Baccarat is a casino table game, similar to blackjack. It’s said that Baccarat was introduced in France by Italians, sometime between the years 1483 and 1498. While there are three popular types of the game – Punto Banco, Baccarat Chemin De Far, Baccarat Banque – the two latter ones can rarely be found at most online or land based casinos. Punto Banco, however, is offered at pretty much any casino and has experienced a huge increase in popularity.
In order to play Baccarat online, you don’t really have to do anything. Just place your bet and see what happens. While it might be nice to know what’s happening at the table, and to know why you won or lost, you really don’t have to work it all out, as the software will do all that for you.
In Punto Banco, cards are shuffled in 4, 6 or 8 decks of standard 52 card decks. The casino is the banker at all times and commits to follow a fixed set of rules. Both the player and banker receives two cards in the beginning, then if neither one has a hand value of 8 or 9 the rules of drawing to a third card are applied. The Player is always the first one to receive the third card and judging by his point score afterwards, the rules are applied again, to determine whether the banker has to receive the third card or not.
Baccarat Bet Types
Punto Banco, which stands for ‘Player’ and ‘Banker’ is a game of luck, as the player’s only choice is the bet type he wants to make. There are three bet types offered:
Player – a bet predicting the player to hold a higher value hand. Pays at 1 to 1 odds.
Banker – a bet predicting the banker to hold a higher value hand. Pays at 1 to 1 odds, but features 5% Banker’s fee, thus pays at 0.95 to 1.
Tie – a bet predicting that the player and banker will hold hands of equal value. Depending on the casino you are playing at, tie pays anywhere from 7 to 1 till 9 to 1.
Baccarat Hand Valuation
The highest possible hand value in Baccarat is 9. The cards between 2 – 9 are worth their face value (2 is worth 2 points, 5 is worth 5 points etc.). Tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 0 points, with Aces holding a value of 1 point.
Valuation of hands can be a little tricky, when the cards are dealt at a fast speed. In Baccarat, hands are valued by the first number of their sum, when looking from the right side. You don’t understand it yet, right? Don’t worry, soon you will!
Let’s say you get 3 and 4 dealt – your points sum is 4+3=7, simple as that!
Now you get 9 and 8 dealt – your points sum is 9+8=17 ? No, your hand value is seven points!
If the points sum of a hand is in double digits, the first number from the right side shows the hand value. 9 + 8 = 17, so the hand value is the first number from the right – 7
Drawing rules in Baccarat – also known as the tableau
There are a set of rules in place, to determine whether the player or the banker should draw to a third card. These are applied if neither of the two are holding a ‘natural’ hand. A natural hand in Baccarat stands for one which features a value of either 8 or 9.
Drawing Rules For The Player
If players point value is from 0 to 5, after the first two cards are dealt, he draws a third card. If the point value is from 6 to 7, he stands.
Drawing Rules For The Banker
Banker’s drawing rules also depend on the player’s actions. If the player only has two cards, the banker follows the rules outlined above – he draws the third card, if his hand holds a point value from 1 to 5 and stands at 6 to 7.
If the player drew to the third card, there’s a more complex set of rules:
If the banker has a hand value of 2, he draws to the third card at all times.
If the banker has a hand value of 3, he draws to the third card at all times, except when players third card was an 8.
If the banker has a hand value of 4, he draws to the third card at times, when players third card was either a 2,3,4,5,6,7. If it wasn’t one of these – the banker stands.
If the banker has a hand value of 5, he draws to the third card, when the players third card was either a 4, 5, 6 or 7. If it wasn’t one of these – the banker stands.
If the banker has a hand value of 6, he draws to the third card, when the players third card was either a 6 or 7. If it wasn’t one of these – the banker stands.
If the banker has a hand value of 7, he doesn’t draw to the third card.
The house edge in Baccarat
All casino games feature the so called house edge. It’s a term used to describe a mathematical advantage that casino holds versus the player. Baccarat features a relatively small house edge:
Bets on the Player to win features a house advantage of 1.45%
Bets on the Banker to win features a house advantage of 1.06%
Bets on TIE features an advantage of anywhere from 4% to 14%, depending on the payout odds offered.
Math wizards have done a lot of research on Baccarat and have calculated that over 100 hands dealt, the Banker will win 50.68% of time vs. 49.32% of the time, which will be won by the Player. This means that betting on the Banker would actually gain profit, right? Exactly, but casinos are obviously aware of this fact, which is why there’s a 5% commission implemented for all bets on the Banker field. This means that all winnings are paid out at 19 to 20 odds, while bets on the ‘player’ to win are paid out at even ones.
Still, while you should always bet on the Banker to win, as it features better win odds, even with the commission, system players should bet on the player, as you need a bet with a 1:1 payout to have some chance of success with short term systems.
Also, avoid betting on the TIE, as the odds are just horrible!