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How to Play Baccarat - Beginner’s Guide

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Most believe that the classic casino game baccarat first originated in Italy during the 15th century. It was originally reversed for the nobility but is now enjoyed by all types of players around the world. Learning how to play baccarat doesn’t require any gambling expertise or prior knowledge of any other casino games. The table may first appear to be a little daunting with all the various segments and betting options laid out. The concept of the game is centered around three bet types, which lends itself to the simplicity of the game. Here we will be covering all of the fundamentals of baccarat, as well as some extra pieces of useful tips and strategies.

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Baccarat Rules

Before we get started on giving you the key information to take your baccarat gameplay to the next level; first let us go through the basic rules of the game. Baccarat is overall a very simple game to play, which is what has made it so appealing. Nonetheless, there can be a lot of strategies and outcomes that you will have to keep in mind when placing your bets. It is highly important that you familiarise yourself with all of the rules of baccarat to get the most out of the game and your bets of course.

Playing A Hand

In baccarat, you are betting on a winner or a tie for each game round, where a Player’s hand is opposing a Banker’s hand. You, therefore, have three options when it comes to placing bets before the round starts; betting on the Player’s hand to win, or the Banker’s, or a Tie between the two.

Two cards are dealt to the Player and the Banker each. Whether the cards are dealt face up or face down depends on the variation of baccarat that’s being played. There are instances where a third card will be dealt. There can be several variations and point discrepancies between the Banker and the Player for the third card rule to be triggered. However, this is usually simplified in online play. If neither side manages to get a score of eight or nine from their two cards, then a third will be dealt to both. For live play, however, these rules are slightly more complex and favor the Banker ever so slightly. In this case, the Banker will either draw or stand depending on the Player’s score.

Baccarat Card Values

Tens and Face cards count as zero for scoring purposes, whereas all other numbered cards provide a score equal to their number. Aces count as a score of one. The scores of each hand are added up to give the total score, which determines the winner of the round.

In the case that a total score is a double-digit number, only the last digit will be counted. This means that a score of 11 will count as one and a score of 19 will count as nine. A score of nice is what you want from whichever side you bet on, as the side with a score closest to nine wins. In baccarat, the total value of a hand can only be one digit. So only the digit furthest to the right in the number combination will count. This means a combination of 8 and 9, which equals 17, gives you a hand worth 7 points. The 1 is removed, and only the 7 counts toward the hand’s value.

Baccarat Payouts and House Edge

Another caveat of baccarat that you will need to be aware of is the payout table associated with it. While any winning bets on the Player payout at a rate of 1 to 1, meaning you will double your stake, winning bets on the Banker will at a rate of 19 to 20. This is due to the Banker taking a 5% commission of any payouts that have been gained from betting on the Banker to win. Lastly, an 8 to 1 payout is awarded for winning Tie bets.

This is because the banker is statistically likely to win just over 50% of rounds. In fact, while the Player’s house edge stands at 1.24%, the Banker’s edge comes on top at 1.06% and for those wondering, the Tie bet stands at a house edge of 14.36%. These percentages mean that for betting on the Player, you can expect to lose 1.24% of units gambled for every 100 when looking at averages. 

The Banker’s Decisions

The Banker’s edge is due to the reactionary nature of coming second in combination with the three-card rule. As in live play, the side of the Player will always go first and the drawing of a third card will result in the Banker standing or drawing, depending on the following circumstances:

  • Hit for a third card, if the Banker’s score is zero, one or two
  • Hit on a three, should the player score other than eight
  • Hit on a four, should the player score between two and seven
  • Hit on a five, should the player score between four and seven
  • Hit on a six, should the player score either six or seven
  • The banker will always stand on a score of seven, eight, or nine

This is where the slight edge of the Banker comes from, as their play will be entirely dependent on the Player’s score. This does lead to more favorable outcomes, if only by the slightest amount over many rounds played. You don’t need to remember these particular values for when a Banker hits or stands for that third card in online play. However, although it is certainly good to know why that 5% commission is implemented and why you won’t be receiving a 1 to 1 return on betting on the Banker. Incidentally, knowing this caveat is also why the majority of baccarat players tend to favor betting on the Banker.

Baccarat Tableau

The Tableau, or table, describing how the Banker plays in Punto Banco Baccarat has set rules. This is basically what makes baccarat a game of chance since neither the Player nor the Banker can decide how to play. The reason the Banker has a greater chance of winning than the Player is that the Banker has the benefit of going last and can therefore decide what to do based on the Player’s result.

