Master the Rules of Baccarat
Baccarat is an incredibly easy game to learn, and one of the reasons it is among the most popular casino card games in the world. Players bet on one of two hands, the Player’s (Punto) or the Banker’s (Banco).
The “Player” in Baccarat is a space at the table where the second hand is dealt, not an individual. After the cards are distributed, the two hands are compared.
The hand closest to nine points in value wins. Players can also choose to bet on a Tie between the two hands. Place your bet, sit back and watch. Congratulations! You’ve just mastered the rules of Baccarat.
The objective in Baccarat is to draw a hand composed of two or possibly three cards that add up to nine, or the closest to nine. When the Player’s hand and the Banker’s hand are compared, whichever is closest in value to nine wins.
In Baccarat, unlike Blackjack and most other card-value-based games, the face cards are worth zero. The ace is worth one point, and the remaining cards are worth their pip value. When calculating a Baccarat hand, sums of ten or more are reduced in value to the right digit. A hand adding up to fifteen (15) is therefore counted as five (5).
What exactly does “Baccarat” mean?
Both the name and game of Baccarat are generally thought to have originated in Italy, although some argue it comes from France. The word Baccarat in effect translates as “Zero” and identifies the worst hand that can be dealt in the game.
As an example, a Baccarat hand containing two or three face cards is worth zero points. As such, the hand is called a Baccarat.
Types of bets in Baccarat
Placing bets during a game of Baccarat is where the action is. Whether it’s on the Player or the Banker, the odds are some of the best offered by any game in the casino.
A Player bet pays 1:1 even money as does the Banker’s bet, less a 5% commission. This commission is charged because the banker enjoys a very slight house advantage. Betting on the Banker is therefore the safest bet to win and the commission reflects this. A third option is betting on a tie.
Because Baccarat is such a fast-moving game with many opportunities to place bets over a short period, some players employ Baccarat gambling strategies to set goals and better organize their sessions.
Starting a Baccarat game with a defined winnings goal is a great way to play the game. Strategies such as the Paroli System and the One-sided betting strategy can improve the chances of banking winnings.
1. Bet on a Player
As mentioned earlier, the “Player” in Baccarat is the only hand at the table apart from the Banker (dealer) that cards are dealt to. Bettors at the table can place their wagers on either hand or bet on the possibility of a tie. Betting on the Player offers even money; a ten-dollar bet wins ten dollars. The House edge over the Player is 1.24%
2. Bet on a Banker
In Baccarat, the Banker is for all intents and purposes the “Dealer.” The Banker possesses a very slight advantage over the Player, namely because he/she makes card decisions last, in effect after seeing the results of the Player’s decisions. This advantage translates into a 1.06% House edge.
Statistically, the Banker will win slightly more hands. Since everyone knows this, a common Baccarat strategy is to always bet on the Banker. As a result, casinos charge a 5% commission on winning Banker bets to maintain their slim House edge.
The Pairs bet, while technically a side bet, should be mentioned at this point because of its popularity in Baccarat. Occurring more frequently than a tie, Pairs bets offer players an alternative to the Banker and Player bets and much higher odds. Because Baccarat is usually played with six or eight decks loaded in the Shoe, Pairs are fairly commonplace.
The Player pair is a bet that wagers the first two cards dealt to the Player will form a pair. A pair is defined as two cards with the same face or pip value, from any suit. This bet usually pays out 11:1. In online Baccarat, where the number of card decks is infinite and pairs can appear more frequently, online casinos may offer 5:1 odds.
An exact reflection of the Player pair, the Banker pair has the same criteria and offers the same betting odds. This bet usually pays out at 11:1.
Thanks to the multi-deck Shoe used in Baccarat, it is not unheard of for two of the exact same card to appear as a pair. This is referred to as a Perfect pair, and winning bets are paid out at 25:1.
The chance of the Banker’s and Player’s hands resulting in a tie is the third primary bet in Baccarat. The Tie bet pays out at 8:1 and holds a significant House edge of 14.36%. For this reason, the Tie bet is considered the worst bet to make when playing the game of Baccarat.
5. Big hand
The Big Hand is one of two popular side bets that wager on the total number of cards used in a hand when combining those of the Banker and Player. If the total number of cards dealt adds up to five or six, the Big Hand bet pays out at 2:1
6. Small hand
The Small Hand side bet wagers that the total number of cards dealt between the Banker and the Player in a given hand will not exceed four. This bet pays out at 1.5:1.
