One question that pops up from time to time in the gambling industry is whether or not online baccarat is beatable. It’s an understandable question because baccarat is associated with high rollers and large sums of money. Plus, there’s a great deal of superstition associated with the game – especially among Asian gamblers.
Here’s the deal: online baccarat is beatable, but it’s not guaranteed. The house has an advantage in baccarat and there is no strategy that you can employ to beat the house edge. Baccarat is different than blackjack or poker because you can’t make decisions that affect the outcome of the game.
In blackjack and poker, you can make decisions that have an impact on the outcome. In poker, you can bluff your way into big pots and you can extract money from your opponents through skillful play. In blackjack, you can make decisions based on information that is revealed over the course of the hand.
Decisions in real money baccarat are all made before the game begins. Once you place your wagers and choose your side, the game is set in motion. The outcome is determined without any further input from the player. The rigid rules of the game effectively “block” any attempts to get out early, extract more money or bluff at pots that you shouldn’t win.
The best thing you can do in real money baccarat is bet on the banker every time. Out of the three possible wagers in baccarat, the banker bet has the lowest house advantage (about 1.01% in a single deck game). The house still has the advantage, but it’s not a big advantage. If you have a casino bonus that allows you to clear it with baccarat, you can actually make a little money while playing.
Card counting is not possible in online baccarat. The casino software shuffles the cards automatically after every deal. Since card counting relies on keeping a running count from one hand to the next, the constant shuffling mechanism ruins that idea.
But, let’s say you’re willing to drive to the nearest brick-and-mortar casino where they don’t shuffle the deck after every hand. Is it possible then to gain an advantage?
There are theories that say you can use card counting to win in baccarat. This article explains one such theory very well. The issue with card counting in baccarat is that it provides very little benefit over the long term. Most people decide to take up blackjack or poker in order to gain a bigger advantage over the casino.
The article linked to above has the most generous opinion of card counting in baccarat. Most other noted casino authorities say that card counting simply isn’t feasible in the real world. Michael Shackleford from the Wizard of Odds estimates that you might earn 15 cents per hand in baccarat if you find the right game and have an incredible mind for math.
You could say it’s possible to count cards in live baccarat but it’s just not worth it. You can’t adjust your strategy mid-game like you can in blackjack. The edges you gain are minimal and difficult to obtain. In short, I wouldn’t recommend investing much time learning how to count cards in baccarat and I certainly wouldn’t buy any products online that claim they can turn you into a guaranteed baccarat winner via card counting.
Combining Bonuses with Baccarat
One of the advantages online baccarat has over live baccarat is that you can sometimes earn casino bonuses while playing baccarat. The low house advantage of baccarat + a big casino bonus just may be enough to tip the advantage to your favor.
However, most casino bonuses do not work with baccarat. When you get a bonus at an online casino, it comes with wagering requirements that state you must wager X number of dollars before you can withdraw the bonus. In most cases, baccarat is restricted from meeting those clearing requirements.
The good news is that sometimes online casinos release bonuses that come with little or no clearing requirements. These bonuses are rare, but they do pop up from time to time. Lucky Red Casino usually offers a couple of these bonuses every month.
Here’s one example of a low rollover bonus. This one was at Lucky Red Casino but I imagine there are other casinos out there that release these types of bonuses on occasion. You need to keep your eyes open though, because these bonuses are not very common. Bookmark the blog here and check back from time to time. I try to let everyone know whenever a low rollover bonus comes out.