Learning how to play Baccarat doesn’t take long, and when you have done so you’ll be able to participate in what is widely considered to be one of the most elegant card games that you can play in a casino.
How much of that reputation of elegance is due to the fact that the game was a favorite of British secret agent James Bond in the novels penned by Ian Fleming, we aren’t sure. What we do know is that Baccarat is easy to learn and has an attractively low house edge, which means you’ll have a great chance of winning if you also have a little luck on your side.
We'll start this guide on how to play Baccarat by telling you that Baccarat is a card game in which a Player and a Banker aim to get a total as close to 9 as possible. Picture cards and 10s have no value, Aces count as 1, and all other cards have their face value. When you begin, two cards will be dealt to each of the Player and the Banker. A third card may then be dealt to one or both of those hands, depending on their initial totals.
Whether or not the Player or Banker receives a third card is determined strictly by the rules of the game. It is not something for the Player or Banker to decide of their own accord. Because of this, neither the Player nor the Banker can influence the outcome of the game. They can simply play things out according to the rules.
This being the case, it is also important to note that you aren't personally trying to beat the Banker. Instead, you simply bet on whether the Player or the Banker hand will win, or whether the hand will result in a Tie.
Baccarat was a table game at land-based casinos long before the internet was around. And it continues to be something of a traditional offering at brick-and-mortar establishments. However, it isn't available at every land-based casino, so if you want to guarantee yourself some Baccarat action, you are probably better off playing online.
You can read our reviews of online operators by visiting our online casinos page. However, don't forget that different states have different rules about which casinos can and can't operate within their boundaries, so your own choice may be more limited. Our state pages will allow you to see what gambling laws apply in your own location. Some of the online casinos that we are always happy to recommend are highlighted below.
For the purposes of this guide to how to play Baccarat, we will assume that you are playing the game at an online casino, where Punto Banco rules are normally adhered to. Under these rules, the casino plays the hands of both the Player and the Banker. Therefore, your only task is to bet on the outcome.
Punto Banco rules are also most common at land-based casinos these days. However, there are still a few casinos scattered around the world that allow players to act as Player or Banker, as described in the Ian Fleming novels mentioned earlier. Fortunately, the principles are much the same. Knowing how to play Baccarat online will therefore be useful no matter where you play.
Baccarat is played using a standard deck of 52 playing cards. However, cards will be dealt from a shoe containing six to eight decks in total. When you launch the game you will be presented with a table layout that gives you three betting areas. One is for betting on the Player, one is for betting on the Banker, and the other is for betting on the Tie.
You can bet on whatever outcome you want by placing casino chips to the desired amount in the corresponding area. For example, to bet $10 on the Player you would put a $10 casino chip in the Player area.
When you have placed your bet, two cards will be dealt to each of the Player and the Banker. As we said earlier, the aim is for a hand to get as close to 9 as possible. An Ace counts as 1 and picture cards and 10s count as 0. All other cards have their face value.
If a hand has two cards that total more than 9, their values are added together and only the second digit of that total is used to score the hand. For example, if the Player is dealt a pair of 8s, that total would be 16, so the hand would be worth 6, which is the second digit of 16.
Should the Player or Banker receive a total of 8 or 9 with the first two cards, the hand is deemed a 'natural'. In this case, the natural hand automatically wins, unless the other hand is also a natural of the same value, in which case a Tie is declared.
Assuming that neither the Player nor Banker receives a natural, a third card may or may not be drawn. The drawing of cards proceeds according to strict rules which are more elaborate for the Banker than for the Player.
Here are the rules for the Player hand:
|Player Hand Total||Rule|
|0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10||A third card is drawn.|
|6 or 7||Player stands.|
|8 or 9||Natural|
The rules for the Banker hand are tied not only to the Banker hand total but also to whether or not the Player drew a third card. If the Player did draw a card, the card draw will also influence the outcome, as you can see below:
|Banker Hand Total||Player's Third Card||Rule|
|0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5||No third card drawn.||A third card is drawn.|
|6 or 7||No third card drawn.||Banker stands.|
|0, 1, 2, 3, 4||2 or 3||A third card is drawn.|
|5, 6, 7||2 or 3||Banker stands.|
|0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5||4 or 5||A third card is drawn.|
|6 or 7||4 or 5||Banker stands.|
|0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6||6 or 7||A third card is drawn.|
|7||6 or 7||Banker stands.|
|0, 1, 2||8||A third card is drawn.|
|3, 4, 5, 6, 7||8||Banker stands.|
|0, 1, 2, 3||9, 10, Picture, Ace||A third card is drawn.|
|4, 5, 6, 7||9, 10, Picture, Ace||Banker stands.|
This all looks rather complicated, but don't forget that the decisions are made automatically. You as the player don't need to do anything other than place the initial bet and allow the hands to play out according to the rules presented above. In other words, playing Baccarat is much easier than most people ever dare to imagine!
