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No Commission Baccarat

Baccarat is a very popular casino game, particularly in Asia and among high-rollers across the globe. There is a mystique to this table game that is unlike anything else in the casino: maintaining an atmosphere of exclusivity is important, particularly in high-stakes VIP rooms, all of which hides the fact that this is actually a very simple contest to bet on and play.

But many casino gamblers are still scared of giving baccarat a try. While the betting and strategy are very straightforward, the actual gameplay elements can be a bit confusing, particularly when it comes to how winners are determined. Some efforts have been made over the years to draw new players in through simplification. No Commission Baccarat is one such attempt, removing the odd fee taken out of winning banker bets. However, like most “simple” rules, this one does come with a price for players.

The Basics

Baccarat is a card game that is typically dealt out of an eight-deck shoe, similar to blackjack. The object of the game is to determine which hand – the player or banker – will win in each round. The casino’s dealer actually controls both of these hands (though in some high-stakes games, a player may get to hold the “player” hand), and there is no stigma on betting on one hand or the other – they are essentially just names assigned to the two betting options. It is also possible to bet on the possibility that the hand could end in a tie.

Once you’ve made a bet, the dealer will play out the hands. Action is based on the centuries-old version of baccarat in which a player and banker competed, making decisions for their respective hands and utilize at least a small amount of strategy. Each hand is first dealt two cards; in the modern game, all of these cards are face up.

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No Commission Baccarat

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This is an excellent time to go over the scoring of hands in this game. All numbered cards are worth their pip value (as in blackjack), while aces are worth one. Tens and face cards are worth zero. The value of all cards are added up to get the hand score. However, only the final digit of that score counts: hands of 3, 13, or 23 are all worth exactly three points.

If either the player or the banker is dealt a hand worth eight or nine points, the action is immediately stopped, with both sides choosing to stand. In all other cases, the player will “hit” – or take one more card – if their hand is worth five points or less, and stand with six or more. Only one additional card may be dealt to either hand.

Once the player has made a choice, it is the banker’s turn to play. If the player stands, the banker will go through the same decision process: standing with six or more, hitting with five or less. However, if the player took a card, the banker’s strategy will be determined by a more complex chart that considers both the banker’s hand and the card the player just received. This is a throwback to the old rules of chermin de fer, the game’s original form, in which the initial hands would be face down but a player’s third card would be dealt face up, giving the banker some crucial information.

Today’s banco games follow this tradition by dictating the banker’s action based partially on what the player receives on the third card, ignoring the total strength of the player hand. The dealer uses the following rules based on the strength of the banker hand:

  • If the Banker’s score is two or less, they will aways hit.
  • If the Banker’s score is three, they will hit unless the player drew an eight on their third card.
  • If the Banker’s score if four, they will hit if the player drew a two, three, four, five, six, or seven.
  • If the Banker’s score is five, they will hit if the player drew a four, five, six, or seven.
  • If the Banker’s score is six, they will hit if the player drew a six or seven.
  • If the Banker’s score is seven, they will always stand.

Once all play has been completed, the two scores are compared. If the banker hand is higher, then bets on that hand win; similarly, if the player hand has the higher score, then bets on that hand are paid instead. In the case of a tie, both bets push, but the tie bet wins.

How these bets pay out are where the No Commission version of the game differs from traditional baccarat. In standard games, the player bet pays out at even money, while the banker bet features a small commission of 5%, meaning that a $20 bet only pays $19 when it wins. Tie bets typically pay out at 8-1, though some games offer a more generous 9-1.

As you would expect, commission-free versions eliminate that 5% fee on banker wins. Instead, players will receive even money on most banker wins, making the math much simpler to keep track of. However, we say most because all of these games find somewhere else to make up the difference, typically offering only 1-2 odds – or $1 in winnings on a $2 bet – on banker wins of a particular number.

In the No Commission Baccarat game offered online by NextGen Gaming, that number is eight. All other rules are the same, but you’ll only get half the winnings when the banker total is eight, while receiving even money on all other wins. The rules on player and tie bets are the same, making this in all other ways a typical version of the game.

Little Strategy, But Choose Carefully

Despite its reputation for being rather complex, there is really very little you need to know in order to play baccarat as well as the best players in the world. In fact, you don’t even need to understand a single thing about the rules; in a standard game, we would simply tell you to bet on the banker every hand and leave it at that.

The reasoning is simple: in normal baccarat, the banker bet has a 1.06% house edge, compared to 1.24% on the player bet (still quite good) and usually more than 14% on the tie (very, very bad). It’s just a matter of math.

But that math changes when you’re dealing with No Commission Baccarat. In this game, the edges on the player and tie bets are the same, as the rules haven’t been changed at all. However, the payouts are different for the banker, and as such, so is the house edge. Unfortunately, the change isn’t a good one: while the banker bet still isn’t a terrible bet compared to some casino games, it now comes with a house edge of 4.07%.

With that in mind, our clear recommendation in this variant is to wager on the player hand at all times. It’s worth noting that there are some commission-free games where this might not be the case. That said, most versions we’ve seen make it better to bet on the player, with perhaps some rare versions having the two bets essentially equal (within 0.02% of each other). The general rule of thumb in casinos is to avoid gimmicks, because they are usually created to make more money for the house. It’s one that applies here too: if you’re going to play at a No Commission Baccarat table, stick to the player bet.

One other word of warning: it’s best to ignore the board that tells you about recent results, or the players at your live table who might be tracking the results of every single hand. These efforts can’t really hurt you, but they can’t help, either: every hand is essentially independent. Even in a brick-and-mortar casino, where the shoe isn’t reshuffled after every hand, there is little reason to try card counting, as it simply isn’t feasible from a mathematical perspective. Instead, stick to your simple strategy to get the best odds possible.

Enjoy the Atmosphere (And the Odds)

Surprisingly, this can be one of the most enjoyable and entertaining games in the entire casino. Sure, there isn’t any strategy to speak of, and the gameplay is so simple that you might feel that it would get boring quickly. But between the aura that surrounds a good table, the very fair odds, and the relaxed pace of play (particularly at high limits), this is great fun and can produce sessions that you’ll never forget.

No Commission Baccarat is no exception to that rule. While there’s no real reason to play this version over the original, it does make the payouts a little easier to understand, and as long as you stick to the player bet, you won’t be losing anything compared to more traditional forms of this classic.

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