How to play Baccarat

One of the most glamorous games found in a casino is Baccarat. The most popular version of Baccarat is known as punto banco (also known as “North American Baccarat”. It is a simple game that consists of 2 hands played between the “player” and the “banker”. Each round of play (also known as a baccarat coup) has only 3 possible outcomes: “player” or “banker” have the high score or a “tie”. The maximum number of points for a hand is 9. The hand closest to 9 wins. There is also an option to bet the “tie” although that isn’t recommended because even though it provides the by far the higher payout, it carries a casino advantage of 14%.

Baccarat got its glamorous reputation in a few different ways. In live casino’s it is usually played by “high-rollers” betting big money in a room that’s roped off from the rest of the casino. Not to mention its James Bond’s favorite game. Whatever the reason, there’s one thing Baccarat isn’t and that’s complicated. The rules might seem a little strange at first, however once you get the hang of it, it’s actually one the simplest card games found in any casino.

One thing that does confuse beginner’s is the concept of the “player”, “banker” and the “tie” The first thing to understand is that you can bet on ANY one of the 3. You are not automatically assigned the players hand which is the assumption most beginners make. You and only you decides which hand to wager on. Once you understand that, you will better comprehend the terminology used to describe the rules. Please not that the words, player, banker and tie are in quotations when referring to them as hands.

To get a better idea of how simple Baccarat is, let’s go over the rules of the game:

The game is usually played with 8 decks of cards
The card values are as follows:
Ace = 1 point
2-9 = Face value e.g. a card of any suit showing 3 = 3…a card of any suit showing 9 = 9 etc…
10’s and Face Cards (J, Q and K) = 0.
The suit of the cards has no effect.
The maximum number of any hand is 9
The way to could points is as follows:
-The sum of the 2 cards (both “player” and “bank” are dealt 2 cards to begin a hand)
-If that number exceeds 9, you drop the first digit e.g. if the sum of the 2 cards is 15 you drop the “1” (which is the first digit in 15) and you have 5…if the sum is 12 you drop the “1” and you have a 2-point hand.
To start a hand, players must make a bet on “player”, “banker” or “tie”.
After all bets have been placed, the dealer gives 2 cards each to the “player” and the “banker” hands.
The best possible hand after the initial cards are dealt is called a “natural” which is a score of 8 or 9.
If either the “player” or the “banker” hand is a “natural”, both hands stand and a winner is declared (a “natural” being the winner in this case).
It is important to understand something about the remaining rules before we continue. It is not necessary to memorize them. In the beginning we mentioned that Baccarat is a simple game and it is. That being said, there are a few rules about how and why additional cards are dealt beyond the original 2 to start a hand. The reason we stress that it isn’t important to memorize these additional rules is very logical. The remaining rules are built into the game and will happen regardless if you remember them or not. Since they are built into the game and happened anyway, the only reason to memorize them is for personal knowledge. If that’s why you’re doing it then by all means. If you don’t feel like memorizing, rest assured that this will have no impact on your ability to play this game.
If neither the “player” or the “banker” have a “natural” after the initial cards have been dealt, then:

  • A 3rd card will be dealt if, the “player” total is less than 5
  • If the player’s hand is a 6 or 7, it “stands” (does not receive another card)
  • If the “player” was NOT dealt a 3rd card, the “banker” hand follows the same rules as the “player’ hand (draws with a score of 0-5, and stand with a 6 or 7
  • If the “player” DOES draw a 3rd card, the dealer will decide according to his positional advantage and the 3rd card dealt to the “player” what the correct decision would be in this case (either “stand or “draw” a 3rd card.
  • you would like to review the breakdown for how the dealer makes his decisions for personal knowledge, you can find them HERE(link).
  • The scores of the “player” and “banker” hands are compared. The one with the highest total wins.
  • If there is a tie, the “player” and “banker” hands push.
  • If there is a wager placed on the “tie” and a tie occurs, that winning wager will be paid out 8 to 1

Payout structure:

“Player” hand wins pays 1:1 or even money (you bet $100 you win $10)
Bank hand pays 19:20 or even money – 5% (it pays the same as the “player” hand minus 5%)
Tie pays 8:1

In case you’re wondering why betting on the banker pays less, that can be explained by the positional advantage enjoyed by the “banker” hand. Essentially this positional advantage gives the dealer more information to make a better decision on if he should draw a 3rd card or not.

Because there are several forms of Baccarat, we have listed some additional information HERE (link) for your review.

We would like to end this by going over Baccarat strategy. Depending on who you ask, you may be told anything from “Baccarat is a game of luck, there is not strategy involved” to a chart of odds and probabilities HERE (link). Both would be true. Although Baccarat does have some similarities to Blackjack, card counting can’t help you in Baccarat. In the link we provided there will be certain advantages you can find but they are minimal at best. Baccarat is famous for having some of the lowest casino advantages of all card games. The “player” bet has a casino advantage of 1.24% while the “banker” bet is 1.06%. It is important to remember that even though betting the “tie” pays 8 to 1, the casino advantage is 14.4%.

There are a few strategies that serious players do use. They are as follows:
Keeping track of your bets, following the trend and 1-3-2-4 method. While we don’t endorse any 1 particular strategy because of their limited effect on results, feel free to consult this following line HERE (link) for more information.