Over the past decade the game of baccarat has changed immensely. Not only are there several new versions of the original game, there are a few dozen side and bonus bets, most of which are particular to a single variant of original baccarat. A lot of these side bets are straight bust-out bets like the tie-hand bet in original baccarat, with a house edge greater than 10%. But some are decent bets, and one is even offered to the player at a statistical advantage—with a catch of course.
So here is the list of the top five favorable baccarat side bets for the player.
Best Side Bet #1) – Lucky Bonus
Bet that the banker gets a winning total of six. It is most common in California commission-free baccarat games.
This side bet actually has a built-in player advantage of 2.34 %. But the catch is you can only bet up to 10% of your banker bet. Since the banker bet on these tables has a house edge of 1.33%, you reduce that edge to 1.11% when making the full 10% of your banker bet on Lucky Bonus.
Best Side Bet #2) – Royal Match
Bet that either Player or Banker gets a suited or unsuited King and Queen on the first two cards. It is most common in United Kingdom casinos.
This side bet pays 75 for 1 for a suited king and queen and 30 for 1 for an unsuited king and queen. The overall house edge is 2.13%.
Best Side Bet #3) – Dragon Bonus Player Side
Bet that the player side will win by a natural or by 4 or more points. It is found on mini-baccarat tables throughout the world, especially in Macau. Note that the same bet on the banker side is offered but is far less favorable.
The house edge on this side bet on the player side is 2.7%.
Best Side Bet #4) – First Two Player or Banker Cards Same Suit
Bet that either hand will have both its initial two cards suited. It is found primarily on Live Dealer Internet casinos, though it does appear in regular land-based casinos in Europe.
The house edge on this side bet is 4.2%
Best Side Bet #5) – Big and Small
This side bet has two bets. One is that the total of cards used by player and bank will be four. The other is that the total of cards used by player and bank will be five or six. It is found primarily on Internet casinos using Playtech software and has been seen in Atlantic City casinos.
The house edge on the total of four cards bet is 5.27%. The house edge on the total of five or six cards bet is 4.35%.
Note that the wildly popular EZ Baccarat side bets, The Dragon 7 and the Panda 8 are not among the best side bets. The Dragon 7 has a built-in house edge of 7.61 and the Panda 8 has a house edge of 10.19. In spite of the bad odds, both these side bets and their associated EZ Baccarat game are the most popular of baccarat variants worldwide.
Also note that many baccarat side bets can be counted to reduce the house edge, but since the built-in non-counting house edge for these bets is so steep, you could never count down any of these games to a point where you would overcome that edge entirely.
About The Author
Richard Marcus is a former professional casino player/cheater that is currently working as a casino security expert and gaming consultant in Las Vegas. He is also the author of several books related to the casino industry.