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Baccarat is a card game in which players hold two- or three-card hands with the winning hand being that which has the highest remainder when its face value is divided by 10. Often set off in a private area of the casino and requiring a dress code (dress code optional when you play baccarat online), this game has existed in one form or another for centuries. While its unbeatable nature and traditional high cost prevent it from becoming a household game, it has built a loyal fan base that includes royalty, billionaires and even celebrities (Michael Jordan is rumored to be a baccarat player). Even if you’re just an average person without multiple NBA titles and a million-dollar income to rely on, you can still enjoy baccarat online or at the casino without taking out a second mortgage.

Try Baccarat online now at Bovada.

What are the Rules of Baccarat?

Whether you are playing a free baccarat game at an online casino or dressed to the nines at a bricks-and-mortar gaming establishment, knowing the rules of this game is very important. First, you don’t want to look like a fool. Second, knowing the basic rules will help you make strategic betting decisions. There are two official versions of baccarat and we will cover each further down on this page.

In order to determine the value of a hand, add the cards together and take the value of the right digit. For example, a hand with a 6 and a 9 would be worth 5 (since the right digit in 15 is 5). If the cards were a 2 and 6, then the value of the hand would be 8. Due to this method of keeping score, the highest value of a hand in baccarat is 9.

Each card is assigned a point value, and these include the following:

Card Points Values
  • 2 through 9 – worth their face value
  • 10, Jack, Queen, King – worth 0 points
  • Aces – worth 1 point

What is the House Edge for Baccarat?

The following is a list of the house edge, which varies depending on the number of decks used in the shoe (the device from which the cards are dealt):

House Edge Per Decks Used
  • 8 decks – Banker 1.06%, Player 1.24%, Tie 14.36%
  • 6 decks – Banker 1.06%, Player 1.24%, Tie 14.44%
  • 1 deck – Banker 1.01%, Player 1.29%, Tie 15.75%

Are Baccarat Odds Decent?

When you play baccarat online or in a casino, you have a near even chance of winning. Does that make baccarat odds decent? We think so. This simple game has only three betting options, and one of them has a huge 14.4 percent house edge and should be avoided at all costs. The other two bets are nearly EVEN money with a small house edge of less than 1.5 percent.

Baccarat pits the player against the bank, and before each hand you must decide whether the player or the bank will win the hand. If you pick the right one, your bet will be paid 1:1. Betting on the player is a straight 1:1 payout, but if you bet on the bank and win, you have to pay a five percent commission on your winnings. The commission exists so that players don’t take advantage of the fact that the bank has a higher probability of winning (50.68%).

The bet to stay away from at the baccarat table is the tie bet. It pays 8:1 on your wager, but the probability of hitting the tie bet is only 9.5 percent. That gives the house a huge 14.4 percent edge over you because the payout is a smaller ratio than the probability of the tie occurring.

Betting on the player to win will pay 1:1 on your money and will occur 48.15 percent of the time. That’s a lot better than a tie bet, but even with the five percent commission you have to pay on a banker win, a player bet is still not as good as betting on the bank. Many players will only bet on the bank when they play baccarat. It may not be the most interesting way to play, but mathematically it provides the best odds to get ahead of the game.

When it comes to knowing your baccarat odds, one important thing to consider is how many decks are in the shoe in the game that you’re playing. Baccarat games can use one deck, six decks or eight decks. The house edge is different depending on the game:

House Edge with an 8-Deck Shoe
  • Banker bet – 1.06%
  • Player bet – 1.24%
  • Tie bet – 14.36%
House Edge with a 6-Deck Shoe
  • Banker bet – 1.06%
  • Player bet – 1.24%
  • Tie bet – 14.44%
House Edge with a 1-Deck Shoe
  • Banker bet – 1.01%
  • Player bet – 1.29%
  • Tie bet – 15.75%

There are also liberal rules for baccarat online games and land-based ones. The baccarat odds in these games are better because the casino adjusts the commission paid on a winning banker bet. The amount that the casinos will diminish the commission price can vary from one percent to the entire five percent, and often liberal baccarat games are only offered for a limited time and in high-roller rooms. 

