Baccarat Card Counting
Baccarat is a card game that has been played for thousands of years in every country in the world. The Italians passed it to the French and then it travelled to England, sailed to the Americas and back! With all these different people playing this game, the rules and strategy has mutated along with it.
So if you are looking for a fool-proof way to beat the house at baccarat, you may be out of luck. While there are dozens of great strategies to try out, these options may not improve your odds very much. Let’s consider the option of card counting. It certainly can help in blackjack!
Baccarat is often compared to blackjack. Baccarat has two roles in the game for a “Banker” and a “Player”. The house provides a dealer, croupier and, in the North American version of the game, the house banks the game. In the European versions of baccarat, the person playing the role of “banker” actually provides the bank for the game to win or lose. These European version deserve a whole different conversation on strategy since there can be a great deal of skill developed when the house is not involved. For the North American Baccarat, also called Punto Banco, the game is one of chance.
The dealer deals one hand consisting of two or three cards to the Banker and then to the Player. That is exactly two hands for each baccarat game. Anyone sitting around the game can see each card that passes out of the shoe. In this, a card-counter may be born. To count cards in a shoe with 6 to 8 decks in itself is a task and will require that you choose a tracking system. In fact there is a great deal written about counting cards in baccarat.
Peter Griffin and Edward Thorp are top authorities on casino gambling and write that there is no way to design a card counting system that is practical in baccarat. If you are looking for a good method, then they write books on card counting in blackjack. Their calculations showed there is almost no way to identify any recognizable advantage of betting on the “tie”. Also, almost every bet gives the Banker the advantage and it is mathematically not advantageous to bet on the Player.
John May is an author and one of the leading contributors to card counting theories in baccarat. His system experimented with a way to improve your odds on the “Tie” bet. He found by tracking when the odd cards were gone, you could increase your odds against the house. By counting each odd card that was played, you could track when you reached a total of 160. Now you will be able to better reduce the possible totals to five of the even totals: 2, 4, 6, 8, 0. Once you have counted 160 you have increased your advantage to 62% on the tie bet.
There is an online expert that players like to consult called the “Wizard of Odds”. This site conducted experiments on a card counting system that was based on the idea of a “card removed” from the deck. This mathematical approach breaks down the card removed into ratios and requires the player keep a running total of three counts in their head. Divide this count by the ratio of cards left in the deck to get a “true count”. This true count will indicate to you when the house edge is at zero. There are lots of numbers to memorize, tables to reference and unless you are “Rain man”, it offers lots of places to make mistakes.
For all the math geniuses out there looking to find the right card counting system to beat the game of baccarat, beware. Loads of sites boasting their expertise are ready to sell you their system and promise outrageous returns. (Get them to divine your future from tea leaves while they are at it!) If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Trust your instincts and have fun with baccarat.
So if card counting is not the best way to play baccarat, then what should you do? Well, the same systems that are charging you money are nothing more than calculations of the game’s streaks and that can be fun to track on your own. There is nothing too scientific about it and you might have the same luck if you flip a coin. Streaks are patterns that appear after you watch the game unfold for a while. So you can buy-in and wait. Watch the game unfold for several hands and try to find the pattern. You have a better chance betting with a streak rather than against one.
Count cards if you have an aptitude for that, but the experts think you should save that skill for your blackjack tables. Enjoy the fun of tracking a trend or streak if you like. Play it safe and bet on the Banker every time. In the end, baccarat is a game of chance and fun for its role play and fast pace. Sitting among the “black-tie” crowd and feeling like royalty is as much the fun of this game as any other aspect.