This is the baccarat tableau:

Banker’s points

Player’s 3rd card

Banker’s move

2

 

Banker always draws a 3rd card

3

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 

Banker draws a 3rd card

4

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Banker draws a 3rd card 

5

4, 5, 6, 7

Banker draws a 3rd card 

6

6, 7

Banker draws a 3rd card

7

No 3rd card drawn

Banker always stands

Managing The User Interface

So, how do you play baccarat online? Playing from a virtual user interface (UI) isn’t quite the same as playing in a casino. You usually have more information and extra options when playing online, all of which are managed through the game’s UI. The UI remains largely the same from game to game, even if developed by different providers. The main difference comes from whether you decide to play at a virtual or live table. Despite this, you can still find many common features between the two.

Baccarat tables will always present a standard table to the player, where bets can be placed. This is where you will see the Banker and Player betting options for instance. You will also have a selection of chips of various values to choose from. Additional options, such as ‘re-bet’ and ‘clear all bet’ buttons are also available to make it easier to adjust your bets on the fly. Sound settings, game rules, and instant messaging services for live tables are also common features. Getting used to all of the interface features provides another great excuse to try out the free-play mode offered in some casino games. Playing this will help you get an understanding of at least the basic layout of all tables without having to spend your money to find out.

Virtual Baccarat

Providing a purely single-player experience that is powered entirely by software and a random number generator, virtual baccarat is typically offered by a wide range of online casinos. Virtual Baccarat provides a more solitary experience for those who prefer it. Additionally, players can play for free in demo mode. The player sets their own pace, making it a great environment for learning and getting comfortable with the game before diving into real money wagers.

Live Casino Baccarat

Featuring professional live dealers with high production values in studios draped in real casino aesthetics, live baccarat delivers a real authentic feeling. This is all possible from the comfort of your home or the palm of your hand. Live baccarat can provide players with instant feedback and interaction through a seamless user interface. Players can view the table’s statistics, other player’s bets and more. Even communication with other players is possible via live-chat functionality. Providing a real social aspect to the game, which one might only expect from visiting an actual casino, online live casino games have come far in offering an immersive experience powered by innovative technology and experienced croupiers. 

Variations Of Online Baccarat

While browsing online for Baccarat tables, you will come to notice that there are many variations of the game. The bulk main rules and principles, as described above, will tend to remain the same. There can however be found slight differences that may be more fitting to your play style. Take your time to familiarise yourself with these differences, so that you won’t be confused when entering a table with slightly different adaptations on the overall rule-set.

European Baccarat

With a more simplified set of rules, which is eloquently optimized for online play, European Baccarat ensures that the role of the Banker is handled by the dealer. Standing or drawing when it comes to the 3rd card is optional for the Banker, regardless of the score from either the Banker or Player. The Player, on the other hand, is given the choice of standing or drawing for that 3rd card, should the Player’s score be equal to 5. This, therefore, forgoes the usual play table associated with traditional baccarat when it comes to the 3rd card rule. You’ll most likely see plenty of European Baccarat tables at online casinos.

Punto Banco

Also referred to as ‘American Baccarat’, it translates to ‘Point Bank’ from its Cuban origins. This variant was brought to the US in the 1950s, following the ban of all casinos in Cuba. Punto Banco baccarat opts for blending parts of Chemin De Fer and European Baccarat in order to take the most interesting rules from each and combine them into a single table of excitement. Between 6 and 8 decks are used, up to 14 players, and comes along with the rotational ‘Shoe’ found in Chemin De Fer. Furthermore, the 3rd card rule is simplified much like European Baccarat, only in this version the decision of getting it dealt is taken away from players by instead having it dealt in all instances.

Mini Baccarat

Mini Baccarat is played on a smaller table than other classic variants. It follows the same rule-set as Punto Banco, although in a more low-stakes environment. Only the dealer handles the cards, thereby setting a much faster pace. Rounds of Mini Baccarat tend to go a lot quicker, which can lead to a rather quick drain of funds. It is, therefore, best to take advantage of the low stakes offered. Many recommend against newer players trying out Mini Baccarat, simply due to its faster pace.

Other than the betting limits, the only real difference for players is that in Mini Baccarat, players aren’t allowed to pick up the cards. In fact, when you play baccarat online at online casinos, you’re playing Mini-Baccarat, although the tables will usually be called Baccarat or Punto Banco.

Betting on the Banker will still pay out 1:1 for most wins, just like the standard game, but if the winning hand for the Banker has 8 points, the payout will only be 1:2. This means you’ll only get 50% of the win compared to playing Punto Banco with a commission paid to the house. In other words, the house gets its edge back whenever the Banker wins with a hand of 8 points.

No Commission Baccarat

The rules of No Commission Baccarat can change up depending on the table you are playing on. Whatever the variant, the main feature is the removal of the 5% commission. This means that winning Banker bets pay out at a rate of 1 to 1. This is obviously great but does come at a cost. Typically, should the Banker win on a six only a payout of 0.5 to 1 is awarded. This result has a 0.054% of occurring, which isn’t too bad by itself. Different tables can change up the payouts of other results as well though. So, be sure to double-check the rules before committing any funds.

