How to Play Baccarat
Baccarat is no longer only for high-rollers. You can now find tables on the casino floors of different venues around the country, and can also find this game online. Many of these casinos use the simplified ‘Punto Banco’ rules, which are often also known as ‘Mini Baccarat’. What keeps people interested in this game is the balance between simple betting and a complex drawing system for additional cards. This game has one of the lowest house-edge scores of any casino game, which is a big reason that it attracted the high-rolling players in the first place.
This page takes you through how to play Baccarat from the perspective of a player who is new to the game. First of all the game basics, betting and objectives are covered. After that I have detailed the card-drawing rules. It is not necessary to know these to enjoy the game; however they will add an element of interest to your sessions. At the end of this page some of the bets to avoid at the Baccarat tables are covered.
Baccarat Rules – The Game Setup and Bets
The basic game setup with Baccarat is very simple. There are three main bets and the dealer will organize the cards to see which bet wins. These are ‘Player’, ‘Banker’ and ‘Tie’. The names are historical - you do not need to bet on the player just because you are the player in the game.
The idea is that cards are dealt for the player and banker positions, and the one that gets closer to 9 wins the hand. Bets are then settled based on this. Ties are unusual in this game, and this bet pays much bigger odds than either the player or the banker bets. As it happens the tie bet has a very big house edge, and is best avoided – more on that at the end of the article.
Mathematically, the banker bet will win a little bit more often, which is reflected in the payouts for this bet. The 0.95-to-1 payout may seem strange when you are used to betting in small amounts. Remember that Baccarat is a game for high rollers, and the proportions of their huge bets would have been easier to manage.
Here are the odds:
Banker, winning chance 45.843% - Pays at 0.95-to-1
Player, winning chance 44.615% - Pays at 1-to-1
Tie, winning chance 9.543% - Pays at 8-to-1
This is a simple game from the perspective of the players - it can even be social, with several people winning at the same time. The round ends with the bets being settled, new bets are then placed and the game can begin again.
Baccarat Rules – The Drawing of Cards
This game has some complex rules on when a 3rd card does and does not get drawn.
Points are totaled up so that every time a total goes over 10, the left hand digit is removed. So a total of 10 becomes zero, 14 becomes 4 and so on.
The player hand is dealt first. If the total is 8 or 9 then this is a ‘natural’ and the winner is determined immediately from the player and banker squares without any additional cards drawn. If the player total is 6 or 7 then the player stands and it becomes the banker’s turn to act. If the player score is between zero and 5, then a 3rd card is drawn. This extra card determines the player’s final score, and also determines whether the banker should draw a 3rd card.
Banker draws depend on the 3rd card of the player, in combination with the bankers own total.
This looks quite complicated, though in the casino the dealer will handle everything for you.
Player 3rd Card = 2 or 3: Banker draws with 4 or less, stays with 5+
Player 3rd Card = 4 or 5: Banker draws with 5 or less, stays with 6+
Player 3rd Card = 6 or 7: Banker draws with 6 or less, stays with a 7
Player 3rd Card = 8: Banker draws with 2 or less, stays with 3+
Player 3rd Card = 9+: Banker draws with 3 or less, stays with 4+
Again, this is just for reference. This is actually a very simple and entertaining game from the perspective of the player. You simply bet on your preferred square and wait for the result to come in. When you get a winning streak you’ll know how the high rollers in their private casino rooms once felt.
Baccarat Rules – Size Bets with Bad Odds
The house edge in Baccarat is a little over 1%, which is very low by the standards of most casino games. One way of spoiling this and handing the casino a lot more of your cash is to bet on the ‘Tie’, this has a huge house edge of more than 7%, tantamount to giving away your cash in any casino.
Some games will also have side bets which are independent of the main game. For example whether the player or banker hand will be paired. These bets should also be avoided, as they have a big house advantage built in.