet.

With all that said, take this as your first lesson on baccarat strategy — never bet on the end result being a tie when playing baccarat.

2) Bet with the Banker

Next, let’s talk about the simplest and yet one of the most effective strategies for winning at baccarat, and that is betting with the Banker. This is also one of the most recommended strategies that most people familiar with the game and the strategies involved with it are likely to suggest.

It is safe to say that this is 100% true, as it all comes down to basic math. As we mentioned earlier, the odds of winning are the highest for betting with the banker, as the theoretical house edge for it is 1.06%. This means that the payout percentage for you would be 98.94%.

So, if you make 100 bets, each worth $1, you will, theoretically, earn $98.94 back. This is all pure statistics and math, of course, and luck still plays a major factor, as it all comes down to the cards. Sometimes, you can win 9 times out of 10, or even 10/10 if you are particularly lucky, and sometimes you might still lose more than you win. No strategy can affect the cards and the total score that you might have once it is all said and done, and the cards are dealt.

However, the return to player (RTP) of a Banker bet is higher than RTP for betting on the Player hand, even if only by a little. The tie, of course, is the worst option, as we discussed earlier, so we do once again recommend avoiding it.

However, there is another reason why you should bet with the Banker, that goes beyond the RTP or the house edge. Once again, the reason lies with the math.

Let’s assume that the casino is using eight 52-card decks. Tie bets will play at 8:1, which is a pretty massive, but rare occurrence. On the other hand, Banker bets pay evens (minus that 5% commission that you leave to the house). And, of course, there is the clean-cut 1:1 payoff for player bets.

So, the math says that the Player hand will win 44.63% of the time, lose 45.87% of the time, and see a tie 9.51% of the time. Those player losses of 45.87% are the Banker wins, meaning that the Banker bet will win 45.87% of the time, lose 44.63% of the time (which is when the Player wins), and the remaining 9.51% are, once again, ties.

Even if we remove the cases when the end result is a tie, we are left with the Banker winning 50.68% of the time, while the Player hand wins 49.32% of the time. In other words, the Banker has over a 50% chance of winning each hand. The Player hand is not far behind, and your reward for taking the risk is that you get to keep the 5% that you would have to pay in commission if you choose the Banker. But, even if you pay 5%, you still keep the majority of your winnings, if the Banker's hand ends up victorious, as opposed to not winning anything if you go with the Player's hand and end up losing.

As you can see, it all comes down to pure numbers, and you can always trust that the math does not lie. Once again, betting on the Player's hand is almost just as good — better even, in terms of the money that you are going to win. However, the Banker’s odds are still slightly higher, and you would be surprised how often that ends up being enough to make a difference.

In the end, it is your choice, but if you want the safest bet, we advise you to go with the Banker. Yes, there is a small sacrifice to pay, but the majority of the winnings are still yours, so that’s something to think about if you find yourself at the baccarat table.

3) The Martingale strategy

If you listen to the experts’ advice and avoid betting on ties, and you don’t wish to bet with the Banker, there are other alternatives that you can exploit. People have been studying baccarat and ways to make bets for a long time now, and they have developed some rather advanced betting systems that can be implemented into your baccarat strategy.

One of the best-known ones is the Martingale system, which has been around for centuries. It became popular in 18th century France, and it is a system where you progressively adjust bets. It works in most casino games, not just baccarat, but it fits into baccarat perfectly.

The system even has uses outside of gambling, and it has been known to make an appearance in forex trading, securities investments, and other investment vehicles that are seeking to achieve long-term profit expectancy.

The system was invented by Paul Pierre Levy, a French mathematician. However, thanks to the fact that it was popularized by a casino owner called John Martingale, it got stuck with his name, instead. The way it works is fairly simple. It is based on the theory of Mean Revision, and the theory says that historical returns and asset prices will revert to the long-term average, or mean.

So, how can this be applied to baccarat? Well, the system is designed to assume that the payout will get as close to the RTP in the long run as possible, meaning that a particular hand is bound to win at some point. With that in mind, the Martingale strategy says that you should double down on the next wager each time when you lose a wager.

So, if you put $20 on the Banker's hand, and it loses, the strategy recommends that you stick with the Banker, and put $40 for the next wager. If you lose again, you double that down and put $80 for your third wager. And, when you win a hand, then you revert to your original bet and go with $20 again.

The idea is that you will win big gains at the end of the cycle, especially if you see a losing streak, and that you will be able to recover your losses, plus make some extra profit on top of it. So, if you have enough money to bet for the long run, this system has a 100% success rate. The only question is whether you have enough money to keep doubling your bet as you go along.

