Understanding The Banker Bet in Baccarat


Baccarat once used to be quite the exclusive VIP game reserved only for the high rollers. Meaning you would  need to meet the requirement quota of fancy attire and thousands of dollars on hand to buy the chips. But needless to say, that is very far from the truth now. The shadow of that past elegance still remains in the VIP baccarat lounges. But now there are mini-bac tables where you can bet as little as $10 to chip in. Not to mention, today a big part of gambling is web-centric casinos. On the web, even the baccarat wager is flexible down to single-dollar bills because it’s a competitive field for casinos. 

In any case, baccarat is quite popular today as a casual visitor’s baby steps in the gambling industry. The primary reason for that is the game’s simplicity. Despite that, there is still one baccarat buzzword not everyone understands with complete clarity: the banker bet. So here is a primer that will tell you everything you need to know about the banker bet. 

What Is The Banker Bet?

The first thing one needs to know about the banker bet is that there is no ‘banker’ in the game. For the sake of clarity, we should start with the basic rules of baccarat. Thankfully, they are simple enough that you only need to know three things for the basics. Firstly, there are two sides in baccarat: the banker and the player. Secondly, each round, the dealer will deal two cards face up to both the banker and the player – and an additional card may or may not come into play depending on rules we will get into later. 

Lastly, the side with the higher hand value at the end will be the winner. Now, the way you as a player actually play the game is by betting on either the banker or the player to win. There are also other betting options, such as the tie and ‘banker pair’, but let us focus on the banker bet for the time being. The ‘banker bet’ is simply betting on the outcome where the banker has the highest hand value after the dealer announces the score. 

How Does The Banker Bet Differ?

The name ‘punto banco’ itself alludes to the two sides – ‘punto’ and ‘banco’, i.e., player and bank. From a reading of the rules, it is easy for one to say banker and player as just labels for two sides. The concept is correct. But there is one important nuance: they are not interchangeable. The player and the banker do not follow the same rules while drawing the third card. Let us go over the scoring convention. In baccarat, the highest score a side can have is 9. If the total hand value goes over 9, i.e. a two-digit value, only the second digit is accepted. So if you were to score a six and a four, your total hand value would actually be zero (a.k.a ‘baccarat’). If a side scores an 8 or 9, they do not pick a third card no matter what. 

Other than that, the rules vary between banker and player. In addition to no cards on a score of 8 or 9, they player also cannot draw the third card if they score 6 or 7. So the player only receives the third card only if they roll something from a 0 to 5 with two initial cards. Depending on the banker’s own score and the player’s final score, the following rules apply to the banker.

In Punto Banco, the banker stands on 7 with no additional cards.

  • If the player’s 3rd card is 6 or 7, and the banker hand value is 6, the banker gets to draw a third card. 
  • When the player’s 3rd card is 4,5, 6 or 7, and the banker hand value is 5, the banker gets to draw a third card. 
  • If the player’s 3rd card is 2-7, and the banker’s hand value is 4, the banker gets to draw a third card. 
  • When the player’s 3rd card is 1-7, and the banker hand value is 3, the banker gets to draw a third card. 
  • If the player never drew a third card, to begin with, the banker would follow the same particular rule as the player should with one exception: if the banker’s hand value is 0-2, they pick a third card. 

Is The Banker Bet Always Good?

From these rules, one can easily see the gross advantage the banker bet has. Like in blackjack’s dealer hand, the banker has the final word after the player hand is already set in stone. Plus, just mathematically, the banker has the higher probability to score higher with the rules backing it up. On average, the banker bet has 1.06% house edge on punto banco – as opposed to the much higher 1.24% house edge on player bet. Relying on this, many people only bet on bankers as a strategy. 

So should you bet on the banker? The answer depends on the strategy you follow. For example, if you have a big enough bankroll, you can follow the Martingale system and double down.  But ultimately, you should remember that a 0.18% will not make a huge impact in an individual game outcome. Especially when you factor in the 5% commission the casino takes on winning banker bets. 

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