Baccarat is a card game that allows the players to “act” in roles at the table. There is a “Player” and a “Banker”. The house will provide a dealer and croupier to handle the cards and bets. The dealer deals two hands consisting of two (and possibly three) cards each. One hand goes to the Banker and one hand to the Player. All people betting on the game may bet on three different possibilities including the Banker, the Player or a Tie of the two.
The dealer keeps the shoe stacked of 6-8 decks and there may be 5-12 players taking part in the game. For all you strategic minds, this may start to sound a lot like blackjack. In fact, there are some striking resemblances when you begin to research your options in developing strategies.
Whether you are sitting in to watch a hand or actively participating, you are given the distinct advantage to see every card that moves from the deck. This fact piques “math-letic” minds to start tracking cards that are moving out of that shoe. So the question is can you effectively use card-counting as a strategy in Baccarat?
While there are some interesting conversations ongoing about this question of card-counting in Baccarat, the short answer is “No”. The foremost contributors to gambling systems posit that card-counting in Baccarat, when done perfectly, will give you only a tiny advantage. Edward Thorp and Peter Griffin, considered the expert strategist for card-counting in Blackjack and Baccarat wrote about their experiment proving that the perfect card-counting system gives you no practical advantage.
John May is another author and Baccarat expert that worked on a card counting system that could help improve your odds on the “Tie” bet. His method creates an advantage by tracking when all odd cards have been removed from the pack. In order to track this advantage the player would assign a +1 to every odd card that is played and when his running tally reaches 160 then you will have a 62% advantage when betting on the even counts.
Another strategy that is possible to apply is detailed by the Wizard of Odds website. This strategy tries to improve your odds by creating odds charts when a card is removed from the deck. This method requires the player keep three running counts in his head. The charts are long, require you to keep a perfect tally, and are impractical in reality. The objective of the chart is to divide your running tally by the ratio of remaining cards in the deck to find the true count. The true count will indicate when the house edge is zero. Another problem with this method is that it requires a game where the dealer doesn’t mind that you play once every 475 hands dealt, or so. That is definitely not practical unless you just love to sit and watch fun being had by others!
While you are sitting and watching, there is another strategy that may be more practical, although not very scientific. The most practical method at playing Baccarat with some strategy is by riding the trends. Trends are present in every game from Roulette to Craps and are certainly not fool-proof. You can flip a coin and guess, but as you flip a coin 100 times, you can often see a pattern. Betting into a streak has better odds than betting against a streak.
The best way to watch for a streak is to sit. That’s right, you can buy into a game and sit at the table and watch several hands for your pattern. The casino will often be happy to provide you with a paper and pencil to track the streak. This just goes to show you that there is nothing scientific about the streak and the effect to the casino is of no concern to them.
Another strategy in Baccarat is to know your odds. The fact is that the tie almost never wins; the Banker and Player are almost even. It is like flipping a coin, but in fact, like choosing “Heads” over “Tails”, the likelihood of the Banker winning is slightly better than the Player. Pure odds would have the player bet on the Banker every time. That is sure boring! Plus the bets on the Banker lose 5% of their wins to the rake. That is why tracking a streak is more fun than just betting the same every time.
There are great strategies for all types of players. You can try out the most complicated math tables or stick with the simple flip of a coin. In the end, Baccarat is simple and easy to play at. The simpler you keep it the better you may find your bankroll. In the end, Baccarat has always been a game for the high rollers. The rules governing the third card are strict and the bets are fixed after the deal. For those players looking to have a more fail-safe card-counting system may want to turn to blackjack. For fun acting a part, fast-paced wins and losses, and a game fit for French royalty, Baccarat is the game.