Baccarat is often known as the casino game of choice for the ‘elite’ in the casino industry, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this game is difficult to play or that you need to have endless funds to play.
In fact, once you have learned the basic rules to baccarat you will be able to get going straight away. It’s not too dissimilar blackjack when it comes to the process of the game, which we will explain further throughout the article.
How to Play Baccarat
The objective is to get as close to the number 9 as possible with the cards that are dealt on the table. Two sets of hands will be dealt in the form of the Dealer and the Player, and you are able to bet on the outcome of either.
The most popular form of Baccarat is called Pinto Bunco and can include several decks and multiple players (up to 14, but only 1 necessary).
Step 1 – Learn Card Values
To keep up with the game it’s imperative that you know the card values for each hand.
- Cards 2 – 9 are at face value
- Cards 10, Jack, Queen, King are worth Zero
- Ace is worth 1
The hand values are the sum of all the cards combined. This is true until you get into any value that includes 2 digits, when you must drop the first digit to get the Baccarat number.
For example; if you had a 6 and 5 your combined score would be 11, but as your number exceeds 9 then you will need to remove the first digit, making your score 1.
Step 2 – Place Your Bets
Before any cards are dealt you get to place your bet on Player, Banker or Tie. Backing the Player means you need to the player’s hand to win, backing the Banker button means you need the Banker’s hand to win, and backing the Tie button means you need both hands to have the same number to win.
The payouts for each bet are as follows:
- Player 1:1
- Banker 1:1 (minus 5% commission paid to the house)
- Tie 9:1
It’s worth noting that the tie bet has the highest casino advantage in Baccarat of over 14% and is not recommend as a long-term bet in the game.
Step 3 – Cards Are Dealt
The dealer will deal two cards to the Player and to the Dealer face up. The Player hand acts first and the dealer will decide by a predetermined set of rules if the hand needs to have a third card dealt in order to improve it. These rules are:
- If the Players hand makes 0-5 then they must draw a 3rd card
- If the Players hand is 6 or 7 then they must stand
- If the Players hand is 8 or 9 then both the Player and the Dealers hands stand
After this the Banker then plays their hand following these 3rd card rules:
- If the Banker hand is 0-2 then they must draw
- If the Banker’s hand is 3-6 then it will depend on the players hand
- If the Banker’s hand is 7 then they must stand
- If the Banker’s hand is 8 or 9 then both hands must stand
Step 4 – Payout
The final step is for the dealer to pay out on any winnings that you may have.
Remember, if you bet on the banker then you will need to pay 5% commission on any winnings to the house, and if you bet on the Tie then you will be paid out 9:1.
Hints & Tips
We have to be honest when we say that Baccarat does require a good deal of luck when playing. You can’t really control the cards that come out or the predetermined actions that the dealer must take with each hand.
There are a couple of things you can apply, however, to make sure you prolong games and practice the best policy possible while playing.
Avoid the Tie Bet
As we mentioned earlier in the article, the tie bet increases the house advantage from around 5% for a Player or Banker up to a massive 14%.
The odds of around 8:1 or 9:1 for this bet are simply nowhere near the ‘true’ odds for the outcome of a tie.
This is one of the most difficult skills to master with any card game, but if you are able to card count then you will be able to get a better idea of the remaining cards in the deck and then guide you as to which bet (Player or Banker) is likely going to have the most chance of winning.
Remember, the rules for either bet are slightly different, so a strategy for each can be applied when you know what cards are left in the deck. This becomes tough when the number of packs increase for different variants and also because, well, it’s card counting – and for most it’s going to be almost impossible.