Overview of Baccarat
Baccarat is simple to learn, but its simplicity masks a game that’s tormented players for centuries and resulted in mountains of cash changing hands. While modern innovations allow the game to be played in the privacy of your own home, the stereotypical depiction of a baccarat game includes elegantly-dressed individuals competing in the high roller section of a casino. No wonder it’s the favorite game of fictional superspy James Bond.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of baccarat. The basic rules for the most popular versions of the game are explained, as well as the advantages of playing online. While Lady Luck isn’t going to smile on you more often after reading this document, at least you won’t feel lost when sitting down at a high stakes table.
Standard Baccarat Rules
No matter which type of baccarat you choose, the core rules are the same. In this section, we’ll cover the basics of the game.
All games of baccarat are determined by comparing the total of the player’s hand with the total of the dealer’s hand. The hand with the higher total is declared the winner (9 being the highest possible score), and there are three possible outcomes:
Cards have the following point values:
- Aces are worth 1 point
- Kings, Queens, Jacks, and 10s are worth 0 points
- 2s through 9s are worth their face value
- Jokers are not used in baccarat
Baccarat has a unique system for determining the value of a hand (also known as a “coup”). Begin by adding up the values of the cards. If the total equals one digit, then this is our total. If it equals two digits, then take only the value of the right digit to determine your total. Here are a couple of examples:
- If you have a king and 10, the value of your hand is 0. That’s because both of these cards are worth 0 points.
- If you have a pair of 9s, the value of the hand is 8. That’s because 8 is the right digit in the original total of 18.
- If you have a 2 and 7, then you have a total of 9.
Standard Baccarat Rules
There are two main forms of baccarat, but some casinos also offer slight variations on the rules. This section contains the versions that you’re likely to encounter at gaming establishments around the globe.
If you play in Canada, the United States, or the United Kingdom, this is the version of baccarat you’re most likely to encounter. There are hands assigned to the player and banker, although the dealer manages both of them according to rigid drawing rules. The game is played with 4, 6, or 8 decks of cards.
Both the player and dealer receive two face-up cards to begin a round. If either side has an 8 or 9, then they are the winner. Winning player bets pay even money, while winning banker bets have a 5% commission removed for the house. In the case of a tie, player and banker bets are transferred to the following round, and tie bets pay 8 to 1.
If no winner has been determined after the initial two-card draw, then the following rules are consulted:
- Player does not take a third card if their total is a 6 or 7.
- If the player has a total of 0 to 5, then they receive a third card.
- If the player doesn’t get an additional card, then the dealer adheres to the same rules previously listed.
When the player takes a third card, the dealer is subject to the following rules for drawing:
- Banker stands on a total of 7.
- Banker draws on a total of 2 or less.
- Banker draws a third card on a total of 3 (the only exception is if the player’s third card was an 8).
- Banker draws a third card on a total of 4 if the player’s third card was 2 through 7.
- Banker draws a third card on a total of 5 if the player’s third card was 4 through 7.
- Banker draws a third card on a total of 6 if the player’s third card was a 6 or 7.
- If none of these conditions are met, then the dealer does not take a third card.
Since 6 and 8-deck games are most common, let’s look at the house edge for both. The player and banker wagers are the same for both, with 1.06% for player bets and 1.24% for banker bets. A tie bet on a six-deck game carries a house edge of 14.44%, while it decreases to 14.36% for an eight-deck game.
Baccarat Chemin de Fer
This is the original version of baccarat, and it still enjoys a high degree of popularity in France and the principality of Monaco. The game is played with six decks of cards, and the role of the banker alternates between the players.
The banker begins by betting any amount they desire. Each player is then given a chance to match the banker’s entire wager (which is known as “going bank”). If no player elects to go bank, then everyone at the table is able to make smaller wagers. If this amount still fails to equal the banker’s wager, then people standing around the table can also contribute to the wager.
When the combined player wager exceeds the banker’s initial bet, he has the option of matching the new total. Otherwise, the excess amount is ignored.
