Macau has surpassed Las Vegas as the “Casino Gambling Capital of the World.” Still, many US gamblers haven’t familiarized themselves with the newly-crowned king. In fact, most are unfamiliar with what the scene looks like in Macau.
Baccarat has been one of the favorite games of high rollers for years. And did you know that baccarat absolutely dominates the casino floor in Macau?
Most gamblers are surprised when they learn this information. Let’s examine why baccarat rules the casino floor in Macau.
The Gambling Climate in Macau
Macau has a long tradition of being a gambler-friendly territory. The Portuguese government first legalized gambling in the region back in 1849.
Still, it wasn’t until the government released its monopoly on the gambling industry that the scene reached its full potential. In 2002, the government began issuing licenses to casino operators around the world.
The move paid off, and by 2007, Macau had surpassed Las Vegas for total gambling revenue.
Today, four of the 10 largest casinos globally call Macau home, and dozens of other properties rival most other casinos on Earth.
A lot of the gambling properties are open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s no shortage of players to fill the dozens of casinos here day and night.
In many areas of the world, slot machines drive a majority of the casino revenue. Walk into most US casinos, and slot machines will outnumber table games 5 to 1.
Many casinos put the ratio much higher. However, in Macau, the scene is very different.
Walk into a Macau casino, and you may find more tables than slot machines. If the table games don’t outnumber slots, it will be extraordinarily close.
This is because the gamblers that visit Macau regularly prefer real money baccarat to any other game in the casino. In fact, it’s not even close. The Chinese casino gamblers that dominate Macau’s clientele can’t get enough of the simple card game.
Why Players Love Baccarat
Baccarat is a favorite among players for a number of reasons. First of all, the house edge is relatively low when discussing casino games.
The main two bets players can choose from are the player bet and the banker bet. That’s right, players have the choice to select betting on the house in baccarat.
Winning banker bets are subject to a 5% commission. But the house edge is only 1.06%, even with the fee. Some casinos will run promotions with reduced commissions on the banker bet.
When you see such a promotion, you should run to the casino and take advantage. The commission is the only way the casino can gain an edge on players betting on the banker.
The player bet holds a slightly higher house edge at 1.24%. So, even if you’re constitutionally opposed to betting on the house, you’re not going to diminish your bankroll swiftly.
However, it would be best if you stayed away from the tie bet. The tie pays if the player and banker tie at 8 to 1, but the wager has an 11% house advantage.
Then, there’s the pure simplicity of baccarat. Players aren’t faced with any decisions to make that effects the final result.
Blackjack can be tedious at times because the player is continuously faced with options about how to play their hand.
In baccarat, the dealer takes care of everything. The only work to be done by the player is placing a bet.
This also makes baccarat a game of pure chance. High rollers and newbie gamblers love the factor of leaving their fate to complete chance.
Mix in the fact that the whales don’t have to worry about losing their small fortune in chips too quickly, and you have a recipe for success.
Why Casinos Fill Their Floors With Baccarat Tables
Many of you may be curious as to why the casinos go through the hassle of adding so many games with such a low house edge.
There are a few factors that make baccarat so profitable for the casino. One of the leading factors is the sheer amount of money being put into play.
All-in baccarat has an RTP of around 95%. I’ve seen players going into the six-figures with their bets on every hand for hours on end.
The hands also develop relatively quickly, and there’s no waiting on players to make gut wrenching decisions. So, players are getting in far more hands per hour than at the blackjack tables.
The casino knows that they hold the mathematical edge over the players. If they give players what they’re after, they’ll return time after time.
We should really be asking why the casinos wouldn’t fill the floor with baccarat tables.
Players demand easy access to the game. There is a vast range of denominations that are needed to fit the budgets of the casual gambler and the whales alike.
Let’s suppose a baccarat craze hits the US market. In that case, you can expect to see the same level of attention that poker received after its boom.
It’s Not All Peace, Love, and Baccarat
The willingness of the casinos to accommodate all of the baccarat action doesn’t come without reservations.
As I mentioned, massive sums of cash are being leveraged on a game with a house edge of only slightly over 1%.
That puts the casinos in an uncomfortable position. It’s not uncommon at all to see baccarat tables where the average bet is over $10,000 per hand.
Industry insiders are trained to acknowledge that a lucky player could win 100 times their average bet. This makes each of these players a possible $1 million liability.
Multiply that by five, and suddenly, the casino has the potential to lose $5 million on one table. This rarely happens.
Still, I imagine that it has sent more than one pit boss to an early retirement. The casinos aren’t in the business of losing money. The potential to take a significant hit makes baccarat the bane of many casino executives’ existence.
How Much of Macau’s Casino Industry Is Fueled by Baccarat?
In Las Vegas, baccarat has established itself as a top table game accounting for 60% of the table game revenue at some of the largest casinos.
Still, the slot machines vastly out-earn the baccarat tables, making up 80% of the casino’s total revenue and leaving baccarat as a relatively small piece of the pie.
The narrative is much different in Macau. Baccarat accounts for over 88% of the total gambling revenue in Macau.
Baccarat is bigger in Macau than slots are in Las Vegas. If you’ve ever walked through a Las Vegas casino, you understand how popular slot machines are to Vegas gamblers.
The popularity of baccarat actually serves to protect the casinos. It’s a “safety in numbers” scenario.
The more money being put into play, the more chances to fill their purse and guard against any big wins.
I discovered baccarat only recently. I appreciate the low house edge immensely.
Any game that can stretch your bankroll to its absolute limits is a fantastic choice. For some players, the lack of skill involved is a great deterrent.
I can appreciate that the strategy involved with blackjack and poker keeps me engaged at the tables—particularly Texas Hold’em, where the player with the higher skill level holds a tremendous advantage.
Some Helpful Tips
There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering giving baccarat a try on your next casino trip.
Stick to the banker bet or player bet. When you start placing bets on a tie, you dramatically increase the house edge.
Don’t let the 8 to 1 payout lure you into making a sucker bet.
Keep in mind that you’ll be playing more hands per hour than blackjack. So, you’ll need to adjust your bankroll management accordingly.
Your expected hourly loss may rise significantly if you’re playing for the same average bet size. Consider lowering your average bet to keep expected losses as close to possible.
The last thing you’ll want to do is overextend yourself and have to spend all day at the pool while your friends are inside gambling.
Never start believing in trends while at the casino. If the banker hand just won 20 in a row, it doesn’t guarantee that the player is due for a win.
No matter how low the probability, any result is possible, and the cards aren’t aware of how ridiculous they’re being.
As you can see, baccarat is a phenomenal game with great benefits for the player. The low house edge, high stakes, and sheer importance of chance are why baccarat rules the casino floor in Macau.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …