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How To Play Baccarat

HOW TO PLAY BACCARAT

Baccarat: Where Did It Originate?

It is thought that baccarat originated in Italy in the 1400s as a card game for the upper social classes and aristocrats. Initially, the game was known as Baccara, the Italian word for ‘zero’ due to the face cards and tens being valued at zero during play. Later the French spelling baccarat was adopted worldwide.

In the late 1950s, a professional gambler, Tommy Renzoni, introduced the game to the United States, and in 1958 to one of the casinos in Las Vegas, where it became a hit.

Why Play Baccarat?

  • Baccarat is the best game for inexperienced players due to the betting odds available
  • Baccarat game rules are easy to understand
  • Baccarat gambling can be as low stakes as you like from, $5 to high roller stakes of $100,000
  • Baccarat can be played at online casino sites as well as land-based casinos
  • You can also find baccarat free to play at some casino sites

Objective of Baccarat

The objective of the baccarat casino game is to place a wager on the hand you think will have a total of nine or close to it. You can choose between two hands, the Banker or Player, or bet on a predicted tie.

Baccarat Basic Rules

  • All players must place their bets before the cards are dealt
  • Players can either bet on the ‘Banker hand’ to win, the ‘Player hand’ to win, or for the two hands to tie
  • Two cards are dealt to two hands, the Banker and the Player
  • All tens, jacks, queens, and kings have a zero value, the ace has a value of 1, and all other cards equate to their face value 
  • The hand with a total closest to nine wins. Should a hand score above 10, then 10 is subtracted from the total. For example, an 8 and a 6 are dealt, the total of these is 14, minus 10 equals 4 (total)
  • A third card can be drawn, and this is decided by the totals dealt 
  • Should a Player or Banker’s hand be dealt a total of 8 or 9 in the first two cards, it is known as a ‘natural’ win, and the game ends with bets being cashed out.
  • Should a tie happen between the Player hand and Banker’s hand, unless you bet on a tie, all bets are returned, and nobody wins or loses.

Various Size Baccarat Tables

There are three different sizes of baccarat casino tables. Punto Banco (full size), midi Baccarat, and Mini Baccarat.  

Full-Size Punto Banco: This is the largest of the three tables, seating up to 14 players. The betting range is wide and appeals to high rollers with stakes from as low as $100 to $100,000 per bet. It is common for players who have bet the highest on either the Banker cards or Player cards to turn over the cards for their respective hand. 

Midi-Baccarat: Usually seats up to nine players, with one dealer and a medium bet range, for example, $25 to $10,000 per bet. Players also get to turn over the respective cards if they have placed the highest bet on the Player or Banker’s hand.

Mini-Baccarat: Seating up to six or seven players, the mini-baccarat can have a betting range from as low as $5 up to $5,000. In this game, the table has one dealer, and players are not allowed to turn the cards over and, as such, the game is played at a faster pace.

Card Values

Baccarat is usually played using six to eight decks of cards. Each card has a value. However, the card suits, namely hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds, have no role to play in baccarat. 

  • 10, jack, queen, king = 0 Points
  • Ace = 1 Point
  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 = 2 – 9 Points (Face Value)

Unlike blackjack, you are unable to ‘Bust’ in baccarat. Should the two cards dealt total more than nine, you can do one of two things, either subtract ten from the total or drop the first digit of the total. 

Examples:

  • The Player Hand is dealt a 5 of clubs and a 9 of hearts; together, they total 14. Therefore, the actual score is 4 (drop 10 from the total 14-10 = 4, or the first digit of the total 14 = 4).
  • The Banker Hand is dealt a 6 of spades and a 9 of diamonds; together, they total 15. Therefore, the actual score is 5 (drop 10 from the total 15-10 = 5, or the first digit of the total 15 = 5).

Baccarat: How Many Cards?

The Third Card: During the game, the Player and Banker Hands are both dealt two cards.  However, there is the option of a third card being dealt, but that depends on the total of the two cards already dealt. There are different draw rules for the Player Hand and the Banker Hand, as follows:

Player Hand: 

  • Player Hand is dealt two cards with a total of 8 or 9, it is a ‘natural’ win, and the game is over
  • Player Hand is dealt two cards with a total of 6 or 7, the Player Hand ‘stands’
  • Player Hand is dealt two cards with a total of 0 – 5; the Player Hand draws a third card

Banker Hand:

  • Banker Hand is dealt two cards with a total of 8 or 9, it is a ‘natural’ win, and the game is over
  • If the Player Hand does not draw a third card, the Banker Hand ‘stands’ on a total of 6 or 7 or draws a third card on totals 0 to 5
  • If the Player Hand draws a third card of 2 or 3, the Banker Hand can draw a third card with a total of 0 to 4, but must ‘stand’ if two cards dealt total 5, 6 or 7
  • If the Player Hand draws a third card of 4 or 5, the Banker Hand can draw a third card with a total of 0 to 5, but must ‘stand’ if two cards dealt total 6 or 7
  • If the Player Hand draws a third card of 6 or 7, the Banker Hand can draw a third card with a total of 0 to 6, but must ‘stand’ if two cards dealt total 7
  • If the Player Hand draws a third card with a value of 8, the Banker Hand can draw a third card with a total of 0 to 2, but must ‘stand’ if two cards dealt total 3 to 7
  • If the Player Hand draws a third card of 9, 10, jack, queen, king, or ace, the Banker Hand can draw a third card with a total of 0 to 3, but must ‘stand’ if two cards dealt total 4 to 7

Baccarat Payout

Banker Hand: A winning wager on the Banker Hand typically pays out 95% of the stake, with 5% commission going to the house. For example, you bet $10, and the hand wins, you would receive $9.50.

Player Hand: A winning wager on the Player Hand pays out 100% of the stake with no commission to the house. For example, you bet $10, and the hand wins; you win $10.

Tie: A winning wager on a Tie is usually paid out at 8x your stake. For example, you bet $10, and the hand wins; you receive $80 plus the original $10 stake.

It is worth noting that any bets placed on the Banker or Player Hands will be cashed out if there is a tie and nobody placed a tie bet. In other words, no hand wins, and you can either switch your wager, remove, or add to your wager, or simply not bet on the next hand.

Baccarat House Edge

The house edge is the casino’s profit expressed as a percentage of the money that is gambled. Compared to other casino games, baccarat has one of the lowest house edges. That is why it is extremely popular with high rollers worldwide.

The Banker bet has the lowest house edge at 1.06%; the Player bet has 1.24%, and the Tie has the worst, standing at 14.36%. Taking the house edge into account, wagers placed on the Banker Hand will return $98.94 for every $100 bet and the Player Hand $98.76. Disappointingly, wagers placed on the Tie Hand will only return $85.64 for every $100 gambled. 

The Best Bets In Baccarat

Considering the house edge, the outright winner of the best bet in baccarat is the wager on the Banker Hand. With a 1.06% house edge, even though the house takes a 5% commission, the Banker Hand wager seems the best bet. That is followed closely by the Player Hand bet. Finally, even though you could expect an 8:1 payout on the Tie bet, the odds of hitting a Tie bet are slim, and many would say, not worth the punt. 

Baccarat Betting Strategy

As the draw rules for baccarat are fixed, there are no real opportunities for strategic decisions, unlike blackjack, for example. However, we do have a few tips to help with your baccarat strategic gameplay:

  • The Banker Hand is the best hand to place your wager. The odds are in your favor, and it has the lowest house edge
  • Pass on the Tie bet as with such a high house edge percentage, you are at a disadvantage from the outset
  • Be realistic with your stake management and spending limits
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