Baccarat - How to Play


Baccarat

Baccarat has always carried an aura of exclusivity ever since it was brought to the United States on the backs of the French and English nobility. In most casinos, baccarat is played in secluded roped-off sections of the betting lounge and the numerous dealers wear tuxedos and a feeling of elegance is abound.

Baccarat developed from an old Etruscan ritual involving a young virgin throwing a dice to determine her fate. Felix Falguiere revived the game of baccarat based on this ritual in Italy in the 1480s using simple tarot cards. The French and Italian nobility were very excited by the game and it became a hit in their courts. The French renamed it “chemin de fer” and introduced a few adaptations to the game.

When baccarat hit American soil in the early 1900s, it was not very well-received because Americans were used to a more relaxed and informal betting culture. In the 1950s and 1960s casino proprietors decided to make adjustments to the game and introduced mini-baccarat, an informal version of the game played in the main section of the casino on a smaller table. The great game of baccarat was thus made available to the masses and everyone could enjoy the simple game. Click for more details on history, table layout and baccarat terminology/glossary.

Baccarat Basics

Baccarat or Punto Banco is generally played in a roped-off area of the casino, on a table about the size of a craps table. Baccarat requires three dealers and up to 14 players can be included in a playing session. Baccarat is a very easy game to understand and is one of the simplest table games in a casino.

Baccarat players basically place their bets and watch the action. Players are not required to make any decision during game play, but rather before the hand is dealt. In addition, players need to decide which side to bet on: the banker (banco), the player (punto) or for a tie. The object of the game is to bet for the side that will have a point total closest to nine.

Some casinos allow players to deal the cards in turn, while others allow only a dealer to do such. Every player, including the one dealing, is required to bet on either punto or banco and players can also choose not to deal, but rather pass the deck to the next player. The dealership remains with a player while the bank wins, and as soon as the punto wins, the dealership is passed on.

Baccarat Play

Two hands are dealt and the players have to bet which side will win or whether there will be a tie. Each hand consists of at least two, but sometimes three cards. The dealer will place two cards face down under the dealer-shoe and will hand two face down cards to the player who has placed the largest bet on punto. The punto player then looks at the cards and hands them back to the dealer, who will then turn the cards over. One of the casino dealers will announce the results and the winner.

Card Values

The object of baccarat is to bet for a side whose point total will be the closest to 9 in value. In baccarat, card values are as follows:

  • Aces = 1
  • 2-9 = their face value
  • Ten, Jack, Queen, King = 0

The totals in baccarat never reach over 9 and a player can never go bust. This means when a hand is dealt 7 and 9 the hand total is not 16, but rather 6. The ten value of every hand is discarded and only the last digit is used. IE: if a player is dealt a 3 and an 8, the total is not 11, but rather 1.

If either the punto or banco are dealt an 8 or a 9, the hand is called a ‘natural’ and no more cards are dealt. If the point value of both sides is the same then a tie is declared. If, after receiving two cards, neither the punto nor banco have reached a natural or no tie is declared, one additional card needs to be dealt, usually according to very specific rules.

Third Card Rules

A third card is dealt to either the punto or the banco, or both, based on the following third-card rules:

  • If the player or the banker has a total of 8 or 9, then a natural is declared and no further cards are dealt – the hand is over.
  • If the player’s total is less than or equal to five, the player draws a third card.
  • If the player does not take a third card, then the bank’s hand will stand on a six but will draw on a five or less.
  • If the bank’s total is two or less, then the bank draws a third card, irrespective of the player’s third card.
  • If the bank’s total is three then a third card is drawn, unless the player’s third card is an eight.
  • If the bank’s total is four then a third card is drawn, unless the player’s third card is a zero, one, eight or nine.
  • If the bank’s total is five then a third card is drawn when the player’s third card is a four, five, six or seven.
  • If the bank’s total is six then a third card is drawn when the player’s third card is six or seven.
  • If the bank’s total is seven, then the bank stands.

Third Card Rules Charts

Player's Hand
Point Value of First Two Cards: Action
0-1-2-3-4-5 Draw
6-7 Stand
8-9 Natural hand, no further draw


Banker's Hand
Point Value of First Two Cards: Draws when the player's third card is: Does not draw when the player's third card is:
0-1-2 Draw -
3 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-9 8
4 2-3-4-5-6-7 0-1-8-9
5 4-5-6-7 0-1-2-3-8-9
6 6-7 0-1-2-3-4-5-8-9
7 Stand -
8-9 Natural hand, no further draw No further draw

Full Baccarat Table Layout

Baccarat Table Layout

Mini Baccarat Table Layout

Mini Baccarat Table Layout

Baccarat Payouts

Payouts in baccarat are one of the simplest of all casino games:

  • Payouts on the banker winning - 1:1
  • Payouts on the player winning - 1:1
  • Payouts on a tie - 8:1

It should be noted that most casinos will charge a 5% commission on the banker’s bet, so if the banker wins, the actual payout is 0.95:1

House Advantage

  • Banker (banco) - 1.17%
  • Player (punto) - 1.36%
  • Tie - 14.12% at a 8:1 payout

Baccarat Playing Tips

  • Baccarat is almost entirely a game of chance. In the American version the play is dictated by the rules.
  • Do not bet on a tie. The house has a large advantage on this bet. (edge of 14.1%)
  • Don’t bet against a run of banco or punto wins. After three consecutive banco or punto, either stop betting until the run stops, or bet with the run.
  • Don’t let the 5% house commission deter you from betting banco because banco ultimately wins more times than punto.
  • A player should have a basic knowledge of the rules of baccarat and can try and be aware of any mistakes the dealer might make.
  • The player receives the first and third dealt cards and the banker is dealt the second and fourth card.
  • A player only takes the last digit of a two-digit total (12 is 2, 15 is 5 etc).
  • Understand that a dealer burns as many cards as the number in the face up card on the baccarat table

Summary

Baccarat is clearly one of the easier games to learn at a casino. Despite it foreboding original appearance, casinos have made this game very open to the greater betting public with mini-baccarat. Online casinos have also helped do away with this image of exclusivity and online baccarat can be found on hundreds of sites. In order to learn the rules of this great game a player must both understand the basics of the game and also receive some practice which can be found at the free games sections at almost every online casino offering online baccarat.

Posted by Denise Marie

Baccarat Resources

Click for a full range of Baccarat resources like the history of the game, how to play and more: