How To Play Baccarat

How To Play Baccarat

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Updated on: 22 Mar 2024
Dean McHugh

How To Play Baccarat

Baccarat is a card game with a lot of mystique. It is, after all, James Bond’s favourite table game. Often played for high stakes, baccarat can often be found in the high-roller sections of most casinos worldwide, well excluded from the purview of most casino bettors.

The thing is, you don’t have to be a high roller like Agent 007 to enjoy this elegant casino game, nor do you have to have the bankroll of America and Macau’s biggest bettors. The rise of online casinos has broadened accessibility to this compelling, immersive game for anyone and everyone with an internet connection.

Nowadays, online casinos allow both novice and experienced players the convenience and accessibility of playing the game anytime, anywhere, with the added bonus of a broader game selection, generous bonuses and promotions, and the authentic atmosphere of a land-based casino with live dealer baccarat games.

That said, if you’ve always wanted to play baccarat but didn’t know where to begin, today is your lucky day: this article will teach you everything you need to know about the “high roller’s game.”

A Brief History of Baccarat

a timeline showing key dates in baccarat

The origins of baccarat are disputed; one school of thought believes that the game dates back to the 15th century in Italy, then known as baccara. Meanwhile, another school of thought believes that baccarat, as we know it today, originated in 19th-century France as a popular game among the nobility.

During the Napoleonic era and prior to the legalisation of casino gambling in 1907, baccarat was played in private rooms. The earliest documented baccarat variant was Baccarat Banque, a card game designed for three people, which was mentioned in French journalist Charles Van Tenac’s Album des jeux. The game later evolved into Chemin de Fer. This faster-paced, more thrilling version of Baccarat Banque was the most popular baccarat variant in France until the 1950s.

The emergence of Punto Banco, wherein bettors could wager on which hand wins between the player or the banker, marked a sea change in the development of modern baccarat. Punto Banco remains the most popular baccarat variant today, eclipsing Chemin de Fer and becoming synonymous with the modern game.

Baccarat Rules: An Overview

Baccarat’s allure is simple. Besides all the glamour and the luxury: it’s a game of pure luck. That’s what makes it so popular. The premise behind baccarat is that it requires no complex strategies, making it universally popular whether you’re a newbie or an experienced player.

Each baccarat round of play—known as a coup–has three possible outcomes: “player” (e.g., the player will score higher), “banker” (e.g., the banker will score higher), and “tie.”

The main goal of baccarat is to bet on the hand you guess will score a 9 or come closest to scoring a 9 as possible. This is done by wagering on the Banker, Player, or a Tie.

Baccarat rules dictate that all betting action on any particular hand winning should be completed before the coup begins. Then, the game starts with two cards being dealt face-down to both the player and the banker. After a pause enabling players to pinch the cards, the hands are revealed and scored accordingly.

Then, the totals of the hands are calculated. All tens and face cards represent a value of zero, an ace is valued at one, and all other remaining cards are scored at their face value.

If, however, any hand scores higher than a 9, the score will be adjusted by subtracting 10 from the original hand total.

Depending on the house rules at any physical or online casino, the banker or the player may be entitled to draw a third card. There will always be a maximum of three cards for any hand.

Bettors who wager on the player’s hand winning are paid at a 1:1 ratio. Bettors who wager on the banker’s hand winning are also paid at a 1:1 ratio; however, baccarat rules dictate that they pay a 5% commission, effectively reducing the odds on their payout to 19:20, or 0.95:1 when betting on the banker to win. A winning tie bet is paid out at 8:1.

Ultimately, baccarat is purely a guessing game on which hand will win. Based on the odds, the banker’s hand will win slightly more often at a 50.68% clip, excluding games that end in a tie. That gives the house a 1.36% house edge on bets on the player’s hand winning. However, since the house collects a 5% vig on winning banker bets, the house edge on a banker bet equates to 1.17%.

Baccarat Side Bets

Baccarat also features optional side bets that can be wagered alongside the main Player, Banker, and Tie bets. While they offer bigger payouts, they possess higher house edges than the main bets, as they seldom happen in baccarat.

The most common side bets in baccarat games include:

  • Player Pair/Banker Pair. This wager is a bet on whether the Banker’s or Player’s hands will be a pair. Pays out 11:1.
  • Tie. This wager is a bet on whether the Banker’s and Player’s hands will end up having the same total. Pays out 8:1.
  • Super 6. This wager is a bet on whether the Banker wins with a point total of 6. Pays out 12:1.

Mastering Baccarat Basics

a baccarat table, cards and chips

The beauty of baccarat is that there are no factors to consider other than pure luck or actions to take other than to watch the game unfold as the cards are dealt. Nevertheless, it’s good to review the process of a baccarat coup since there are some details that need to be discussed.

First, once all bets are placed, two face-down cards are dealt for the banker side and the player side. Then, the cards are revealed. Whichever side scores a 9, or closest to it, without going over wins.

For instance, if the player’s hand is dealt a 4 and a 7, and the banker’s hand is dealt a 3 and a 6, the player’s hand total is 1, while the banker’s hand total is a 9. This is the best-case scenario for the banker. A hand with a total of 8 or 9 is called a “natural,” meaning no further cards are drawn, and the round is immediately ended with bets being paid out.

