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By John Grochowski on Thursday May 6, 2010
The casino games that give you the best chance to win almost always come with a catch — You have to master strategies or at least learn a little about the game to get the most out of it.
Blackjack is a low-house edge game if you learn basic strategy. Craps is a low-house edge game if you learn to tell the best bets from the bankroll-eaters. As a basic rule, the more complicated and strategy-laden a casino game is, the better shot it offers to wins to those willing to study it.
Baccarat is an exception to that rule, and so is mini-baccarat, which is the same game played on a smaller table, usually with lower minimum bets but faster play. There are no strategies to learn. Cards are dealt and draws are made according to rule, with no decisions by bettors other than whether to bet on player, banker or tie. The banker bet wins more often than it loses, with the house taking an edge by charging a five percent commission on winning bets. And, baccarat has one of the lowest house edges in the casino.
When I play, I like to bet the streaks, jumping on board whenever one side has won twice in a row, and riding it out until it loses. That doesn’t give you an edge — you can’t change the math of the game — but hot streaks can bring some memorable wins.
The bottom line is that baccarat is the best no-brainer bet in the casino, with a house edge of 1.06 percent on banker and 1.24 percent on player. But beware the wager on ties. That carries a hefty 14.4 percent advantage to the house.