Baccarat is an excellent casino game for beginners. It doesn’t require any previous experience and a new player can play the game just as well as any seasoned baccarat pro out there.
There are three popular baccarat versions played right now. The most popular of these is punto banco, which is also known as North American baccarat. The name punto banco means player banker and that’s because gamblers are backing either the Player or the Banker side of the table to win.
In addition to punto banco, baccarat chemin de fer and baccarat banque are also quite popular around the world. If you have read the James Bond novels, you probably know that the chemin de fer baccarat version is Bond’s favourite casino game.
Having said this, the most popular baccarat variant right now is punto banco and almost all online and land-based casinos offer it. For these reasons, we are only going to explain how this version of baccarat works here.
The name punto banco – player banker says it all when it comes to how baccarat is played. Basically, gamblers are betting that either the Player or the Banker side of the table will have the stronger hand. In addition to these two outcomes, there is also a third one that players can bet on and that’s the Tie option.
Now, one important thing that you should remember here is that there is no connection between the casino player and the Player side of the table and the dealer and the Banker side of the table.
This confuses many baccarat beginners, but Player and Banker are only the two outcomes that you are betting on. They might as well have been called outcome 1 and outcome 2.
Now that we have cleared this up, we can move to the actual rules of baccarat. The point of each game of baccarat is to back the side which is closest to 9. This is actually the total sum of the two or three cards that have been dealt.
In baccarat, cards from 2 to 9 are counted at their face value. This means 2 is worth 2, 5 is worth 5 and 9 is worth 9. Face cards, on the other hand, are counted as 0. This means that 10, jack, queen, and king are all worth 0. Lastly, in baccarat, the ace is worth 1 and joker cards are not used.
When each hand starts, both the player and the banker get two cards. If one of the sides gets a total sum of the two cards equalling 8 or 9, the hand finishes and the winner is called. These hands are called naturals.
This means that if the Player side of the table gets a 2 and a 7, while the Banker side gets two 3s, the Player side wins instantly. This is because the player has a total of 9 (2+7) and the Banker a total of 6 (3+3).
Similarly, if the Player side gets a 10 and an 8, while the Banker side gets a king and a queen, the Player wins again. This is due to the fact that the Player side totals 8 (0+8) and the Banker side has 0 (0+0) because face cards have a value of 0 in baccarat.
However, you are now probably wondering what happens when two 8s or an 8 and a 7 are dealt. In these situations baccarat players should add up the two cards together and then subtract 10 from the final result.
For example if the Player side gets a 5 and a 9, the total is 4 (9+5-10). Similarly, if the Banker gets a 7 and an 8, the total is 5 (7+8-10).
So let’s say the Player side gets two 9s, while the Banker side gets a king and an 8. In this scenario, the Player has a total of 8 (9+9-10) and the Banker also has a total of 8 (0+8). This means that the outcome here is a Tie.
As we said earlier, the game finishes immediately when there is a natural winner with a total of 8 or 9. However, these natural win scenarios happen only once in a while. In all other situations, it is vital that players understand the more intricate baccarat rules.
3rd Card Rules
And nothing is more intricate than the 3rd card rule in baccarat. This rule stipulates that the Player and Banker sides can get a third card only when they have a certain total. The Player is always the first to get that 3rdcard, but only if the Player side qualifies for another card.
To be eligible for a third card the player must have an initial total of 0 to 5. If the player has a total of 6 or 7 after the first two cards have been dealt, the Player stands. To stand means not to get another card and to remain with the two which have already been dealt.
The Banker side of the table, on the other hand, has to wait to see what happens on the Player side first to know what to do next. If the Player side stands, meaning has a total of 6 or 7, then the Banker draws a card if his two-card total was 0-5. If it was 6 or 7 the Banker also stands.
Things get complicated once the Player gets a third card and the Banker has to act according to it. We are going to list the possible scenarios here, but bear in mind that they are quite complex.
However, even if you don’t know the rules when you play, you shouldn’t worry. Dealers always inform players of what will happen next and if that’s not enough, you can always consult the 3rd card rules found on the table.
