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The Banker Bet

Posted on April 29, 2021 | 8:26 am

Baccarat is currently experiencing a massive boom in the West…

…which definitely is great news for fans of quality online gambling!

Though it’s been outrageously popular in Macau casinos for quite some time now, baccarat may still feel like new territory for players whose gaming world revolves around Las Vegas or Monte Carlo.

But this is one trend that has real substance to go with its style: the massive increase in popularity of baccarat is backed up by its incredibly low house edge of 1.06%.

Those are downright phenomenal odds.

In fact, those odds are better than just about any slot, roulette table, or poker game…

… or, for that matter, anything else you can name in the casino!

Only advantage blackjack players can hope to do better.

With odds like that, it’s entirely understandable if gamblers want to rush to enjoy this new, beautiful game. Before doing so, though, there’s one concept that is totally unique to baccarat that we strongly encourage players to get familiar with before diving in. It’s called…

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The Banker Bet

In all the gambling world, there’s nothing else quite like the Banker Bet.

It’s absolutely the key to the 1.06% house edge discussed earlier – the player bet offers slightly worse odds at a 1.24% house advantage, while the tie bet is far, far worse at 14.36%!

And it’s true that winning baccarat strategy relies heavily upon the Banker Bet.

But that’s not quite what makes it unique!

That would be commission.

Part of the way the casino maintains its edge in baccarat is by charging a 5% commission on winning banker bets.

For example, if a player wagers $20 on the banker hand and wins, only $19 is paid to the player. That 5% commission reduced the $20 winning payout, because $1 went back into the casino’s coffers.

That may seem strange! There’s certainly nothing similar going on at, say, blackjack or roulette tables.

No matter how odd it may sound, though, that 5% commission is the only way for casinos to offer baccarat without taking a loss! That’s because, over time, the banker bet wins more often than it loses.

That’s right!

Without that 5% commission, players would be at an actual advantage against the house.

Gamblers would simply lay the banker bet over and over, and eventually the house would lose so much money that they have to stop offering the game. So that 5% win commission, unimaginable in other gaming scenarios, is actually built in to the aforementioned 1.06% house advantage.

As in many parts of life and gambling, however… there’s a catch.

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The Unwritten Rule

the_unwritten_ruleIn the above example, the player made a $20 wager, won, and collected $19 in winnings because of the 5% commission.

But what if the wager is smaller than $20?

Suppose, for example, the winning bet was $15. Mathematically speaking, with a winning banker bet of $15, a player should collect $14.25 in winnings, with $0.75 going towards the casino for their 5% commission.

This is not at all a problem when playing online, where payments in partial dollar amounts are no problem. It’s also a non-issue if you happen to be playing at a casino that offers a variety of chip values less than $1.

In practice, though, many brick-and-mortar casinos have a minimum commission of $1.

That means that a winning banker bet of $15 would be paid $14, rather than $14.25 (a commission of 7.5%). A winning $10 bet, rather than paying $9.50, would pay $9 (a whopping 10% commission!!).

Such practices change the house edge considerably in the casino’s favor for any player who does not be in $20 increments.

This is an especially dangerous possibility at the Mini-baccarat tables, which are usually played for smaller stakes.

Should this be the case, we strongly recommend that players change their strategy towards the second-best odds to be found anywhere in the casino…

… the baccarat player bet!

Though its house edge of 1.24% is not as good as a banker bet with a true 5% commission, but those odds are still far, far superior to almost anything else in the casino!

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A Word on No-Commission Variants

As is usually the case, casinos have been known to find creative ways to offer players worse odds for their money. One such example is “no-commission” baccarat, which is sometimes called Punto Banco.

While “no commission” sure sounds like a better deal than “5% commission,” in practice, these games generally offer a significantly worse RTP for players than traditional baccarat.

Make no mistake…

there’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing these games!

Indeed, some of them are downright excellent. When playing them, however, we similarly recommend taking the player bet.

In most Punto Banco and/or “no commission” baccarat variants, even as the house tips the scale in their favor for the banker bet, the 1.24% house edge for the player bet remains unchanged.

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