7. Minimum/maximum bets
Also commonly referred to as Table Limits, minimum/maximum bets are what set Baccarat apart from other casino card games and also delineate what tables players should choose for a game.
Full Baccarat tables typically offer private service to High Rollers, have very high minimum bet requirements and a cap on maximum bets to protect the casinos from huge losses. A full-size Baccarat table typically seats up to fourteen players.
For the rest of us, Mini-Baccarat tables are more familiar. Mini-Baccarat offers much lower minimum bet limits, making Baccarat accessible to everyone. Maximum bet limits still apply and the game rules are exactly the same.
Players looking for something in between often graduate to Midi – Baccarat where both regular bettors and High Rollers can take advantage of reasonable table limits specifically set to address the gap between Mini and full-service Baccarat.
Online Baccarat players can expect to see the Mini-Baccarat tables, enjoy the choice of low minimum bets and virtual players, or play Live streamed Baccarat for an authentic casino experience.
Other Baccarat side bets:
If you thought Baccarat was limited because of the main betting channels, think again! Baccarat is home to some truly amazing and creative side bets that give players a wide menu of choices – and payouts – to take advantage of. This is where the international flavours of Baccarat become obvious.
- Three Card Win
This bet wagers that either the Banker or the Player will win the round with a hand containing three cards.
- 3 Giving 8
A variation of the three-card win, this bet requires the total point value of the three cards to equal eight. It typically pays out at 8:1.
This side bet considers the total number of cards dealt in the round. If the Banker’s and Player’s cards combined add up to four, it usually pays out 3:2. Bets on five or six payouts at 2:1
- 5 Treasures
The 5 Treasures is a neat package of five side bets wrapped in one package. These include; Fortune 7: Banker gets seven points with three cards. Golden 8: Player gets eight points with three cards. Blazing 7s: A tie at seven where both hands contain the same number of cards. Heavenly 9: One of the hands dealt must contain a three-card total of nine. Cover All: This bet pays if any of the other four bets win.
- All Red/Black
This side bet is colour coordinated. When the Player’s hand consists of all red (diamonds/hearts) cards, it pays out at 22:1. Bet on the black, (spades/clubs) and expect a payout of 24:1.
- Banker Streak
The Banker Streak is an opportunistic side bet which requires pre-conditions. Namely, the bet can only be made after a tie or a player wins.
The Banker must then have more than three consecutive wins and any after that payout based on the number of wins in the streak chosen. The highest payout of 250:1 is reserved for ten or more consecutive Banker wins.
- Big and Small
Another sum of cards bet, the combined amount of cards dealt to the Player and Banker in the round. A four-card bet attracts a payout of 3:2. A bet on a five or six-card total usually pays out at 2:1.
- Big Tiger
Betting on the Banker becomes more interesting with the Big Tiger side bet. If the Banker wins with a three-card hand totalling six points, anticipate a payout of 50:1.
- Bad Beat Baccarat
This side wager is a favourite with online Baccarat players and wagers on a one-point difference between winning and losing hands. The one point separating the hands is known as a “Bad Beat,” leaving five possible scenarios for this bet to pay out anywhere from 40:1 when a three-card nine beats a three-card eight, to 4:1, when seven beats six.
- Contrast Bonus Baccarat
Not for the colour-blind, the Contrast Bonus side bet pays off when the Player’s hand is one colour (red or black) and the Banker’s hand is the opposite colour. Subject to the total number of cards involved, a six-card hand pays out at 30:1. For five cards expect 17:1 and a four-card Contrast Bonus earns 5:1. These odds consider an eight-deck Shoe.
The Even/Odd side bet is a wager based on the combined points total when the Banker’s hand and the Player’s hand are added together. Bets can be placed on the total being an odd or even number. Because the odds change as the game decks decrease in size, the casino resets the payouts on this wager at the beginning of each new hand.
- Golden Frog
A collection of four bets named after a single amphibian, this side bet wagers that a specific type of hand will be dealt to beat another. It doesn’t matter who owns the hand; A hand worth eight beating six pays out 25:1. A two-card hand worth nine beating a two-card hand worth seven pays out at 50:1. A three-card nine beating a three-card one pays out at 150:1. A three-card hand valued at nine beats a three-card hand worth seven for a payout of 200:1.
