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Baccarat is enjoying renewed popularity – here’s how to join in the fun

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Back in 2006, Daniel Craig was bringing new life to a rebooted James Bond franchise with a remake of the tale that started it all, Casino Royale. 53 years had gone by since Ian Fleming wrote the novel, so naturally enough, a few liberties had to be taken with the source material. 

One of the more intriguing changes was that the high-stakes baccarat game that underpinned the entire story was changed to poker in the movie. At the time, this was seen as core to making the plot-relevant to a 21st-century audience. Texas Holdem was enjoying unprecedented popularity while baccarat was seen as a game belonging to a bygone era. 

13 years later, however, things have changed again. Today’s gamers crave variety, and video baccarat, both online and in physical casinos, is becoming a firm favorite. It’s a game that is simple to master and ideally lends itself to those who enjoy progressive betting strategies. 

 

The rules of baccarat

Baccarat gameplay is incredibly simple. All the player has to do is place his or her betting chips on the outcome of the hand – a player wins, a Banker win, or a tie. With all bets placed, two hands of cards are dealt, consisting of two cards face up. Ace is worth one, two to nine have a face value, and jack, queen, and king are worth zero. 

The winner is the hand that is closest to nine, but unlike blackjack, there is no going bust. If the total score is 10 or more, you drop the first digit. So for example, a hand of nine and seven adds up to 16 and constitutes a score of six. 

There is then the possibility to hit (receive another card) or stand, just like in blackjack. However, in baccarat, the rules are strictly laid out for both player and banker, so there is no decision to make. 

If either player or banker is dealt eight or nine, then both automatically stand. If the player is dealt five or less, he hits. If he is dealt seven or eight he stands. The rules for the banker are a little more complex. Assuming the player doesn’t have eight or nine, the banker will hit on zero, one or two, and will stand on seven. For a hand worth three to five, hitting or standing depends on the cards the player has been dealt. This gives the banker a small but important advantage over the player. 

 

Scoring and strategy

Due to the subtle differences in the rules for hitting and standing, the banker will, over time, win slightly more often than the player (50.7 percent of all hands, excluding ties). For this reason, backing the banker’s hand returns winnings amounting to 95 percent of the wager while backing the player returns even money. The tie is eight to one. So what is the best baccarat strategy? When you sit at a baccarat table, you are basically engaged in a guessing game of who will win. However, that’s not to say you can’t play strategically.

Most baccarat strategies involve a combination of exploiting trends and utilizing progressions to play a cycle of hands that ends with a net gain of one betting unit. A perfect example is Oscar’s Grind system:

  • Back the underdog from the last three hands, and if all three hands went to either player or banker, sit out the hand. 
  • Bet one unit.  
  • If you win, repeat. 
  • If you lose, double the bet and repeat. 
  • When you finally win, go back to the start with your one unit bet. 

The strategy is not perfect – like any progressive betting strategy, it leaves you exposed to losses in the event of a long streak. However, for casual players, it is a great way to make your bankroll last longer and will often return small wins that leave you a little better off by the end of the evening.

 

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