It’s no secret that there are a number of people out there who make a living playing high stakes poker and even a few who do the same playing blackjack. These are inarguably two of the biggest betting card games in the world, but they’re hardly the only ones.
Take baccarat, for example. Baccarat is a simple card game that involves a dealer dealing four cards, two for themselves and two for the player, and the player then bets on whose two cards will come closest to totalling nine overall, but without going over that number. Ace is worth 1 and the 10, jack, queen and king cards, are all worth zero. The cards start off face down and the player then places his or her bet on whether their or the dealer’s hand will win or if they’ll tie, whereupon the dealer reveals the cards, does the math and calls the winner. It’s like blackjack but with the ability to bet against yourself and it’s a fun, easy, competitive guessing game that really anyone can pick up and play. Especially because the dealer does all the hard work.
Is baccarat competitive enough and are its payouts substantial enough, though, for professional gamblers to dedicate themselves to it rather than on poker or blackjack?
The short answer is yes,it certainly is and here are a few reasons for why it has become an increasingly desirable game for high-rolling professional gamblers.
The House Always Wins… Or Does It?
Arguably the biggest reason why professionals pick baccarat as their game of choice is because it has one of the lowest house advantages of any casino game. While the odds are always in the house’s favor on all classic casino games, the house advantage in baccarat is a mere 1%. This, of course, is pretty obvious if you think about it.
Baccarat is a game where you can bet on the dealer tying with or beating your hand so the house advantage can be turned into a player advantage by betting against yourself. Casinos actually charge a 5% fee for bets on the dealer’s hand for exactly this reason. It’s a real advantage that games like poker and blackjack, let alone roulette or slots, simply can’t and do not offer.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
The actual gameplay of Baccarat is incredibly straightforward, but unlike blackjack, for example, the fact that you can bet both on yourself and the dealer’s hand gives it a certain excitement and unpredictability that you just don’t get elsewhere. There are statistical advantages to having these three different bets at your fingertips that can be manipulated by the best professional players, but no doubt the fact that it has this added level of variety makes it more enjoyable for them too.
It’s Different But Also Not
Though there are aspects to baccarat that are decidedly unique, a big part of why there are professional gamblers who make it their game of choice is because it’s actually not a whole lot different from blackjack, poker, or even roulette. Serious professional gamblers are what they are because they understand the mathematics behind each casino game and how to make sure that each bet they place has the highest likelihood of winning. And for all that baccarat has its own rules, its own advantages and its own disadvantages, its underlying math is really not at all dissimilar from the game of blackjack.
Speaking of, which…
Not Like Everyone Else
Because baccarat isn’t played anywhere near as much as the more famous casino games – despite not actually being too dissimilar to any other card game – professional gamblers might also simply choose to specialize in baccarat simply because they’re tired of the more familiar games that everyone else plays. This isn’t just a question of personal enjoyment, which is actually fairly important for any “job” that you do constantly and consistently, but that they can use the sort of skills they may apply to blackjack or poker and apply it to a game that offers new experiences and its own set of strengths and weaknesses. More than that, because the playing field is much smaller, professional baccarat players are able to make a name for themselves far easier than those competing professionally in blackjack or poker.
Just ask professional baccarat players like Akio Kashiwagi, Phil Ivey or Kerry Parker.