Baccarat, a game presumably invented in Italy, has been around for centuries, since the Middle Ages. Until recently, it was considered to be the classiest of card games, as only celebrities and rich people could sit at a baccarat table. Now, however, anyone can enjoy baccarat without being looked down upon, thanks to numerous online casinos across the US.
The game of baccarat is enjoyable, easy to get a handle on, and ideal for those who want to get in on the action without having to learn complex bets and memorize bewildering rules. Most players love it due to its fast-paced style. People also enjoy playing it because it has the lowest house edge ratios among the games found on casino floors and in online gaming hubs, which makes staying ahead of the game easy, even for recreational players and gambling rookies.
Since baccarat is a game of complete chance, there’s not much you can do to overcome the luck factor, so there is no guarantee that you will win consistently. However, if you fully understand the rules, odds, and probabilities of how the game will unfold, you can maximize your chances of winning and reduce the house edge to just 1%. That’s why we’ve put together this baccarat guide — to break the game down for you and increase your opportunities to win big.
The game of baccarat can be a bit intimidating at first since it’s generally associated with high rollers and celebrities alike. But for all the enchantment, baccarat is a straightforward card game with only three possible outcomes per hand. The basic bets are easy to understand and there’s no skill required to get started.
Like the blackjack and most other popular table games, the card game baccarat is played with several (three to six) standard 52-card decks, which are shuffled together and placed in a dealing machine called the shoe. In baccarat, the dealer really does all the work, so once you’ve made your bets, you can sit back, relax, and wait to see what happens.
The main objective in baccarat is to bet on whether the banker or the player will have a hand worth closer to nine or if, perhaps, the round will finish in a tie. Once the bets are settled, the dealer deals cards to the player and banker positions, respectively. Whichever hand gets a total of nine or a total closest to nine wins.
These are but the cliff notes, of course. Here’s a slightly more detailed breakdown of what a typical baccarat round looks like.
The game begins with the player placing a wager on one of the three following spots: the player, the banker, and/or the tie.
The dealer then distributes two cards to the player and the banker, all of them face up. Subsequent cards are then dealt, based solely on the outcome of the first four cards. The goal is to predict which hand will score closest to nine points. If either side is dealt a total of eight or nine using only the first two cards, this is called a ‘natural’ win. If both sides get an eight or a nine, the round ends in a tie.
In calculating any hand total, an ace is worth one, all tens and face-cards have a value of zero, and all other cards are counted at their face value. If the total of any hand exceeds nine, the count is adjusted by subtracting ten from the original sum. For example, if the hand is, say, three-seven-six, the total would be six, or 16 minus ten.
As indicated above, there are three betting options in baccarat. Wagers can be placed on the ‘player’ spot, the ‘banker’ spot, and/or the ‘tie’ spot.
Here’s an overview of the payouts players receive for each bet, along with their respective house edge.
As far as baccarat game odds are concerned, there’s a lot to get clued into because the values depend on various factors. Payouts, odds, and house edge for each bet oscillate based on the number of decks used and the casino you’re playing in.
To begin with, you need to remember that there are three main bets you can make in baccarat — banker, player, and tie. Other than these, many casinos will offer a couple of side bets, most notably the pair bet. This is the wager that wins if the first two cards dealt to the player or the banker form a pair. The pair bet has a 5:1 payout in most casino establishments.
Most baccarat tables you’ll come across in online casinos feature an eight-deck shoe. The eight-deck game of baccarat has a 1.06% house advantage on the banker bet and 1.24% on the player bet. The pair bet is the next in line with 10.36%, and the tie wager comes off as the worst of all four, at the rate of 14.36%.
Furthermore, the law of probability dictates that the banker bet wins 45.8% of the time, whereas 44.6% of the rounds finish with player bet winning. Tie bets win 9.6% of the time. If we take tie wagers out of the equation, the banker hand wins about 51% of the time. This may look like a marginal advantage, but it can make quite a difference in the long run. As the odds favor the banker, casinos charge a 5% house commission fee on winning banker bets.
Here’s the probability of getting a natural with your first two cards:
|Getting any natural and winning||16.25%|
|Getting any natural and pushing||1.79%|
|Getting a natural eight and losing to natural nine||0.90%|
|Not getting a natural and losing to a natural||15.35%|
|Neither side getting a natural||65.72%|
As you can see, approximately one-third of the rounds are decided by a natural, whereas two-thirds of the hands are dealt more cards, with neither side getting a natural eight or nine.
The chart below highlights the odds for getting different types of pairs in baccarat, along with their respective payouts and house edge.
|Perfect pair (same rank and suit)||3.34%||25:1||13.03%|
|Big (hand total of five or six)||31.8%||2:1||4.35%|
|Small (hand total of four)||37.8%||3:2||5.27%|
At 25:1, the perfect pair provides the biggest theoretical payout. Although the odds of getting it are pretty slim (3.34%), it has a house edge of 13.03%, which is slightly below the house edge embedded with tie bets.
