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Why Does the Banker Bet Have Better Odds in Baccarat?

If you were to look up the best strategy for playing baccarat, the one piece of advice that you'll always encounter is to bet on the banker because it has better odds of winning. That much is certainly true, and it is reflected as much in the payout (i.e. bets on the banker pays out 0.95 whereas bets on the player pays out 1) - but why does the banker stand a higher chance of winning?

Drawing Rules in Baccarat

The difference in odds between the player and banker winning are basically due to the drawing rules in baccarat. The player will stand on any cards totaling 6, 7, 8, or 9 and only draw a third card if the total is 5 or less. On the other hand the banker will stand on any cards totaling 7, 8, or 9 - but will base the decision to draw on the players cards:
  • If banker's total is 0, 1 or 2 the banker will always draw a third card.
  • If the banker's total is 3 then the banker will draw if the player's third card is anything except 8.
  • If the banker's total is 4 then the banker will draw if the player's third card is 2 to 7.
  • If the banker's total is 5 then the banker will draw if the player's third card is 4 to 7.
  • If the banker's total is 6 then the banker will draw if the player's third card is 6 or 7.
While all of that may sound rather confusing it amounts to this: The banker will only draw when the player draws a card that is likely to help the hand - and this increases the odds that they will win.

It is important to note that as much as the banker does have better odds of winning in baccarat - that is balanced out by the reduced payouts (i.e. the 5% commission) that is paid when betting on the banker. As such it really works out to almost the same average when you bet on either banker or player when playing baccarat.

Now that you know why the banker bet has better odds, you could try playing baccarat online. When you do you'll be able to observe the drawing rules in action, and see for yourself how they banker gets its slight edge over the player.

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