In the realm of casino games, where glitz and glamour meet with the thrill of chance, few games possess the timeless allure and sophistication of Baccarat.
With its origins tracing back centuries, Baccarat has captivated players from all walks of life, from the elite salons of Monte Carlo to the bustling casinos of Las Vegas.
This beloved card game, favoured by royalty and immortalised in popular culture, blends simplicity with strategic decision-making, creating an experience that is as thrilling as it is refined.
In this article we delve into the rules, the gameplay, and the captivating aura that has made Baccarat a beloved choice among both seasoned gamblers and novices alike.
Whether you are a curious newcomer seeking to learn the ropes or a seasoned player aiming to refine your skills, join us as we unravel this remarkable game of chance and strategy.
So, take your seat at the virtual baccarat table, prepare to be transported to a world of elegance and excitement, and let us embark on this captivating journey into the heart of Baccarat.
How Do I Play Baccarat?
Well, there’s good news and bad news: the bad news is that the rules for Baccarat are actually pretty complicated.
But the good news is that’s the dealer’s problem! The most advanced bit of thinking you’re going to have to do is work out where you want to put your stake.
The aim of the game is to get as close to 8 or 9 as possible and a hand’s count is valued using just the right most digit.
That might sound a little complicated but when we say right most digit we’re talking about this one: 1,2
In addition card values are added together to reach your hand total with 2-9 being the stated value. Aces are equal to 1 and 10, Jack, Queen and King are worth 0 (or 10 effectively).
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Let’s go with another example. If your hand is 5 and 2 then your total is 7 i.e. 5 + 2 = 7
But if your hand is something larger, then the value of the hand is just the right most digit. So, if you have a 9 and a 4 your value is actually 3 i.e. 9 + 4 = 1
There are only two hands to worry about – the Player and the Banker – with rules about who gets to take another card.
That part is fairly complicated but if you want to learn the rules you can find them below.
The betting comes in when you put money on who you think is going to win, the banker or the player (or a tie if you’re feeling brave).
Rules About Who Gets To Take Another Card
In Baccarat, the rules regarding whether a player or the banker gets another card are predetermined and based on specific conditions.
The decision to draw a third card is not made by the players; it is determined by a set of rules that dictate the actions of the player and the banker.
Here are the basic rules for drawing a third card in Baccarat:
- If the player’s initial hand totals 0-5 points, they must draw a third card.
- If the player’s initial hand totals 6 or 7 points, the player stands (no third card is drawn).
- If the player’s initial hand totals 8 or 9 points, this is called a “natural” and both the player and the banker stand. No additional cards are drawn.
If the player stands (no third card drawn), the banker follows the same rules as the player:
- If the banker’s hand totals 0-5 points, the banker must draw a third card.
- If the banker’s hand totals 6 or 7 points, the banker stands.
- If the banker’s hand totals 8 or 9 points, no additional cards are drawn.
If the player draws a third card, the rules for the banker’s third card depend on the value of the player’s third card:
- If the banker’s hand totals 0-2 points, the banker draws a third card regardless of the player’s third card.
- If the banker’s hand totals 3 points, the banker draws a third card unless the player’s third card is an 8.
- If the banker’s hand totals 4 points, the banker draws a third card if the player’s third card is 2-7.
- If the banker’s hand totals 5 points, the banker draws a third card if the player’s third card is 4-7.
- If the banker’s hand totals 6 points, the banker draws a third card if the player’s third card is 6-7.
- If the banker’s hand totals 7 points, the banker stands and no additional cards are drawn.
These rules may vary slightly depending on the specific variation of Baccarat being played, but the general principles remain the same.
It’s important to note that as a player, you don’t have control over these rules. They are predetermined and followed by the dealer or the computer program in online versions of the game.
Where Did Baccarat Come From?
Like a lot of casino games, France and Italy are the main progenitors.
It’s believed that the game originally came from Italy around the 1400s and moved to France before it split into three different versions; Chemin de fer, Baccarat Banque and Punto Banco.
This last one is the game played in the majority of casinos but all three share the same basic rules so you should be able to play at any of the three.
Be forewarned though, Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque are a little more hands-on so maybe start with some Punto Banco before you give them a try.
It sure seems popular, it is. Probably due in part to the perception of the game as a high roller speciality, it’s one of the biggest money-makers at the casino due to it being both simple and reasonably exciting.
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It’s the perfect game to play when you’re fantastically wealthy and want to enjoy some easy to compute fun. Some of the popularity is doubtless down to the most famous baccarat player of all time, James Bond.
I know he plays Texas Hold’em in the 2006 Casino Royale movie but he’s MEANT to be a Baccarat player. He was in the original anyway.
Although he played Chemin de Fer rather than Punto Banco. Nevertheless, Bond’s patronage of the game has doubtless served to propel it into stardom.
OK, but about that house edge you were talking about? Right… yes… the House Edge.
Baccarat House Edge
So, when it comes to odds, the big thing here is that there are only 3 real bets to make, the banker, the player and a tie.
Unlike in standard casino games, there isn’t an option here that means the house wins automatically like the zero tile on a roulette wheel.
In addition, thanks to the rules, the odds of a banker win are actually higher than the player win, with a probability of around 50.65%. So, from that perspective, this would be the only game in the casino without a house edge!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Is that really right? Would the casino have a game where they don’t have a House Edge? Well, you’re right: there is a caveat to this.
Obviously, casinos don’t want a game on their game floor that costs them money which is why Baccarat bets on the banker come with a vigorish of 0.5%.
Basically, any winnings you make off the Banker Bet there’s a small commission the casino takes.
This cut brings the house edge up again to around 1% which is still lower than the 2-3% you get playing Blackjack with no strategy.