Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Frank Scoblete
Baccarat versus mini-baccarat11 November 2014
Baccarat is usually played in high-roller rooms on a large table that can fit at least 12 players; the game often has $100 minimum bets and at least three dealers plus a floor person working the table. The players also get to deal the cards as well — a really fun benefit of the game. Baccarat is leisurely and elegant; it’s the true game of James Bond. Sometimes this form of baccarat is called “Big Bac” to reflect the fact that it is played on a big table.
Mini-baccarat (also known as “Mini Bac”) is played on a much smaller table; often the size of a blackjack table or slightly larger. You have one dealer, and that dealer is the only one who touches and deals the cards. Players do not touch the cards. The game is fast, perhaps the fastest table game in the casino. The faster the game, the better for the casino. So small house edges can become deadly house edges if the game goes into super-fast motion.
The objective of both games is to correctly guess which of three possible propositions will win: Bank, Player or Tie (the Tie bet is so bad that it should never be made; just forget it exists). Two cards are dealt to the Bank hand and two cards are dealt to the Player hand. Sometimes a third card is dealt to either or both hands. The rules for hitting and standing are absolute; no decisions are to be made by the players or casino.
Whichever hand is 9 or closest to 9 is the winner. A two-card hand of 9 and a two-card hand of 8 are considered naturals and do not take any hits. The 9 beats the 8.
In baccarat, the deal goes counterclockwise around the table. The player who is dealing continues to deal as long as the Bank hand keeps winning — even though the player-dealer does not have to bet the Bank hand. As soon as a Player hand wins, the next player gets to deal.
A winning Player hand is paid off at 1 to 1; bet $100, you win $100. A winning Bank bet pays $95 for $100 because a 5-percent commission is collected on that $100. The Tie hand is paid at 8 to 1. If you bet on either Bank or Player and the Tie wins, it is a push.
Since I ignore the Tie bet, the house edge on the Bank bet is 1.17 percent (a loss of $1.17 per $100 wagered) and the edge on the Player bet is 1.36 percent (a loss of $1.36 per $100 wagered).
Because players do not touch or deal the cards, mini-baccarat is based on how fast a casino dealer can deal — and that is extremely fast. The number of hands in Mini Bac can often range from 120 to almost 200! You’ll never find anything close to that number of decisions in Big Bac. Based on my scouting, I’d say a player faces about 40 decisions in baccarat.
Many casinos have eliminated the Big Bac tables or reduced their action to weekends. By doing so, they save on dealers’ salaries and make more money, as they can have several tables going around the clock. So most players will discover that the lower, mid-sized tables will be open for business composed of one dealer dealing like lightning. Keep in mind that with smaller minimums, more players will venture to the Mini Bac tables.
The following chart will show you how much you can expect to win or lose in Big Bac and Mini Bac given one and four hours of play. I am using a house edge of 1.26 percent assuming some combination of betting Bank and Player. Note that if you bet the same amount at Mini-Bac ($100) as you do in Big Bac, your losses increase tremendously.
Bet Number of decisions Expectation per hour Expectation per 4 hours
Big Bac $100 40 $50.40 $201.60
Mini Bac $100 120 $151.20 $604.80
Mini-Bac $25 120 37.80 $151.20
Mini Bac $10 120 $15.12 $60.48
Mini Bac $100 150 $189 $756
Mini Bac $25 150 $47.25 $189
Mini Bac $10 150 $18.90 $75.60
How much should you budget to play these games? I’d speculate that for Big Bac the minimum session bankroll should be 20 units ($100 x 20 = $2,000); for Mini Bac it should be 40 units ($10 x 40 = $400).
I have a complete analysis of baccarat in my book "Casino Conquest: How to Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games!"
Frank Scoblete's newest books are "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic" and "I Am a Card Counter." Available from Amazon.com, Kindle or at bookstores. Join Frank on his website at www.frankscoblete.com
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of Frank Scoblete