How to Play Baccarat | Baccarat Rules & Betting Tips
You’ve seen it in James Bond movies and in glamorous shots of casinos around the world. You’ve looked longingly past the velvet ropes at Vegas casinos at the fancy people in expensive suits playing the ’mysterious’ game of Baccarat (or Punto Banco, as it’s also known). Or, you know, it just seems like a cool game to play with a small house advantage. Whatever your reasons, now you want to know how to play baccarat and join them yourself.
You’ve come to the right place. Baccarat might seem ‘fancy’ or intimidating or complicated but it's really a very simple game and very easy to learn the rules and how to play baccarat – especially how to play baccarat online.
Baccarat rules follow pretty precise 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 - although it might take a bit of the fun out of it if you didn’t know why you won or lost.
Why Should You Learn How to Play Baccarat?
It may look like there are a lot of people and rules involved in baccarat but baccarat is a game that only involves two people: the banker (the house) and the player.Up to 18 people around the Baccarat table can bet on either the banker or the player to win the hand. It’s not like Blackjack online where it’s always player vs. dealer. In Baccarat you can choose to bet on the player OR the banker.
The objective 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 is 10 or higher, 10 will be subtracted from the total sum.
- Ace = 1
- 9 to 2 = Face value
- 10, Jack, Queen, King = 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).
As mentioned, baccarat follows a pretty clear cut set of rules. Every action from both dealer and player is pre-determined by the “tableau” – a detailed road map if you will of what each player – either the “punto” or the “banker” does in any situation. All you have to do is place a bet before the hand starts, sit back and hold your thumbs.
At the start of a Baccarat game, both the banker and the player are dealt two cards. First, the dealer slides one card out of the shoe and puts it face up in the Player's box on the table. Then the dealer puts out the first card of the Banker’s hand. Then comes the player's second card then the second Banker card.
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 or she must “stand” (not draw any more cards)
If the player has 0 to 5, he or she gets an additional card and his total hand value is determined. After that 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
- Sitting on 6, the banker takes one more card if the third card dealt to the player was a 6 or 7
- Sitting on 5, the banker takes one more card if the third card dealt to the player was 4-7
- Sitting on 4, the banker takes another card if the third card dealt to the player was 2-7
- Sitting on 3, the banker takes another card if the third card dealt to the player was anything but an 8
- Sitting on a total value of 0-2 the banker always takes another card
After the banker has made his move the hands are compared and the one with a total value closest to 9 wins.
Baccarat has some of the lowest house odds of any casino game and is therefore a favorite of many gamblers. The banker bet has the lowest house edge at just over 1% while the player bet has a slightly higher house advantage. That’s pretty low compared to many casino games. Before a hand is dealt players can bet on banker, player or tie (the banker and player end up with the same count.)
Tie bets, however, should be avoided at all costs. 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. A Tie pays 8:1 (or 9:1 in some UK casinos) but that’s far from enough to make it anywhere near playable. Betting on the banker gives you the lowest house advantage but a win will cost you a 5% commission. Betting on the player gives slightly better house odds. Despite the appealing 8-1 odds, never bet on a Tie
Player – House advantage: 1.36%
Banker – House advantage: 1.17%
Tie – House advantage: 14.12%
For more information about how to effectively place a Baccarat bet, visit our Baccarat Strategy page.
There are three common variants of Baccarat:
- Punto Banco (which is what you’ll find in most North America, UK and Macau casinos) -- essentially called “Baccarat” in most places
- Chemin de Fer
- Baccarat Banque
The major difference between the three is that in Punto Banco both the player and the banker’s moves are all done according to a specific chart or the “Tableau.” In the Chemin de Fer and Banque versions, both the player and the bank can make choices. Six to 8 full decks are used in the dealing “shoe” for most Baccarat games and games are usually played around a larger, round table with up to 12-18 players at a time. There are also smaller versions called “Midi” Baccarat and Mini-Baccarat More on these variations below.
How to Play Chemin de Fer Baccarat
Chemin de Fer Baccarat is the original French version of the game and is still very popular in France. Chemin de Fer typically uses six decks of cards with players seated around an oval table. One player is designated banker; the others are punters. The banker spot passes counterclockwise around the table game. In each round the banker bets any amount and the other players decide if they want to match the bet.
Once the first player decides to "go bank,” no one else can bet. If no one "goes bank," players then bet what they want. If the total wagers are less than the bank, bystanders can also bet up to the amount of the bank. If the total bets are greater than the bank, the banker can increase his bet to match; if he doesn’t the extra bets are taken back.
How to Play Baccarat Banque
In Baccarat Chemin de Fer, a given bank only continues so long as the banker wins. As soon as he loses, it passes to another player. In Baccarat Banque the position of banker is much more permanent. At the beginning of the hand the bank is put up to auction and goes to the player who puts up the biggest bet.
How to Play Mini Baccarat, Midi Baccarat and EZ Baccarat
Baccarat is typically played at pretty high stakes with the minimum bet usually around $25. It’s a favorite game of high-stakes gamblers both in Europe and Asia and is often played in a different room from the regular casino games. But that doesn’t mean it’s only accessible to the richest players in the casino. Mini-Baccarat is a smaller, lower-stakes version of baccarat. Not only are the stakes lower, starting as low as 1 euro even, the table is, too, with five or less players at the table.
Mini-Baccarat is also played as a two-player, three-outcome game according to the table above.
Midi Baccarat is slightly different in that the table will be limited to nine seated players and nine standing behind (Back Bettors). Back bettors give their bets to the seated players or out on the table themselves for the seated player to make the bet.
EZ Baccarat is one of the most popular versions of Baccarat found around the world –mostly played in Macau. It’s sometimes known as Dragon 7 Baccarat as it offers two special bets players can make. The ex baccarat rules are as follows:
- A Dragon 7 bet pays 40-1 and is paid out when the Banker wins with a 3-card hand that totals 7.
- A Panda 8 bet, which pays 25-1 and pays out when the player has a 3-card hand totalling 8.
EZ Baccarat is also a favorite version of Baccarat because it takes no commission.
Online baccarat has several advantages for its players. First many online baccarat sites offer generous bonus and comp programs to its players. 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. So why not start by reading our Baccarat Strategy and get prepared to go on an online journey of a lifetime!