How To Play Baccarat

Baccarat is played all over the world. It has an enthusiastic following not only in Europe and the Americas but in Asia as well. Among the many variations of the game are Chemin de Fer, Punto Banco, Mini Baccarat, and Midi Baccarat, to name just a few. It offers some of the best odds among all table games found in any casino.

Although the rules of the game may seem a bit confusing upon first encounter, the basics are easy to learn. There are only two hands dealt during each round of play—one for the Player and one for the Banker—and only three basic bets are possible: a bet on the Player hand to win, a bet on the Banker hand to win, or a bet on the two hands to Tie.

No matter what version of Baccarat is played, the object is to wager on the hand that has a total value closer to nine points than the other hand. Aces are worth one point, 10s and face cards are zero, no value at all. All other cards, 2~9, are counted at face value. For combinations of cards that total ten points or more, only the last digit is considered. That means a 7 and an 8 are not worth fifteen, they are valued at five, ignoring the tens place. Similarly, a total of 3 and 8 is one, not eleven.

Baccarat Basics

The Dealer shuffles eight decks of 52 cards together, and then offers the stack of mixed cards to one of the table’s participants to “cut.” A blank-faced “cut card” is inserted somewhere in the middle of the stack. The Dealer then puts the front-most cards in the back and puts the stack into a dealing box called the “shoe” or sabot.

Before dealing the hands, the Dealer pulls the first card from the shoe and shows it to everyone at the table. The value of the card indicates how many cards will be removed from the deck as discards, sight unseen—two cards for a 2, seven cards for a 7, and ten cards for a 10 or a face card, etc. This process is called “burn.”

After the burn, bets can be placed. Participants may wager on either the Player or the Banker, and side bets can be made on a Tie. When all wagers have been made, four cards are dealt. The first and third cards go to Player hand. The second and fourth cards make up the Banker hand. At high-stakes “big table” Baccarat games, cards are dealt face down and the highest bettors get to turn them over. In Mini or Midi Baccarat, all cards are dealt face up for everyone to see.

Depending on what totals the two hands have, a third card may be dealt to each. A strict set of rules is applied to determine whether this occurs or not. However, if either hand has a “natural” eight or nine points on two cards, neither hand may draw and the winner is the one with the higher total.

Betting to Win in Baccarat

The game of Baccarat almost plays itself, with very few decisions to make other than which hand to bet on. This might make winning seem like more of a matter of luck than skill. However, betting systems and strategies are easily adapted to Baccarat, and the existence of an extremely low house advantage can make doing so quite lucrative.

When making the decision of how to bet, odds need to be taken into account. A wager on the banker offers a slightly better opportunity to win; it should succeed a little over 50% of the time when the two hands do not end up in a Tie. That said, the House takes a commission out of the winnings of 5%, so the earnings are less than the 1-to-1 payouts that winning Player bets receive.

Bets on a Tie are pretty much a “sucker bet.” The casino pays only 8-to-1 for Ties in most cases, but they occur less than one in ten deals. The House edge on these bets is a huge 14.4%, compared to just over 1% for wagers on the Banker or Player hands.