Baccarat is a game with a long history. Since it was invented, it has kept moving from one place to another, gradually gaining attention throughout the world. As the game traveled around the globe, several variations emerged. Although not all of these variations have been riveting enough to maintain gamblers’ interest, versions like mini-baccarat have managed to endure.
The main difference between mini-baccarat and baccarat is that, with the former, the shoe is not passed around — the dealer is always the banker. In the standard version, players take turns in being the banker, and the game has many dealers. This rule change makes mini-baccarat much faster, which appeals to most recreational players who just want to squeeze in a round or two during a coffee break or when commuting from work.
Another distinctive characteristic of mini-baccarat is implied in the name itself. Namely, this variation is played on a much smaller table than other variants.
Furthermore, mini-baccarat has much lower table minimums than the original game. In classic baccarat, the minimum wager is set at around $100. In the mini spinoff, you can play for as little as $2 per hand, making it an excellent option for those who are on a tight budget.
Lastly, mini-baccarat is sometimes played with six decks of cards, which slightly changes the odds in favor of the players.
All other rules apply to both versions.
In general, the rules of baccarat are pretty easy to understand. However, things can get a bit confusing when it comes to drawing a third card. Still, you need to remember that this isn’t a matter of strategy — the dealer does all the work, and these actions are all covered by the game rules. Nevertheless, it’s always wise to have a good understanding of how the game may unfold.
If the player or the banker hand is eight or nine, these totals are described as ‘naturals’, and they both stand — no third card will be drawn. If neither side draws a natural, the play continues.
If the player has a total of six or seven, this action is known as ‘stand,’ and no third card is drawn.
If the player’s hand totals zero to five, then they draw another card. After being dealt the third card, the player totals the cards. In other words, this would be the player’s final score for the hand, as no more than three cards will be drawn.
If the player gets the third card, the action turns towards the banker. The rules for the banker’s third card follow similar principles but are slightly more complicated.
Here are the actions involving the banker’s card:
These rules certainly add to the complexity of the game, but, yet again, they shouldn’t affect your betting decisions. This is simply how the game is played, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Looking at it from a player’s perspective, you should simply go with the flow, and hope for the best.
From a mathematical standpoint, the answer is no — the game of baccarat cannot be beaten in the long run. Like all other casino games, baccarat has a negative expectation, meaning that the odds are fixed in favor of the house or the casino. Anyone claiming otherwise is either a self-proclaimed expert or a casino employee that wants to rip you off.
That said, baccarat has the lowest house edge of all standard casino games. So, compared to other options, it will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Since the outcome of baccarat is based entirely on chance, there aren’t any viable ways that could improve your odds of winning. The dealer calls all the shots, and the only decision you can make in the game pertains to the amount of money you want to stake per round. Other than that, you’re just a bystander.
Some players have tried various roulette betting systems, such as Martingale, Fibonacci, Paroli, Labouchere, Donald Natanson, and so forth, but the results have been mixed. The reality is that no matter which mathematical formula you try to implement, it will be futile.
Professional players have tried card counting, but this technique has proven to be much more efficient in blackjack. In baccarat, it doesn’t give enough of an advantage to be financially rewarding in the long run.
Now that you’ve learned the ropes in baccarat, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. You can hone your baccarat skills on free-to-play baccarat platforms, and, luckily for you, we just happen to know a few such places.
Most of the casinos we recommend will allow you to play slots and table games free, in demo mode. Therefore, you can get the hang of baccarat without having to cripple your gaming budget.
Rest assured that the payouts, house edge, game structure, and rules in the free version are the same as you would get while playing the game for real money.
It’s rather simple — choose one of the casino sites featured on this page, create an account, and make a deposit. Depending on where you live, you can either play the game in one of the state-regulated casinos or on sweepstakes gambling sites.
Sweepstakes casinos have recently taken off as a great alternative for casino aficionados who don’t have legal access to standard gambling sites. The two of the finest sweepstakes casinos you can visit regardless of your location are:
In terms of casino games with the lowest house edge, baccarat is right up there with blackjack. With optimum strategy, blackjack’s house edge can be reduced to 0.5%. On average, though, the game has a house edge of around 2%. Baccarat has a house edge of 1.06% and 1.24% on banker and player bets, respectively, with no strategy required. The bottom line is that baccarat is more profitable for recreational players.
Depending on the version and the casino, baccarat tables can accommodate up to 15 players.
You can theoretically, but this technique is not as fruitful as it is with blackjack and other casino games.
No, baccarat is a game of pure chance, as a player’s strategic decisions can’t affect their winning chances whatsoever. Once you’ve made your bets, it’s all up to lady luck.