- Kill the Ox/Tiger
Depending on the casino operator, you may find this bet named after the Ox or the Tiger, but it is the same wager. This side bet needs two conditions to be met in order to win; The Player must tie or lose with a three-card hand valued at six OR the Banker must tie or lose with a three-card hand valued at seven. If either happens, anticipate a payout of 30:1.
- Ox 6
More humane than killing the Ox, and more profitable, the Ox 6 is a straightforward side bet that the Player will win with a three-card hand valued at six points. Expect a payout on this bet of 40:1.
- Small Tiger
Like its big brother, the Small Tiger is a side bet on the Banker. If the Banker wins with a two-card hand totalling six, the payout is 22:1.
- Royal 9
As a side bet, the Royal 9 is a rare wager where a progressive jackpot is put in play. A Royal 9 hand is a hand featuring a nine and any face card. Players can win instantly when a wager is placed on either the Player’s hand, the Banker’s hand, or both. The progressive jackpot is won when both the Player and the Banker score Royal 9 hands simultaneously.
- Side Totals
Baccarat hands can score points between zero and nine (0 – 9) inclusive. This translates into ten different numbers that a Baccarat hand can be valued at. Side Totals bet on the total points the Player’s hand or the Banker’s hand will be valued at when the round is completed. This makes for a total of twenty side bets (ten on the Banker and ten on the Player). Payouts range between 5.5:1 for Player and Banker hands valued from six to nine (6 -9), and 10.5:1 for hands valued from one to three (1 – 3). Zeros payout at 8:1.
A Player hand totalling four or five (4 – 5) pays 9.5:1. A Banker’s hand totalling four or five (4 – 5) pays out at 7.5:1. Most casinos provide a quick reference Pay Table for Side Totals side bets.
The Tiger side bet wagers that the Banker will win the hand with six points. If done with three cards, it pays out 20:1. If accomplished with two cards, it still pays out 12:1. The Tiger is a combination of the individual Big and Small Tiger bets that covers both hand scenarios with one bet.
- Tiger Pair
The Tiger Pair is a side bet that wins when the Banker OR the Player draws a pair with their first two cards. This bet pays out 4:1. If both the Banker AND Player draw pairs at the same time (Double Tiger Pair), expect a payout of 20:1. If both the Banker and the Player draw matching pairs (Twin Tiger Pair), anticipate a payout of 100:1.
- Dragon Bonus
This side bet focuses on the margin of points separating the hand of the winner from the loser. If a Player hits nine and the Banker finishes with three – the margin is six. A nine-point margin pays out at 30:1. The payout scale reduces with the margin to a minimum payout of 4:1 for a difference of four points. A margin of three points or less loses the bet.
- Dragon Dragon Progressive
Another jackpot side bet, the Dragon Dragon Progressive wagers on sets created from the Banker’s and Player’s combined cards. Wins start at three of a kind from four cards up to six of a kind with six cards. Remember that the jackpot will be shared between those individuals who placed the bet simultaneously.
- Duo Bao
Duo Bao is a series of side bets where Baccarat meets poker. Individuals can wager that the Banker’s and Player’s cards when combined will reflect a poker hand. These include three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a straight flush or a royal flush. Four and five of a kind are also eligible. Check with your casino operator about the Duo Bao side bets on offer and their payouts.
Equalities side bets wager that the round will end in a tie, and sets the points (tied hand value). A tie at nine pays out 80:1, as does a tie at eight. The scale varies, with a tie at two points-paying out at a massive 225:1.
- Either Pair
A popular side bet, either Pair wagers that either the Banker or the Player will draw a pair from the first two cards dealt. This side bet pays out at 5:1. A Perfect Pair – two cards of the same value and of the same suit – pays out 25:1 if either the Banker or Player draws one. If both do at the same time, the payout is 250:1.
- First Two Banker/Player Cards Same Suit
The First Two Opening Suit side bet wagers that the first two cards drawn by either the Banker or the Player will be of the same suit. A bet on the Banker’s hand pays out at 2.86:1. A Player Hand usually pays out at 2.87:1.
