A Guide to Baccarat & Where to Play Online
Baccarat is a game of chance popular all over Europe. To play, cards are dealt by a banker, and participants wager on the player, the banker, or a tie prior to the start of the game.
It's believed that Baccarat originated in Italy before spreading across the continent. Your first encounter with the game may have been while watching a James Bond movie. The British super spy has a fondness for playing Baccarat while in the casinos of Monte Carlo.
It's easy to master and engaging game. You simply place a bet on either the player or the banker.
It’s almost impossible to not love baccarat; especially if you're not good at math. Unlike other casino games, there is no need to make mathematical calculations that can sway the outcome. In essence, Baccarat is a decorated card version of a coin toss with many rituals and a little bit of pomp.
The Different Versions of Baccarat
Over the years, many versions of baccarat have emerged with Chemin de Fer, American, Punto Banco, and Mini-Baccarat being the favorites. These versions can be played both in-person and online.
Chemin de Fer
This nonbanking version of the game gained its popularity in France and remained famous until it was outlawed in 1837. Chemin de Fer is not often found in Canada, but it's often played in France, as well as much of Europe.
Six decks of cards are used for this variation of baccarat. One of the players becomes the Banker, taking the responsibility of dealing with the cards. The remaining players place bets.
Developed in Argentina during the 1950s, Punto Banco hit the Las Vegas Strip in 1959. Punto Banco is also known as American baccarat.
Punto Banco is presented as a glamorous, high-roller game played in an exclusive, often roped-off section of the casino floor. Often, the minimum wager is $100, but at some casinos, the minimum wager is a high-rolling $500. This variation is often played using 8 decks, but sometimes only 6 are used.
According to some calculations, 8-deck baccarat comes with a 1.24% house edge on player bet, 1.06% on the Banker bet, and 14.36% on the tie bet. But with 6 decks, the house edges on a Banker or Player wager remaining the same but rises slightly to 14.44% on a tie wager.
The most popular version by far is Mini Baccarat. One of the main differences is this version is played with only 7 players on a small table. Unlike other versions of Baccarat, players never deal with the cards. However, what makes this version especially attractive is its lower wagers compared to its traditional counterpart.
Baccarat is a game of chance. There is no strategy that you can devise that will change this. Winning is due to pure luck. However, a deep understanding of the odds, rules, and probabilities of the game, can increase your chances of walking away as a winner.
How to Play Baccarat
Choose a table and buy your chips. Usually using a 6-deck shoe or an 8-card deck, Baccarat cards have straightforward point values. Aces are worth one, cards 2 through 9 are worth their face value, but 10s and face cards are worth zero
At the start of the game, you wager on the Banker, the Player, or a tie. Regardless of where you play, you also have other options for side bets that often come with lousy odds.
No matter the number of players, only 2 hands are played and each hand is only dealt 2 cards to kick things off. Depending on the first two cards dealt, the dealer may pull a third card. A set of rules determines whether or not the Banker or the Player or Banker is dealt a third card. The moment a player draws a third card, a new set of guidelines (also explained below) dictates the moves for the rest of the game.
The next moves might be confusing but don’t worry. Whether or not you understand what’s going on doesn't matter, since the odds are equal either way. In the game of baccarat, the player only needs to decide whether to place a bet on the Player or the Banker.
Ultimately, the hand with the highest score wins. If the Banker and the Player both have the same score, it’s a tie. In that case, you’ll get your bet back but no one wins. But, if you took a chance and bet on a tie, you get your stake back plus the winnings.
Baccarat Strategy - Online Casino Gems
Gamblers are always seeking out ways to gain an edge over the casino. In a few cases, this is possible. However, like any casino game, Baccarat has no sure-fire winning strategy. As a matter of fact, the house edge is the same no matter which approach you take. Keeping that in mind, let’s dive into some strategies that might help you place a winning bet.
The most popular strategy most baccarat players use is called bet tracking. Payers do this by figuring out whether the Player or the Banker is winning most often. Bet tracking is so common that casinos often give Players pencils and scorecards to keep track of the trends.
Most players who use this strategy either use the information on their card to determine if an outcome on one side is overdue or, they could try riding a hot streak. For instance, players riding hot streaks might notice that the Player has won 4 times in a row, and bet on the Player one more time to ride the streak.
Another strategy is raising or lowering wagers based on previous wins and losses. This is called the Martingale System.
How does the Martingale System work in baccarat?
First, place a bet. If you win, celebrate. But if you lose, double the amount of your last bet. For example, if you bet $20 the first time, and win, you’ll bet $20 on your second bet. But, if you lose on your first bet, your second bet will be $40.
The One-Sided Strategy
The one-sided is another simple Baccarat which basically involves betting on one side, either the Player or the Banker, and continuously keep this up until you’ve lost 3 times. After losing three times, stop. Don't start betting again until your chosen side starts winning again. If you go with the one-sided strategy, set a win limit, so you will know when to quit playing.
