Baccarat evokes images of men in tuxedos and women in posh evening dresses sitting around an elegant casino table. But despite its James Bond pageantry, the game is surprisingly accessible and can be played at almost any price point. In fact, it’s now available at most casinos as a single table that looks a lot like blackjack with low minimum tables.
In its full-scale version, baccarat was once the exclusive domain of high rollers and required players to step inside a roped-off area at a table for 14 players where a special shoe holding eight decks of cards resides behind a counter. A special ceremony called the “passing of the shoes” enables each player in turn to slip out the cards they want, while the dealer continues to deal new hands. The players make bets on either the Banker, the Player or a tie, and the goal is to get as close as possible to nine in order to win. The score is determined by adding the values of each hand: tens, jacks, queens and kings count as zero, while aces count as one. The Player and Banker hands are then compared and the one closest to nine wins.
The game is simple enough, and a bet on the Player or Banker will usually yield a profit. The only caveat is that the casino will charge a small commission on winning bets when you back the Banker, which slightly reduces your chance of winning. That said, backing the Banker is still the best baccarat strategy for winning.
Some players attempt to gain an edge by analyzing the results of previous games or employing a Martingale-based system in which they increase their bet size after each loss. While these strategies might make you a little bit more money, they can also lead to big losses and are not recommended for beginners or anyone with any significant experience playing the game.
Many of the baccarat strategies that are out there have their roots in the ’70s and ’80s, when games were still evolving. The emergence of the Internet brought a host of new systems that are supposed to help players beat the game, but they’re often based on flawed mathematics and do not account for player behavior or variance in the rules.
As long as the game’s core is not messed with, it should continue to attract a large audience of gamblers. For smaller operators, who might not have the volume and deep pockets to serve a premium market for the game, however, baccarat’s volatility may prove too risky to pursue at higher limits. That’s why it’s important for casino managers to astutely evaluate the game’s potential and their own financial position when determining which customers to pursue, what limits to set, and what games to feature on their casino floor. Then, they can make decisions based on the best possible outcomes for their businesses.