The odds on a liberal game will change the house edge in favor of you, and like the regular game the baccarat odds depend on how many decks are in the shoe. Some casinos will also pay 9:1 on the tie bet, greatly reducing the size of the house edge for that bet. In an eight-deck game at 9:1, the house will only hold a 4.84 percent edge, six decks is 4.93 percent, and in a one-deck game 6.38 percent.

There is a common gambler’s fallacy with the game of baccarat that many players believe. Following trends of hands is something that one can see at most live baccarat games as players try to find trends in the hand results as they switch from banker to player. Pencils and paper are even provided for players to track hand results, but it’s all a waste of your time as the results of one hand are in no way depending on the results of any other.

From High-Roller Rooms to a Free Baccarat Game

Once a game played strictly by high rollers in secret backrooms of the casino, the game of baccarat has evolved over the years to become popular with players of all size bankrolls. The introduction of a free baccarat game to most online casinos has made the game affordable to anyone to play and its popularity in casinos has steadily grown since.

The game is simple to play and bankroll management (if you aren’t playing a free baccarat game) should be just as simple. Players need only set limits for the amount they are willing to lose in a particular session and on a number of payouts that will be enough for them to take themselves out of the game and count their winnings.

Baccarat is a lot like the game of blackjack in that deciding to get out of the game at the right time is one of the most important decisions you can make. All betting games have a win/loss variance, and if you can get out of the game when you’re up, instead of down, it will make all the difference.

Is There Such a Thing as Baccarat Strategy?

Players who employ baccarat strategy against the casino may think they’re being clever and giving themselves a mathematical advantage. Baccarat is one of the worst games for those who want to make a profit on a somewhat consistent basis. What it is, in reality, is a game that lets high rollers dress up fancy, flash their rolls of cash and generally come away feeling like they’ve got a license to kill (more on James Bond later). Baccarat strategy comes down to six things:

1.    Watching your money (unless you are playing a free baccarat game) – If you are trying to curb your spending or avoid losing money altogether, play online baccarat for free.

2.    Learning the game – Studying the rules of the game will help you understand which type of baccarat you are playing (there are two versions of the game and we’ll explain both of them below).

3.    Betting against the player – When you’re playing baccarat, you have the option of betting on who’s going to win the hand: the player, the dealer or a tie. Avoid the tie wager as it carries a house edge that’s just below 15 percent. The player bet gives the house a 1.24 percent edge, while supporting the banker only carries a 1.06 percent disadvantage for the customer. Instead, always bet on the banker. You’ll still come up short in the long run due to casino math (stupid house edge!), but there’s a greater likelihood of picking up some big wins along the way.

4.    Ignoring pattern bets – Casinos always provide notepads and pencils for their baccarat customers. Why? It’s so patrons can write down the various totals of each hand and look for patterns. While this sounds promising, they might as well give slot machine players similar implements and urge them to look for patterns on the reels. There’s also the idea that providing pencil and paper makes the customers feel as though they can beat the game. Don’t be fooled, and ignore pattern bets.

5.    Avoid catching a streak – This strategy involves looking for winning streaks, regardless of whether they’re for the player or the banker. Sure, someone could get on a hot streak and win repeatedly, but that’s no reason to change your wager based on them. 

6.    Betting progression – This strategy can be applied to multiple casino games and involves placing wagers in a predetermined progressive pattern. Here’s an example: 

  • 1st bet = $15
  • 2nd bet = $30
  • 3rd bet = $60
  • 4th bet = $120
  • 5th bet = $240

Keep in mind that this wager only applies if the player lost the previous hand. The idea is that a losing streak is bound to turn around, so increasing the wager each time is designed to capitalize on the inevitable turnout. In the above system, you’ll need to wager $25 each time you have a winning hand, otherwise you’ll come home empty-handed. 

What are the Two Types of Baccarat?

There are two types of baccarat: Punta Banco and Chemin de Fer.

Punto Banco

Punto Banco baccarat is the version most common throughout the U.S., U.K., Australia, Macau, Sweden, Finland and Canada: the banker plays both hands in accordance with the set drawing rules. One hand is designated for the player while the other is assigned to the banker. As mentioned earlier, participants can choose to wager on a win by either side or a tie. In some countries, this version is called Tableau.

During a coup (round of play), each hand receives two face-up cards from a shoe of 4, 6 or 8 decks.