Odds refer to the likelihood of a gambler winning or losing a bet against the house. Baccarat has the least house advantage of any casino game. The house advantage on the Banker is 1.06% and on the Player bet it's 1.36%. For tie bets, the casino advantage is a whopping 14.4%. Both casual players and high rollers love Baccarat, because of this low house edge.
A player’s chances of winning and losing are 44.62% and 45.85%, respectively. The odds of holding a hand ending in a tie are 9.53%. Excluding the possibility of a tie, the Banker’s odds of winning are tipped slightly in their favor at 51%.
Other estimates indicate that the Banker wins a little over half (50.68%) of all non-tie bets. This means that the Player wins 49.32% of the time. Assuming you place a $100 bet, expect to win 49.32% and lose 50.68%. If you subtract these two percentages, the difference is 1.32% which is the advantage the casino has over your wager.
To calculate the Banker odds, let’s assume once again, you bet $100. Subtracting the 5% commission to the house that gets shaved off the top of your winnings, you win 0.95 for each credit you wager. Since the Banker has a 50.68% chance of winning, multiply this by 0.95 to get 48.15. As previously mentioned, the player will probably lose 49.32% of all wagers. Subtracting 48.15% from 49.32%, you get 1.17% for the house advantage on Banker bets.
Rules to Stay on Top of Your Baccarat Game
Playing Baccarat is simple, and the game has only one objective; to bet on the most likely winner.
The goal of Baccarat is to bet on whether the Player of the Dealer will be dealt cards adding up to the highest amount. However, if you look a little deeper into the finer points of the game brought up by both pros and beginning players, you’ll find that Baccarat involves a lot more.
Before you can devise a winning baccarat strategy, you need to understand the rules of the game. The good news is, Baccarat rules are simple and straightforward. They are as follows:
- You can place one of three available wagers: the Player’s hand, the Banker’s Hand, or a Tie. You win if your wager matches the outcome.
- To kick off the game, both the Player and the Banker are dealt 2 cards.
- Neither the Player nor the Banker can call to be dealt a third card. Whether or not to deal with a third card is decided based on the rules of Baccarat. If you are playing Baccarat online, the software will deal with a third card spontaneously when necessary.
- Face cards and tens have a value of zero. Aces equal one, and all other cards equal their face value.
- When calculating the values of the cards, only the last digit counts if the cards add up to a double-digit. For example, 11 counts as 1.
- The hand that adds up closest to 9 wins.
Quite a few players predict their possibilities based on previous outcomes. Others use different betting strategies. Keep in mind, both logic and superstition can influence the game. There are also rules for using scoreboards and dealing cards.
First, we'll look at card values and hands.
What Are the Card Values in Baccarat?
Face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) and tens count as zero. Aces count as 1 and the rest of the cards count as their face value 2 to 9.
As previously noted, the total value of the hand should add up to 9 or less. That means, 10 is subtracted if the value of the hand adds up to more than 9. For example, if you’re holding a hand that is made up of 4 – 5 – 6 the total would be 5 ((4+5+6)-10). A total of 8 or 9 is referred to as natural.
The action always takes place on the Player's hand first. At first, the Player is dealt 2 cards, which are turned face up by the dealer to display the card's value. If the first two cards total between 0 to 5, a third card is dealt.
If the player gets a “natural” hand, that automatically beats any Banker’s hand, except 8 or 9. For example, if the Player’s hand adds up to 8 and the Banker’s adds up to 9, the Banker wins, and vice-versa. While the house holds an edge of 1.24% over the Player’s hand, the payout is 1:1.
Just like the Player, the Banker is also dealt a hand of 2 cards. If the total value of the two Banker's cards equals 7, 8, or 9, a third card is not dealt. Depending on the total of the Player’s cards, the banker's cards can total up to 4, 5, or 6.
You don't need to remember all these numbers because the dealer will do all the work; they will also do all of the hits. Knowledgeable Baccarat players believe that the Banker has a slight advantage since those cards are dealt second. Also, the Banker's hand is considered to have a slightly lower house edge.
What Are the Rules for Dealing Extra Cards?
Sometimes, extra cards are dealt with either the Player's or the Banker's hand. Undoubtedly, these complex rules add to the mystery surrounding Baccarat, adding an extra layer of complexity to mystify the players.
When Is a Third Card Dealt?
If the Player’s first 2 cards equal 6, 7, 8, or 9, no extra card is dealt. However, there are times when the dealer can deal another card, placing it on the field marked “Banco”.
If the first 2 cards in the Banker’s hand totals 3 and the Player’s third card is not an 8, the Banker draws an extra card. If the banker’s first 2 cards add up to 6 and the Player’s third card is 6 or 7, then the banker is dealt another card.
Also, if the Banker's first two cards add up to 4 and the Player’s third card ranges between 4 and 7, the Banker is dealt another card. If the Player is not dealt a third card (the player has 6 or more points), the Banker stands on 6.
