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Best of John Grochowski

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Baccarat problems

13 October 2019

Baccarat is one of the easiest casino games. It’s a pure guessing game as to whether the banker or player hand will come closer to 9 or whether they will tie.

Easy as it is, baccarat does have its quirks, as Jill found out when she decided to give it a try.

Her basic question was what you should do when there is a $1 minimum per bet on the commission on winning banker bets. And the basic answer is that you should either bet on player or find a different game.

But let’s have Jill tell the story in her own way.

“I’m a blackjack player from way back,” she said in a lengthy exchange through half a dozen emails. “I was playing blackjack when you rarely saw any women at the tables. That was thanks to my dad teaching me.

“I’ve read about baccarat knew there were no strategy decisions. To me, that takes the fun out of the game despite the low house edges (1.06% on banker, 1.24% on player, but a whopping 14.36% on ties bets).”

Jill reversed directions one day when on a losing streak. She decided a no-decision, low-edge game was what she needed to clear her head.

“There was a $10 mini-baccarat table, and I was just going to relax and make minimum bets. Then I saw the sign that the minimum commission was $1 per hand. On a $10 bet, that’s a 10% commission, not the 5% I’d read about.

“Paying that big commission didn’t seem worthwhile to me, so I stayed with player bets. I only stayed half an hour and lost $20. I don’t think I’d play again with a 10% commission.”

Jill played it right by making player bets and staying away from banker given those conditions.

Banker wins more often than player. With no commission, banker bettors would have an edge over the house. It takes the usual 5% commission to take the house edge to 1.06%.

With a 10% commission, the house edge more than triples to 3.35%. That’s 2.7 times as high as the 1.24% edge on player. Instead of banker being the best play, player is better if you’re making minimum bets at a $10 table that charges a minimum commission of $1 on winning banker bets.

Not all mini-baccarat tables have that $1 minimum commission. Many low-limit tables are stocked with quarters to make change for commissions.

It doesn’t take all that many quarters. Commissions usually aren’t collected after every hand. Dealers stack lammers to keep track of commissions, and bettors settle up at the end of each shoe or when they leave the table.

A 5% commission on a $10 bet is 50 cents, so any even number of banker wins will result in a commission total in whole dollars. On odd number of banker wins results in whole dollars plus 50 cents in commissions.

Casinos that don’t stock quarters round to whole dollars when the commission is paid. One method that keeps the average commission to 5% is to alternate shoes – rounding up after one, then rounding down after the next.

Keeping commissions in whole dollars is one reason big baccarat tables have had $20 minimum bets and yellow $20 chips not used elsewhere in the casino. With a $20 bet, a 5% commission is $1.

Jill gave that info a “LOL.”

“All I had to do was double my bet and risk more money to make the commission worthwhile,” she wrote. “I’ll pass.”

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski