Baccarat might seem complicated but it's actually simple to learn how to play the game. Baccarat rules follow such strict guidelines so it’s tough to make a mistake when it comes to understanding the rules. In fact, you don't even have to know the rules to play Baccarat, even though it would be rather boring not knowing why you won and why you lost.
Every action from both dealer and player is pre-determined – all you have to do is place a bet before the hand starts, sit back and hold your thumbs.
How to Play Baccarat
Baccarat is a game involving two “people,” the banker (the house) and the player.
Up to 14 people around the Baccarat table can then bet on either the banker or the player to win the hand. It’s not like blackjack where it’s always player vs. dealer. In Baccarat you can choose to bet on the player OR the banker.
The object of Baccarat is to come as close as possible to 9 in total card value. The individual cards are added to determine the strength of a hand, but a hand value can never exceed 9.
If a player's (or banker's) total card value should be 10 or higher, 10 will be subtracted from the total sum.
Card Values in Baccarat
Ace = 1
9 to 2 = Face value
King to 10 = 0
A hand of 4 – Q has a total value of 4 (4+0)
A hand of 8-7 has a total value of 5 (8+7=15. 15-10=5).
Strict Dealing Procedure
As mentioned, baccarat follows a strict procedure. At the start of a Baccarat game both the banker and the player are dealt two cards.
If either of them has a total value of 8 or 9 – this is called a natural – the hand is over and the hand closest to nine wins.
If the player's and the banker's hands have the same total value, it's a draw, and the bet is returned to the player.
If no one has a natural (8 or 9), the value of the player's cards decides how the game goes on. If the player's total card value is 6 or 7 he must stand.
If the player has 0 to 5, he gets an additional card and his total hand value is determined.
After this, it's the banker's turn to act.
The banker's move depends on the value of his own two hole cards and the player's third card.
The banker always stands if his total card value is 7.
On 6 the banker takes one more card if the third card dealt to the player was a 6 or 7.
On 5 the banker takes one more card if the third card dealt to the player was 4-7.
On 4 the banker takes another card if the third card dealt to the player was 2-7.
On 3 the banker takes another card if the third card dealt to the player was anything but an 8.
On a total value of 2-0 the banker always takes another card.
After the banker has made his move the hands are compared and the one with total value closest to 9 wins.
Baccarat Bets and House Edge
Before a hand is dealt, players can bet on banker, player or tie, which means the banker and player end up with the same count.
Player and banker bets are almost equal when it comes to house advantage, and it’s pretty low compared to many casino games. Tie bets, however, should be avoided at all costs.
Player – House advantage: 1.36%
Banker – House advantage: 1.17%
Tie – House advantage: 14.12%
Banker and player bets pay 1 : 1. On any winning bet, the house will deduct a 5% commission. That’s where they get their edge. Tie pays 8 : 1, but that’s far from enough to make it anywhere near playable.
Advantages of Online Baccarat
Secondly online baccarat sites offer free tutorials on the game and how to keep score.
Finally many online baccarat sites offer "play for free" baccarat tables where players can try out this classic game in the casino.