Baccarat is one of the simplest casino games. It is also among casino live games with the lowest house advantage making it popular with high rollers and wise players. Baccarat is very easy to learn.
A Brief History of Baccarat
Baccarat is among the ancient casino games. It dates back to the 14th century when it first emerged in Italy. ‘Baccarat’ is an Italian name which means ‘zero’. There is a good explanation for the name though. In Baccarat, all kings, queens, tens, and jacks have a zero value. It is the same case for any hand that totals ten. For example, a hand of three and seven makes a zero and thus Baccarat.
Throughout the centuries, Baccarat was known as a game of nobility or high rollers. This is mainly because it was usually played by the aristocracy of Europe. However, things changed with the introduction of online casinos in the 1990s. With no hotel or travel expenses, and with low wagering minimus, online Baccarat became accessible to online gaming enthusiasts.
Understanding the game’s terminology will help you understand the rules. In addition to helping you remember Baccarat rules, understanding key phrases will help you feel confident when playing. Here are some of the terms you should understand:
● Baccarat: It refers to the worst hand in a game; a hand that totals to zero.
● Banco/Banker Bet: Betting on either the Player or the dealer (but not a tie)
● Croupier: Casino workers who oversee the betting
● Caller: A croupier who is in charge of cards at a Baccarat table
● Coup: A complete round of Baccarat
● Burning: Discarding the top three to six cards after shuffling and before starting a new game
● Flat Bet: A punter repeatedly wagers the same amount in successive betting rounds
● Laderman: A dealer whose chair is above the Baccarat table to oversee the play
● Le Grande: It refers to the best hand in Baccarat (a natural total of nine)
● La Petite: A hand that totals to eight
● Commission: It is the money a player pays when they bet on the Banker and win
● Loss Bet: It refers to a bet against the bank
● Monkey: It is a slang term used to refer to cards with a value of zero (kings, queens, tens and jack)
● Shoe: A box which holds the playing cards
Baccarat Card Values
In a baccarat game, cards two through nine are worth their face value. Tens and face cards (king, jack and queen) are worth zero. Aces equal one point. Additionally, hand values are slightly different from other games but not complex. The left digit is dropped for any sum that reaches two digits. For instance, a hand consisting of 5 and 7 would be 12, but by dropping the digit on the left, the hand value is 2. In the same way, a hand consisting of 2 and 3 is 5 (no digit to drop in this case). In the case of a hand comprising 5, 7 and 8, the sum is 20, but the hand value is zero (after dropping the left digit). A natural total of 9, referred to as Le Grande, is the best possible score in a game.
How to Play Online Baccarat
Learning to play Baccarat is straightforward. There are only 3 stakeholders in Baccarat game:
● The Banker (the dealer)
● The Player (remember this is not you)
● The bettor (you)
In a Baccarat game, there are only 3 types of bet you can make:
● You can bet on the Player position to win
● You can bet on the Banker position to win
● You can bet on a tie between the Banker and the Player
The winning hand in a game is the one with a hand value closest to nine. Therefore, the aim of the Banker and the Player is to get a hand value of 9 or as close to as possible to 9 and your objective is to predict the position that will win and whether there will be a tie.
Online Baccarat games are normally played with 6 decks of playing cards, but there are some games where 8 decks of playing cards are used. A typical Baccarat game begins with punters betting on the Player position, the Banker position or a tie. The dealer draws 4 cards from the shoe (all of them facing down). The dealer deals the first and third card to the Player’s position and the second and the fourth card to the Banker’s position. Once the cards are on the table, both hands are turned over. If either the player position or the Banker position has a hand value of 8 or 9, the hand is referred to as natural, and no more cards are dealt. The losing bets are collected and the winning bets paid. In case the player position has a hand value of 5 or less; the Player is dealt a third card.
Drawing the third card
Other instances where the dealer may draw a third card include:
● If the Banker's hand is equal to 2 or less, the dealer draws a third regardless of the hand value of the player’s position
● A third card is drawn if the Banker's hand equals 3 and the Player’s third card is not an 8
● If the Banker’s two cards total equals 4, a third card is drawn except if the Player’s third card is a 0,1, 8 or 9.
● If the Banker's hand is 5, a third is drawn if the Player’s third card is not a 4, 5, 6 or 7
● If the Banker hand value is 6, a third card is drawn if the Player’s third card is not a 6 or a 7.