- Jackpot Baccarat
This is another instance where the game of Baccarat is flavoured with poker. A Jackpot Baccarat side bet wagers on the value of a poker hand created from the Banker’s and Player’s first two cards when combined(four cards). A Pair of aces pays 2:1. A Mini Royal pays out at 250:1. Check with your casino operator for the full menu of Jackpot Baccarat side bets and respective payouts.
- Lucky 6
The Lucky 6 side bet is all about the Banker’s hand. If it wins with a two-card total of six-point, the bet pays out at 12:1. If the Banker wins with a three-card hand totalling six points, the payout is typically 23:1.
- Lucky Nines
Lucky Nines is a Baccarat side bet that pays out based on the number of nines drawn by both the Banker and the Player in their initial two-card hands combined (four cards total). Whether their suits match also has a payout value. The following illustrates:
Lucky Nines Baccarat Side Bet Summary
|Card (s) Drawn||Pay Out|
|One Nine of Diamonds||2:1|
|Two Suited Nines||8:1|
|Three Suited Nines||250:1|
- Lucky 99
Lucky 99 (aka Baccarat 99) is a points-based side bet. If the Player’s hand contains a natural 9, the payout is 2:1. If the Banker’s hand has a natural 9, the payout is 5:1. In the case where both hands contain a natural 9 simultaneously, the payout is 25:1. A “Natural Nine” is a two-card hand totalling nine points.
- Panda 8
This side bet wagers that the Player will win the round with a three-card hand valued at eight points. It pays out at 25:1.
The odds and payouts
Baccarat is a game with dozens or perhaps hundreds of side bets. New side bets are being created almost daily by imaginative players who want to add more thrills to the game.
At its core, Baccarat is a simple, straightforward game with a primary set of bets that are easy to follow, remember and play. These primary bets, their odds and corresponding payouts are illustrated in the following table;
The House edge
The House edge is the statistical advantage casinos hold over game outcomes in order to earn a profit. This advantage not only varies between games but also within the betting choices of each game.
Baccarat provides one of the lowest house edges of all casino games when betting on the Banker or Player. Betting on a Tie offers some of the worst odds in casinos and this particular bet is highly recommended to be avoided for that reason.
Baccarat is an extremely popular game worldwide because it offers some of the best odds among casino games, is easy to learn and has very few rules. That said, different variations of Baccarat are available to choose from and while the basic rules remain the same, there are a few differences to be aware of.
Players should always be aware f whether the Baccarat game under consideration is played with six or eight decks of cards.
- Punto Banco
Punto Banco is derived from Classic Baccarat and is now the standard version of Baccarat played worldwide. The rules are few, universal and easy to follow in any language. This article focuses on Baccarat/Punto Banco, also known as North American Baccarat.
In this variant of Baccarat, the casino is always the Banker (Dealer). Individuals can place bets on the Banker, the Player, or the prospect of a Tie. Side bets do not constitute part of the rules of the game.
- Baccarat Chemin de Fer
Probably the original refined version of the game, Chemin de Fer (Railway in French) is a variation of Baccarat where the Banker (Dealer) changes as soon as a hand is lost. The individual playing to the left takes over and remains the Banker until losing a hand. Other players are called “Pointers”.
- Baccarat Banque (Baccarat à Deux Tableaux)
The version of Baccarat you’ll find at the casino in Monte Carlo, Baccarat Banque is played by the same rules as Chemin de Fer with the major exception that the Banker is always the casino. Another distinct difference is that Baccarat Banque is played with only three card decks.
- Mini Baccarat
Mini Baccarat is virtually the same as Baccarat in terms of rules. The main differences are in the physical size of the tables, the lower table limits and a slightly higher House Edge. Mini-Baccarat typically awards a House edge of 1.17% against the Player, and 1.36% for the Banker.
Mini baccarat is the version of Baccarat typically offered online. It follows Punto Banco rules and usually offers the Classic Baccarat House edge.
To draw or not to draw? In Baccarat, we’re talking about the THIRD card. Baccarat is a game where the cards are dealt alternately. Beginning with the Player, a total of two cards are dispensed to the Player and Banker. If either hand totals eight or nine points, a natural win occurs, the round is concluded and bets are paid.
If however, neither hand achieves a natural win, a third card (or even more) may be added to a hand, subject to the new total point value. The Player always goes first and must meet certain criteria before drawing a third card.
