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Baccarat

(return to complete list of casino games)

The casino's advantage at baccarat is slight, but insurmountable. The edge on the bank bet is 1.06%, the edge on the player bet is 1.23%, and the edge on a tie is a whopping 14%. The 1.06% for bank results from the casino charging a 5% commission on winning bank wagers. Casinos sometimes deal baccarat with bank commissions other than 5%. Casinos have experimented with commissions of 4%, and even 3%. The effect of these commission reductions is to lower the edge to a point where an opportunity to play for comps arises. In a 3%-commission game, betting $25-$50 at a rate of 100 hands per hour results in an expected loss of less than $10 per hour. Consult this chart for player expectation when baccarat is dealt with commissions ranging from 0-6%.

PLAYER ADVANTAGE ON BANK BET AT VARYING COMMISSIONS

6%-1.52%
5%-1.06%
4%-.60%
3%-.15%
2%.31%
1%.77%
0%1.23%

Example of a commision-related opportunity

In December 1989, the Sahara dealt baccarat with no commission on winning bank bets up to $100. Players had a 1.23% advantage, for an expected win of more than $100 per hour. After five days of play, the Sahara brought in a detective agency to identify knowledgeable players who were participating in the promotion. Some participants were professional blackjack and poker players. Others just happened to recognize a good proposition. The Sahara began barring players as they were pointed out by the detectives. Those not known continued to play with the same 1.23% edge that had been enjoyed by the expelled players. Stanford Wong summed it up best, "It looks like the Sahara is giving away money, but I guess they're particular about who they give it to."