dealer shuffling cards

Is There a Strategy to Baccarat?

There are, ultimately, two kinds of games that you can play for money.


Games (Largely) of Skill

The first are those games over which you have some control on the outcome. The most obvious examples of this are playing sports or esports professionally, where you test your skills against other players for a cash prize. Into this category, however, we can also put the likes of fantasy sports, sports betting and esports betting – where you don’t actually play the game, but how well you do depends quite significantly on how well you know the game in question and the various players. 

Poker, too, fits in this category as even though luck obviously plays a huge part in deciding what your cards are in any given hand, there is real strategy and skill if you are to do well in the game – and certainly if you wish to play professionally.


Games (Largely) of Chance

And then there are those games where strategy and skill play, at most, a tiny part and they are almost entirely about luck. In games like roulette, there is some strategy in knowing how to maximize your bets but, fundamentally, it’s really all about where the ball lands and you have zero control over that. Games like Big Six Wheel, craps, and to a certain extent, blackjack (though blackjack probably has the most amount of strategy of these second types of games).

 The most extreme example of this, though, is obviously playing the slots – which comes down to, at best, blind luck and at worst, a game so carefully designed to take rather than give money that it’s something of a shock that they’re the most popular part of any casino.  

Ace of spades

Where Baccarat Falls

The question is then, obviously, which category of game does baccarat fall into? Like poker, after all, it is a card game that may rely heavily on chance, but does it involve any level of skill at all?

In truth, baccarat is actually closer to blackjack in falling square in the second category, but it’s even less reliant on strategy than blackjack is. 

The reason for this is that though, like blackjack, baccarat is all about pitting a dealer’s hand against the player’s hand and the one that gets closest to a certain number (21 in blackjack, 9 in baccarat) wins, the player actually has no control over their hand.In baccarat, the dealer plays both cards and there are specific, unbreakable rules of when the dealer “hits” or “stands” on both hands. A hand can’t go bust in baccarat either as the way hands are totalled is if the total is worth more than 9, 10 is subtracted and no hand can ever go over 18 in total value. 

Literally the only thing that players control is their bets – and in this case they have three options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. They may bet on the dealer’s hand winning, on the “player’s” hand winning or the two ending up in a tie. Betting on a tie has the highest payout (8:1 usually) and there is a slight house advantage on the dealer’s hand over the “player’s”, so though it pays out the same as the “player’s” hand and is the safest bet in the games, a 5% penalty is charged if you bet and win on it.

That’s it. Choosing which of the three possibilities to bet on and how much to bet are the only things that the player has any control on, and there’s no real strategy involved whatsoever beyond deciding whether to take the safest bet, the highest paying bet, or the bet in the middle (betting on the player’s hand). There are pros and cons to each, but deciding on which one to go for comes down purely to gut feel and personal preference,

Like all games of pure chance, then, be sure to gamble as responsibly as possible. To set a budget for yourself before logging on online or going to the casino and stick to it. Certainly, don’t believe anyone who tells you they have a surefire way to win at baccarat. There’s no such thing and they’re either a liar or a fool.

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