How to Play Baccarat: Game Guide, Strategy and Odds
Baccarat is not a game that rivals blackjack or roulette in terms of popularity but it remains one of the top casino table games and here we explain the basics of how to play, along with some tips on strategy, information about the odds and a little information about the history of the game.
How to Play Baccarat
There are actually three different types of baccarat: punto banco, chemin de fer and baccarat banque. Punto banco is the game that you will find in most casinos, and almost all online and many mobile casinos, and is a game purely of chance, whilst the latter two games do involve some skill on the part of the player, though you will rarely find them at an online or mobile casino.
Baccarat tends to be a game for the high rollers, especially in the “real world” where it often has its own private room in the casino. Indeed, adding to the glamour of the game, chemin de fer is the casino game of choice for none other than James Bond.
That said, playing baccarat online or on your mobile is easy enough for anyone to do and many casinos have very reasonable minimum stakes. Baccarat is a comparing card game in which the aim is simply to get the highest score.
You can bet on either the player (punto), the banker (banco) or the tie, with bets on the player paying out at evens, bets on the dealer paying out at 19/20 (evens minus a 5% casino commission) and the tie paying a very tasty 8/1, although 9/1 is now more normal at the best mobile casinos we work with.
First of all you decide what you want to bet on and how much, and then the dealer gives themselves and the player two cards each. In baccarat 10s and face cards count for zero, with aces counting as one and all other cards being worth their typical value. The highest score possible is nine, the score being calculated by adding the cards together and discarding the first number if they total 10 or more. In simple terms, 5 and 6, totalling 11, scores 1, whilst a 7 plus an 8 is worth 5.
As said, there is no skill in punto banco baccarat and that is because all moves other than the initial bet are totally dictated by the rules of the game. After two cards, if either player has an eight or a nine, called a natural, then both players stand and the result is taken from there.
If the player has less than six they must hit, whilst six and over they stand. If the player stands the dealer then hits according to the same rules, that is to say, if the dealer has five and below they will take another card. If the player hits then the dealer’s action depends on their exact score and what the player’s third card was.
In truth there is little need to know the exact details because at both online and offline casinos, the dealer will automatically deal as required. In essence this makes playing baccarat just about the easiest game there is and this is part of its appeal, although for some the lack of player interaction and skill is a negative.
To a degree, playing baccarat is a little like flipping a coin but despite this simplicity it remains hugely popular and part of that is down to the low house edge.
Baccarat Odds and Strategy
The house edge in baccarat depends on what you bet and if you back the dealer, even allowing for the standard 5% commission you are looking at a house edge that compares very favourably with most casino games, especially considering that baccarat requires none of the basic strategy of blackjack.
- Player Bets – back the player and get paid out at evens with a house edge of 1.24%
- Banker Bets – back the banker and your house edge, even with the effective payout of 19/20, drops to a very good 1.06%
- The Tie – even at enhanced 9/1 odds the tie is a shocking bet, with an advantage to the casino of 4.8% whilst at 8/1 that becomes 14%!
More Favourable Rules
As well as the improved 9/1 payout on the tie, some casinos have been known, sometimes as promotions, to offer reduced commission on banker bets or better odds (marginally – instead of evens they pay at 1.01 to 1) on the player bet. These are certainly things to look out for if you decide baccarat is the mobile casino game for you.
Having said that baccarat is a game purely of chance the only strategy is simple: always bet on the banker and if possible do so at reduced commission.
Many people in real casinos mark and take note of the previous hands, whilst the best online and mobile casinos display these alongside the game.
However, considering this is pointless and makes no difference to the house edge. The best strategy for baccarat could not be more simple – bet on the banker and cross your fingers!