Odds and ends

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am

Like all casino games, baccarat features a built-in series of odds that tend to favour the house. Simply put, player and banker are each dealt two to three cards and the highest hand wins (neither wins in the event of a tie). No decisions are required; the rules of the game dictate whether and when either hand receives a third card from the dealer.

The value of the cards is added up - tens and face cards are equal to zero - but only single digits are counted (for example, a seven and an eight add up to 15 but are tal- lied as five). The strongest hand is a nine. Counting ties, the statistical house 'edge' or advantage on a banker bet in baccarat is 1.06 per cent, a player bet is 1.24 per cent and a tie bet is 14.36 per cent. Over the very long run, a punter betting on the banker is expected to lose on average 1.06 per cent of his or her initial bet. For example, betting 100 hands at HK$100 per hand on the banker results in a total wagering amount of HK$10,000, and the 1.06 per cent house edges means the punter should lose HK$106 as a result.

Meanwhile, a punter dividing bets equally between player and banker over 100 hands of baccarat at HK$100 per hand has about a 69 per cent chance of finishing down at most by HK$609, and up at most by HK$379.

There is an 84 per cent chance that the punter will be down at most HK$1,102 and up at most HK$872. And there is a 99.4 per cent probability the punter will be down at most HK$2,583 and up at most HK$2,353.

To put that another way, if the gambler in question started with a bankroll of HK$1,000, the chance of losing it all is about 16 per cent and the probability of winning HK$2,000 or more in profit is about 2 per cent.