Last night at the baccarat tables, I saw a woman betting Banker. The hands came up Tie three in a row and then on the fourth, it came up Dragon. She neither won nor lost four hands in a row! The look of disbelief, disgust and frustration on her face said it all.
I’m as guilty as anyone for wanting to crack baccarat, but after tearing the game apart I can only conclude that it’s a 50/50 game of chance, not a game of skill. Because baccarat is typically played by many players against the house at the same time, it’s the norm for people to be yelling at each other “I told you so!” when their prediction of the next hand turns out to be true. But the sad truth is that no amount of group consciousness is going to change the physical distribution of a deck of cards. It’s a random series of events for everybody.
Gambling’s not a sin, provided that you always win.
— Wolf (Roald Dahl, Revolting Rhymes)
Maybe it comes with getting older, but I’m finding that there are things I simply don’t care about much any more.
There are very few businesses that last forever. Most have some kind of a bell curve, from a ramp up to a peak and then a decline. How a business survives and keeps growing is the preoccupation of most, but it can become a nightmare for a business whose model has run its course.
For example, take 8-track tape:
8-track had a very brief moment of popularity before being eclipsed by the cassette. If you were in the 8-track business, at some point you were faced with the reality that the sun was setting — and setting fast!
Both the Avant Dernier and the Last Bet baccarat systems are in agreement betting on three in a row (i.e. BB -> BBB or PP -> PPP as opposed to betting on the jump, BB -> BBP or PP -> PPB). This is a difficult bet to get used to in a 50/50 game, especially if like me, you instinctively want to bet the opposite when the last two hands are the same.
Yet, that’s what both systems say to do. On the other hand, BP or PB is also a repetitive 50/50 pattern and therefore equivalent in terms of betting it to continue or not continue, great if you’re doing Avant Dernier, but a disaster if you’re doing Last Bet. That’s why paying attention to the bias of a shoe may make a big difference in which system you should pick:
Vertical shoe = Last Bet
Horizontal shoe = Avant Dernier
Both systems have strengths and weaknesses:
- Avant Dernier:
- Wins every bet if the hands jump
- Loses first two hands on a streak, but wins the rest
- Loses every bet if the hands go in pairs.
- Last Bet:
- Wins every bet in a streak
- Breaks even if the hands go in pairs.
- Loses every bet if the hands jump.
One of the things about playing baccarat where most of the players are Chinese is hearing them shout out “Sexy!” when they want a six card and “Monkey!” (or “Picture!”) when they want a ten card and “home alone” to describe a gambler whose bet (Banker or Player) is the only one different from everybody else.
A mistake I’ve made over and over is abandoning a betting strategy too soon. If the objective is to get ahead in baccarat and then quit, getting back to even isn’t really the same thing.
Had I stuck with my original strategy, I would surely have wound up ahead last night. Instead, I just got to even and then stopped betting (thankful to no longer being in the hole), only to watch a Player streak go to nine! Yikes. 😐
When I started betting again, the shoe never returned another streak. The moment had passed.
When I first tried Avant Dernier in baccarat four years ago, one of the things I immediately appreciated was not guessing what my bet choice would be. It’s particularly nice when you win too!
A coin toss is 50/50. In reality, how well do people guess 10 flips? How about 100? Do people consistently get at least 50% right? That essentially is Baccarat.
People stay all day and night at the Baccarat tables trying to guess a 50/50 game. I’d argue that it’s much worse than 50/50 for the average gambler because they’re subject to a wide range of distractions that the casino is not. In spite of an awareness of the odds and a seemingly endless amount of theories and superstitions, casino gamblers are prone to acting impulsively when on the gaming floor and making bad decisions. That’s the “Real World” and for the casino gambler, it’s not a pretty picture.