Betting on the Banker
Pure baccarat mathematics indicates that the odds of a Banker’s hand winning are a little bit higher than the Player having a winning hand. You might be baffled since the cards are dealt at random. But, the advantage comes from the rules that define if a third card will be dealt with.
Keep in mind that the rules that decide whether a third card is dealt are rather burdensome. However, all these rules should explained somewhere on the casino website. Also, the rules that apply the Player are not the same as those that apply to the Banker.
The rules governing the Banker’s hand factor in the first two cards, and whether the Player has been dealt a third card. These rules add to the slight advantage of the Banker. Thus, over the long term, the banker has a higher probability of winning more hands.
Betting on the Player
There are several unique reasons to bet on the player. The biggest reason is that you can walk away with all of your winnings right after the results are declared. For example, if you wager $50 and win, you will get your original amount back and receive an extra $50 (amount won).
Most of the time, if you win by betting on the Banker, you’ll need to hand over a 5% commission on your winnings to the casino. In this case, you’ll receive an extra $47.50. This is why a winning bet placed on the Player rakes in more than a winning wager on the Banker.
Betting on a Tie
As with the Player and Banker bets, a bet on a tie has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the biggest benefit is a far greater payout. In fact, the payout for a Baccarat tie in most games is 8 to 1. To illustrate if you bet $100 on a tie, you’ll get your $100 back plus $800 on top.
One major pitfall of betting on a tie is the odds. Statistics show that ties happen in less than 15% of Baccarat hands that are dealt. In essence, if you wager on a tie for 100 hands, you will likely lose 85 hands and win 15.
Despite the statistics, actual games don’t always work out as you might think. You could play 100 hands and win 92 tie wagers. But most of the time, gamblers bet on a tie and win by sheer luck.
Online Baccarat – Online Casino Gems
The fast-growing online casino industry allows gamblers to play baccarat anywhere they have an internet connection. Gambling online has several benefits. When it comes to Baccarat, the table layout is pretty much the same as Mini Baccarat; the table is divided into three betting sections, the Player, the Banker, and a tie.
Depending on the casino you belong to, you could be able to place side bets on Baccarat. But unlike live baccarat at a casino, where you can interact with the dealer and other players, in online baccarat, it will just be you and a virtual dealer.
The Best Online Casinos to Play Baccarat
If you are a gambling veteran, you’ll likely know the names of the following online casinos. But, if you're new to online casinos, be sure to go over each offer before selecting a casino. Winning at Baccarat often starts with signing up at a casino with a generous welcoming bonus.
This award-winning online casino is a top choice for those who love playing baccarat online. The range of games offered means experts and beginners can find a game that suits their playing ability. Also, Baccarat Seven Seats and Mini-Baccarat games provide a “no commission” option, making this a good choice for beginners.
- Jackpot City
Offering bonuses that are too tempting to ignore, Jackpot City is a player's favorite. Aside from offering some superb baccarat games, this online casino gifts new players a hefty $1,600 welcome bonus!
- Unibet Casino
This online casino stands out for not only offering a huge sign-up bonus but also, some of the cheapest bets online. Wagers at Unibet Casino start at just $0.12 and new players are eligible to receive a 200% signup bonus.
- Party Casino
Home t the best-known online poker sites, Party Casino also live streams a unique range of table games from the Dragonara Casino on the island of Malta. Their live dealers are very friendly and are experienced with dealing with rookie players.
What to Look for in an Online Casino When Playing Baccarat
- Fairness and Security
If there’s one thing you need to be sure about, when gambling online, the safety of your data and money must be guaranteed. Figure out whether a casino is SSL encrypted to secure your personal information. Finally, check to see if the online casino is licensed and audited by a third party for fairness.
- Quality of Games and Software
Outstanding online baccarat casinos feature an array of licensed games, including live dealer games. A casino with a robust selection of live dealer games, slots games, and automated table games from respectable gaming developers is a positive sign.
Moreover, a great online baccarat casino should be optimized for different screen sizes and devices. The games must run seamlessly on all types of devices. If the site has an app, it must be compatible and fully functional with your devices.
- Customer Support
Unsure of the rules of online baccarat? Not sure if the random number generators (RNGs) are really as random as the casino makes them out to be? This is where customer support can help you. Keep in mind, some online casinos only offer support for certain hours during the day. Maybe their support operates when you are caught up with other day-to-day duties, or slacking off. This is why choosing an online casino that offers 24/7 support is important.
Tending to the needs of the players should be the #1 priority for any reputable casino. An online casino should provide its users with great customer service via email, chat, and phone calls.
Bonuses are there to pad your bankroll, and possibly even your winnings. Regular, generous bonuses are offered by the best casinos. Look for regular promotions, and perks for frequent players, and a VIP club with very special rewards.
- A Range of Betting Limits
A great online casino should offer limits that appeal to both casual players and high rollers. Nothing hurts a casual gambler more than signing up only to find that the casino has little to offer to players on a budget.