Chemin De Fer

Being of French origin, Chemin De Fer (Literally meaning railroad) is named as such because the roles of each player at the table change from round to round. What is known in baccarat as a ‘Shoe’ is rotationally passed from player to player after each round, which signifies who will act as the Banker and Dealer, while the croupier will still be in charge of shuffling the decks and acting as a referee of sorts. 

A Commission is taken from the winnings of whoever is playing the Banker and this player will also be able to choose as to whether or not to draw the 3rd card. As in European Baccarat, the Player can still stand or draw the 3rd card on a score of 5. Typically Chemin De Fer is played with 6 decks instead of 7 and the cards are dealt face down and the player with the highest stake for the round goes first. 

While Chemin De Fer does not see much play, due to it being impossible for many of its rules to be implemented properly into online play, it does, however, lend some its aspects to Punto Banco and also aims to spice up the game by giving each player seated at the table a more active role in the game.

Let's give you a short overview of the Chemin De Fer action. The game round starts with the Banker placing a bet. The other players can then make their bets. The total bet for the players has to be as much as the Banker’s bet. If the players bet more than the Banker, the bets are returned according to their positions at the table, unless the player with the Banker position chooses to match the player’s bets.

If the total bet for the Player hand isn’t enough to match the Banker’s bet, other players are able to join in and bet. This is what’s known as Betting Behind. A bet behind is a bet placed by someone who isn’t participating as a player at the table but simply betting on the results other players might achieve. Once the bets are placed, and an equal amount is bet by both Banker and Player, the game can begin.

Baccarat Banque

Another rule set delivered by the French and this time offering more of a deviation from the core rules of baccarat than the previously mentioned variants. Baccarat Banque instead offers 2 Player hands and one Banker’s hand. While participants can bet on either player’s hand, they are not able to place any bets on the Banker’s hand. The Banker typically follows American Baccarat rules but can switch up to stand or draw as chosen by the croupier, who acts as the Banker. This variant of baccarat is rather rare but does see some play and there are even rarer subsets of rules for baccarat Banque that sees the top winner on the table take the role of the Banker, rather than the house.

Here's how a Baccarat Banque game unravels. Once a Banker is chosen, the player selected has the right to hold this position until all the cards in the three decks have been played. However, it’s also possible for the chosen Banker to run out of money to fund the Banker’s bets or to decide to give up this position.

The dealer at the table will deal 6 cards: two cards for the Banker and two cards each to two sets of Player hands. The bets made by players follow the same rules as in Chemin de Fer Baccarat, meaning the Player’s bets will have to match the Banker’s bet. If one player wants to bet the entire amount, they can. This means no other players get to bet on this round. This bet is called “going Bank”. Since the cards are all dealt face down, playing against two hands should not affect the Banker’s choice of how to play the hand.

How to Play Baccarat - Tips & Strategies

As with any gameplay you choose to endeavor in at an online casino, rule number one is always the same. It might not be that exciting, but determining your budget and sticking to it is something that is advised to any player, whether new or experienced. This is something that should be done before committing to any wagers. Betting proportionally to your overall balance, keeping track of each of your wins and losses, as well as setting yourself clear goals as to when to cash out. These will all help you in the long run. As baccarat rounds are over so quickly, it is important not to let yourself get carried away with playing round after round.

Free Play Mode

If you are new to baccarat we highly recommend that you play for free at a virtual baccarat table. Get a feel for the game before you start to wager your actual funds. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, the overall simplicity of baccarat lends itself to be easy to learn. It really does go a long way to start off with at least a few rounds, so that you can become comfortable staking real money while being free to test out some strategies.

Betting On Ties

We’ve mentioned it before here, but we’ll say it again; it is inadvisable to stake your money on a Tie in baccarat. While the 8 to 1 payout may appear tempting, the 14.4% house edge is generally not worth pursuing. Instead, consider the Banker only, Player only or One-Sided baccarat betting strategies explained next.

Banker Only Or Player Only Strategy

A Banker only or Player only strategy revolves around placing continuous bets on either the Banker or Player until your chosen side loses. From there the strategy dictates that you then switch sides and again bet continuously until this side loses. Rinse and repeat. In the rare case that a Tie happens, simply act as if the round never occurred when placing your next bet. This is a very popular strategy amongst baccarat players. It helps cut down the decision-making process, which is very valuable for those who do decide to go for the Live Speed Baccarat tables. 

Nerijus Grenda
Nerijus GrendaUpdated: 06 Jun 2022
Nerijus is one of our top writers here at GoodLuckMate, and he knows exactly what casino players want to read about. He got started in the iGaming industry as a player, more specif...
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