Baccarat, the King of Casino Games
It should come as no surprise that online casinos operate with a house advantage, just like their cousins in the real world. This is just the way it goes, whether you are playing in Las Vegas, Macau or online in your PJs.
Play for the win
Casino companies don’t operate for fun: they are businesses, and they need to make a profit like any other business. The way they do this is to levy a charge for people to move money and chips around in their casino, just as banks charge to move money around the financial world. If you are playing Texas Hold ’em poker, this is the rake. You’ll be charged a small fee for the dealer to deal you a hand.
A casino will keep a portion of the bets going over its tables for itself. This money does not go into the overall pile that pays the winners: it goes to the casino.
That much is generally understood (although some people choose to not think about it). What I find intriguing, is not that people play play roulette or blackjack- it is good fun after all and there are winners as well as losers- it’s that many punters who frequent casinos often play the tables or machines that are the most pricey to play, i.e. that have the biggest house edge.
If you are going to bet, it is advisable to play casino games that give you the best chance of winning, or at least to play games that are weighted to the best payouts.
Now let’s discuss online baccarat, as this will illustrate my point. The Banker Bet in baccarat has a house edge of just 1.1%. American Roulette comes in at a less than satisfactory 5.3% and if you play keno you’ll be paying a 25% “casino tax”. You´ll get very good odds if you play blackjack online IF you play a perfect blackjack game (by that I mean you stand at the optimum time to give yourself the best odds). Baccarat is a beautifully simple game, on the other hand- so it is easy to play to a perfect strategy.
This is one of the key drivers behind the popularity of Baccarat, especially when it comes down to high stakes players and high rollers, as this game has one of the lowest house advantages in the casino. Often you will see baccarat tables in Vegas and Macau sectioned off from the general public. That’s because the baccarat tables are where the big money and glamour are. And it´s a similar story if you play online baccarat.
But you don’t need to be rich and famous to have a go. Play online and there are no velevet cords stopping you from getting to the tables. The best baccarat bet is the Banker Bet as the house only takes 1.17%, while the house edge for a player bet is slightly more, but still an accaeptable 1.35%. Don’t play the tie bet. Although the pay out is tempting at 8:1, compared to 2:1, the house edge is punitive at 14%.
So why is roulette more popular than Baccarat? I don´t know. It beats me. I put it down to the film industry, but even that puzzles me as baccarat has its fair share of film scenes and James Bond moments.