When both hands have been played out, their totals are compared. If the outcome that you bet on has taken place, your bet will win.
Now that you know how to play Baccarat, you may be interested to know that many games also allow you to place side bets, particularly at land-based casinos. If you're the type of person who wants to play Baccarat because of its famously low house edge, you'll want to avoid such side bets at all costs, because they're better for the casino than they are for you. Of course, if you simply want to live a little and take an additional risk for the chance of getting a bigger reward, here are the side bets you're most likely to come across:
This side bet is only available in games played with eight decks. It requires you to bet that there will be a pair dealt within the first two cards dealt to either the Player or Banker. The house edge on this side bet for baccarat is 4.2%.
For bigger odds, you can bet specifically on the Banker being dealt a pair. Or specifically on the Player being dealt a pair.
Perfect Pair wagers require more than just a pair being dealt to either the Banker or the Player. Here you are betting that this pair will also be of the same suit.
Not all Baccarat games will offer these additional pair bets, but when they do, the table will have spaces dedicated to Banker, Player, Perfect, and Pair. To place your bet on your choice of these, you just need to move your chips to the correct zone on the table.
Payouts on Pairs and Perfect Pairs differ from casino to casino. However, the most common payouts are as follows:
A Royal Match bet is a wager on either the Banker or the Player being dealt a suited or an unsuited King and Queen within their first two cards. As you have probably guessed, this side bet pays a higher rate for suited than it does for unsuited.
For instance, a suited King and Queen pays out at 75:1, while an unsuited King and Queen pays 30:1. This bet has a house edge of 2.13%.
These are bets on the total number of cards that will be dealt in a hand. We know that the minimum number of cards in a game of Baccarat is four. This is because two cards are always dealt to the Player and another two to the Banker.
A bet on Small is a bet that there will be four cards in the hand. This will pay out at odds of 3:2 and has a house edge of 5.27%.
A bet on Big is a bet that there will be five or six cards in the hand. This will pay out at odds of 2:1 and has a house edge of 4.35%.
In Baccarat, cards are dealt in accordance with strict rules, and you as a player don't get to make any decisions personally. That being the case, Baccarat is really a game of pure chance. This means that there is no strategy that will increase your chances of winning in any way.
Having said that, there are strategic measures that may help you to have a more successful session. These are primarily related to bet choice and betting, and can be summarized as follows:
While the Player and Banker bets each have a wonderfully low house edge (1.24% and 1.09%, respectively) the Tie bet has a house edge of more than 14%.
The Player and Banker bets pay roughly the same to winners, but that is only due to the commission charged on the latter. The Banker bet has the lowest house edge and is, therefore, the bet to focus on.
Although you could bet your entire session bank on a single hand, doing so is probably not the best way to approach this game. Instead, consider dividing your session bank into ten or twenty separate bets so that you get to enjoy more time at the table.
We have discussed side bets in this article so that you know how they work when you come across them. However, because they give the house a greater edge, we would advise you to avoid making side bets unless you are playing purely for the experience and you really do care whether or not you win.
Baccarat can be a lot of fun, so make sure you create space in your schedule to enjoy it fully. This is an elegant game that is meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, so settle down with your favorite beverage and take your time.
Baccarat is a card game that allows you to bet on which of two hands will win, or on both hands being tied.
Playing Baccarat is a simple matter of betting on whether a given hand will result in a win for the Player, a win for the Banker, or a Tie.
Baccarat is actually a game of pure luck because you as a player won’t have any decisions to make apart from what outcome you want to bet on. For that reason, there is nothing you can do to improve your chances of winning except keep your fingers crossed for some good luck!
Baccarat can be played at both land-based and online casinos.
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