Baccarat vs. blackjack: Which game offers better odds?
Blackjack and baccarat are both popular card games played at many casinos, both online and off. While they do have some things in common, they are actually very different games, and come with different pros and cons, as well as different odds of winning. This article will uncover the differences between baccarat vs blackjack and find out which game offers better odds for players.
Both of these games are offered at most casinos. While there are different versions of both games, the rules are pretty similar, so you will generally be able to play any version once you’ve mastered the basics.
Baccarat comes down to luck, so the odds of winning are always close to 50/50. With blackjack, your odds of winning are slightly worse overall, but you can influence the outcome of the game more easily as there is some skill involved. When it comes to baccarat vs blackjack, which one you choose to play will come down to personal preference, and lots of players find that they enjoy both games, for slightly different reasons.
What are baccarat and blackjack, and how do they differ in popularity?
In blackjack, the goal is to end up holding a hand in which the face value of all the cards adds up to 21, or as near as possible while staying below 21. Both the players and the dealer are dealt two cards initially. Players then decide whether they want to hit (take another card) or stand (stick with the hand they have).
If a player, or the dealer, goes over 21, they go ‘bust’ and lose that hand. The fact that players proactively make their own decisions in this game introduces an element of strategy to blackjack and sets it apart from baccarat, but it is still one of the simpler table games to play.
In baccarat, players place their bet before the game starts. You can only place one of three bets. You must bet on the player’s hand, on the dealer’s hand, or on a tie. The cards are then dealt, and the aim is to get a hand with a value closest to nine.
In baccarat, cards with a value of two to nine carry their face value, while aces have a value of one and picture cards and 10s have a value of zero. You can’t go bust in baccarat. If your hand is worth 10 or more, the first digit is removed to give you a single-digit score. The winner is whoever is closest to nine.
There are no decisions to be made. You accept the cards you’re dealt, and calculate your score based on those, so baccarat really is a game of chance.
Blackjack has long been one of the most popular table games in land-based casinos, perhaps because of its simplicity and relatively low house edge, but also because players do like to play a game with an element of skill. Baccarat has not traditionally been quite as popular as blackjack, but it is now widely played, especially in online casinos.
Baccarat is a game of pure chance. You simply place your bet and accept your cards. You have almost a 50/50 chance of winning – almost, but not quite, because of the house edge, which is always a factor.
What is house edge, and how does it affect the odds of baccarat and blackjack?
The house edge is what players are referring to when they state that ‘the house always wins’. Every casino game operates in such a way that the casino has an advantage over the player. Without this, casinos couldn’t stay in business as they could potentially have ‘losing streaks’ where they made a loss rather than a profit.
The house edge is what keeps the casino’s rent paid, the lights on, the in-house bars open, and the dealers’ wages paid. With online casinos, it’s what covers the considerable operating costs, such as licensing, hosting, game development, and running live games if the casino has a live lobby.
In blackjack, the standard house edge is around 2%, which is very low. With baccarat, it is even lower on most bets. This is one reason why the games are so popular. Statistically, players are more likely to win than with many other games, and big losses are statistically less likely than in other games.
However, it’s vital to be aware that statistics really don’t mean much when it comes to individual outcomes. Any player can potentially win big or lose big, which is why you should never take too big of a risk and should always gamble with money you can afford to lose.
Remember that the house edge operates across the whole casino, so individual players can, of course, profit from any particular playing session. When this happens, it feels like you have ‘beaten’ the house edge, which on a personal level you have. However, it’s true that the house always wins overall. For every player who beats the house, there will be one, or more, who walk away with a loss. Whatever game you’re playing, the odds are always slightly against you. However, in both blackjack and baccarat, they are better than in some other games.
What are the odds of winning in baccarat and how do they work?
In baccarat, you have an almost 50/50 chance of winning or losing, but not quite. The banker always has a slight advantage because they play second, after the player has already played their hand. It’s a small advantage, especially with the two most popular bets, which are a player bet or a banker bet, in which the house edge is 1.36% and 1.17% respectively.
