Ready to learn the best Baccarat strategies to improve your odds and make your money go further?
Baccarat is one of the world’s most iconic yet simple casino games. How a card game with just 3 betting options, payout odds of 1 to 1 and no skill involved became such a huge hit is a mystery, but here we are!
So how can Baccarat strategies be a thing, if the game is pure luck? Baccarat may well be a card game like Blackjack, but actually it has more in common with roulette. And much like roulette, the skill comes not in how to play your hand, but what bets to choose, and how much to bet.
Before you learn the best Baccarat strategies, you first need to know how to play. We’ve already covered how to play Baccarat, but here’s a quick recap.
How to play Baccarat
On the face of it, Baccarat is one of the simplest card games around. The game is basically a contest between 2 starting hands, both dealt by the dealer, and each hand is over in less than 60 seconds (and sometimes just a few seconds!).
Here are all the basic rules of Baccarat you need in order to play:
- Place a bet on the Player, Banker or Tie
- Player and Banker are dealt 2 cards each
- The hand that gets a total closest to 9 wins
Hands in Baccarat are scored in an usual way (for example you ignore the first digit for totals of 10 or more), and the game is more complex in how the rules determine when the Banker and Player hands draw a 3rd card. For help with how Baccarat scoring works, head to our how to play Baccarat guide.
Now let’s get into the smartest Baccarat strategies, starting with how to avoid the single biggest ‘mistake’ a Baccarat beginner can make.
Strategy #1: Skip the Tie, bet the Banker
There are 3 bets in Baccarat, but they are by no means equal. The Banker’s hand will win slightly more often than the Player, because of the order of play and the rules around how the Banker plays once the Player hand is known.
Because the Banker wins slightly more, the payout is 5% lower. Sometimes it’s referred to as “1 to 1 with a 5% commission”, but whether you call it 19/20 or 95p return on a £1 bet, they mean the same thing.
As you can see, the house edge on Banker and Player bets is basically the same, give or take a few 1/10ths of a percentage point. But the house edge on the Tie is huge!
You will only see a Tie once in every 10 hands on average, yet you get 8 to 1 on your money when you do. That explains why the house edge is so big, and why if you want the best value for money when you play Baccarat, you should swerve the Tie bet completely and focus on Banker or Player.
With a house edge of just 1%, Banker and Player bets in Baccarat are among the very best value odds you will ever find in a casino.
Strategy #2: Ignore trends and patterns
Gamblers love to see significant in a pattern of results, when in fact the outcomes are just random. Casino love to help players on their quest for patterns to exploit too.
Play Baccarat online and you’ll have a range of analysis tools at your disposal, helping you to review recent results and divine what’s going to happen next.
I am horrified, but not exactly surprised, by the number of Baccarat strategy guides that proudly advise you to switch from Player to Banker, or vice versa, when one hand has been ‘on a winning run and you feel that’s about to change’.
If you ever find yourself reading this kind of guff, shut the page and never go back, as you can guarantee their advice has nothing to do with basic math, let alone a comprehensive understanding of the game’s rules, probably and variance.
The truth about hot and cold results, whether it’s red in roulette, or the Banker in Baccarat, is that what you are actually seeing is the normal variation in results that you can expect in games of chance.
Where luck and randomness is involved, you’d be shocked how varied and seemingly implausible the results can be.
There’s an old disclaimer in the investment world that goes something like this: Past results are no indicator of future performance. And for Baccarat, the same applies.
No Baccarat game history has any connection whatsoever to what happens in the future. Your chances of using the last 100 hands of Baccarat to predict the outcome of future hands is precisely zero.
Some people try to add a bit more legitimacy to their Baccarat strategies with things like ‘mean reversion’.
Which says that if you’ve had a long run of reds, for example, the results must revert back to the average (50% red, 50% black, ignoring green zero), and that makes black more likely in the coming games.
I won’t bore you with the detail, but mean reversion doesn’t work over small sample sizes in gambling, or everyone would be using it to win.
So bottom line – every hand of Baccarat is a new and independent game. Same odds, same randomness, same impossible job of predicting Player, Banker or Tie.
Now I’m not a robot, and I’m not immune to a bit of superstition when I see the Banker win 7 in a row. But strangely, my reaction and yours might be total opposites. You might think the Banker is hot therefore you should stick with the trend.
Whereas I might think the Player is now well overdue a win! So, there’s another example of how we all view patterns through our own lens and see what we want to see. But either way, the results have a mind of their own.
Strategy #3: Look for Baccarat bonuses and rewards
When a game is 100% luck and 0% skill, the smartest move – once you’ve identified the bets with the smallest house edge – is to find a casino where you get extra cash or rewards, just for playing. But beware.
Baccarat bonuses can appear tempting and ‘free money’, but usually they are full of sneaky small print that makes it virtually impossible to walk away with profit.
Wagering requirements are a classic ploy, but fortunately PlayOJO one of the few casinos who has nothing to do with wagering terms or any other hidden conditions. But signup and other casino bonuses can be useful, just check the terms very carefully before you accept one.
Even if you find a good offer, don’t expect to get rich off Baccarat bonuses or so-called ‘comp points’. Why? Aside from the obvious fact that casinos don’t just give money away for free, Baccarat simply isn’t a big earner for casinos, because as the RTP – the Return To Player, or inverse of the house edge – is so high.
Baccarat players get to enjoy an RTP of 99%. On average the house keeps 1% and the players keep 99% of their wagers.
These numbers are a ‘theoretical average return’ over a very large sample size, but generally speaking it’s true that you will see fairly stable returns (or losses, in fact) over a big enough sample.
A 1% house edge is so small a margin that casinos can’t give sizeable cashback, not compared to slots at least. But nevertheless, it’s just good sense for players to find casinos where they can get a little extra, whether it’s free teas and coffees, or a little cashback over time.
Maybe you’ll get a free hand of Baccarat for every 200 you play. It’s pretty small, but it’s better than nothing.
Here comes the plug. At PlayOJO, Baccarat players get money back on every bet, regardless of whether they win or lose. There are no conditions – it’s real cash in real time, with no wagering requirements.
If you only play a few hands or play for low stakes, then it won’t matter where you play – you won’t really benefit from Baccarat perks. But if you’re a regular or higher stakes player, every little counts.
Strategy #4: Baccarat betting strategy
Like black or red in roulette, Baccarat is a game of ‘even money’ betting, so you are essentially flipping coins. That makes Baccarat a good candidate for a betting strategy, and there are many to choose from.
The most famous of course is the Martingale strategy, an age-old and frankly disastrous model that involves doubling your bet size if you lose and continuing until you win.
I’ve analysed the Martingale system in more detail elsewhere, so for now, all I will say is that it is the easiest way to lose your entire stack.
No one comes into a game of Baccarat thinking they will hit 6 or 7 losses in a row, but it eventually happens, and if you were doubling your bet size every hand, your losses will be huge.
I prefer positive progression Baccarat strategies like Paroli, where you only increase your bet size when you win and try to get 3 wins in a row before you bank your profit. But ultimately each player has to find a betting strategy that fits their own risk profile and goals.
Or maybe you would prefer a more flexible system like d’Alembert or Reverse d’Alembert, where you are constantly increasing and decreasing your bet size depending on the result of the previous hand.
Are you trying to bet small and hit a big win? Then Baccarat probably isn’t the right game for you. Are you trying to let your wins ride during a streak and come away with big win? Or do you just like to flat bet and keep things relatively calm and simple?
There is no right answer, and I suggest you practice some of the most common Baccarat betting strategies for low stakes and see how they feel.
Strategy #5: Practice for free or low stakes
There is no better way to learn how to play Baccarat than through practical experience. Baccarat may have a reputation as the high roller’s game of choice, but the good thing about online gaming is anyone can experience this iconic game.
If you can find free Baccarat tables then fill your boots, although they are few and far between these days. Baccarat tables in live casinos are often full and have relatively high minimum bets too. But you can play Baccarat online and learn the game virtually risk free, provided you bet minimum stakes.
Thanks to Pragmatic Play, you can play Baccarat at PlayOJO from just 20p per hand. We’ve also got Baccarat tables from Playtech starting at 50p minimum stakes, and plenty more from Evolution Gaming from a quid a play.
The other benefit of Baccarat in terms of strategy for beginners is the game’s extremely low volatility. With payout odds of 1 to 1, betting on Baccarat is a lot like Blackjack – you generally win as many hands as you lose. So, while you are learning the game at low stakes, even a small bankroll can go a long way.
Strategy #6: Bankroll management
That brings us nicely onto money management. And I don’t just mean your gaming budget, though we’ll look at that too.
Bankroll management is an essential component of smarter betting, whether you’re playing Baccarat, roulette, online slots or even sports betting. You can’t win if you’ve already run out of money, so knowing how to structure your stack size and individual bet sizes is important if you want to stay in the game.