•    If either side has a total of 8 or 9 at this stage, they are declared the winner. 
•    If they both have a total of 8 or 9, then it’s declared a tie. 
•    If the coup is not over, then the drawing rules are consulted. 
•    If the player has a total of 6 or 7, then they take no additional cards. 
•    If they have 0 through 5, then they receive another card.
•    If the player didn’t receive a third card, then the banker applies the same drawing rules. 
•    If the player did get a card, then the banker obeys the following guidelines:

Banker Guidelines
  • Banker draws a card if his total is 2 or less.
  • If the banker’s total is 3, then they draw an additional card (unless the player’s third card was an 8).
  • If the banker’s total is 4, and the player’s third card was a 2 through 7, then they take another card.
  • If the banker’s total is 5, and the player’s third card was 4 through 7, then they take another card.
  • If the banker’s total is 6, and the player’s third card was a 6 or 7, then they take another card.
  • The banker stands on a total of 7.

The winning hand is then determined, and payouts (if any) are issued. Player bets usually pay EVEN money, while a five percent commission is taken out for banker bets. In the case of a successful tie bet, payouts are 8:1, and the wagers for player and banker roll over to the next coup.

Chemin de Fer

Still popular in France and with every James Bond except Daniel Craig, Chemin de Fer is the original version of baccarat. Chemin de fer is the French word for “railway” and there is no clear origin as to how the game got its name. It probably has something to do with the railway. Just a hunch. Anyway, six decks of cards are used, and players take turns being the dealer/banker. This player wagers whatever amount they see fit, then each is given the opportunity to go bank (match your bet).

If no player single-handedly matches the wager, then each participant is given a chance to make a smaller bet. If these wagers do not match the banker’s bet, then onlookers can also contribute in order to increase the total. In the case of player wagers that exceed the bank, the banker has the option of matching the new total or having the excess amount discarded.

The dealer receives two face-down cards, and so do the punters (acting as a group). The player who went bank (made the highest wager) represents the group. The hand ends if either has an 8 or 9. Otherwise, the player may choose to take a third card. The banker, after seeing the player’s adjusted total, may also choose to take a third card. The hands are then compared to determine a winner.

In the event of a player win, each bettor gets back their wager plus a matching amount from the banker. The role of the bank then passes to the next player. If the banker wins, they receive all player wagers and keep their position in the following round. When a tie occurs, wagers remain in the same subsequent round.

History of Baccarat

The history of the in-person game (not baccarat online) is filled with international spies, gentleman killers and a general air of mystery. Eventually Hollywood will come calling and make a blockbuster film based on the origins of baccarat but for now, you can learn about the game here.

Baccarat is also the name of a French commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in the Grand Est region of France. The commune is known for its glassworks and crystal factory but there is no evidence that it has anything to do with the game.

What are the Origins of Baccarat?

Numerous sources have been credited with inspiring baccarat including the Chinese game of Pai Gow and a horrible ancient Roman ritual where virgins were forced to cast a die to determine whether they lived, died or had to give themselves over to men. There is so much information about the humble beginnings of baccarat that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it started.

Middle Ages1800sModern DayOnline Baccarat
An Italian gentleman named Felix Falguiere is often credited with using tarot cards to create the modern version of the game.Napoleon is rumored to have been a master baccarat player.The game was played at many casinos in the early days of the Las Vegas strip but it wasn’t until 1958 that baccarat got its first official table at the Sands.The first version of baccarat online came out in the 1990s when the internet was in its infancy.
An ancient game of Macao (sometimes referred to as Italian baccarat) was played to a score of 9.In 1886, Great Britain outlawed all games of chance but most people got around the illegalities by claiming they weren’t playing for money (even though they actually were).Punto Banco came to Sin City in 1959, brought up through Argentina and Cuba. It immediately became the favored version of the game.Nowadays, most online casinos offer at least one version of the game.
In the 1490s it’s rumored that French soldiers brought the game back from Italy. The word “baccara” means “zero” in certain Italian dialects and that could be where the name comes from.The game found its way to the United States in the late 1800s.During the 1970s, the game struggled with only a total of 15 tables available throughout Vegas. 
  By 2008, there were 24 versions of baccarat available.