With that said, this is not the best strategy for people with a small bankroll, as they might run out of money before they reach the win that will restore their wealth. Next, even if you do have enough money, if you keep losing and doubling your bet, you will eventually reach the table limit. At that point, you can’t go higher, and even if you win, you will not even be able to cover your losses anymore, and you’ll need an entire winning streak to do just that.

Another downside is that, even if you do see some wins, you will have to bet a number of times to earn enough money to be worth all the effort. And, lastly, there are some casinos that have banned the Martingale system, so you need to check whether it is allowed before you start applying it.

Of course, even if this ends up being the case, there are other options that you can implement and set up a worthwhile strategy, such as:

4) The Fibonacci Strategy

Our next strategy for improving your odds of winning at baccarat is the Fibonacci strategy This is an entirely different betting system in which you use the Fibonacci sequence to decide what amount to bet after a loss. The sequence is quite famous around the world, and it all comes down to making each number the sum of the two numbers that come before it.

You start with 1, and since the number, before it is zero, 0+1 once again equals 1. After that, you have 2, because the sum of the previous two numbers — 1, and the 1 before it — is 2. The next number is 3, and so on. In the end, the sequence looks something like this: 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34-55, etc.

As you can imagine, this system will require you to think fast and it involves a bit more math than the Martingale system, where you simply double your past bet each time when you lose. However, you can still apply it in practice, even if you are not a math professor.

The strategy goes like this: Whenever you lose a hand, you raise the stakes by following the Fibonacci sequence. Once you hit a win, the sequence resets, and you start from the beginning. The idea is that the deeper into the sequence you go, the more money will be on the line, and the eventual winner will help you gain a massive amount.

So, if we say that you start with a $10 bet on the Player hand — let’s go with the Player hand for the sake of simplicity and to not have to calculate that 5% — and you lose, then you will bet another $10 on it. If you lose again, you go for $20. If you lose again, you go for $30. After that, $50, then $80, then $130, and so on, following the sequence. Eventually, you will win and make a lot more money than just making up for what you lost. Of course, this requires you to have a decent bankroll and prepare for a lengthy period of trying again and again.

In practice, however, you will likely win more often, and the odds of getting deep down the sequence are fairly low, although it is still a possibility. And, if you happen to hit a winning streak right at the start, simply keep betting your $10s, one after another.

5) The Paroli System

Moving on, we have the Paroli System, which is another well-known strategy that works in the opposite way of the Martingale system. This also resulted in some people adopting the name the Reverse Martingale for it. However, it is an old system, that was traced back to 16th century Italy, so it has been around for a long time now. Some take it as evidence that the system works, but we believe that it is just as legitimate as the rest of them and that it might be for some people, but certainly not for everyone.

Still, if you can apply it, it is certainly a good strategy for games like baccarat, roulette, and many other games.

The system is a form of a positive betting system, which dictates that you should double your bets whenever you win until you lose. This, of course, starts with the assumption that you will win the next hand. The main objective is to win three hands in a row, which can be quite a challenge, but it is not impossible.

Let’s say that you once again decided to go with a bet on the Player hand. You bet $10, and you win. Next time, you bet $20. If you lose, you go back to $10 again, and if you win, then you bet $40, by doubling the previous bet. If you lose while betting $40, you go back to $10. If you win, you go for $80. At this point, you’re at the end of your 3-step cycle, and no matter what happens next, you go back to $10 and start anew. That is pretty much all that you do until you get tired of betting and leave the table.

6) The Labouchere system

Next, we have a system that has come to be known under many names, including the Split Martingale, the Cancellation System, and even the American Progression. However, it is best known as the Labouchere system, and that is also its original name, as it was originally introduced by a French roulette player, Henry Labouchere.

Make no mistake though, it is definitely a system that works well with baccarat, so you can rely on it to help you make your winnings. However, we should also note that this is one of the more complex systems out there, so you will need some time and a lot of practice to master it. It works as a negative progression system, and it encompasses increasing your wager whenever you lose a bet, that much is the same as what we talked about when we mentioned the Martingale system.

However, while Martingale was designed in a way that you can win back your losses with a single win after a losing streak, the Labouchere will require a few wins to get back and recover from the losses.

So, how does the system work? You start by creating a sequence, which can be any sequence that sits well with you. In our example, let’s use the simplest one — 1-2-3.

Next, you start by betting the amount equal to the sum of the last and the first number in the sequence, so in this case, it would be $3 and $1. In this case, the sum would be $4. After a win, you cross off the winning numbers, and you remain with $4, meaning that the next bet should be worth this same amount.

