Avoiding Baccarat Time Wasters

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Baccarat is a game of luck. Yes, yes — if a smart guy like James Bond played it, then it has to require some brains or skill, or at least a good sense of fashion flare, right? The truth is that most of the advice we can give you has more to do with how to increase the enjoyment of your Baccarat experience than how to improve your winnings. But consider following these last bits of advice — about what not to do.

Wagering on ties

Don’t ever bet on the hands to tie. Even though the payoff when you win is far better (8 to 1 instead of even money), ties occur only about once every 91⁄2 hands, making the reward not worth the risk (house edge is a whopping 14.36 percent). This bet is a waste of your hard-earned money.

Because a tie hand is a push (neither the player or the banker wins), your bet on either the player or the banker is also a push — and you won’t lose any money for that hand.

Note taking and keeping score

Taking notes is a waste of time. Because of superstitious or misinformed players, casinos routinely stock score cards and pencils at Baccarat tables for players to keep track of how the hands are running. The past dozen or so hands are no indication of how future hands will play out, so the pencil and paper are more useful for your grocery list.

Counting cards

No successful card-counting system exists for Baccarat. Even though some studies have shown that the low cards favor the player’s hand and high cards favor the banker’s hand, statistically speaking, the margin is so small that card counting really offers no advantage.

Relying on instinct

Some people think they were born under a lucky star. They believe they have the uncanny ability to predict whether a coin lands on heads or tails with accuracy. Or perhaps their instincts at the tables tell them when a hot streak is about to begin … or end.

But our opinion on this matter falls into the rational and scientific camp: You have no way to turn negative odds into a positive expectancy game. Although Baccarat is definitely one of your best bets because the slow pace (especially in the formal version) and slim house edge combine to make it a good value for you, over the long run, you end up a slight loser despite the amount of mojo you think you have working for you. You may win in the short term, but no amount of guesswork can swing the odds in your favor.

Don’t even try to rely on your instinct. Just drink in the pageantry and ambiance of this elegant game and enjoy the ride. And remember: Don’t be intimidated by the posh crowd. You have every right to sit down next to the billionaires and try your luck at this historic game.

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