Card games have long been a fun and exciting way to gamble, but no other gambling games are as loved as blackjack and baccarat. These two exciting card games are not only the most well-known in most casinos, but they also have a lot in common for the everyday player as well as the professional. But why do they hold so much interest, year after year, when other games continue to rise in popularity? Let’s look at blackjack and baccarat to discover what makes them so popular and discover which game is better.
Blackjack for Everyone
Year after year, the blackjack card tables continue to stay packed with hopeful players anticipating their next chance at hitting that elusive magic number 21. While all gambling games have some elements of expertise involved, even the casual player feels like they have a shot at winning at the blackjack table since some element of luck is part of a winning hand or game in blackjack.
In order to play a game of blackjack, a dealer and one to five players is needed. The dealer sits opposite the players and deals two face-up cards to each player. But “the house,” the dealer, is dealt one card face up but the other is face down, giving the table players a chance to guess at what card the house has, and ultimately if they think they can beat the house or not.
The object of the game is to have cards in front of you that reach a total of 21 without going over that number, so each player has to decide whether or not to receive another card once the initial hand of two is dealt. Any player that is “hit” with another card is automatically out, and forfeits any money bet, if their card totals go over 21. No limit is given on how many cards can be requested if the total remains under 21 or totals up to 21. Each player has the opportunity to request cards or to “stand,” meaning they are happy with their total and will not be hit with any more cards.
As each player is either played out for going over 21 or chooses to stand at their current total, the final hand goes to the house. The house cannot add in new cards, and instead the dealer simply flips over the card to reveal their two-card total. If any player gets 21 or closer to 21 than the dealer or another player, then that player has won that hand and will be issued the appropriate amount based on what they bet the house before the hand began. If the dealer has 21 or comes the closest to 21 at the table, all hands are forfeited, and the house keeps all of the money bet.
Baccarat: A Game of Chance
Just like blackjack, baccarat is a card game that involves using the card counts as a basis for beating the dealer, but the similarities end just about there. Played more by professional or knowledgeable gamblers than weekend or casual gamblers, baccarat is more of a game of chance and risk than strategy like blackjack.
In this game, only two hand of cards are dealt: one to the player and one to the dealer. Before the cards are dealt, though, the player must bet on either the player or the dealer, or the “banker,” or for both as a tie. No matter how many players are betting, there are only these two hands played in each round, with one player being the primary player who makes the call for any game decisions.
When the two cards for each hand are dealt face up, each stack is totaled up based on the card face value with Aces receiving 1 point and face cards with a zero value. If a total goes over 10, then only the ones place number is used, as totals must be only 0-9 at this point.
If a dealer hand has less than 16, it must receive a third card. For players, there is no strategy here either as hands with 5 always get another card, hands with 6-7 must stand as is. For dealer or player that earns an 8-9 with these two dealt cards, it is called a “natural” and neither gets another card.
Once a third card is given to a player, the dealer has a set of rules to follow for the dealer’s hand on standing or giving the dealer another card based upon the dealer’s totals. Now the house’s card value total is considered and may stand or add in a third card to the house. Once this determination is finished, the hand with the highest total wins, and those that bet on that earn their bet monies. If the totals match, then it is considered a tie or a “push,” and that bet on either side earn their money back but those that bet on the push earn their winnings.
What are the Odds?
For the casual card player, both blackjack and baccarat might seem to have similar odds. But for players that can strategize and estimate how best to play blackjack, the odds of a player winning against the house is slightly higher than those playing baccarat. Winning odds are generally calculated as looking at how often the house, or casino, wins a type of game versus an individual player. Since virtually no game has even odds for a player winning versus the house winning, most games give the house a substantial likelihood of winning over a player. Of course, success at any given card table is based on many factors, and successful card players win at a much higher rate than casual or players new to a game.
Blackjack has a higher probability of a player breaking even or winning compared to baccarat since players can also place “insurance” bets that help them win back a little bit if their primary bet is lost. Baccarat, however, is different since players must bet on one of three types prior to each game. Each bet for player, dealer, or tie has a small edge for the house, compounding the chance that the bettor will lose money at the baccarat card table hand. More experienced card players may like the odds that baccarat offers, but less experienced card players will find more success at the blackjack table since luck and some skill can potentially break even occasionally.
Which Game is Harder?
Without a doubt, baccarat is a harder game to master. Just sitting down to the baccarat table provides a player with multiple choices of bets to begin. As the game continues when the dealer hands out the cards according to rules that the player may not fully understand, a player’s pure luck – or lack of it – determine how the final tally of the cards ends up. While expert card players may know how to bet based on probability and be willing to lose, many inexperienced players will fall to the “Gambler’s Fallacy” in thinking that if a streak of losses happen then a winning hand must be right around the corner. But since baccarat does not change based on a player’s skill or strategy, winning at it is much more difficult because there is no rhyme or reason to the outcome with a true game of luck like baccarat.
Players of blackjack will argue that it is harder to play than baccarat since a talented player can count cards and anticipate what cards might be turning up next or have a good guess at what the hidden house card is. Since blackjack does afford a player some strategy leeway, players that have gained expertise in this card game seem to have an advantage and may win more regularly. Learning how to play blackjack, however, doesn’t make it easier to play but it does make it more straightforward of a game to both understand and to plan to change how a player approaches the game.
Blackjack or Baccarat
While both games are compelling to play and irresistible to watch, blackjack is the best game for relatively new card players to try their hand at the game tables. Baccarat is simple to play since the dealer is left to make all of the decisions on how the game goes, but new players will likely be confused on how to best place bets and how to understand why cards are played or not by the house. Games that have an outcome based on pure luck are harder for newer players, since we seem to be hardwired to feel like we can impact the outcome of a game rather just simply bet on how it takes place. For the majority of card players, blackjack should be the preferred game choice since players have a possibility of winning by following a few basic strategies coupled with a little bit of luck from the house.