Mini-Baccarat Side Bets Are Tempting, But It’s a Bad Bet For Players

Mini-Baccarat was developed as a floor table game in casinos to accommodate the average player. Along with that however, optional side bets were also introduced to increase the house edge. Before I detail them, I’ll explain how the game is played is played.

Objective

The objective of this table game is the same as original Baccarat where player must come as close to the number nine as possible. Aces count as one, two’s through nines are face value, and Tens through Kings count as zero. Regardless of the number of players, the dealer only deals two hands from a 6 or 8 deck shoe. Prior to the deal, players must place one bet on either the Bank hand, player hand, or tie.

When a hand is totaled, it cannot exceed nine. If the two cards total more than nine, the first digit (number one) is dropped. The second digit becomes the total. A few examples are:

7, 8 = 15 (drop 1) total = 5

4, 3 = 7 (two cards, face value)

10, 6 = 6 (10 is zero, 6 is face value)

K, 9 = 9 (King is zero, 9 is called a natural)

Baccarat requires no skill on the part of the player. All s/he needs to do is decide where to place one bet before the deal. The dealer examines both hands and then decides if a third and final card should be drawn for either hand. The determination is made according to a fixed set of game rules.

A bet on the player’s hand returns even money if won. A bet on the Banker’s hand returns even money minus a 5% commission to the house if won. A tie bet returns 8 to 1 if won, otherwise it is a push when not bet. The reason for the 5% commission on the Bank’s win is that the drawing advantage is with the Bank, according the following game rules:

Player

The player position always draws on a 0, 1, and 2,3,4,5 unless the Banker has a natural 8 or 9. The player always stands on 6, 7, 8, and 9. When a player has a natural 8 or 9, the game is over.

Banker

The Banker position always draws on a 0, 1, 2 unless the player has a natural 8 or 9.

The Banker always stands on 7, 8, and 9. When a Banker has a natural 8 or 9, the game is over.

Baccarat Side Bets

There are a number of optional side bets available at Mini Baccarat tables everywhere and like any side wager, all of them exist to increase the house edge. Nevertheless, Players are attracted to them because of the hefty winning payouts. Here are some of the popular ones:

Dragon Bonus

The bettor may wager on the Player or Banker side that the hand will win by a natural or by 4 or more points. The bet must be made before the hand is dealt. The greater the number that the hand wins by, the greater the payout:

Win By: Payout

9 – 30/1

8 – 10/1

7 – 6/1

6 – 4/1

5 – 2/1

4 – 1/1

Natural – 1/1

The house edge for this bet is 2.7%.

The payouts are the same for a bet on the Bank side however the house edge jumps to 9.7% if chosen.

4-5-6

This is a side wager that the total number of combined cards to complete the Player and Banker hand will be 4, 5, or 6.

# Cards Payout House Edge

4 – 1.5/1 – 5.3%

5 – 2/1 – 8.9%

6 – 2/1 – 4.7%

3 Card Six

This is a bet for a winning 3 card six. If player and banker have a 3 card six, the wager pays 100/1. If there is only one three card six, the bettor wins 8/1. The house edge is a whopping 13.4%!

Royal Match

Wagering that the player or banker hand will have a king and queen on the first two cards drawn, called the Royal Match. Not to be confused with the option of the same name found in the game of Blackjack. The bet pays 75/1 for a suited king & queen, and 30/1 for an unsuited royal match. The house edge has been calculated at about 2.1%.

Dragon 7

Dragon 7 is an optional side bet found in EZ Baccarat, which is played the same as regular Mini-Baccarat except the game has a commission free bank hand with one exception: A winning bank hand with a three-card total of seven will push instead of paying even money. A player may wager on that outcome for which the winning payout is 40/1. The house edge is about 7.6%.

Panda 8

The Panda 8 side bet is sometimes found in EZ Baccarat games. The wager pays 25/1 if a player hand has a three card total of eight. As for the house edge, it’s 10.2%.

Tie Bet

The Tie Bet is not considered a side wager, as it is included on all Baccarat table games. However, due to the atrocious house edge of 14%, it should be avoided at all times.

Remember that Baccarat, next to Blackjack, has a very low house edge of 1.2% when the Play bet is chosen, and a lower edge of 1.06% when betting the Bank when you avoid the side bets.

Good Luck!

Mini-Baccarat – The Unsung Hero of Casino Gambling

The European version of Baccarat has been around 150 years give or take. It’s distant cousin, Chemin De Fer, played under an entirely different set of rules is far older and was a game favored by Europe’s royalty and wealthy industrialists. This is most likely where it got the mystique of elegance as an exclusively “high roller’s” game.