Betting on a tie result in a 14% house edge, which is why it’s generally not advisable (though some players will take the chance occasionally because it results in a much bigger payout in the unlikely event that you do get it right).
What are the odds of winning in blackjack and how do they work?
Blackjack works in a similar way to baccarat when it comes to the house edge and your odds of winning. Again, there is roughly a 50/50 chance of winning or losing, but again the dealer plays their hand second, providing a slight advantage. The advantage is bigger in blackjack as there is a possibility that the player will go bust. However, because blackjack is a little more complex, and there is a little skill or strategy involved, the house edge varies more.
More experienced players can reduce the house edge by making better playing decisions. It’s even possible to count cards in blackjack. This gives you a better idea of what types of cards (high or low) are left in the deck, and therefore lets you know whether the next card is likely to get you to 21 or send you bust.
There are also different versions of blackjack, which can impact the odds of winning. The house edge is lower, for example, in single-deck blackjack – sometimes 0.25% lower, depending on other factors. For this reason, many casinos play multi-deck blackjack, sometimes playing with as many as six or eight decks of cards to make the game more complex, and the house edge higher.
Which game has better odds, baccarat or blackjack?
When it comes to assessing baccarat odds vs blackjack odds, it’s not quite as straightforward as it seems. You could certainly argue that baccarat has better odds for the player, all things being equal. However, as we have discussed, there are various factors to take into account when comparing the two games. While baccarat has a low house edge, it is a game based on luck, and the odds, quite simply, are what they are. They cannot really be influenced in any meaningful way.
With blackjack, there are strategies that can be employed that may increase the odds of winning. The fact that the player makes a decision each time the cards are dealt, which can either help them win or send them bust, means that more experienced players can reduce the house edge. Factors such as the number of decks in play, and the ability of the player to keep track of the cards still in play by employing card counting strategies, can also have an impact.
Overall, however, the house edge is more predictable in baccarat.
It is vital to keep in mind the fact that statistics mean very little. You could win a large amount or lose your entire bankroll in any given playing session. It depends on whether the cards go your way or not.
How can players maximize their chances of winning in baccarat and blackjack?
As winning in baccarat relies on luck, it would be easy to assume that there is nothing you can really do to increase your chances of winning. While this is more or less true, there are a few things to keep in mind when playing baccarat that can potentially increase your wins and limit your losses.
In any game of luck, one of the things to pay attention to is stake management. You want to keep bets low and monitor your bankroll. There are various betting strategies that players use when playing games of luck, such as the Martingale strategy and the Fibonacci strategy. These are really just ways to bet strategically, given that these games don’t really allow you to play strategically. It may be worth taking a look at the different betting strategies and the logic behind them, and seeing if one of them feels like a good fit for you.
The other thing to be aware of with baccarat is the slightly different house edge for the different bets. From a statistical standpoint. it is best to bet on the banker, as you are just slightly more likely to win due to the marginally more favorable house edge. It’s also advisable to avoid betting on a tie, as that’s a rare result, so you’re less likely to win.
With blackjack, things are a little different, because there is a little more skill involved. As we’ve already discussed, the odds are better if you get to pick a single-deck game, or a game with a lower number of card decks in play. Then, it’s about choosing whether to hit or stand. Sometimes this is obvious. With a very low hand, you’ll always hit. With a very high one, you’ll stand. However, this decision may also be influenced by what the dealer’s up card is, as this will give you an idea of what sort of hand they may be holding.
Your decision may also be influenced by the opportunity to split or double down. In blackjack, you can split if your two initial cards are a pair, and play them as two hands. Generally, you’ll want to do this with high cards such as a pair of 10s, but not with aces as they can count as either a one or an 11.
Ultimately, when it comes to baccarat vs blackjack, both are games worth trying, and both have pretty good odds, compared to many other options. Whether you focus on playing baccarat or blackjack, or both, will come down to personal preference. Whichever game you are playing, make sure that you gamble responsibly, manage your bankroll carefully, and only wager what you can afford.