The Baccarat Banker Bet: The best and worst times to bet on the banker.
Every gambling guide includes a list of the lowest house edge games found in every casino. Blackjack and video poker get the best ratings, but they also require deep study, forethought and memorization. Players looking for an easy strategy – one that requires no patience, discipline, or mental strain – will often choose baccarat.
Its simplicity comes from two things. First of all, you don’t really play baccarat. You pick the hand you think will win, and the dealer does all the grunt work. Every decision made is based on the rules of the game, not any one individual’s preference. Therefore the odds do not waver from one hand to the next.
Why the Baccarat Banker Bet is the Right Choice (Most of the Time)
There are only three ways to bet in a standard game of baccarat. You can…
A. Bet on the Banker hand to win; house edge 1.06%.
B. Bet on the Player hand to win; house edge 1.24%.
C. Bet on a Tie between Banker and Player hands; house edge 14.46%.
The banker bet is the top choice for the simple fact that it affords the lowest house edge. By this statistic alone, a player should always bet on the banker in baccarat. Every hand, every time, put your money on the banker. That is, assuming the casino didn’t enforce some odd-ball rule capable of altering the typical house edge of the game.
House Edge in Baccarat
Let’s start by looking at why the edge on a banker bet is better than that of the player bet. Like all casino games, the house always sets the rules to give itself an advantage over the player. In baccarat, the banker represents the house. Therefore the rules that determine how a hand plays out favor the banker’s hand. The banker is so favored, in fact, that casinos had to add a commission payment to all winning banker bets, lest the player get an advantage by betting on it.
Banker’s Edge: The standard commission on a banker bet is 5%. So, if you bet $10 on the banker hand and win, you will only receive a payout of $9.50, plus your original $10 back ($19.50).
Player’s Edge: The player bet has a static edge of 1.24%. It does not change, because the rules and even-money payout never vary.
Tie Bet Edge: The house edge on a tie bet that pays the standard 8-to-1 is an abysmal 14.36% Obviously this wager should be avoided. The edge is among the worst you’ll find in any casino, at any game, except maybe keno. Even if the tie bet pays 9-to-1, as some casinos do, the house edge is still 4.84%; four times worse than the banker or player bets.
When Not to Choose the Banker Bet in Baccarat
There are some circumstances where the banker bet can be the wrong choice – if not the worst choice – at the baccarat table. This rarity often occurs when the casino sets a minimum limit on banker bet commissions.
For example, a casino might list the commission as: 5% with a $1 minimum
A rule like this is designed to discourage low-limit betting, and exploit those who do it anyway. You’d need to wager a minimum of $20 to get the standard 5% commission, with 1.06% edge. If you were to wager only $10 per hand, the commission would be $1, or 10%, increasing the house edge on the banker bet to 3.35%. You might as well play the slot machines at that rate.