On the other hand, if you lose, then you add $4 to the end of the list and turn your sequence into 1-2-3-4. Then, you repeat the process and make your next bet of $5, which is the sum of $4 and $1 — the first and the last number. Then, you just keep doing that every time. If you win, you cross the end numbers and keep the winning sum. If you lose, you add the sum of the first and the last number and create a new sum with the previous one becoming your new base.

7) The D’Alembert System

In the seventh spot, we have a system created by a French theorist from the 18th century, known as Jean le Rond d’Alembert. Unlike the previous one, this one is a positive progressive system, not unlike the Martingale itself. However, this one was designed to prevent the player from making quick, steep losses, while recouping lost bets at the same time.

You start by selecting your base unit. Usually, this will be the value of one chip/token. Assuming that you will play with $1 chips, then your base unit will be 1. Now, whenever you suffer a loss, you should increase the next wager by 1 chip. So, if you were to start with $5 and lose, then your next wager should be $6. If you lose again, you move on to $7, and so on.

However, when you win, you go one chip down. So, if you started at $5 and reached $8, due to three consecutive losses, and then you win, you would go down to $7. This strategy is based on the assumption that your wins and losses will eventually even out.

Money management while playing baccarat

Finally, in this last segment, we wanted to discuss money. Or, more precisely, money management.

Managing your bankroll is an extremely important skill when playing betting games. You need to know when to raise the stakes, and when to walk away, but most importantly, it is in your interest to manage your money in a way that will allow you to stay in the game. That way, even if you experience losses, you will still have a chance to win the money back.

Once you empty your wallet, it will be game over, and you will be leaving the table, not only without the spoils, but also without the funds you originally approached it with, and the house will have won again.

Of course, your wins and losses are left for fate to decide, and your strategy is up to you. However, there are also some things that do not fall under either of these categories, and that’s where you can play it smart and follow a few tips that we have prepared to help you pull through and manage your money the right way.

1. Set win/loss limits

Our first tip is to set a limit of how much you are willing to lose, or a goal regarding how much you wish to win. While you are between those two numbers, you should be able to continue playing the game, but as soon as you reach either one of them, you should quit and walk away.

This is something that sounds fairly easy to do, but it never is with gambling. If you hit your bottom limit after a series of losses, you start thinking that this next hand might be just what you needed to make a comeback and win a portion of what you had lost. Alternatively, reaching your top limit can cloud your mind and make you think that you are unstoppable, which usually leads to increasing the bets, and losing everything you managed to win.

We see it all the time, and it is a very easy trap to fall into. This is why we recommend setting up those limits and sticking to them. It will require discipline to do so, either because you have to cut your losses, or because you need to quit while you are ahead, but if you manage to do it, you will protect your money, which is, ultimately, all that matters.

2. Set aside the amount for baccarat

Most people go to casinos to experience a variety of games. If that is the case with you, as well, then we suggest that you break down your total bankroll and make sure that each game you approach has its own, separate amount.

That way, you won’t spend everything you had on baccarat, and end up left with nothing for the slots, video poker, or roulette, or whatever it is you wish to play next. If you reach the end of your baccarat amount, you walk away and move on to the next game.

3. Bet with the Banker

If you don’t wish to have to think and plan too much and you just want to have some fun with baccarat, but you still want to try and earn as much as possible, the best way to do so is to bet with the banker, and wager on low house-edge bets. This is a good rule for playing the system, and, as we covered at the beginning of this guide, betting with the Banker has the highest chance of seeing success — just over 50%.

And, as we said several times already, stay clear of tie bets, as they are the most difficult to win at. However, Player hand is also not that bad as a secondary choice, if you are feeling lucky. Its odds are not as high as the Banker hand’s, but the difference is fairly small, and you won’t have to pay that 5% commission, so that’s a plus right there.

4. Don’t go for all-in bets

After a while, and especially if they see a winning or losing streak, players tend to lose their discipline and go all in. The idea is, if they are losing, this will be one win that they needed to get their money back. Alternatively, if they are winning, then this next hand will bring them a fortune.

Unfortunately, this rarely works in their favor, and they hardly ever walk away with a smile on their faces. Remember that real life is not a Hollywood movie, and you are the main character of your story only, just like everyone else. That means that the next hand is in the hands of fate, and you have greater chances of losing everything than winning everything.

5. Take your time to pick the best strategy

Finally, we have selected some of the best baccarat strategies to present to you, and all of the ones we talked about are old, popular, and successful. However, that doesn’t mean that each of them will work well for you. Some are more intense than others, Some require you to do a lot of calculations, while others are so simple that even beginners can apply them successfully, and without stress.

Choose the one that is the best for you, as they all work equally well in the hands of fate. It is you who needs to be comfortable with them — often in the long run, as wins and losses tend to replace one another, and so you may spend hours at the baccarat table. Make sure that you can handle it.

Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.