How to Play Baccarat

Learn How to Play and Win at Baccarat

If you’re looking for a table game that’s easy to pick up with great odds, look no further than baccarat. With a house edge of around one percent for most plays, it’s in the same class as blackjack when it comes to the best deal for the player at the casino.

While payouts are modest (most wins will double or nearly double your bet), the pace of action and simplicity of this game of chance has made it a classic.

There is an elegance to the game as well, something appreciated by Ian Fleming’s James Bond (baccarat is 007’s game of choice). And long before casinos were common in Europe, the elite would head to private card rooms to bet on the Player, Banker or Tie – there are really only three options to choose from.

So while the game might appear to be complicated, it’s actually one of the most straightforward casino games out there. You’ll be ready to play with a winning strategy in no time.

Gameplay

The most common version of baccarat online and at casinos is called Punto Banco, or American baccarat, and it is played in what’s known as a mini-baccarat format. This format speeds up gameplay while requiring less involvement from the players. This differs from ‘full’ baccarat, in which players take get to deal cards along with the dealer. As casinos prefer not to allow their players to touch their cards, you can imagine that this format is rarely played.

Regardless of the version of the game, the basics are simple: you are betting on whether the Player or the Banker’s hand will have the higher point total.

Betting

Before any cards are dealt, players place their bets. In front of each player’s seat, there are three betting options: Player, Banker or Tie. Place your chips and then the round begins.

Deal

Once betting has ended, the dealer, or croupier, will deal two cards to each the Player and Banker hands, placing them face up. Note that there is only a single Player hand dealt.

Point Values

The winning hand is determined by points, and points are determined by the total number-value of the cards dealt. In baccarat, aces are worth 1, cards 2-9 are worth 2-9 respectively. Kings, queens and jacks are worth 0.

Highest Hand

The highest hand you can have in baccarat is 9 points, otherwise known as a “Natural.”

But what happens if the cards add up to more than 9? The answer is that baccarat operates on the concept of Modulo 10, meaning that once you hit double digits, point totals are determined by only the last digit.

For example, when a hand adds up to 10, it is worth 0 points, while a hand totaling 17 would be worth 7 points.

Draw

When the Player and Banker are dealt weak hands, a winner will be determined after drawing more cards. Baccarat follows exact rules and a set sequence for when the Player or Banker may receive draw cards.

Below are the specific draw rules common to all variations of baccarat:

Examples of Draw Card Situations

Draw rules are the most difficult part of the game to grasp, but the good news is that you don’t have to memorize or even understand them! The dealer will deal extra cards to the hands according to the rules, as there is no choice for the player or dealer to make. Beginners can enjoy baccarat with the same chances of winning as someone who has committed to memory these rules—all you have to do is watch it play out.

Once the dust has settled, it’s determined whether the highest hand belongs to the Player, Banker, or whether a tie has occurred. If you guessed correctly, you win your payout plus your original bet.

Baccarat Payouts and Real Odds

Bet Odds Payout House Edge
Banker 0.458597 100:95 1.06%
Player 0.446247 1:1 1.24%
Tie 0.095156 8:1 or 9:1 14.36%

Beginner’s Strategy

The reason so many people love baccarat is that there is a simple and consistent strategy to betting. You can follow these rules as a beginner.

Don’t Bet on Tie

Baccarat has very low house edges on two of its three bets, so consider this a game with two very strong bets to make, and one very weak one.

If you’re betting on Tie, the house edge approaches 14.4%. When compared to 1.06% and 1.24% for the Banker and Player bets respectively, you’re might wonder why anyone would place that bet.

However, you can always wager on the Tie to add some spice while also wagering on either the Banker or Player.

Banker is the Best Bet

This rule speaks to the simplicity that makes baccarat a favorite: There is clearly a best bet to be had for each hand.

Think BBB: The Banker is the Best Bet. At around 51 percent, the Banker’s odds make baccarat’s game-of-chance like a weighted coin, landing on one side more often than the other.

Of course, no casino would let this go unchecked, and that is why the Banker pays out 1:0.95 (also noted as 1:1 with a commission of five percent) while the Player bet is a ‘commission-free’ 1:1.

Simple Betting Patterns Work

As an example, check out this popular pattern: sit at the table and bet on Banker. Keep betting on Banker until Banker loses. Switch to betting on Player. Bet on Player until player loses. Switch back to Banker. Rinse and repeat.

With two good hands to choose from, all it takes is a pattern you’d like to follow.

Online vs. In Person Baccarat

When you see baccarat at the casino, you’ll notice some ritual and procedure to the game. While this is all part of the fun, it also draws out play. Online, the game is purely about the action, with no pomp or fanfare.

Baccarat tends to have high minimums at the casino since the game has a small house edge, and the casino needs to pay for the dealer’s time and the real estate.

Online, baccarat tables allow considerably lower minimum bets, making for a more accessible and causal experience.

Check out These Great Casinos for Baccarat

We know you’re now itching to get started in baccarat, so check out the following online casinos, all with great welcome bonuses for new members, and with great baccarat tables.