Winning in a Baccarat game
If you place a bet on the Player’s hand and that hand wins, you will get an even money payout - no commission is deducted. For instance, if you had wagered £20 you will get your £20 wager back and an extra £20. If you had bet on the Banker’s hand to win and that hand wins, you will get an even payout minus a 5% commission. In case you had wagered on a tie, and it does occur, you will receive an 8/1 payout. For example, if you had wagered £10 on a tie, you will receive your £10 back and an extra £80.
There are different Baccarat variations found in both land-based and online casinos. They all run along the same line, but they have slight differences in terms of regulations and players participation. The most common Baccarat variations include:
● Chemin de Fer
● American Baccarat/Punto Bunco
● European Baccarat
● Baccarat Banque
Chemin de Fer
It is the most common Baccarat variation. It is also considered the most complex variation, but also the most exciting. Chemin de Fer is mostly popular in Europe. In this game, the casino has very little to do as the Banker’s position is taken over by another player who must also act as the dealer. The dealer is chosen through an auction.
As its name suggests, American Baccarat is most common in America and is just referred to as Baccarat. It is also referred to as Punto Bunco in some parts of the world. American Baccarat is probably the easiest to play. The Player needs just to follow the instructions of the caller. In this variation, the Player isn’t required to know the rules of drawing the third card - the caller will announce if it’s necessary or not. Additionally, the dealer is not the one who chooses whether or not to draw; it all follows the set rules.
There are two major differences between European Baccarat and American Baccarat. In European Baccarat, a player may choose whether to draw on 5 or stand. The Banker can opt to request a third card or not.
Baccarat Banque is the closest Baccarat variation to the original game. In this game, you will require to get as close as possible to a 9. There are 3 decks of cards in a shoe. The bank is dealt one card while the Player is dealt 2 cards and the drawing rules are fully optional.
Baccarat has the lowest house edge compared to other card games such as Blackjack and Roulette, but one thing is clear - there is no betting strategy that will guarantee you sure profits. However, there are useful strategies that can boost your chances of making profits. The most important thing to understand is the odds and bets to make or avoid. The house advantage is as follows:
● Player: 1.36%
● Banker: 1.17%
● Tie: 14.4%
The probabilities of winning are as follows:
- Player: 44.615%
- Banker: 45.843%
- Tie: 9.543%
The Banker Bet
Due to its high odds, the banker bet seems like the most sensible when formulating a winning strategy. It is a reasonable bet since it wins more than half (50%) of the time. This explains the reason why casinos charge a 5% commission on bankers bet. Despite the commission, it is the most preferred bet for beginners and seasoned players. A Banker bet has a great chance for winning streaks. It is therefore recommended that a punter should keep playing a banker bet until it loses. If you choose to switch to Player after a loss, wait for at least one bet before switching.
The Player Bet
Although betting on a Banker is considered to be a better option, things change when you are using a system. Bearing in mind the 5% commission, wagering on the Banker becomes less desirable when you are playing progressions. Assume you are playing Martingale - doubling your betting amount after each loss. After 4 successive losses at a 20-unit wager, you will have lost 300 units (20 + 40 + 80 + 160).
Assuming you bet for the fifth time, and this time you wager 320 units. This time you win and the total payout is 608, i.e. that’s your 320 units stake, plus 320 units win, minus 32 units (5% commission). You will have used 620 units to bet in total. Therefore, you will have lost 12 units due to the commission and the negative progression. If you had a similar betting streak on the Player, you would have won a total of 20 units since there would be no house commission deducted. Thus, the Player bet is considered a better option when using a strategy.
The Tie Bet
Avoiding the tie bet is the first thing towards winning in a Baccarat game. Although Baccarat is a game of chance, betting your money on a bet with 14% house advantage is a poor winning strategy.
Useful Baccarat Tips
- Understand Baccarat rules
Understanding the rules gives you a sense of control when playing online Baccarat. Online casinos are programmed to make decisions in a game automatically. However, understanding the payout and the rules assists you in making proper wagering decisions.
- Have time and betting limits
Baccarat is not a marathon; it’s a fast-paced game. As such punters tend to get wrapped up in action and may end up playing for too long or excessive wagering. You should set a time limit and a bankroll. Once the set time has elapsed, you should at least take a break or call it a day. Once your set bankroll has been used up, it’s time to call it a day.
- Forget the ties
Like we’ve said above, never make a tie bet.
- Play the Banker’s bet
A Banker’s bet will win slightly over half the time.
- Never ignore the streaks
Streaks may sometimes extend beyond reason. If you are playing the Player’s side and the Banker’s side occurs three consecutive times, take a break until the streak is over.
- Never look for patterns
Treat every hand as a separate occurrence.
If there is an online casino that offers the chance to play Baccarat for free, take advantage of such an opportunity to practice.