The players win or lose as a group, and they receive two face-down cards to begin with (just like the dealer). The player who bet the most money represents the group during the hand.
If either the banker or the players have an 8 or 9, then the hand is over and a winner is declared. If this is not the case, then the player can elect to receive a third card. Once the banker sees the final total of the players, he may also choose to take a third card.
The totals are then compared to determine the winner. If the banker wins, he receives all player wagers and remains the dealer for the following round. If the players manage to win, they recoup their wagers plus a matching sum from the banker. The next player then assumes the role of dealer for the following hand. If the hand ends in a tie, bets carry over to the next round.
Super 6/Punto 2000
Known under a variety of names, the difference in this game is that even money is paid on winning banker bets as opposed to the traditional 95%. When the banker wins with a 6, however, the payout is only 50%. On a banker bet, the house edge is increased from 1.058% to 1.46%. In most cases, the game moves at an accelerated pace because the house commission on winning banker bets doesn’t have to be figured up, although a banker win with a six still requires additional bookkeeping.
- A winning banker bet pays even money, except when the hand contains three cards and equals a total of 7. When this occurs, the hand is considered a push. This lowers the house edge on a banker bet from 1.058% to 1.018%.
- The Dragon 7 side bet is good for one hand and pays when the banker wager wins with three cards and a final score of seven. This wager has a house edge of 7.61% and pays 40-to-1.
- The Panda 8 side bet is good for one hand and pays when the player bet wins with three cards and a score of eight. This wager has a house edge of 10.18% and pays 25-to-1.
This version of the game is offered for players with smaller bankrolls, and it can be found at most online and land-based casinos. The rules usually follow those of Punto Banco, although the game is played at a smaller table with a single croupier. A standard shoe is used to deal the cards, and the table stakes are less ambitious than what’s found in the high roller section.
Online Live Dealer Baccarat
Playing baccarat with a live dealer at a land-based casino is to be expected, but some online casinos are now offering the option. While you can’t chat or otherwise interact with the dealer on the other side of your monitor, is does provide a welcome change from stale computer graphics.
This is accomplished with streaming technology, and it’s traditional for dealers to use oversized cards to make sure the player can see what’s going on. When the player makes a wager or in-game decision, these actions are relayed to the house.
Here are few advantages of playing live dealer baccarat on the Internet:
You can choose betting limits that best meet your budget. While this may vary from place to place, some of the most common options include 10/100, 30/300, and 50/500.
A lot of real-life baccarat games require formal attire in order to sit at the table. That’s never the case with the online version, as dealers don’t care whether you’re wearing a tuxedo or lounging in the nude.
If you don’t like people huddled around you, the virtual version of the game is an appealing option. When you play at home, you can remain isolated or only allow in the onlookers of your choice.
I don’t like people to know what I lost at the baccarat table, so playing at home is the best way to thwart the curious and downright nosey.
Most live casino dealers happen to be females who are often selected for their good looks. If you’re attracted to women, then this provides some appealing scenery during the game. I’ve even seen a few casinos where the dealers dress up like Playboy bunnies, which is a major plus in my book.
If you win a bundle playing real-life baccarat, you still have to walk to your car at the end of the night with your winnings. While it’s unlikely that you’re going to get robbed, it’s still natural to be worried about such events. That’s never a concern if you play online, as nobody even knows that you’re gambling in the first place.
Players are always looking for a way to consistently win at casino games, but baccarat is unsuitable for advantage players due to its random nature. Because of this fact, there are only a few words of wisdom that I can offer involving strategy.
While it’s great fun to dress up in a tuxedo and wager thousands of dollars on a hand of baccarat, that’s not an option for the majority of casino patrons. Luckily, less expensive versions of the game exist, especially for those who conduct their gambling online. Add in the presence of sexy female dealers dressed in exotic costumes, and it’s easy to see why Internet baccarat continues to grow in popularity.