So in case you were wondering how the Banker would react to the Player’s 3rd card, wonder no more. Here are the rules that most casinos have for the 3rd card in baccarat:
- Banker has a total of 2 or less – Banker draws a 3rd card (regardless of Player’s 3rd card);
- Banker has a total of 3 – Banker draws a 3rd card (unless the Player’s 3rd card was an 8);
- Banker has a total of 4 – Banker draws a 3rd card if the Player’s 3rd card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7;
- Banker has a total of 5 – Banker draws a 3rd card if the Player’s 3rd card was 4, 5, 6, 7.
- Banker has a total of 6 – Banker draws a 3rd card when Player’s 3rd card was 6 or 7;
- Banker has a total of 7 – Banker stands.
Once again, these are quite complex and most baccarat players don’t know them by heart. If you are not sure when a 3rd card is drawn, the dealer will be there to help you out.
Baccarat Bets and Payouts
There are three possible bets which can be made in baccarat. You can back the Player side to win. This pays even money, which means that for every $1 you bet, you would get another $1 in winnings.
The second option is the Banker bet. This one also pays even money, but comes with a 5% casino commission. This means you are not quite betting at evens, but it’s pretty close to that.
Finally, there is also a Tie bet, which pays out the most. If you back that the Tie outcome will occur you will get odds of 8-to-1 at most casinos. This means that for every $1 you stake, you will get $8 as winnings.
Baccarat Odds and Probabilities
Baccarat is the first choice for many casino goers not just because it is easy, but also because it comes with some super-low casino edges. This is especially true for the Player and Banker bets.
Let’s look at the edges a casino has over players in an 8-deck baccarat game:
- Betting on the Player comes with 24% edge;
- Betting on the Banker comes with a 06% edge;
- Betting on Tie comes with a 4% edge.
The Player’s edge is slightly higher than the Banker’s edge, but when you factor in the casino commission you would have to pay on the Banker bet, they become quite similar.
Comparing these minuscule edges of around 1% with one-zero or two-zero roulette edges shows you just how favourable these baccarat odds actually are.
For instance, one-zero roulette games such as European and French Roulette come with a 2.7% edge, while double zero American Roulette comes with a higher margin of 5.26%.
However, if the Player and Banker bets come with minimal edges, that definitely cannot be said about the Tie option. This is because the Tie outcome comes with an edge of 14.4% which is one of the highest casino edges out there.
Baccarat comes with many advantages especially if you are a new player. The first and most obvious one is that you don’t need any previous experience to be a good baccarat player.
This is because, unlike table games such as blackjack, to be good at baccarat you only need a healthy dose of luck. This means that you, as a new player, can join a table which has baccarat veterans on it and still have the same chances of winning as them.
Another thing which appeals to most baccarat beginners is the fact that baccarat comes with low deposit limits. This is especially true of online baccarat variants in which you can play a hand for next to nothing.
Lastly, baccarat is also great as it comes with some super-low casino edges. Ask any experienced casino player what it takes to have a profitable casino endeavour and he will point you to games with low edges. This is especially true if you are looking to remain in good financial standing over the long run.
One of the disadvantages of baccarat is that it doesn’t enable players to utilize their previous knowledge of the game.
Sure, you will see many players taking record of which side won the hand for the previous 20, 30 or 50 rounds, but, in all likelihood, none of that knowledge matters. It’s as useful as keeping track of which side a coin will land on.
To make lots of money at baccarat, you need a little bit of luck and a nice winning streak to give you some breathing room in case the tables turn later on. If anyone else tells you otherwise, they are either lying or engaging in some illegal baccarat behaviour.
Baccarat is an excellent game if you enter a casino for the first time, but want to have the same winning opportunities as other more experienced players. This is because to win in baccarat you need luck and not much else.
This simplicity is what makes baccarat such a popular proposition with players, but limits it to some extent when it comes to playing with a certain strategy.
However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that baccarat also comes with some of the lowest edges you can find in a casino. Backing the Player or Banker side can be very profitable and with a bit of luck can even make baccarat players quite a lot of money too.