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ALMOST 50-50

A simple guide to baccarat

By Frank Scoblete


Baccarat presents you with an almost 50-50 game against the casino – the Bank bet will actually win more than 50 percent of the time.

Baccarat is dealt from a shoe. All tens, jacks, queens and kings equal zero. The ace equals one. All the other cards equal their face value. The highest possible hand is nine.

The objective is to correctly guess which of three propositions will win: Bank, Player, or Tie. Two cards are dealt to the Bank hand and two are dealt to the Player hand. Sometimes a third card is dealt to either or both hands. Whichever hand is closest to nine is the winner. A two-card hand of nine and a two-card hand of eight are considered naturals and do not take any hits. Nine beats eight.

In baccarat the deal goes counterclockwise from player to player. The player who is dealing continues as long as the Bank hand keeps winning – the player dealing does not have to bet the Bank hand. As soon as a Player hand wins, the next player gets to deal.

The rules for drawing cards are predetermined. The casino’s dealer will tell you which hands need more cards.

A winning Player hand is paid off at one to one. A winning Bank hand is paid off at even money with a commission, usually five percent. This means that if you bet $100, you win $95. This commission is collected after the shoe is finished but you can request to “pay as you go.” The Tie hand is paid at eight to one. Thus, a winning tie wager of $10 will return $80. If you bet on either Bank or Player and the Tie wins, it is a push.

The Tie bet is one of the worst bets in the casino – with more than a 14 percent edge which means your expectation is to lose $14 for every $100 you wager on the Tie. The Tie bet appears approximately 10 percent of the time. Here are the house edges.

Player = 1.24 percent

Bank = 1.06 percent

Tie = 14.36 percent (ugh!)

There are also baccarat games where the casinos have changed how they handle the Bank bet. Instead of charging a commission on the bet, the casino will pay only one-half of a winning Bank hand totaling six. Therefore, if the Bank beats the Player by a score of six to five or less, then the casino only pays the Bank bets at half value. So a $100 wager is paid $50.

On the other winning Bank hands no commission is charged. It makes the game faster since no commissions have to be figured out at the end of a round of play and it increases the house edge by three-tenths of one percent.

A new “push” rule exists. If the number three is the winner, the winner does not get paid. This nudges up the house edge and increases the number of hands played.


There are three major differences between mini-baccarat and full-blown baccarat aside from the fact that mini-baccarat is played on a lower mid-sized table:

  1. The casino dealer deals the cards1.
  2. The size of the minimum bets can be as low as $10 but tend to be $25 2.
  3. The speed of mini-baccarat is fast3.

Casino dealers move the games swiftly which is better for the casino. The number of hands that can be played in an hour often range from 120 to almost 200! You’ll never find anything close to that number of decisions in the full-blown high-roller-room game.

Lately a complete or partial elimination of the big baccarat tables or the reducing of their action to weekends has occurred. The lower, mid-sized tables will be opened for business composed of one dealer. Those $100+ players can take a shellacking at those games!


  • The more players playing the slower the game.
  • Always use the scorecard to take up time.
  • Bet Bank-only.
  • Slow the game.

You buy in. Now you put down your first Bank bet. If the Bank wins, you bet it again. If it loses, you sit out the next hand. You wait for the Bank to hit again, and then you bet it again.

It is not a crime against nature to bet the Player, as it is a crime against all that is holy to bet the Tie. Do the same method as above.

Trying to slow the game often comes down to getting the dealers involved with you. This works at the high-roller room game where the dealers are pros at talking to the customers; but it works even better to slow the game at the mini-baccarat tables.

The more the dealer talks, the fewer hands the dealer deals. Just ask a few questions and give your opinions or tell the dealer about your life, your wife, your husband, your kids, your best buddies, or your abduction by space aliens – whatever you want. Never put a bet out when the dealer is talking as that could stop the dealer who now thinks she has to deal those cards since you’ve entered the game.

The typical baccarat game will collect the commissions of the winning Bank bets at the end of the shoe. This is a tradition; not a law of nature. Always pay your commission while the game is in progress; preferably after every Bank win.


I am not one of those gambling writers who think tipping is a waste of money. However, if you keep tipping in front of your bet, with each win, the casino will take the win and they will take the original bet. To tip again, you’ll have to put more money out.

When placing the tip on top of your bet, let the dealers know that it is a bet for them. Good luck!

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage- Play Blackjack; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps! and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores. Visit Frank’s new website at

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