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Strategy for Baccarat

S. Stoynova (editor) |

Learning the Optimal Way to Play Baccarat

Baccarat StrategyCOne extremely important thing you need to remember about baccarat is that this is a game of luck, meaning there is no way to affect the result or predict which side will win. Despite being a card game, baccarat is very different from blackjack, where the use of strategy can impact the result to a certain degree. While there is no specific strategy that suggests how to play each hand in baccarat, there are several factors that can make one’s betting session more successful in the long run.

While there are several betting systems developed by baccarat players, most casino experts will recommend you avoid using any of these strategies when you play baccarat as spotting any trends or patterns will not help you improve your odds. One thing that will come in handy when playing baccarat is money management. As you cannot affect the result of each coup, you can try to minimize your losses by sticking to a pre-set budget. In this article, we will discuss different baccarat strategies and their effectiveness. We will also discuss bankroll management, which is crucial for successful and fun baccarat sessions.

Baccarat Systems

Baccarat SystemsJJust like other card games, baccarat also has various developed systems that can be applied during the course of the game. That said, the effectiveness of these systems is very questionable. Many people utilize such systems, raising the question of whether they actually work in favor of baccarat players. Some gamblers believe they have mastered the game as they have come to know about the baccarat systems. Meanwhile, from a statistical point of view, none of these systems have proven to have a long-lasting impact on one’s success rate, and therefore, they don’t influence the players’ bankroll in the long run.

There are two types of betting systems – negative and positive progressions – that can be employed by gamblers while playing baccarat. Some of the most popular betting systems include The 1-3-4-6 System, Martingale, Labouchere System, Paroli, and others. Most systems work on the same principle – they aim at providing players with a plan of how and when to place their bets.

The main goal of every developed baccarat system is to reduce the players’ money losses as much as possible, rather than help them win more.

Card Counting in Baccarat

Card Counting in BaccaratSince baccarat is a card game, one of the strategies that first comes to mind is card counting. Even though card counting has proven to be highly effective and useful in other card games such as blackjack, when it comes to baccarat, this is not the case. Many professional players have attempted to gain an advantage over the casino by keeping track of the cards and as a result, they have drawn two conclusions.

The first one is that card counting in baccarat is extremely difficult and the second one is that even if players are able to successfully do the math, they won’t gain much advantage over the casino. Baccarat’s house edge is already one of the lowest in the gaming industry and it is not worth the effort to keep track of cards’ values if the result won’t be satisfactory. However, in case players would like to try this method after all, there are many available card-counting systems one can master.

When compared to card counting in blackjack, one will notice that the same strategy does not work when used in baccarat. The reason for this is the difficulty in determining which cards have a high value and which ones have a low one. This is due to the fact that in baccarat two cards with a total of 9 are considered a natural winning hand but there is no enhanced payout for such a combination. This makes knowing when a natural will be drawn less favorable.

Nevertheless, counting cards in baccarat still gives players a very small leverage. According to the expert Peter Griffin, even players who are skilled in card counting and play in Atlantic City, where shuffling rules are more liberal, are bound to make a very small profit. This strategy would bring them about $0.70 per hour, with the amount they would need to bet on hands with positive expectations evaluated at $1,000.

Effect of Card Removal in Baccarat

Card RemovalWhen we are discussing card counting, we should always consider the effect the removal of cards would have on the game. You can take for example a blackjack game where a 10-value card or an Ace is missing from the deck. This is far from beneficial to the player as there are fewer opportunities for a natural. Meanwhile, removing a five from the deck could be beneficial as low-valued cards are bad for players.

If we remove all ten-valued cards from an eight-deck shoe in baccarat, this would have a different effect on the three bets in the game. If the deck is rich in high-valued cards, this will increase the winning chances of the Player side. However, it will be more devastating for the Player side if high-value cards get removed from the deck. In the meantime, a deck rich in low-valued cards is more beneficial for the Banker. We can conclude that a deck containing more high-value cards increases the winning odds on the Player bet while removing high-valued cards from the deck will improve the winning odds on the Banker bet.

Probability of Baccarat Bets Winning When Cards are Removed
Card being removedBankerPlayerTie
House Edge of Every Baccarat Bet When a Card is Removed
Card being removedBankerPlayerTie

What is a Baccarat Score Card

Baccarat Score CardIn most casinos, when baccarat players first join the table, they are offered pens as well as score cards which are free of charge. This way, they have the chance to keep a record of the outcome of each coup and the wagered money. The reason why such cards are provided in the first place is to help players find the trend the game follows in order to make better betting choices.

