Beginners’s Guide to Baccarat

Beginner's Guide to Baccarat
There is something very intriguing about the game of baccarat. Perhaps this intrigue has brought you here to this guide. If this is the case, strap in. We will shed some light on the mystery behind baccarat and explain why it is the choice of many players around the world.Baccarat has traditionally been considered a game played mostly by the gambling elite. It has also become almost synonymous with elegance and intrigue, thanks to its association with the world’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond. A type of baccarat known as “Chemin-de-Fer” featured in a number of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels.

The first book in the incredibly popular series, 1953’s Casino Royale, is heavily focused on a game between “007” and his nemesis, “Le Chiffre.” Fleming referred to baccarat in subsequent books, which helped popularize the game even more.

Another reason why this game has attained such popularity – and continues to earn more fans – is its low house edge (we cover how the house edge works further down). Once you learn the rules, the game becomes very easy to understand. The best part is that it does not take as long to learn these rules as some may think (we will explain how these work later).

Who Invented Baccarat?

This is unclear. If you are a budding casino historian, you will probably have worked out by now that many of the games we love have foggy backgrounds. Baccarat is no different. There are varying theories as to how the game of baccarat came to be. Historians believe that an early version of the game may have been played as far back as the 1400s. It is fair to say that it is not a fad, in that case.

There are two countries which both hold viable claims to the invention of baccarat. Italy and France still argue over who got there first. The word “Baccarat” can be traced back to mid-19th-century French, but its true roots are unclear. Given the close relationship between both countries as far back as the Roman times, any one of the two countries could be the rightful inventor.

Is Baccarat a Game of Luck?

Absolutely. You can purchase as many of the get-rich-quick strategies out there as you want or hire a team of mathematicians, but no system can alter the house edge in baccarat.

If you are winning, you might as well put it down to being blessed or being smart. The former will always be the key to wins, however. If you are losing, luck will also play a part, but you could also be making common mistakes, such as betting exclusively on a tie. This is, statistically, a bet which will often work against you.

There is no baccarat strategy which will win you every game of baccarat you play. However, there are ways to prevent losing a lot of your hard-earned money. Those who master the rules of baccarat can approach the game a little differently than others who simply bet money on a game they don’t understand how to play.

Baccarat: The Rules

Luckily for players, the rules of baccarat are pretty easy to understand. These rules represent how the game should and can be played. Players with designs on developing a strategy to win should, therefore, learn to walk before they run.

There are three main variations of baccarat, which are covered below.

Punto Banco – This is the most popular and widely-played version in places such as North America and the UK. In Punto Banco (translated to “player bank”), hands are dealt to the player and banker with the dealer managing both. The game is played with either 4, 6, or 8 decks of cards, although 6- and 8-deck games are most common.

(As Punto Banco is the game you are most likely to play, we will take a more comprehensive look at the rules in the next section.)

Chemin-de-Fer – This is the original version of the game (the one which James Bond just couldn’t get enough of).

Chemin-de-Fer roughly translates from French into English as “the railroad,” and it is not as popular in brick-and-mortar casinos and online casinos as Punto Banco. There is one major exception to the rule, which is Monaco. This is often the most popular version of baccarat at casinos in the Principality.

This version of baccarat is always played with six decks of cards. The banker is changeable. In other words, the banker will change with each game with all players assuming responsibility for the deal.

Super 6/Punto 2000 – This game is almost the same as both Punto Banco and Chemin-de-Fer in the fundamental rules and layout.  The big draw with Super 6/Punto 2000 is that, rather than bets on dealer hands being paid at 95%, they are, instead, even money.

Punto Banco Rules

In baccarat, there are ultimately three bets which a player can make. These are:

  • On the player’s hand
  • On the dealer/banker’s hand
  • On a tie

A bet on the successful outcome of a hand will win. Players must, therefore, choose their preferred bet and place their stake on the appropriate part of the betting table. The game starts when two cards are dealt to both the player and the banker. When either the player or the banker scores an eight or a nine combined from both cards, the game ends. If both players score eight, this is a tie. If both players score nine, this is also a tie. If a player scores nine and a dealer scores eight, the player wins (and vice versa).

Face cards (kings, queens, and jacks) and tens count as zero. Aces are worth one, and all remaining cards are worth their numerical value. If you are wondering how you can score an eight or a nine with the presence of high-value cards over these numbers, don’t fret. It is only the digit to the right which counts in the final score in baccarat, so if you have 17, your score is 7. If you have 19, your score is 9.

As you can see, the object of the game is to score a nine or get as close as possible. If both players are below eight or nine, a third card will be drawn to determine the winner.

The Third Card

If it is necessary to draw a third card, it will affect the player’s and the dealer’s hands differently.

A player draws a third card when:

  • The combined two-card total is less than five
  • The player does not draw an extra card if his two-card total is less than eight or nine

The third card scenario gets a little more complicated when it comes to the dealer’s hand.

