When it comes to choosing a card game at a casino, there seems to be a divide between the slower-paced, more strategic games, such as poker, and the faster-paced ones with fewer rules and fast play. In the latter category, two of the most popular options are baccarat and blackjack, which have the most fluid, frenetic pacing of any games at a casino. With that said, success in these card games is not entirely dictated by chance, and there is a surprising amount of strategy that you can employ to increase your chances of success. However, this may not be desirable, as you might simply want to sit down at an online or physical table and begin playing without getting too caught up in strategizing. In this article, we will cover some of the basic strategies you can employ in a game of baccarat or blackjack, as well as some tips to help you decide which game best suits your playing preferences.
As one of the oldest card games in the casino, baccarat has a certain degree of mystique to it. However, don’t let this misperception fool you, as baccarat is, in fact, one of the simplest games on offer. In a game of baccarat, players look to reach a total value of nine using only two cards. The game will end in either a victory for the banker, a victory for the player, or a tie. You place bets on the outcome you think is the most likely, after which the dealer deals the cards. Number cards are worth their face value (except for the 10), while the 10, jack, queen, and king are all worth zero. The ace is assigned a value of one.
The dealer places the cards face down and deals them to you one by one. If you receive cards totalling nine on your first deal, this is the best hand, with a total value of eight being the second-best deal, and so on. If your total value exceeds nine, you adjust it by subtracting ten to get the value of the hand. In other rule sets, if the cards dealt have a value greater than nine, you add the two together and drop the first digit of the total to get the value of the hand.
In baccarat, there are three bet types, and your choice of strategy will depend heavily on how you choose to bet.
When choosing a baccarat strategy, the main goal is to reduce the house edge, meaning you want to reduce the likelihood that the house or dealer/banker will win. Reducing the house edge makes it statistically more likely that you will win. In baccarat, the odds in favour of the house are 45.85%, while they are 44.62% for the player. This means that the house is slightly more likely statistically to win a given round. The odds of the hand resulting in a tie are lower at 9.53%. As such, it’s clear that baccarat strategies are less about guaranteed methods of success and more about tilting the statistical edge in your favour.
Keeping in mind the house edge, you can use certain betting strategies to increase the likelihood of success. Some common betting strategies are as follows.
Blackjack, or 21 as it is more commonly called, is one of the most popular card games on offer. Lacking the complex rules, lengthy matches and strategy of poker, blackjack has proven to be a fan favourite in online and land-based casinos across the world. Much of this is down to the simple rules that are easy to pick up for even the most inexperienced players. In a game of blackjack, the dealer will deal you two cards face up, and two to himself – one face up, the other face down. The goal is to have a hand that gets as close to possible to 21 without going over. After the initial deal, you then decide if you want to take another card (take a hit) or stick with the two cards you were initially dealt (stand). You can also double-down on your bet or split the two cards and take a hit on both.
All cards in blackjack are worth their face value, while the picture cards are worth ten. The ace can count as either 11 or one. You win if your hand totals more than the dealer’s hand, or if your hand is 21 or less when the dealer goes bust.
Much like baccarat, blackjack is a game of pure chance, so there is little you can do in terms of strategy to improve your chances of success without being able to control the cards you get dealt. However, certain strategies can reduce the house edge in theory.
One such strategy is called the basic strategy. First pioneered by Edward Thorp, the basic strategy uses a mathematical method where you essentially count the cards on the table. Using Thorp’s calculations, you can calculate what the house edge in a given game will be based on the face-up cards on the table. You then use this knowledge to decide whether to take a hit, to stand, to double your bets or to surrender. Although the basic blackjack strategy has become popularised since Thorp literally wrote the book on it, it is by no means easy to learn or implement. Basic blackjack strategy is relatively complicated and could take quite some time to get to grips with. As such, it is more likely better suited to more advanced players already familiar with the intricacies of the game.
Despite being quite similar in terms of the rules, the pace of play and overall difficulty level, the strategies you can use in baccarat and blackjack are surprisingly different. The strategies in baccarat are much easier overall to pick up and really boil down to how you make your bets rather than counting cards or any other complex calculations. In contrast, blackjack strategies can rely on some seriously taxing calculations, which might simply require more time to get to grips with than anyone other than the most hardcore players have available. If you do have the time to dedicate to learning blackjack strategies and have the brainpower to match, they present a great opportunity to do a deep dive into. However, more casual players might be better suited to baccarat.
When it comes to whether baccarat or blackjack has more or less strategy, it’s not so simple a question to answer. Both games have their own unique rule sets, which suit certain strategies in different ways. While card counting has become popular in blackjack, betting strategies are better suited to the rule set used in baccarat. Neither has more strategy than the other, but it’s simply a matter that the types of strategies available to players are different.
Baccarat and blackjack are two of the most popular card games on offer in land-based and online casinos. Much of this is to do with their simple rules, which facilitate a fast pace of play and a palpable sense of excitement. However, don’t let this fool you, as both games have the potential for a lot of strategizing that you can employ to increase your chances of success. While baccarat strategy is the simplest to pick up, blackjack offers more experienced players something complex to hold on to and which can enhance their enjoyment of the game. With that said, if you fancy trying out any of the advanced baccarat or blackjack strategies in this article, sign up for a free account to get started. We here at Bitcasino even offer a play-for-fun option, which is the perfect choice if you are looking to perfect your strategies.
Words: Sean McNulty