How to use your mind in a game of baccarat

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Baccarat is the most popular game to play at a casino. Strong-minded players choose it not only because it’s a straightforward game of chance, but also because there are variants of the game where having good strategies will keep you in it. With a low house advantage, the game offers some of the best odds of all the casino card games which broadens its appeal to all types of players.


As a game of chance, past outcomes are no prediction of what the next result will be. There are some players whose strategy is to follow the pattern of Banker and Player wins which is unlikely to help, whilst baccarat card counting can help a little. Aside from using your brain to follow through with your chosen strategy, successful gamblers must also use their mind for emotional control to avoid an impulsive, poorly thought out decision.

Baccarat payouts

In baccarat, different bets have different payouts. A winning Player hand will double your bet with odds of 1:1. If you bet on the Banker hand and it wins, you get your money back minus a 5 per cent house commission. When betting on a tie, a relatively rare event, a win payouts at 8:1, though the odds of this happening are poor.

House edge

The Banker hand has a house edge of 1.06 per cent, though there is also the 5 per cent commission that also has to be paid. The Player hand has a house advantage of 1.24 per cent. The tie bet has a house edge of 14.4 per cent.

Card counting

When multiple hands are played before shuffling in baccarat, counting cards allows the player to study the effect of any given card being removed. You can see tables online that have calculated the effects on the Player, Banker and Tie odds when any card is removed from a shoe, though the odds are different depending on the number of decks in that shoe.

If the deck holds a good number of high cards this is good for a Player bet, and bad when they leave the deck. A deck full of low cards is good for a Banker bet. Therefore, if a low card leaves the shoe, the odds on the Player bet improves and if a high card leaves, it’s good for the Banker.

Running Count

Many players are put off card counting because of the mental challenge. However, you can use your mind in a simple plus-minus strategy starting from zero. As cards are exposed you add values to each card seen, for cards with a face value of 1 to 4 worth one point, cards with a face value of 5 to 8 points worth minus one point and cards worth zero and nine points valued at zero. You then bet on the Player or Banker depending on the running count.  The best bet is on the Player for running counts of -4 or less, otherwise bet on the Banker. This will reduce the Player bet house edge from 1.24 per cent to 1.06 per cent. The house edge on a Banker bet falls to 0.99 per cent, down from 1.06 per cent when not counting cards.

Skipping bad counts

The expected value of both bets are closest at the count of -4 so some players will decrease the house edge by not playing when the count is close to -4.  Some players will sit out when the true count is -8 to 0 so that the hands played have an average house edge of 0.95 per cent.

Variants of the game

Baccarat is also known as Punto Banco which is the most common version of the game. There are variants of the game including Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque with rules that are different from the classic game. This means the odds and probabilities on wagers are not the same. 

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