In the mid 1950’s Tommy Renzoni ran the Baccarat game at the Capri Hotel & Casino in Havana, Cuba. It was said he discovered that particular variation of the game being played in Argentina at the time.

In those days the mob ran the casinos in Havana and it was a popular resort for the very wealthy and Hollywood’s elite. In 1959 when Castro overthrew the Batista regime, he promptly closed the casino doors and the mob was forced out of Cuba. They had a sweet deal for a while but all good things must end.

The timing was perfect though, because Tommy Renzoni was brought in for the opening of the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to run their Baccarat game. So it was Renzoni, through a stroke of fortune, who introduced the American version of Baccarat to Vegas that is played today.

The American version of the game is as simple as they come. You choose to wager on either the “bank” hand or the “player” hand. Pretty much a coin toss. The only other choice would be to bet on a tie hand appearing (a bet no sane person would make although I see it done all the time). It’s an even money bet on either side with the exception of a small commission charged on winning bank hands.

The reason for this is that the rules of the game favor the bank hand winning slightly more often than the player hand. Without the 5% commission the outcome would be tilted toward the bank side.

The object of the game is to get closest to a 9 total. All tens and face cards have a zero value, therefore a 5 and a queen would be a total of 5. There is no need to even know the rules governing the drawing of cards because they are completely automatic and procedures are directed by the dealers and pit bosses.

Compared to craps, blackjack, roulette or even poker, there are no complicated decisions to make. Decide on the amount of your wager and which side to bet on. Nothing could be simpler.

It is the aura that surrounds the game which tends to make it seem off limits to most casino goers. It’s been portrayed through stories of high rollers and in James Bond (007) movies over the years as the hero playing against the evil villain. Keep in mind, all the players are betting against the casino, not against each other. Although the roped off table areas and high stakes table limits can be somewhat intimidating.

Enter Mini-Baccarat. The casinos, always on the look out to make a buck, devised the mini-baccarat table as a way to make it more accessible to the average casino patron. It seemed to work although it still hasn’t garnered the wide spread acceptance of the more well known table games.

Betting Systems

In reality, mini-baccarat is ideally suited for most playing and betting systems that do well in an even-money, win/lose environment. Because there can be only one of two outcomes, betting systems that depend on a parlay (doubling up) of wagers tend to do well.

It is common to see runs of 2, 3, 4 & 5 on either bank or player hands. I was playing the Tropicana one night and witnessed an incredible run of 22 consecutive “bank” hands. Luckily, having the sense and instinct to jump on a winning streak after the fourth bank win, I was able to capture 18 straight wins. Needless to say, it was a very good night. That’s an extraordinary run but the game does lend itself well to streaks on both sides.

If you toss a coin you have a 1 to 1 chance of correctly calling the outcome. If a player were to parlay their first win (playing for 2 consecutive wins), they have a 1 in 3 chance of winning that wager. If successful, the player would receive a 3 to 1 payoff. $10 parlayed on two wins would become $40. The odds on calling two consecutive outcomes correctly is 3 to 1.

Playing for three consecutive wins would reduce the player’s winning wagers but the payoff would jump to 7 to 1. A $10 wager would return $80.

Another sound betting system calls for a gradual increase of winning bets. This effectively takes advantage of any extended run of wins that will undoubtedly occur and protect the player’s capital if the outcome is “choppy.”

This type of betting sequence would look like this:

10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50

No wager after the second one in the series would produce a loss for the player.

Following the 1st bet the player is risking $5 and betting $15;

After winning the third bet the player is up $20 betting 25;

On the fourth, the player is up $40 wagering $30;

On the fifth, the player is ahead $65 betting $40;

A series of 7 wins would return $150 and still have a $50 wager as the next bet. All with a starting wager of $10. Following any loss the player reverts back to the starting $10 bet.

With this method the player is increasing their bets with winnings while maintaining a low minimum bet during losing hands. This is the type of smart money management used by professional gamblers that takes full advantage of winning cycles while protecting their bankroll when losing. It insures that their winning bets will be substantially greater than their losing ones.

Although the hands are dealt at a rapid pace, I consider mini-baccarat to be an excellent game, especially for the beginner. It allows them to acclimate to the game and concentrate on their playing strategy and wagers without feeling intimidated by the big money action in the regular Baccarat pit.

If you’ve read any of the stuff I’ve written you know I’m a big fan of Baccarat. As for mini-baccarat, it’s the same game, same low house percentage, low minimums and gives the player a very good chance at some big wins. It might even pay for your next trip the casino.

Best of luck,

Ray W.