The best financial strategy for playing Baccarat is to first figure out how much you are happy to spend. Only you can know what that figure is, but it will all come down to how much money you have spare in your life, how experienced a gambler you are, and how long you intend to play for.
It’s not just about making sure you don’t overspend – we’ll get to that in the next Baccarat tip. Mostly, good bankroll management. So, you have to take into account what game you are playing, and specifically what type of bets you prefer.
For example, (assuming they use the same bet size) a player who likes to bet single numbers in online roulette will need a much bigger bankroll than someone who plays low Baccarat odds bets like Banker. Why?
Bets with lower odds have higher probabilities, which means they are more likely to happen. That’s what we mean by variance or volatility.
At one end, you have Baccarat bets with a 1 to 1 payout and a 50% of winning. At the other end, roulette numbers with a 35 to 1 payout and a roughly 3% chance of winning.
Imagine what’s happening to your stack of chips if you are the Baccarat player, compared to the roulette player. The roulette player’s stack will be rising and falling unpredictably, with long streaks of losses punctuated by the very occasional big win.
Because it has much lower Baccarat payouts, the Baccarat player will be constantly winning and losing smaller amounts, so their stack should fluctuate around its starting amount (assuming you bet the same every time, and have 100 or more bets to play with).
That doesn’t mean to say you won’t experience streaks (e.g. 5 or more wins or losses in a row) – you would if you flipped coins, and you will in Baccarat too.
But in a low variance game like Baccarat, you can flat bet 5% or even 10% of your stack and probably survive for several hours without needing to reload your bankroll.
When it comes to money management, the aim of the game in Baccarat is to pick a sensible bankroll and never bet more than a small proportion of it on any one hand.
Strategy #7: Play it safe
Like any casino game, Baccarat is all about risk and reward. Although your betting options are pretty limited, it is still a fast and furious game that can get exciting.
It’s easy to lose track of time and the amount of money you’re spending too, especially if you play Mini Baccarat. So, the smartest move you can make when you play Baccarat is to follow Safer Gambling advice to safely manage your play.
Avoid playing when you’re under the influence, tired or not in a positive mindset. Explore tools like deposit limits and time alerts to help keep track of the time and money you’ve spent. And most of all, bet only with money you’re happy to lose, so you keep it fun.
Baccarat strategies summary
As you can see, most of the strategy behind Baccarat can be applied to almost any game you play in an online casino.
The core skills you learn when you master the game are useful across gambling, and even in life. In Baccarat, the most important skill once you know the rules is identifying the best bets, creating a betting plan and sticking to your strategy.
Baccarat is fast moving and full of wins and losses, so it’s super important to keep your head in the game and stay zen, if you want to come out ahead.
Baccarat Frequently asked questions
What is the best bet in Baccarat?
If you play Baccarat online in the UK, the best bet in Baccarat is usually the Banker bet, as it has the highest Return To Player of 98.94% (a house edge of 1.06%). The Player bet is very close behind though, with an RTP of 98.76% (house edge of 1.24%).
Before you play, be sure to check out the payout odds and commission for the Banker bet, as it can differ from casino to casino. In casinos where the Banker commission is 5% (effectively a bet with payout odds of 19/20), then the Banker bet is still a very slightly better value bet than Player.
If the commission is here, the Player becomes the better bet. If by ‘best Baccarat bet’ you are looking for the biggest odds, the Tie has the best payout odds in Baccarat at around 8 to 1, but it also has the lowest RTP of around 86%.
Are there any Baccarat strategies that consistently win?
No. As Baccarat is a game of pure luck with no skill involved, and a house edge of at least 1% on all bets, it is impossible to beat Baccarat consistently and make a profit in the long run. The best Baccarat strategies can reduce your losses and ensure you get the best possible RTP, but none can swing the house edge in your favour.
The only exception is a type of advantage play used in brick & mortar casinos called Edge Sorting, where you use patterns on the card backs to anticipate which cards remain in the deck. Legendary poker player Phil Ivey has successfully used Edge Sorting in casinos to win millions of dollars, but under UK law it is considered a form of cheating, and Ivey was not able to keep his winnings.
What is peeking, and why do players and dealers bend the corners of cards?
Unlike poker, there is no skill in Baccarat, but players and dealers can add suspense to a game by ‘peeking’ at the corner of the next card, to slowly reveal its value. This is purely for theatrical reasons, and has no bearing on the outcome or Baccarat strategy.