Player’s Drawing rules
- A Player’s hand must stand when the point value equals six or higher. No third card can be drawn.
- A Player with a hand valued anywhere from zero to five can draw a third card unless the banker’s hand is valued at eight or nine – a natural win.
Banker’s Drawing rules
- When the Banker’s hand is valued between zero and two (0-2) inclusive, and the Player’s has not achieved a natural win.
- When the Player draws a third card between zero and seven (0-7), or a nine. The Banker stands if the Player draws an eight.
- The Banker may draw a third card when the Player’s third card is between two and seven (2-7). The Banker stands when the Player draws zero, one, eight or nine. (0, 1, 8, 9)
- The Banker may draw when the Player’s third card is between four and seven (4-7). The Banker stands when the player’s third card is zero, one, two, three, eight or nine. (0, 1, 2, 3, 8, 9)
- The Banker may draw when the Player’s third card is a six or seven (6, 7). The Banker stands when any other value is drawn. (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9)
The Banker’s drawing rules are good to know but the Player’s drawing rules are the most important to remember. The table below indicates when Players should request a third card.
How to play Baccarat – Breakdown of a round
New to Baccarat? Here’s what you can expect in your first game broken down into step-by-step guidance with a few helpful tips thrown in along the way.
- Fund your Balance
Start your first game of Baccarat like you would any other gambling game – decide on a bankroll. This should be a specific amount that you are comfortable losing, dedicated to the game for as long as it lasts or until you have reached your winning goal. What’s a winning goal? Double your money or increase your bankroll by 10%. The choice is yours.
When you reach your winning goal close out your game and bank the profits. Playing online? Make an opening deposit and allocate a game budget.
- Place your bets
In Baccarat the choices are clear. Place a bet on the Banker to win. Place a bet on the Player to win. Place a bet on a Tie – this is the worst bet to make in Baccarat. The amount of your bet is up to you.
Check the minimum table limits to find a game you are comfortable with. Remember the old adage about Baccarat; Always bet on the Banker. It may not be as exciting as higher-risk side bets, but you will probably earn a small profit and definitely extend your playing time.
- The Dealer will now deal the cards
Once all bets have been placed on the table, the cards are dealt. Starting with the Player, a hand of two cards each is distributed by alternating between the Player and the Banker.
When all four cards are dealt, point values are calculated. A Natural Win occurs when either hand adds up to eight or nine. Short of this, a third card may be drawn for one or both hands, depending on the original values. If A Tie occurs, the hand is concluded and non-winning bets are pushed.
The one I bet on got a “Natural”!
The hand you bet on out of the gate was a Natural? A two-card hand with a value of eight or nine points fits that definition. Congrats! Collect your winnings and play on
- Dealer counts the dealt cards
To recap in brief, Baccarat is a card game where the points value of a hand reaching or closest to nine points wins. Aces are worth one point, face cards are worth zero points.
All other cards in the deck are worth their pip value – nine of hearts = nine points. When the value of two cards in the hand exceeds ten, the right digit of the sum becomes the value of the hand. Five of diamonds plus eight of spades equals thirteen. Baccarat value is three. (5 + 8 = 13: 13 = 3)
Once the values of both of the two-card hands are calculated, the Player and/or Banker may elect to draw a third card to add to the hands to achieve nine points. Specific rules govern who, when and under what conditions a third card can be drawn.
These are referred to a Drawing Rules. When new cards have been added the hand values will be recalculated. The hand that achieves nine points or closest to it wins.
Now that the Baccarat hand has been concluded, bets will be reconciled. Lost bets are collected by the House and winning bets are paid out. When the table is cleared new bets may be placed in anticipation of the next round.
Seasoned players may also take this time to record whether the Banker or Player won. This information helps them decide on placing bets and identifying possible runs, trends or streaks that may be in the offing.
Players should always be aware of the specific payout their bet is awarded. The table below is a quick reference of the payouts and odds associated with the traditional and more popular Baccarat bets:
Keep in mind that the dealer will take a commission as well
When betting on the Banker remember that those winning bets are subject to a five percent (5%) commission. This commission offsets the advantage players gain by consistently betting on the Banker to win.
The House edge in Baccarat is so low among the standard bets that the commission is charged to protect the casino from constantly losing money on the game. Many online Casinos have eliminated the Banker’s commission structure from their Baccarat games.