However, there are plenty of scenarios where a dealer will draw a third card for either side based on a list of predetermined rules that dictate when a third card will be dealt.

For instance, the player will draw a third card if the starting total on the player’s first two cards is 5 or less. If the player’s total is 6 or 7, the hand automatically “stands” and won’t draw any further cards. The following is a list of scenarios where the player is dealt a third card:

  • If the player’s total is 5 or less, the side will draw a third card. If the starting total of the player side’s hand is 6 or 7, the hand stands.
  • If the banker’s total is 2 or less, a third card will be drawn regardless of what the player’s third card is.
  • A third card will be drawn if the banker’s hand total is 3 or less UNLESS the player’s hand total is 8.
  • If the banker’s hand total is 4 or less, they will draw a third card if the player’s third card is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
  • If the banker’s total is 5, a third card will be drawn if the player’s third card is 4, 5, 6 or 7.
  • If the banker’s total is 6, a third card will be drawn if the player’s third card is a 6 or 7.
  • If the banker’s initial hand total is 7, the hand will stand.

Banker third card rules are slightly more complicated. The banker will stand on 7, 8, or 9 and will be dealt another card on a 0, 1, or 2. On some hands, however, the banker’s action is dependent on the value of the player’s third card.

The banker will draw a card on a total of 3 unless the player’s third card is an 8; draws a card on a total of 4 unless the player’s third card is 1, 8, 9, or 10; draws a card on a total of 5 only if the player’s third card is 4, 5, 6, or 7; and finally, draws on a total of 6 only if the player’s third card is 6 or 7.

As a bettor, the dealer will handle all of these rules for you; nevertheless, it’s always good to know how the third card rules will affect how the game unfolds.

Online Baccarat: Why Should You Choose a Reliable Online Casino?

Online baccarat has become one of the most popular games for players because of its sheer simplicity, thrill, and potential for massive payouts. Therefore, it’s important for casino enthusiasts to choose a trustworthy and reputable online casino. A safe online casino platform guarantees a pleasurable, immersive gaming experience and the security of your personal and financial data.

How do you choose a reliable online casino to play online baccarat? First, check whether the casino holds a valid licence from a reputable authority. Licences from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) or the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), for instance, ensure that the online casino complies with the highest standards of transparency and fairness. Another is to check whether the online casino uses SSL encryption and has independent security certifications from eCOGRA, which will ensure the safety of your data. Lastly, check how responsive its customer support team is and whether they address your concerns and queries satisfactorily and promptly.

Basic Baccarat Game Strategies

While it will take some time before you channel your inner Agent 007 and play like a boss in the most exclusive tables of Macau or Las Vegas, here are some basic tips and strategies to get you started in baccarat, whether you play online or offline.

When In Doubt, Bet on the Banker

Betting on the banker gives you the best odds and the lowest house edge, meaning you’ll have a higher chance of winning in the long run.

Don’t Waste Time on Side Bets

Side bets like Ties or Player/Banker Pairs may seem enticing with their higher payouts, but beware of their greater house edge. Ideally, it’s best to lay off these bets since they represent the lowest chance of winning.

Manage Your Bankroll Wisely

Baccarat is a game of pure luck. Therefore, it’s important to set a budget and stick to it during your baccarat sessions. Don’t chase losses, and set a win-goal. Once you hit your win goal, it’s often a good idea to quit while you’re ahead and enjoy your winnings.

Don’t Overanalyze Patterns

Baccarat has no skill involved—it’s 100% pure luck of the draw. Each game result is independent of the previous ones. It’s important not to fall into the trap of spotting streaks or patterns. Instead, make smart bets based on the odds.

Basic Baccarat Betting Strategies

Baccarat offers three main betting options. Banker bets offer the best odds and lowest house edge, followed by Player bets, which pay 1:1, but have a slightly lower house edge. Tie bets have the highest payouts but have the lowest odds and highest house edge. As earlier explained, if you’re just starting out, stick to betting on the banker.

Nevertheless, there are some players who swear by using “baccarat strategies,” chief of all being the Martingale betting strategy. With this betting strategy, you would theoretically double your stake after every losing bet, doubling your wager until you win. If you win, you reset your wager amount to its original stake.

The trouble with the Martingale strategy is that it will burn players on long cold streaks—which can lead to a lot of losses if you’re on the wrong end of one. Moreover, this strategy doesn’t take the 5% commission on winning banker bets into account. With the banker paying out at odds of 0.95:1, you’ll need to go on an epic winning streak to turn in a profit.

Other players follow patterns that are shown on the baccarat trend analysis display on most online and land-based baccarat tables and base their bets on them. This could be patterns of alternating Player and Banker wins, or a streak of Banker or Player wins in a row. Other players may bet against the trend, believing they’re due to win. However, as we mentioned earlier, baccarat is a game of 100% pure chance. Therefore, betting on streaks or past winning hands does not equate to an edge since the cards themselves have no recollection of previous results.

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