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Baccarat Quiz Answers

9 May 2000

Last week, I popped a little 10-question quiz on baccarat. Here is the test again, followed by the answers.

The Quiz:

  1. The winning hand in baccarat is:
    1. The hand that totals closer to 9.
    2. The higher-ranking poker-type hand, with three Aces being the perfect hand.
    3. The lower-ranking poker-type hand, with Ace-2-3 being the perfect hand.
  2. The major decision to be made by baccarat players is:
    1. Whether to draw a third card or stop after two.
    2. Whether to bet on banker, player or tie.
    3. Whether to surrender half the bet after seeing two cards.
  3. The house edge on baccarat:
    1. Is lower than the house edge against a blackjack basic strategy player.
    2. Is higher than the house edge against a blackjack basic strategy player.
    3. Is about the same as the house edge against a blackjack basic strategy player.
  4. The best bet in baccarat is:
    1. Banker.
    2. Player.
    3. Tie.
    4. They're all about the same.
  5. The banker hand:
    1. Wins a little more often than it loses.
    2. Loses a little more often than it wins.
    3. Wins as often as it loses.
  6. The player hand:
    1. Wins a little more often than it loses.
    2. Loses a little more often than it wins.
    3. Wins as often as it loses.
  7. The tie bet is best made:
    1. At any time.
    2. Only when there has not been a tie in at least 10 hands.
    3. Never.
  8. Play at big baccarat table differs from mini-baccarat in that:
    1. It moves more slowly, with players often dealing the cards.
    2. It uses only a single deck of cards.
    3. There is no difference.
  9. Players get a better run for their money.
    1. In big baccarat.
    2. In mini-baccarat.
    3. There is no difference.
  10. Counting cards at baccarat:
    1. Can swing the overall edge in favor of the bettor.
    2. Can swing the edge to the bettor in certain rare situations.
    3. Makes no difference because the player has no hit/stand decisions to make.

The answers:

1. The winning hand in baccarat is: A. The hand that totals closer to 9.

Baccarat is a competition between a player hand and a banker hand, and gamblers may bet on either, or on a tie. The hand that totals closer to 9 is the winner.

Cards numbered 2 through 9 are counted according to their face value, Aces are 1 and 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings are zero. If the sum of the two, and sometimes three, cards in the hand is 10 or greater, only the second digit counts. If the player hand starts with a 4 and a Queen, it's a 4. If it then draws a 9 to bring the sum to 13, the hand is a 3.

2. The major decision to be made by baccarat players is: B. Whether to bet on banker, player or tie.

Bettors do not make hit/stand decisions in baccarat. Decisions on whether to take a third card are done according to the rules of the game. There are no options.

That leaves a simple guessing game. Will the banker hand or player hand be closer to 9, or will it be a tie?

3. The house edge on baccarat: B. Is higher than the house edge against a blackjack basic strategy player.

A basic strategy player in blackjack reduces the house edge to about 0.5 percent, a little more or less depending on house rules. In baccarat, house edges are 1.17 percent on banker, 1.36 percent on player and 14 percent on ties.

Still, for wagers that require no strategy to get optimal results, the banker and player bets in baccarat rank with the best in the house.

4. The best bet in baccarat is: A. Banker.

As we saw in No. 3, the banker bet has a house edge of 1.17 percent, a little better than the 1.36 percent on player.

5. The banker hand: A. Wins a little more often than it loses.

Banker wins 50.68 percent of hands that are not ties. Bet banker from now until the end of time, and you'll win more hands than you lose. Will you win money? No, because the house collects a 5 percent commission on winning bets on banker.

6. The player hand: B. Loses a little more often than it wins.

Player wins 49.32 percent of hands that are not ties. There is no commission involved here. The house edge simply comes from this bet losing more often than it wins.

7. The tie bet is best made: C. Never.

Let's amend that slightly. Most players should never make the tie bet. The house edge of 14 percent is much too big to overcome. In certain rare situations, the wager may be profitable. See answer No. 10.

8. Play at big baccarat table differs from mini-baccarat in that: A. It moves more slowly, with players often dealing the cards.

Go to a full-scale baccarat at a 14-player table in a high-limit room in Las Vegas, and you'll see a ceremonial game, with the shoe passed to a player who deals hands as instructed by the casino dealer. Players pick up the cards and squeeze them apart oh, so slowly.

There's none of that at a blackjack-sized mini-baccarat table. A casino dealer slides the cards out as fast as possible and players never touch the cards.

9. Players get a better run for their money. A. In big baccarat.

In any casino game, speed kills. The house edge is the same in mini-baccarat as in big baccarat, but mini-bac bettors play much faster, leading to higher losses per hour.

10. Counting cards at baccarat: B. Can swing the edge to the bettor in certain rare situations.

Favorable situations are really rare. The late Peter Griffin wrote in The Theory of Blackjack that a player who doesn't bet unless he has an advantage can squeeze an edge of about 0.7 percent of his maximum bets on banker and player. However, that player might play only about three hands per eight hours. That's watching, not playing.

For bets on ties, it's theoretically possible to count down to a 24 percent edge with six cards remaining, provided all the cards are dealt out.

In the real world, nobody deals out all the cards, and with one-half deck cut out of play, the bettor's potential edge on the last hand shrinks to just .08 percent.


For more information about Baccarat:

The Baccarat Battle Book: How to Attack the Game of Baccarat by Frank Scoblete
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:

> 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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski