What is Baccarat?
Many gamblers enjoy playing Baccarat at casinos. The game is similar to Blackjack, where players take turns being the banker. The dealer uses three or six decks of 52 cards, shuffles them together, and deals from a “shoe.” There are two or three rounds of betting, followed by the dealer giving two cards to each player and one to everyone else. Face cards and 10s are worth 0, while other cards have their index value, but only the last digit matters. For instance, a hand with 8 and 5 is worth 3, not 13. The hand that is closest to nine has a higher chance of winning.
Baccarat offers several variations, both in land-based and online casinos:
- Chemin de Fer: Popular in Europe, particularly France, players can act as dealers and play against other gamblers.
- Mini Baccarat: A fast-paced game with the dealer handling all actions, played on a small table. Popular among casual players.
- 3 Card Baccarat: Played with a 52-card deck, three cards are dealt to dealers and players. A hand with three face cards is the best, followed by a 9. The number of face cards decides tied hands.
- Punto Banco: Similar to Mini Baccarat, but with three dealers instead of one.
- Baccarat Banque: Players play independently, with the bank acting as a player. Players can challenge the banker and become the banker for a round. Similar to Chemin de Fer.
Mini Baccarat is the most popular, as it's accessible to all players with low minimum bets. For beginners, it's a good starting point, but other variations can be explored too.
Baccarat Rules Explained
Baccarat is easy to learn. Players bet on who will win: Banker, Player, or a Tie. The game starts with two hands, Banker and Player. Face cards and tens are worth 0, other cards have their face value, except Aces, which are worth 1.
Example: Banker gets 10 and 7, Player gets 9 and 3. Banker wins with 7 points (10 counts as 0), while Player has 2 (12 counts as 2).
A natural win occurs when the first two cards equal 8 or 9. A third card may be drawn based on specific rules if neither hand has a natural win.
Player rules for drawing a third card:
|Natural win (8,9)||No cards drawn.|
|6 or 7||No cards drawn.|
|0 to 5||Draw a third card, unless Banker has a natural win.|
Banker rules for drawing a third card:
|0, 1, or 2||Draw a third card, unless Player has a natural win.|
|3||Draw a third card, unless Player's third card is an 8.|
|4||Draw a third card, unless Player's third card is 0, 1, 8, or 9.|
|5||Draw a third card, if Player's third card is 4, 5, 6, or 7.|
|6||Draw a third card, if Player's third card is 6 or 7.|
|8 or 9||Natural win, no cards drawn.|
A tie bet pays out 8:1 or 9:1, with no winner or loser. The dealer handles all rules, so no need to memorise them. The hand closest to 9 wins.
Essential Baccarat Terminology
To excel at Baccarat, familiarise yourself with the lingo to make quick decisions during gameplay. Here's a breakdown of key Baccarat terms you'll encounter:
- Action: Amount wagered in a betting session.
- Baccarat: The worst hand with no value, e.g. 10s, Kings, Queens, Jacks.
- Banco: The individual handling the cards.
- Banco Prime: When multiple players call banco, the one nearest the dealer's right matches the bank's wager.
- Banker Bet: A bet on the bank getting closer to 9 than the player, with a 5% commission.
- Burning: Discarding the top 3-6 cards after shuffling before the game starts.
- Caller: Casino staff handling cards and tracking points.
- Cheques: Exclusive chips used in land-based casinos.
- Dealer: A player or staff member managing the game. In some Baccarat versions, players assume the dealer role.
- Discard Tray: A specific section for discarded cards.
- Down Card: A card placed face-down, also called a hole card.
- Dragon Bonus: A side bet predicting a hand achieving a natural win within a specified margin.
Advanced Terms and Techniques
- Edge Sorting: Identifying cards based on subtle pattern differences on their backs, considered cheating by some casinos.
- Face Cards: Jacks, Queens, and Kings.
- Fading: Betting against another player.
- Flat Bet: Betting the same amount on winning or losing hands.
- High Roller: A player betting large sums.
- House Edge: The casino's built-in profit margin on each round.
- Ladderman: A dealer overseeing shoe deck reshuffling.
- La Grande: A natural win, the best hand in Baccarat.
- La Petite: An 8, the second-best hand.
- Layout: The table setup, including sections for player, Banker, and Tie bets.
Bets, Promotions, and Casino Terms
- Loss Bet: Betting against the bank due to a higher house edge.
- Match Play: A promotion applied to even money bets as a player reward.
- Monkey: Face cards in the deck.
- Muck: All card decks used in the game.
- Natural Win: A hand with an initial total of 8 or 9.
- Palette: A wooden rod for moving cards around the table.
- Pass: A win.
- Pit: A VIP area for high-stakes baccarat.
- Player: A bet on the player, not to be confused with actual players.
- Punter: A UK term for a casino game player.
- Punto: Another term for a player.
- Push: A wager that neither wins nor loses, held until the next round.
- Railroad: Refers to Chemin de Fer, a traditional 19th-century French game.
- Run: A side bet on consecutive hands.
- Shills: Attractive individuals hired by casinos to attract players.
- Shoe: An automated device holding cards during the game.
- Shooter: The bank, sometimes referring to the dealer.
- Shuffle Up: The dealer shuffling cards at the start of a game.
- Standoff: A tie between the player's and banker's hands.
- Streak: Consecutive wins or losses for a player.
- Super Pan Nine: A Baccarat variant with three cards dealt to each hand and one
- player acting as the banker.
- Table of Play: Refers to when a hand may receive a third card.
- Tie: A bet with a 9-1 payout but a 14.36% house edge.
- Upcard: A card placed face-up, with its value visible.
- Vigorish: A fee the casino charges, taken out of your winnings.
By learning these terms, you'll be better equipped to navigate Baccarat games confidently and make informed decisions while playing.
Top 10 Baccarat Betting Tips to Improve Your Winning Chances
- Avoid Tie Bets
Tie bets are unappealing and generally result in a push, with banker and player bets offering more consistent outcomes.
- Enjoy the Game
Stop playing when it's no longer fun; there's no shame in walking away.
- Choose Your Bet Wisely
Consider your desired outcome when choosing between banker and player bets.
- Opt for Fewer Decks
Fewer decks in baccarat can provide benefits, such as easier tracking in-person and lower variance online.
- Ignore Streaks
Don't overvalue winning or losing streaks as they can lead to poor decisions.
- Card Counting: Not Advisable
Card counting requires extensive practice and knowledge and may result in being banned from casinos. It's also ineffective in online baccarat.
- Set a Budget
Allocate a budget for bets to maintain control and prolong enjoyment.
- Bet on Banker
To maximise the 1.07% house edge, consistently bet on the banker instead of the player.
- Beware of No Commission Games
No commission games adjust banker bet pay-outs, resulting in a higher 4.08% house edge compared to the usual 1.05%.
- Embrace Luck
Acknowledge luck's role and avoid fallacies like “near misses” or the “illusion of control.”
Applying these key strategies may boost your Baccarat win chances, but they don’t guarantee it. Remember, it’s a game of luck, and losses happen. Play responsibly and enjoy the experience.
Consider your risk tolerance, budget, and playstyle to determine the best Baccarat betting system. Experiment with different systems and choose the one that suits you best.
Card counting can be used as a strategy in Baccarat, but it’s not as effective as in games like Blackjack. The edge gained is minimal, making it less viable as a primary strategy.
To practice and improve your Baccarat skills, play free online Baccarat games, read strategy guides, watch video tutorials, and join forums or online communities to discuss strategies and tactics with experienced players.
Baccarat etiquette rules include dressing appropriately for the casino, being polite to the dealer and fellow players, not touching the cards in a face-up game, and not discussing strategies with other players at the table.
Resources for learning advanced Baccarat strategies include strategy books, online articles, video tutorials, webinars, and workshops. Additionally, consider connecting with experienced players through forums or social media to exchange tips and insights.