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The ins and outs of baccarat

The ins and outs of baccarat

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House edges in baccarat are among the lowest in common casino games. Yet baccarat remains a secondary or tertiary game for most players, if they play at all.

Perhaps it’s because you have no decisions to make on whether to draw cards. Players like to feel they’re in control. There’s not even an extra-bet decision to make, as in Three Card Poker and Mississippi Stud.

That doesn’t mean baccarat is a no-decision game. The decisions come before the cards are dealt. You decide which side gets your wager, whether you switch sides and whether to bet the same amount on each hand.

Keeping in mind the house edge is 1.06 percent if you bet on banker, 1.24 on player and an out-of-the-question 14.4 percent on ties, here are some ways players try to get the most out of baccarat.

Make the best betThe banker bet in baccarat is a rarity in that it wins more often than it loses. Per 1,000 decisions, banker wins 459 times, player wins 446 and there are 95 ties.

Banker and player don’t lose on the ties. They get their money back.

If winning banker bets were paid at even money like winning player bets, banker bettors would win more money than they lost. Tables would be crammed with sharpies looking for free money until casinos shut the game down.

The solution is to charge a 5 percent commission on winning banker bets. If you win a $20 bet on banker, you must pay the house a $1 commission. Your profit on the hand is $19.

Some players shy away from banker because of the commission, but it still has the lowest house edge at baccarat. You cut the house edge to the bone if you bet on banker every time.

Stick with the winnersBanker is baccarat’s bet with the lowest house edge, but player also is one of the better bets available in casinos.

If you decide to switch back and forth between the two, what method should you use?

Many players like to bet on streaks, sticking with one side as long as it wins, than switching to the other after a loss.

Streak bettors’ goal is to ride a long winning streak to big profits. If long streaks don’t come, at least you’re on low house-edge bets all the way.

There is no way to tell when a streak is coming. With betting the streaks, you just have to take your chances. A streak of five banker wins comes only once per 29.76 trials, and a streak of five player wins averages once per 34.47 trials.

When long streaks happen, it means fun and profit. But losses are more frequent.

Betting progressionsPlayers hoping for a really big win sometimes will increase their bets in winning streaks.

Some progressions being more aggressive than others. Let’s look at one conservative, five-step system.

Using bets on player, bet $20. If you win, bet $20 again, so even if you lose you can do no worse than break even. If you win the second bet, then wager $40, then $60, then $80. After five consecutive wins, roll back to $20 and start over.

If you win all five bets in the conservative progression, you win $220 instead of the $100 you’d win if you bet $20 each time.

The downside is that choppy results and early losses can leave you worse off in a progression than with flat bets. The result is more big wins offset by a lot more small losses.

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