Baccarat (Bah-Caw-Rah) is an Italian reference to “zero”. The classy-sounding monicker and allusions to high-style, tuxedoed James Bond types is no coincidence: baccarat is believed to have originated in Italy shortly before the turn of the 16th century, and had been claimed by the French nobility as their favorite game.

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Baccarat todays remains hugely popular all over the European casinos. In no time, the game spread and spawned North and South American versions. Cuban baccarat has emerged as the game’s most widespread variation, and is what can be likeliest found at the casino tables.

Baccarat Strategy

To avid baccarat gamblers, a “baccarat strategy” is practically a non-phrase, and for obvious reasons. What possible need could there for a baccarat strategy when all one has to do is choose where to place his bet—the banker or player, or a tie—and how much money to wager? It is really as random as a coin toss. But for some reason, method-based systems for baccarat continue to prosper, and for shame. Baccarat is a game of chance. There is no merit in applying to such games any strategy based on a series of or pattern in previous outcomes.

Baccarat Gambling Tips

The best baccarat strategy is an anti-strategy: what not to do when playing the game. Otherwise, your best bet as a baccarat strategy is no doubt smart money management. That is, manage your bankroll in order to maximize your wins and minimize your losses.

The Myth of Pattern Chasing & Pattern Spotting

It is quite hard not to notice the sight of too many scorecards at the baccarat tables. Players hold on to these casino-provided cards for dear life, making marks, tracking the outcomes of hand after hand at the table. They are pattern chasing, also known as pattern spotting. These baccarat players are trying to spot a pattern in the results of each hand and then change their own choice of bet based on what they believe to be a potential winning streak.

But ask yourself: What could possibly cause a randomly shuffled eight decks of cards inside a shoe to suddenly follow a distinct pattern? The quick answer is none. There is neither rhyme nor reason to pattern chasing or spotting in baccarat. One hand has no bearing on the next, and is never influenced by the preceding hands. The so-called “pattern” begins and ends with every played hand. Any game strategy that advises you to change your bets based on previous hands is pointless.

To illustrate, imagine that you were betting on the flip of a coin, and it landed heads up nine times in a row. Some part of your brain would now yell out to you inevitably that a tails is imminent, since too many heads have come out already, and it is likely that the tenth flip would land tails up. This kind of reasoning is spurious. The chance of the coin landing tails up on the tenth flip is exactly 50% (or 1 in 2), just as it had been 50% in the first nine times. That tenth flip of the coin is no more random than the tenth, and the same goes for played hands in baccarat.

The Myth of Card-Counting

Card-counting per se is a perfectly valid betting technique often utilized in multiple-move card games. A good example is blackjack, for which card-counting has long served well in basic strategy. The card-counting method involves keeping track of the cards that have already been played from the shoe in order to gain an advantage against the house. As more cards are played from the shoe, the more you narrow down what cards are left, and the more you can anticipate the cards that you will be dealt. On the outset, it does sound awfully promising, considering that both blackjack and baccarat games operate with cards drawn off of a similar shoe.

Why does card-counting work in blackjack? Because the game allows the player to alter his bet mid-hand, in a move known as “doubling down”. A strategy based on mathematical probabilities, card-counting valuably comes into play at this point. Simply put, knowing what cards are left in the shoe, you have a better idea if a card value you need to beat the dealer’s hand has not already been discarded.

What of card-counting in a baccarat game? To begin with, baccarat does not allow doubling down. What good is it to know what cards are left in the shoe if you can do nothing in your power to have that knowledge influence the outcome of your hand? For another, used cards are being fed back into the shoe, negating any count you have made up to that point in the game. All in all, card-counting in baccarat is irrelevant.

The Myth of the Martingale Betting System

A popular baccarat strategy that must be avoided unconditionally is the use of the martingale betting system. It advises you to double your bet each time you lose a hand, following the logic that eventually, at some point, your choice of bet will win. And if you had doubled your bet in each hand, that win will recoup all losses from previous hands. On one hand, it is again much like the coin flip logic: the odds of your tenth flip are no lower or higher than your first nine flips, and just because you have lost the first nine flips does not win you will eventually win the tenth flip.

On the other hand, the alarming soundness of the martingale betting system has prompted casinos to issue new betting rules, which limit the amount of bet that a player can place in one hand. Table maximums eliminate any threat from this system completely. Say, if you bet $5 on the banker and lost, then bet $10 next and lost, then $20, and so forth, and you keep losing, you eventually double your bet until you reach the table maximum. At this point, you can no longer bet any higher. Therefore, the martingale betting system will have defeated its purpose to have you wait until that single win whose value can recover all previous losses. It is one of those things that sound really good in theory but fail miserably once applied.