Baccarat, also known as punto banco, is a card game in which two players are dealt hands and then the hands are compared. Whoever is closer to 9 wins. It is possible to bet that either player will win, and the two players are called Banker and Player. This game has one of the lowest house edges in gambling as it’s just over 1%. although some side bets have some of the highest house edges seen in table games.

Baccarat was invented in Italy in 1400s by Felix Falguiere, and the name given to the game was baccara, Italian for zero since a lot of cards are worth zero in this game. Later the game moved to France, where it was played by aristocrats, to England, South America, and finally the game got online. Now it is no longer a game that can be played only by aristocrats who were invited to the game, but everyone, from all walks of life, can enjoy baccarat.

Baccarat Rules

In essence, baccarat is a coin flip game in which the odds are almost fair game, and it’s played with cards with both Banker and Player getting three cards, so the volatility is less than if one card was dealt and winning and losing streaks usually can’t be as long, and the game is infinitely more interesting. Cards are dealt from a shoe that consists of 6 or 8 decks of cards.

Bets on Banker or Player or Tie are placed before the deal starts, and then the dealer deals two cards each to Player and to Banker. Cards 2 through 9 are face value, while 10, Jack, Queen and King are 0. Ace is 1. Whoever is closer to 9 wins. If the total is larger than 9, then the two cards are added up, and then 10 is removed. For example, a 9 and a 3 total to 12, so the value of the hand is 12-10=2. Bets made on the Player pay out evens, while bets on Banker pay 1:0.95 as the 5% commission is deducted. There are a handful of casinos that offer a reduced commission.

If the Player’s two cards total 6 or more, then the Player must stand without drawing an additional card, otherwise the additional card will be dealt. If the Banker’s two cards total 7 or more, then the Banker must stand without drawing an additional card. If these two cards total 0, 1 or 2, then the Banker must draw one card. If the Player stands, then the Banker must draw an additional card if his total is 5 or less.

Every experienced baccarat player knows Banker is a better bet despite the commission, as the Banker wins significantly more often than the Player. But still the house edge is very small, just above 1% if you’d always bet on Banker, and around 1.20% if you’d always bet on Player. Tie bet has a house advantage of around 14% so it’s a poor choice in this game. Crucially, Tie is a push so bets on Banker and Player are void, so there’s no real reason to choose a Tie bet. Banker wins 45.86% of the time as he has more information available to him at the time when it’s time to draw the third card, Player wins 44.62% of the time, while 9.52% hands end in a Tie.

There are also side bets some advanced players will consider, and they’re only available on the tables that offer them, which isn’t very common. Dragon 7 side bet pays 40 to 1 if the Banker’s hand is a three-card 7, otherwise it loses. House edge for this bet is just under 8%. Panda 8 is a similar bet that pays 25 to 1 if the Player’s bet is a three card 8, otherwise it loses. House edge is slightly above 10%. Some players have successfully used card counting to make money on these two side bets, particularly Dragon 7. These two bets are only available in EZ Baccarat, except that if the Banker wins with a three card 7, the Banker bet will push.

Other than the most popular version of baccarat that’s also called punto banco, there are two more versions of the game, baccarat chemin the fer which is James Bond’s favorite, and baccarat banque. These games, however, don’t appear at all in online gambling.

How to play Baccarat

Rules in baccarat are very simple as either the Banker or Player will win, and a baccarat player can choose to bet on either outcome, or bet on the unlikely event of a Tie. This is ill-advised, as the house edge on a Tie is significant, and although the odds of 8:1 or 9:1 are tempting this shouldn’t be a bet that’s placed very often. All betting is done before the first card is dealt.

Not all baccarat tables are the same. It’s crucial to check the odds on the table before playing, as the number of decks can be 6 or 8, Tie can pay 8:1 or 9:1, and commissions on Banker bet can differ. Although most baccarat tables will offer the same payouts, it’s a good habit to always first check the odds just to make sure you’re not getting a worse payout than expected.

Most players usually go with the adage that Banker is a better bet, since the house edge is lower, but the difference is very insignificant, 1.00% to 1.20%, plus the smaller number of deals has much higher variance than an infinite number of deals, so it’s impossible to tell which bet will be better during that limited period of time. Baccarat can be freely played by alternating between Banker and Player bets, hoping to guess the outcome right and double your money. There is no need to stick with either bet for too long, except because knowing that Banker wins slightly more often because he has a small advantage in the game.

Of course, many players will have a betting strategy that involves stake manipulation, where after a losing hand the bet on the next one is increased. This may or may not work, as long losing streaks are possible, which would then make the next bet impossible to make as the amount to bet to follow through on the system would be larger than the amount the player has available. Systems that can be used are Martingale, Fibonacci sequence, and many others. This is not an advised strategy as it’s known that progressive betting systems work most of the time, until that one time when a losing streak becomes to long so they lead a player to bankruptcy.

Online baccarat for real money

Baccarat is among the top three table games in popularity, so it’s commonly found in online casinos at least as a table game if not a game with a live dealer. Difference between the two is minimal as it’s a game of chance in which randomly Banker or Player will win, it’s just a matter of whether a baccarat player wants to watch the dealer deal cards and chat with other online players or not. Mini Baccarat is a commonly seen game in online casinos, and EZ Baccarat is, on the other hand, rare.

Most online casinos that offer deposit bonuses will not allow the bonus to be played through while playing baccarat since the house edge is so low that the casino would definitely be losing money on the bonus, though exceptions exist, and in these cases playing baccarat will contribute significantly less to the play through requirements than, for example, playing slots. In most such cases, contribution of baccarat to play through will be 25%, sometimes even less, and this means a patient player can take advantage of the situation and play through his entire bonus while playing baccarat. With a 10% contribution it’s more difficult to meet the requirements, but it can still be done.

Online baccarat is a fast game in which a lot of hands can be played in a short period of time, and there aren’t any distractions as there are in land-based casinos. This allows a player to follow his baccarat strategy easily. On the other hand, some players will love the social aspect of playing baccarat in a land-based casino, but this can be partially matched by online live dealer baccarat because players can communicate with each other through live chat, and can also communicate with the dealer in some cases.

With a good winning streak, it’s possible to make some money on baccarat, while conservative play will probably result in the gambler walking away with a small loss as the house edge takes over. Baccarat is a game of chance in which money can be doubled with every hand, and some players choose to exploit this with larger stakes on fewer number of hands. Either way, baccarat is a fun game to play, especially in a social setting.