If players decide to take advantage of the provided score card, they should know that there are several ways to do so. It is entirely up to them which method they will choose in order to monitor the game history. Usually, on the score card, players can see a few columns which are conveniently separated into two sections, labeled with the first letter of the Banker and the Player bet. Keeping a score card is useful, not so much in determining the pattern of the game as it changes constantly, but because it also allows players to keep track of their wagers. This way, they have the chance to manage their money better and be aware of their bankroll at any point during the course of the game.

Strategy for Choosing the Best Bet

StrategyThe most important thing that players should consider, prior to playing, is the three available bets they can choose from. It is essential to get familiar with their odds and their house edge in order to be able to figure out which one gives them the best chance of winning. This way, they will be able to create a strategy in advance and reduce their money losses, at least to some extent. Baccarat is a high-stakes game and therefore, it is highly recommended to know which type of bet offers the best odds as otherwise, players risk losing substantial amounts of money.

If players consider the opportunity to place the ‘Tie’ bet, because it has the biggest payout, they should be warned that it also has the highest house edge, making it unfavorable. It is not recommended to put this bet, and though it may seem enticing, many baccarat experts advise to simply stay away from it. So, what is the best option when it comes to placing a bet in baccarat?

Theoretically speaking, the wager with the best odds is the Banker one and the second best is the Player bet. However, baccarat is a game of chance and therefore, it is not possible to predict which hand will be the winning one in the next coup. Players may choose to wager every time on the Banker bet, taking into account the fact that it’s the bet that occurs the most.

Following a bet consistency is a good idea as the chosen bet will inevitably win at some point. Or they can simply follow their gut feeling and hope for the best. In baccarat, players completely rely on luck and therefore, trusting their intuition is also a fine choice.

Utilizing Techniques Such as Edge Sorting

TechniquesBaccarat has always been a popular game among high-rollers as it is often seen in movies, played by significant characters like James Bond. Another reason why the card game enjoyed quite the attention in recent years is a famous multi-million-dollar lawsuit involving two baccarat players and an Atlantic City casino.

In 2012, professional poker players Phil Ivey and Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun won $9.5 million in a baccarat game played at Borgata Casino. It was then revealed that the two high-rollers were using a technique known as “edge sorting” to sweep the massive payout. After the casino found out about the method used by Ivey and Sun, Borgata filed a lawsuit against the two players.

The two players managed to spot manufacturing defects on the cards used in the game, giving them a significant edge over the house. The couple used the same controversial technique at London’s Crockfords casino, winning the whopping amount of £7.8 million. The casino, however, refused to pay out the amount and was later sued by Ivey who, however, lost the case.

Unlike the British casino, however, Borgata paid the players their win and later sued Ivey to receive its money back. In 2020, Ivey finally settled the lawsuit with an undisclosed agreement.

As you can see, using this method will not get you far in any land-based casino. This being said, it does not hurt to learn how exactly this technique was used. No matter how precise the card manufacturer will be, there will be no two decks that will be cut exactly the same. This means that the pattern along the edges will look different.

Usually, players can spot the pattern on the back of cards both while they are in the shoe and when they are dealt on the table. Let us take for example a diamond pattern used on the back of the cards Ivey requested to be used during his baccarat play. On one of the edges, the cut of the card would go through the point of the diamonds, while the other edge will display the full shape of the diamonds. A player with a sharp eye will be able to easily indicate whether a card is turned upside down or right side up.

The dealer who was handling the cards in Ivey’s baccarat play was fooled into placing cards with a value between 5 and 9 upside down and cards with a value of 0 through 4 – right side up. This, along with card counting, gave Ivey an advantage over the house of 5% to 6%. One thing that should also be mentioned is that Ivey was a high-roller who negotiated a series of rules that gave him an even bigger advantage over the casino.

Nowadays, you will not be able to use this technique as all casinos are well aware of it and would not allow any player to negotiate such rules, especially if the player does not offer to bet such huge amounts as Ivey did back in 2012.

Many players have found other tricks to gain an advantage over the house while playing baccarat. Marking cards with invisible ink or working together with the dealer who practices a false shuffling of cards are among the techniques that players have used to cheat in baccarat.

While such methods may have been successful back in the day, casinos have caught up on all of them and have incorporated different measures to prevent baccarat players from cheating. This is why resorting to such techniques in baccarat can only cause you a lot of trouble instead of bringing bigger success rates.

