Baccarat is a simple card game that is played in casinos all around the world but is also available online as a virtual or live dealer game. It has a huge following due to its simple, yet diverse rules, in and house edge, which is extremely low compared to most casino games. Its popularity has exploded in Asia in the past few years and today, most of the gambling revenue in Macau casinos is believed to come from the baccarat tables.
Although the origin of baccarat is still a widely disputed topic among historians, many experts believe it started somewhere in Italy in the 15th century and was gradually popularized in France. In the 19th century, the game was mainly played by French aristocrats and until recently, it was available only at the high-roller tables. With the rise of the Internet and the development of web-based casinos, however, baccarat became much more affordable and accessible. Today, online players can enjoy different variations of instant-play and downloadable baccarat, as well as live dealer and mobile versions of the classic casino game.
The following guide aims at introducing new players to baccarat in a simple and straightforward way by explaining the basic rules of the game. It includes short descriptions of the table layout, the hands, and the types of bets in baccarat, as well as the different versions that can be found online or in land-based casinos. Of course, there are dedicated sections that focus on the simple mathematics behind the game and the best strategies to win. Last, but not least, players can find the major software providers of virtual, mobile and live dealer versions of baccarat.
Basic Rules of Baccarat
Baccarat is a card comparing game that usually uses 6 to 8 standard decks of cards (52 cards without the Jokers). Some versions, however, are played with only 3 decks of cards and different rules. The entire game revolves around the two main 3-card hands that are being dealt in each round of play (“coup”) and players can bet on either one of them or on a tie. These are the “Player” and the “Banker” hands.
The winning hand is the one with the higher total value and gamblers can bet on the hand they believe will win. As you can see, the game is quite simple and easy to understand. There are several more things to consider, however.
The standard, full-size baccarat table is as large as the table used for craps but here, up to 14 gamblers can participate. There are also mini and midi tables but we will not be looking at these in this guide. The table has an oval shape and is covered in green or blue felt where the betting layout can be seen. It is quite simple with clearly separated sections for the “Player”, “Banker” and the “Tie” bets.
The game is usually managed by up to three casino employees and players take turns to deal the cards from the shoe. Players are allowed to skip their turn as dealers if they wish to. This applies only for the baccarat games in brick-and-mortar casinos, of course. When playing online baccarat, players simply have the three betting options while the cards are being dealt automatically.
Valuation of Hands
When comparing the two hands in each coup, we use the sum of the value of the three cards that are being dealt to the Player and the Banker. The term Player here refers simply to one of the hands; it is not identical to the gambler who plays the game. So, how do we value the cards in baccarat?
Cards from 2s through 9s count as their face value, while cards from 10s through Kings count as zero. The Aces are counted as 1. The total value of the hand, however, cannot be higher than 9, which is why their value will be equal to the rightmost digit of the sum of the cards. For example, a hand comprising of 5 and 8 is counted as 3 because this is the rightmost digit in their sum, 13. If the hand is 5-King-8, this is also 3 because the King counts as 0. Hands valued as 8 or 9 are known as naturals.
Rules of Play
The game starts when casino patrons make one of three possible bets. Then, two cards are being dealt to each of the Player and the Banker, starting with the Player. A third card may be dealt, depending on the specific rules of the baccarat variation. If any of the two hands totals 8 or 9, it is considered a natural and both the Player and the Banker stand, i.e. they can no longer draw cards from the shoe.
Up to three cards can be dealt to each hand and once both are standing, their totals are compared. The greater total value wins. If they have the same values, this is a tie and those who placed the Player and the Banker bets have their stakes returned to them, while those who placed the Tie bet win the coup and receive a payout of 8:1.
Third Card Rules
There are several basic rules that say when to draw a third card and when to stand. First of all, the Player hand takes a third card when it has a value of 5 or less. When the Player stands after two cards and the Banker has a total of 5 or less, it receives a third card. If any of them, however, have 8 or 9, both hands automatically stand.
Things become a bit more complicated for the Banker when the Players receives a third card – several conditions would determine whether the Banker also takes one more card. If the Banker has 2 or less, a third card is always dealt. If the Banker hand total is 3, it takes a third card unless the Player’s third card is 8. If it is 4, a third card is drawn if the Player’s final card is between 2 and 7. If it is 5, the third card is drawn if the Player’s third card is 4, 5, 6, or 7. When the Banker has 6, it takes another card if the Player has 6 for 7. If the Banker has 7, it always stands.
Baccarat Bets and House Edge
Types of Bets and Payouts
Baccarat Odds and House Edge
As we have mentioned above, there are three possible outcomes from every coup in baccarat and gamblers can bet on any of them – either that the Player or the Banker will win or that the coup will be a tie. The sections on the table for the three betting options are clearly marked and sometimes, they display the payouts for these bets.
- Player – 1:1
- Banker – 1:1 with a 5% commission
- Tie – 8:1
The payouts for the Player and the Banker bets are even but a 5% commission fee is charged on the winnings of the Banker bet. Some casinos would display the payout for a winning Tie bet as 9 for 1, which is equivalent to 8:1 – in both cases, baccarat players receive 8 times the bet plus their original bet. There are, however, casinos in the United Kingdom, for instance, which actually pay 9:1 for a winning Tie bet.View more...