In cases where a player doesn’t draw a third card:

  • The dealer will only draw a third card in this scenario if their combined card score is five or below
  • No card will be drawn if the dealer’s combined card score is eight or nine
  • No card will be drawn if the dealer’s combined card score is seven. The dealer stands

In cases where a player draws a third card:

  • A third card will be drawn when the dealer’s combined card score is two or less
  • A third card will be drawn when the dealer’s combined card score is three and the third card of the player is not an eight
  • A third card will be drawn when the dealer’s combined card score is four and the third card of the player is not an eight or a nine
  • A third card will be drawn when the dealer’s combined card score is four and the third card of the player is not an eight or a nine
  • A third card will be drawn when the dealer’s combined card score is five and the third card of the player is either a four, five, a six, or a seven
  • A third card will be drawn when the dealer’s combined card score is six and the third card of the player is either a six or a seven

Can You Choose the Third Card?

If only it were that easy! No, neither the player nor the banker can choose the card. Players must instead refer to the “Tableau.” This is essentially where rules are set.

While this concept is easy to understand when playing at a casino, you might be wondering what happens if you are playing online. If you are playing online casino baccarat, then the software running the game will be designed to deal a third card when this needs to be done.

Baccarat House Edge and Odds

You may remember that we mentioned the desirable house edge in baccarat. Have you forgotten that quickly? Okay. Take a sip of coffee, and we will explain what the house edge and odds are.

The low house edge works out at 1.06% on a banker bet, 1.24% on a player bet, and 14.36% on a tie. As you can see, the banker bet comes with a house edge which is exceptionally low, compared with other games such as roulette.

  • The payout of player and banker bets is 1:1
  • The payout on tie bets is typically 8:1 or 9:1

Should I Always Bet on the Banker?

Not necessarily. There are pros and cons of banker and player bets. The most attractive part of betting on the banker is that there is always a slight chance that this hand will win more often than the player’s hand. This comes down to the Tableau which has alternative rules when it comes to the third card (as we covered above).

The notable benefit of betting on the player’s hand is that you get 100% of your winnings. On a banker’s hand, a 5% commission fee is payable. In some cases, the commission can be lowered, but this is rare. When choosing what hand to bet on, this is entirely your call.

Hey, wait a minute. You didn’t think we forgot about the third bet, did you?

Is a Bet on a Tie Worth it?

Many baccarat beginners will see the odds of a tie and fancy their chances. The reason for this is that the payout is 8 or 9 to 1 for a winning tie bet, according to most baccarat games. This means that, for every $1 you place on a tie, you will get $8 back. Sounds great, right? Of course, it does, but the odds are high for a reason. Less than 10 percent of hands, in statistical terms, will result in a tie.

Do you still fancy your chances?

Baccarat Strategy: Example

As we stated at the top of this article, in baccarat, it is always better to learn how to walk before you try to run. Of course, you probably want to jump into the deep end. This is not advisable, as, in order for a player to use any type of strategy, they must know the basics.

Considering this, we have provided an example of a popular baccarat strategy out there to satisfy your curiosity. This is explained in basic terms and is indicative of how some seasoned players approach a round of baccarat.

The 1-3-2-6 System

This is a very basic progressive gambling system which is somewhat similar to the famous Paroli system used in games such as roulette. The 1-3-2-6 baccarat system involves increasing and decreasing the unit size of your bet. If one unit is $10, the sequence would be $10, $30, $20, and $60.

In this system, the first step is to place a bet of one unit. If this hand wins, you up your bet to three units. Then, if you win again, you decrease the bet size down to two units, before raising it to six (providing you won the third time). When you have successfully completed all four steps, you return to a one-unit bet and can start the process again.

A loss at any stage of these four steps will require the player to go back to the first step (a one-unit bet). Regardless of if you have had one, two, or three successful bets in a row, your next bet will be one unit.

The 1-3-2-6 system will pay according to the following steps. For the purpose of this example, one unit is $10:

  •         The first win is on a bet of $10. This pays $10 (win) and $10 (returned stake)
  •         The second win is on a bet of $30. This pays $30 (win) and $30 (returned stake)
  •         The third win is on a bet of $20. This pays $20 (win) and $20 (returned stake)
  •         The fourth win is on a bet of $60. This pays $60 (win) and $60 (returned stake)

As you can see from the points above, a successful run of four wins will return $120.

Does the 1-3-2-6 System Work?

It might work for some but not others. Fundamentally, you need luck to go your way. One reason why progressive betting strategies and systems don’t really work as well in baccarat is due to commission. For bets on the banker’s hand, all wins are subject to a 5% commission, as we mentioned above.

When broken down, these strategies require luck to go your way. Hypothetically, you could win more on random, impulsive bets than you might when using a system. While the strategy may help some players when playing baccarat, there is no system which has been proven to beat the house edge. If any existed, casinos would have to find another way of raising their advantage over players, or they would go out of business.


Baccarat is a game with many charms. Once considered as a game played only by the gambling elite (and, erm, James Bond), there is no doubt that baccarat is open to one and all. The mystery surrounding the game makes it very appealing to some. The majority of baccarat enthusiasts may be attracted by the low house edge, however. Nonetheless, it is an easy and very enjoyable game to play.

In baccarat, there are only a small number of bets to be made. As such, rules can be learned very easily. The laws dictating how the game should be played will differ according to the version played, but fundamentally, there are only minor differences.

Punto Banco is certainly the most popular version played in North America and the UK, while casinos in Monte Carlo tend to focus more on Chemin-de-Fer. However, you should find both of these versions – in addition to a few others – in most casinos, especially online.

While there are many players who swear by strategies and systems in baccarat, the truth is, there is no guaranteed way to win. Why, you might ask? Well, baccarat is, quite simply, a game of luck.