Baccarat is a simple and well-known casino card game. The goal in baccarat is to try to achieve point score of 9 with 2-3 cards. Baccarat is a casino game that resembles coin flip the most (fifty-fifty chance).
At the start of the game, the player chooses whether he bets on “Player” or “Banker” to win. Both “Player” and “Banker” draw two cards and depending the value of the cards a third card may be drawn to “Player”, “Banker” or both. The winner is the one who has highest point value after drawing the cards. The point value is calculated as a sum of drawn card values where 10-K have value 0, ace has value 1 and other cards have their face values. Then whole tens are substracted from this sum so the final point value is a number between 0 – 9. The one, (“Player” or “Banker”) who has the highest point value in the end, wins the hand.
For example, “Player” draws K-J-5 and “Banker” draws 5-5-A. “Player” has a point value 5 and “Banker” has a point value 1 so “Player” would win this hand.
If either “Banker” or “Player” draws point value 8 or 9 as their first two cards, then no third card will be drawn and such a hand is called Natural 8 or 9. If “Player” draws 0 – 5 point two card hand, then he will draw a third card, and “Banker” draws third card depending on his own hand and player’s third card. The actual rules of drawing a third card aren’t important as the player cannot have any control on how many cards are drawn. To play the game you just make a bet on “Player” or “Banker” and see whether you won or lost.
In case of a tie (both “Banker” and “Player” have the same point value), all bets on “Player” or “Banker” are returned (as a push).
House Edge and Optimal Strategy
Both “Player” and “Banker” have almost equal chances of winning the hand. However, “Banker” acts last after “Player” draws the third card, so “Banker” has a slightly bigger chance of winning the hand. To offset this advantage, 5% commission is usually deducted from winning bets on Banker. The probabilities for different outcomes are following:
|Banker Wins||45.8597 %|
|Player Wins||44.6247 %|
Excluding ties the probabilities are
|Banker Wins||50.6824 %|
|Player Wins||49.3176 %|
The House Edge for different bet options “Banker”, “Player” and “Tie” are
|Banker Wins||1.95||1.06 %|
|Player Wins||2||1.24 %|
From the table above we see that a bet on “Banker” has the lowest house edge with 5 % commission so the optimal strategy is to always bet on banker. Many Baccarat players switch their bets between “Banker” and “Player” but this is not an optimal strategy because it leads to a higher house edge.