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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal me In: Doubling as James Bond for $5 a pop

30 October 2015

Dear Mark: What are your suggestions to win playing mini-baccarat? Keith W.

Like baccarat, mini-baccarat offers a very low house edge, and for the low roller it is one of the best games the casino offers.

With mini-baccarat, only two hands are dealt, regardless of how many players are sitting tableside. Your only decision, Keith, is to wager on the Bank or the Player hand.

The rules are simple enough, the nearest to nine wins. Adding a third card is dependent on the total of the first two cards, and is done by the dealer based on predetermined rules. Although you can easily pick up the nuances of the game in mere minutes, when you come right down to it, you just chill and watch the dealer perform his or her craft. As a side note, it was my favorite game to deal.

The quality of these two wagers is exceptional, especially for those who don’t want to use their noggin. The casino advantage on the Bank hand is 1.17% and 1.36% on Player. The one other option you have is a bet that both hands result in a tie. Never, ever make that bet, as the house edge on the tie wager is 14%.

The casino holds an edge against your play no matter if you bet on the Bank or the Player hand, so any notion of “interminable winning” is illusory. It’s more like you will lose less money playing mini-baccarat than playing almost any other casino game.

Here’s the math, Keith. If you were to play $5 a hand wagering on the Bank hand, even with a house edge as low as 1.17%, after seeing 200 decisions an hour, you would still end up having an hourly loss of $11.70. You can’t alter that loss, Keith. But for $12 and hour, free cocktails – vodka martini, “shaken not stirred” – and some points on your players' club card, what’s not to like?

One option where you can get a decisive break is finding a casino that offers a commission of 4% (compared to the standard 5%) on winning Bank hands. Here the house edge drops to .6%. I haven’t seen this opportunity in a long time, but if some reader knows where it exists, I’ll gladly pass it along.

Dear Mark: I live in Maryland, and I am starting to learn the game of craps. What is the best strategy for the game? Wendall

As frequently stated in this column, for the newbie, a pass line bet (house edge 1.4%) and placing the six or eight (1.5%) is what I repeatedly recommend. Since most readers are bone-tired of reading about those wagers, as an alternative to taking up any more real estate writing about these terrific bets, I suggest you mosey on over to my website and use the search feature (upper right side) and type in "pass line" or "place bets."

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “A gambler's acquaintance is readily made and easily kept – provided you gamble too.” – Edward Bulwer, Lyiton Pelham (1828)
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.