Popular Baccarat Variations
The game of baccarat has evolved over the years and several different variations have been developed. While nowadays, most casinos would offer Punto Banco, referring to it simply as baccarat, there are a handful of other variations that can also be found online or in brick-and-mortar casinos.
Chemin de Fer
This is the most popular version of baccarat in France and in it, one of the players on the table is the Banker while everyone else is considered a “punter”. The game uses 6 decks and is usually found only in land-based casinos. Here, gamblers can decide whether to take a third card or not instead of being forced to do so by the rules.
Punto Banco or Player Banker is the game, which has become a standard in most casinos across North America, in Macau, the United Kingdom, Australia, and much of Europe. Usually, this version of baccarat is played with 6 or 8 decks and all card drawing moves are determined by the rules. In other words, the gameplay is automatic and independent of player decisions.
This variation is similar to Chemin de Fer – players take turns to be the Banker and are free to decide whether to take a third card or not. There are several slight differences between the two games, however, and the most prominent one is that in Baccarat Banque, the Banker position is more permanent.
European Baccarat is quite similar to Punto Banco but players can choose whether to draw another card or stand on 5. The Banker hand is financed by the casino and those who play that hand can also choose to draw a third card.
Mini Baccarat is typically played under the Punto Banco rules but with two main differences – the baccarat table here is smaller with up to 7 seats and the betting limits are much more modest. This low-stakes game of baccarat is particularly popular among Asian gamblers and in online casinos.
Baccarat Strategy and Betting Systems
Bets to Place/Avoid
There are probably dozens of myths and misconceptions about baccarat and what to do to guarantee a profit. But there is no full-proof system or method that ensures winnings at all times. The best thing players can do is to remember which bets to place and which ones to avoid – they should always opt for the Banker and never put their chips on Tie. The reason is very simple and this is the house edge of these two bets – with a house edge of 1.06%, the Banker option is always the best even after the 5% commission on winnings.View more...
Baccarat Money Management
1Setting Up a Bankroll
The first step to good money management is setting up a gambling bankroll – any amount of money allocated exclusively to casino gambling. The specific amount, of course, is individual and can be $100 or $5,000. In addition, this bankroll could be daily, weekly, and even monthly gambling funds. The basic principle is that you should only gamble what you can afford to lose.
2Limits for Losses and Winnings
Another great way for players to control their own daily spending is by setting up limits for the losses or winnings, or for both. Such limits are a great tool in determining how much gambling is too much. Less experienced gamblers may start by figuring out how much they are willing to lose every day – it should not be more than 20% or 30% of their entire bankroll. Winnings could be capped to 40% or 50% of the bankroll.
3Things to Avoid
Baccarat comes with many pricey pitfalls so before starting to play this game for real money, punters should be aware of several things, the first one being to avoid the Tie bet. Negative progressive systems with a high-risk factor such as the Martingale should also be avoided as they may make players lose their entire bankroll within just a few coups. In addition, players should not make wagers larger than 3% of their bankroll so that their money can last longer.
Popular Baccarat Games
Major Developers of Online Baccarat
Despite the development of impressive video slots with plenty of bonus features, 3D graphics, etc., table games such as blackjack and baccarat remain extremely popular among casual casino visitors and professional players. This is why the majority of companies that develop gaming software for web-based casinos try to create the best variations of online baccarat.
A leader in the development of premium online casino products and gaming software, NetEnt has added several virtual and live dealer games of baccarat to its collection. The award-winning Swedish studio is fully licensed and it offers hundreds of casino games to operators in various regulated markets, including most of Europe.
Microgaming is another giant in the online gambling industry and with more than 25 years of experience, the company manages to provide great entertainment, huge jackpots, and popular titles among all major gaming categories. Its portfolio includes hundreds of online slots, dozens of video poker variations, as well as many classic casino games such as baccarat, roulette, and blackjack.
Playtech is one of the largest developers of gaming software for the global gambling industry and its collection of games is exceptionally diverse and colorful. Many of Playtech’s slots feature stunning graphics and exciting bonus features but its table games are equally impressive – smooth gameplay, convenient design and layout, and a wide range of table limits.
RealTime Gaming or simply RTG is one of the oldest companies that create software for the online gambling market. The gaming studio was established in the United States in 1998 and today, it has a nice selection of card and table games, alongside its huge range of colorful video slots.
What Is the Best Paying Baccarat Variation?
The best variation of baccarat is the standard one, also known as Punto Banco. It has a very low house edge of around 1.01%. Mini Baccarat and other available versions of Punto Banco come with the same odds and house edge, which means they are equally good for the gamblers.
Is Baccarat Still Available for High-Rollers Only?
No, even though baccarat tables at Las Vegas or Macau casinos allow bets from $20 or even $25, there are usually low-stakes Mini Baccarat and even full-size tables, as well. Online games also feature lower limits and online players can enjoy a wide variety of baccarat versions for as little as $1.
Does Card Counting Work in Baccarat?
Yes, although it is not as effective as in blackjack. Still, an experienced card counter can greatly influence the outcome of the game. Players should be aware that card counting and edge sorting are not tolerated by casinos, so applying the proper strategy when playing baccarat may be a better way to ensure decent profits.