Last time out we talked about the basics of side bets in baccarat. Casinos love it’s popularity–it’s the most popular table game in the world, after all. What they don’t love so much is the low house edge. The exact numbers depend on how many decks are in use but typically baccarat has a house edge of 1.06% for the banker and 1.24% for the player.
Thus, the side bet was born. Casinos obviously have a vested interest in steering players toward wagers with a higher hold percentage. Interestingly, however, there are many players that prefer this type of higher payout/higher risk bet. While the back and forth of even money betting might be fine for a serious bettor the recreational player wants ‘action’ and a chance at a bigger payout. In baccarat as in other casino games such as blackjack these side bets satisfy both the house and the more ‘action oriented’ player. In our previous installment we talked about the most fundamental baccarat side bet–the tie bet. We’ll now move to the very popular side bet called the ‘Dragon Bonus’:
THE DRAGON BONUS
If you have some familiarity with spread betting in sports you’re already on your way to understanding the Dragon Bonus. At it’s essence, the Dragon Bonus asks the player to make the fundamental decision of all blackjack hands: banker or player? The determination of outcome is the same as well. If you bet on the banker and the banker has the highest score you’re a winner. If you bet on the player and the player has the highest score that’s also a win.
So what’s the difference? The difference comes in the form of an extended payout table. As with spread betting in sports, the higher the margin of victory the greater the payout. The exception in baccarat is in the case of ‘naturals’. If the winning hand has a value of eight or nine points on the opening deal, the bonus bet pays even money. If both banker and player draw a natural and the result is a push, the Dragon Bonus bet is likewise pushed.
For any other non-natural hand, the payout comes on a winning margin of four or more points. In this event the winning banker or player hand is paid off as follows:
- Four point margin pays 1 to 1 (even money)
- Five point margin pays 2 to 1
- Six point margin pays 6 to 1
- Eight point margin pays 10 to 1
- Nine points pays 30 to 1
The crux of the Dragon Bet’s appeal should be obvious–players love the idea of getting a big payout for a ‘big win’. The downside? An increased house edge. The exact house edge on player bets is as follows:
- 2.70% for 4 decks
- 2.67% for 6 decks
- 2.65% for 8 decks
That’s more than double the typical house edge for the ‘player bet’. And wait til you see the house edge for ‘banker’ Dragon bonus bets:
- 9.42% for 4 decks
- 9.39% for 6 decks
- 9.37% for 8 decks
That makes the house edge for the ‘banker’ Dragon Bonus nearly 9 times the usual house edge.
Obviously, this isn’t a ‘sharp’ bet but it can be a fun bet. The strategy should also be obvious–you want to bet on the ‘player’ if you’re wanting to wager on the Dragon Bonus.