Probabilities of Baccarat

Baccarat is French for “zero” and don’t be caught with this total or you will be the loser. The posh look of this game belies how simple it really is. If you are interested in learning about it, you will find it fun and easy enough to master.

All cards are worth their face value, Ace worth 1 and the 10, Jack, Queen and King worth 10 points each. Add up your cards total and then drop the tens digit. For example a 6+10=16=6. If you have an 8 or 9 total it is a natural and you declare so to see if you automatically win.

What makes this game unique is the fact that there are roles to play. There is a Banker and a Player. In the European versions, the Banker is one the players that uses his own money to finance the game, leaving the house to a menial role of providing the dealer and croupier. In the North American version, the Banker is nothing more than a place on the board to bet on. This dramatically changes the skill and probabilities between the American and European versions of baccarat.

The dealer will deal the Banker and Player two cards each. Any player at the baccarat table is allowed to bet on the Banker, Player or Tie. It turns out to sound a lot like blackjack but there are some big differences that appear. What makes baccarat so different than blackjack is that there are strict rules governing how the third card is dealt. In baccarat if the player has a 0-5 total, he can take a third card. A total of 6 or 7 means he must stand pat and an 8 or 9 is a “natural” win. Baccarat bets are made before the deal and cannot be changed after the deal like in blackjack.

So what about the baccarat odds? They aren’t bad at all! The house advantage is 1.06% on the Banker bet, 1.24% on the Player bet, and 14.36% on the Tie. The probability of the Banker or Player winning is almost at 45% for both the Player and Banker bet. Like flipping a coin! The probability on the Banker bet, mathematically turns out to be a better bet. The probability of the Banker winning is at 0.4586 and the Player is 0.4462.

The reason that the Banker is a sounder bet is that the rules governing the third card for the Banker are much more complicated. The third card for the Banker depends on the Player. If the Player draws a third card, that third card is dealt face-up and the Banker is dealt a card based specifically in that card.

  • If the Player’s third card is 9, 10, face-card or Ace, the Banker draws when he has a 0-3, and stays with a 4-7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 8, the Banker draws when he has a 0-2, and stays with a 3-7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 6 or 7, the Banker draws when he has a 0-6, and stays with a 7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 4 or 5, the Banker draws when he has a 0-5, and stays with a 6-7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 2 or 3, the Banker draws when he has a 0-4, and stays with a 5-7.

What about all the systems and tracking trends? It is true that the casino is happy to provide you with a scorecard to track the trends, but again, it is a flip of a coin. If you want to track these trends, some people find it more entertaining than just betting on the Banker every time. However, based on the probabilities, the best bet is always on the Banker.

The great debate over how to improve odds in baccarat continues with one honest answer: baccarat is a game of chance. Know your probabilities and have fun. Card counting, following streaks and baccarat systems are no more likely to make your win more likely. Keeping a good attitude and a strict spending limit are your only guaranteed ways to succeed. North American baccarat is as good as a flip of a coin. So flip your coin and bring your lucky charms.

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