Dragon Bonus and First Carding

Dragon BonusDragon Bonus is one of the more popular side bets that can be placed on baccarat tables, allowing players to enjoy special payouts if they meet the wager’s specific winning condition. The Dragon Bonus bet can be placed on Banker, Player, or both sides. The side bet pays out if the side the player has wagered on wins by a natural or by 4 or more points.

The payouts that are typically seen on baccarat tables with the Dragon Bonus are as follows:

  • Natural (two-card total of 8 or 9) – 1:1
  • Natural tie (8/8 or 9/9) – push
  • Win by 9 points – 30:1
  • Win by 8 points – 10:1
  • Win by 7 points – 6:1
  • Win by 6 points – 4:1
  • Win by 5 points – 2:1
  • Win by 4 points – 1:1

The house edge of the Player bet when making the Dragon Bonus wager is 2.652% but the casino advantage on the Banker side is much higher, standing at 9.373%. If the player, however, is aware of the first card that will be handed out before they make their wager, the house edge for Player and Banker when making the Dragon Bonus bet could change.

Edge of Player and Banker Dragon Bonus Bet When First Carding
First CardPlayer EVBanker EV

If we take a look at the table above, we can draw the conclusion that when the first card is a 7, 8, or 9, the player will gain an advantage if he/she makes a Dragon Bonus side bet on the Player side. Meanwhile, when the first card is with a value of 0 (T, J, Q, K), the player will gain an edge if he/she makes a Dragon Bonus side bet on the Banker side.

If you utilize a simple edge sorting technique you can predict the first card to be drawn. Low cards would include the value of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, while high values will be 7s, 8s, and 9s. When the player uses edge sorting and the first card to be drawn is of a low value, the Banker wager will be the optimal option. Meanwhile, a high card would indicate betting on the Player side. This strategy would give the player a 6.4782% edge.

Using edge sorting, whenever a low-valued card is about to be drawn as the first card, the player should place a Banker Dragon Bonus side bet. On the contrary, a high first card indicates a Player Dragon Bonus bet. The average edge that the player would gain over the house on his/her Player Dragon Bonus bet thanks to this technique is 13.8610%. Many players are trying to gain a bigger advantage over the house by using the first carding technique. Taking into account the edge that a player can get thanks to this strategy, it comes as no surprise that many would prefer first carding to simple card counting.

Money Management – an Important Part of Every Strategy

Money ManagementAnother important aspect that players should always consider, concerns their bankroll. It is essential for them to be able to manage their budget and keep track of all of the wagered money. It is also crucial to set a money limit and strictly adhere to it. In order to do that, players need to have money management skills as well as discipline. The reason why it is so important to be able to successfully take control of their funds, is that even if players get lucky and win, without such skills, they will easily spend all of the money they’ve won.

Important Considerations

ImportantThe game has predictable long-term results which can be determined by looking at its odds and probabilities. It is established that the Banker bet wins the most, which is the reason why the casino gets a 5% commission. The house edge of this bet is also the lowest and therefore, players are most likely to win by placing it. However, the truth is that it is not possible to predict which hand will win the next coup even if, for example, the Banker has won the last ten games. The probability of winning will always be 50/50 and there is no intermediary position – one of the three possible outcomes will inevitably occur.

It is possible that players will get lucky and hit a jackpot as some baccarat games offer this option. In such cases, our advice would be to leave the game in order to retain the winnings. Otherwise, it is most likely that you will lose all of the money you’ve won as in the long term there is no way to predict the result of every round.

It is also worth mentioning that players should never allow their emotions to determine their betting choices. If they feel upset or desperate, it is best to refrain from placing a substantial amount of money as in such moments, they are deprived of the ability to see the consequences of their actions. The numerous strategies and systems don’t guarantee success in any case as in general, the game’s outcome cannot be influenced by relevant skills and knowledge. Players should enjoy the game and have fun by guessing which hand will win and in the meantime, they can even get lucky and win some money. The main reason why the game has been a source of entertainment for years is because it provides players with a high level of entertainment and excitement.


ConclusionThe bottom line is that there are several betting systems and strategies that might work on a particular round. However, baccarat still remains a game of luck, meaning players can’t do much to change the final outcome. In order to make the most of every game, players are advised to get familiar with the bet types, the best bet choice, the basic rules of baccarat, and the money management plan. This way, they will be able to fully enjoy baccarat and try their luck on any of the three bets. Even though the game cannot be influenced as much as other card games, it has a moderately low house edge that gives players a good chance of winning in the long run.