The age-old gambling game baccarat is also often known as Punto Banco. Although not technically the exact same games, the names are now used interchangeably for the same game. Although we don't see it as often as other casino games in both our land-based and online casinos, it is secretly the most popular casino game in the world.
That's because it is mega-popular in Asia. In Macau, for example, baccarat tables actually make up the majority of all gaming tables. To give you an idea, as of 2014, 91% of the total revenue of casinos in Macau comes from Punto Banco!
We'll be explaining as much as possible about this unique card game in this article. Not only the baccarat game rules will be discussed, but also the betting possibilities, card values, scoring, and payout will be covered.
We will also conclude with handy baccarat strategies and tips so that the next time you sit down at a Punto Banco or Baccarat table you can get the most out of your game. However, if you still feel like getting more information after you finish reading, you can visit this page and you can even find free baccarat online on the same site.
Baccarat elitist? Not at all!
Maybe it's the name, the history, or James Bond whose favorite game chemin de fer (a baccarat variation) always exudes glamour and wealth, but baccarat still often sounds a bit elitist and complicated to new players. Like a game with complicated rules and scoring.
In the world of 007, it was perhaps a game for the elite, but nowadays it is played by everyone, from high to low, offline and online. It turns out to be much easier to play than anyone initially thinks.
What is baccarat?
Officially, of the game baccarat, there are three widely known game variations, namely baccarat chemin de fer, baccarat banque or baccarat deux tables and punto banco (also called North American baccarat).
The latter is the baccarat version we most often encounter in online casinos. The main difference between punto banco and the other baccarat versions is that punto banco is vastly simplified.
In punto banco, the casino is always the dealer and is the only baccarat version where you can bet on a tie. Over time, however, these names have become a bit mixed up and nowadays you will find baccarat tables especially in online casinos that actually play punto banco.
For convenience, therefore, we will stick with the name baccarat.
What is the purpose of baccarat?
The ultimate goal of the game is simpler than simple. You have to bet on who you think is going to score 9 points or as close to it as possible, the bank or the player. Since this is basically punto banco you can also bet on a draw.
Baccarat game rules
The basic baccarat game rules are simple. Players may bet on the outcome of the hand. In online baccarat, you can bet on three different possibilities:
- victory for the bank
- victory for the player
- a tie
How to put in
On the table, you will see three betting areas marked 'PLAYER', 'BANK' or TIE. You bet on whoever you think is going to win, the 'player' or 'banker', if you think it will be a tie you bet on 'tie', or you spread your bets over two or even all three betting options.
Explanation of baccarat card values
Baccarat is generally played with 6 or 8 sticks of cards, even in an online casino, only there everything is shuffled again digitally after each round of play.
The value of the cards is extremely simple:
- The 2 through 9 have the value of the card
- The ace counts for 1
- The 10, jack, queen and king are worth 0
If you have bet on 'player' and he also wins then you get paid 1:1. So with a $10 bet you get $20 back ($10 from your bet and $10 profit).
If you bet on the 'banker' and he wins, you also get paid 1:1 but the casino collects 5% commission. So with a $10 bet you get $19.50 back ($10 from your stake and $10 - 5% = $9.50 profit).
A winning bet on a tie yields 8:1. So on a $10 bet, you get $90 back ($10 off your bet and $80 profit).
The course of Baccarat game
The course of the baccarat game is as follows. First, players place their bets.
The dealer then deals two cards face down to the player and then two to the bank. Then first the two cards for the player are turned over and only than the one for the bank. Now the score of both hands is determined.
If one of the two wins with a 'natural' 8 or 9 or it is a tie then this hand is over. The 'Third Card Rules' (see below) are used to determine who should draw a third card.
The third card(s) is then drawn and the total score is determined.
The one who has 9 or is closest to it wins or it is a tie. If you win, your winnings are paid out and if you lose, your bet is taken by the casino. And then it starts again from the beginning.
Third Card Rules for Player:
- If the total of the first two cards is 0-1-2-3-4-5 then a new card is drawn
- If the total of the first two cards is 6 or 7 then the 'player' passes
- If the total of the player's or banker's first two cards is 8 or 9, no new cards are drawn. The one who is closest to 9 has won. This is called a natural.
Third Card Rules for the bank:
- If the total of the first two cards is 0-1 or 2 then the bank draws a third card regardless of what the player has
- If the total is 3 then the dealer draws a third card unless the player's third card was an 8
- If the total is 4 then the bank draws a third card if the player's total is 2-3-4-5-6 or 7
- If the total is 5 then the bank draws a third card if the player's total is 4-5-6 or 7
- If the total is 6 then the bank draws a third card if the player's total is 6 or 7
- If the total is 7, the bank may not draw a card again
Granted this part is not the simplest part of the game, but the nice thing about playing baccarat online is that you don't have to count and make choices yourself.
If you play the software version it calculates whether a card should be drawn or not and in the case of live casino baccarat the highly skilled and experienced dealer does it for you.
Baccarat side bets
An increasing number of online casinos also allow you to place side bets on the baccarat table. You can bet on either pair, perfect pair, player pair or banker pair - in short, whether a certain pair falls.
But also on other things like '3 Card Wins' or 'Big' or 'Small', 'Dragon Bonus', 'Sum Bonus' or 'Tie bonus'. These side bets seem to make the game more attractive, but because of their often sky-high house edge of often more than 10%, casino veterans often call these 'sucker bets', bets for suckers.
Playing live baccarat in an online casino adds another exciting dimension to the game. In addition to placing your bets, you can often chat with fellow players and even with the dealers. This creates a nice light-hearted atmosphere in which to play.
Whereas with software versions you may want to rush through the game, with live baccarat you are bound to the pace of the dealer.
It takes its time and brings more peace to the game. For those who find it too slow, there is live speed baccarat. This is where the live dealers pick up the pace a bit. Sometimes it goes so fast that I'm glad the live casino software keeps score for me.
In addition, to live speed baccarat, you'll often find live baccarat squeeze, where you can quickly take a look at your cards just like in land-based casinos.
What about live lightning baccarat or live no commission speed baccarat where the 5% commission you pay if the bank wins is waived, but there are slightly different rules for passing and drawing a third card. In short, there is so much live baccarat to play that you really should try it and see why everyone is running away with it.
Playing online baccarat on your mobile or tablet
We are in the midst of the mobile revolution and play more often on our mobile device than on a computer. At least I do.
Online casinos and game developers are doing everything they can to make the games perfectly playable on mobile devices. So you can play baccarat and of course live baccarat on your smartphone or tablet.
All you need is a secure internet connection and enough battery percentage because it's mobile play is very nice. Just open your web browser, log in to your favorite online casino and go.
The first thing to remember when looking for a baccarat strategy is that despite all the patterns one thinks one recognizes, it always remains a game of chance. That said, the baccarat rules ensure that statistically, the bank wins the most often. Hence the 5% commission; after all, the house edge has to come from somewhere. Indeed, the probability of the bank winning is 45.86% and the probability of the player winning is 44, 62%. The probability of a tie is only 9.51%. So the astute among you will see baccarat strategy number 1 right away
Baccarat strategy 1: Never bet on a draw, only the newbies do it
Baccarat strategy 2: It is best to bet on the bank. This one, therefore, has the highest winning chance which even makes up for that 5% commission in the end
Baccarat strategy 3: Don't place side bets. It's just not worth it.
The following are more general gambling and money management strategies
Baccarat strategy 4: Don't bet too high right away, start small and grow into the game.
Baccarat strategy 5: Keep your cool. If you find yourself in a lucky dip and run a few losing streaks, don't get frustrated and keep playing as you always play. If you are forced to win back your losses, you will almost always go wrong.
Baccarat strategy 6: Make use of casino bonuses. These bonuses give you more freedom to play a little longer.
Baccarat strategy 7: Decide in advance how much you are willing to lose at most.
Baccarat Strategy 8: Know when to stop, both in the plus and in the minus. Keep yourself in control in both pros and cons, then you can ultimately enjoy online casinos in general and the baccarat game, in particular, the longest.
Baccarat strategy 9: Take other people's wild gambling stories with a huge grain of salt. Don't let them drive you crazy so that you bet differently than you intended.
Baccarat strategy 10: In traffic, you have the BOB, when you gamble you are the BOG (Consciously Inebriated Gambler). Alcohol and gambling are a bad combo, drink it only after you've stopped playing and start celebrating your winnings. (see below)
Baccarat Strategy 11: My unpatronized "Win and Leave" system works perfectly. Have a nice win, Stop, Log out, Get up, Walk away...and pour yourself your favorite drink to celebrate your win!
Bonus Baccarat Tip: Gambling is entertainment, so enjoy the game and the atmosphere!