Baccarat Games Guide

For much of its long history, baccarat was a game shrouded in mystery and glamour; it was the domain of the gambling elite, a high stakes game enjoyed by the few. When online casinos appeared on the internet, the spell was broken, and now, anybody can go online and play the fascinating game of baccarat.

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    Though it might have lost a little of its air of mystery, it is one of the most fun games you can play at an online casino, and you can play it for low or high stakes.

    With its previous reputation as a high rolling game for the rich and famous, you might think it’s a difficult game to learn, but that’s not the case at all. Don’t be scared, as it’s one of the easiest games to play; it’s also fast and exciting!

    So before we move on and discover some more about the game, let’s start you off on the right foot, and pronounce the name of the game correctly. Baccarat is pronounced with a silent T, so it’s not ‘back a rat’ but ‘bah car rah.’

    The Main Types of Baccarat That You Can Play Online

    Punto Banco – This is the standard American baccarat game you will find at most casinos, played with 6-8 decks of cards. All you need to do is put a wager on one of two outcomes to win the game.

    Mini-Baccarat – This variation is popular online and off; it uses standard rules but is only played with six decks and with lower staking limits.

    Baccarat Squeeze – This is a live dealer version of the baccarat game from Evolution Gaming. The squeeze aspect of the game is how the cards are revealed; rather than quickly flipping the cards over, they are peeled back and revealed slowly, adding a sense of anticipation to the game. There are special camera views to get even more excitement from the squeeze.

    Progressive Baccarat – The side bet of a progressive jackpot to win means that this game is doubly exciting to play. If the jackpot is won, it’s shared between all the players at the baccarat table that have wagered on it for that round.

    Speed Baccarat – The already fast game of Baccarat gets even faster with Speed Baccarat; the rules are similar to the standard game, but the cards are dealt face-up, speeding the gameplay up with a round lasting 27 seconds compared to the usual 48 seconds.

    Live Dealer Baccarat – live dealer games are the newest and most popular way to play baccarat on the internet. With all the fun of land-based casinos, you play with a real dealer in real-time. This immersive baccarat is as cutting edge as it gets at an online casino and is an experience not to be missed.

    A short History of the Game of Baccarat

    As with many casino games over hundreds of years, the exact origins of a game tend to be elusive, and the game of baccarat is no exception. What we do know, though, is that it has a long and interesting history.

    We can be sure that the name baccarat comes from the Italian word for zero, which is ‘baccara’, so it certainly appears to have an Italian connection. Some historians credit its creation to Felix Falgeierein, who was a famous Italian gambler in the 15th century. The game he invented was played using a deck of Tarot cards.

    The game traveled to France, where its reputation as a game for royalty began, becoming a popular game at the court of King Charles VIII.

    It continued to be popular with the French, who also played variations of the game Baccarat – Banque and Chemin de fer – though you won’t find them at online casinos. The big difference between the two games is that in chemin de fer is, the players each take turns to be the banker and can bet against each other. It would be hard to recreate this at an online casino, but Chemin de fer is still played at some land-based casinos, especially in Europe.

    The first country in the Americas to embrace baccarat was Argentina, where they named the game Punto Y Banco [player and banker]. It was popular here in the 1950s and soon grew even more popular in Cuba, a thriving place for casino gambling in the pre-Castro era. With the name now shortened to Punto Banco, Tommy Renzoni, a casino player, junior hotel manager, and writer, brought baccarat to Las Vegas, where it debuted at the Sands hotel in 1959.

    It soon became the game of the elite with jet-setters and high rollers playing high-stakes games behind cordoned off areas and private rooms in casinos.

    The only glimpse of baccarat for most people was in movies and novels. The first James Bond novel Casino Royale had its entire plot based around a game of Baccarat Chemin De Fer in a French casino. In some of the earlier films, such as Dr. No and Thunderball, baccarat was 007’s game of choice, but the more popular Texas hold’em poker replaced baccarat in the 2006 Daniel Craig Casino Royale movie.

    While nowadays it is a game that anyone can play at an online casino, it still has a certain charm and allure about it. If you want to play a fast, high-octane card game that is simple to learn, then look no further.

    How to Play Baccarat

    Despite its fancy French name and its reputation as a game of the elite, it’s actually an extremely easy game to learn and play. There are only three different bets to play, and one of them you can dismiss [we’ll tell you more about this later].

    You begin by choosing which hand to bet on out of three options: the player, banker or a tie.

    With the player or banker bets, you are wagering on which one of them will be the hand with the closest to a total value of 9.

    The third option is the tie; on this bet, you wager that the banker and player will both finish the round with their points, both being the same amount. This bet gives a large house advantage to the casino, so it’s best to steer clear of it.

    The values of the different cards are simple to understand and remember:

    • 2-9 are face value.
    • 10, Jack, Queen, King are all valued as zero.
    • Aces count as 1,

    Once you place your bet and the round begins, the banker and player are dealt two cards each.

    If either the banker or player has a score of 8 or 9, this is a ‘natural’, and that hand wins the round. If both the banker and player get a natural, this is called a ‘push’, and neither hand wins.

    This game is dissimilar to other card games, such as blackjack, as you can’t go bust. To give you a couple of examples: assuming the 2 card hand was a king and a 4, the king would count as zero, so the total score would be ‘4’; if the two cards were a 9 and a 7, you would add the card number up as such: 9+7=16, so the value would be 6, as you disregard the 10.

    After the first two cards have been dealt to the player and the banker, sometimes a third card needs to be dealt, and this is where the game, in theory, gets more complicated. The third card rules give a slight edge to the banker bet, so that’s why most players like to wager on the banker. These third card rules are applied automatically, and you can just sit back and watch as they come into play; you don’t need to do anything.

    It’s still worth having an understanding of how the third card rule works, though, so here are the basics explained:

    • As we mentioned earlier, if the player has a hand of 8 or 9, it is a natural and a winning hand.
    • If the player has cards value 6 or 7, they will stand on the initial 2 cards and won’t receive a third.
    • If the player has a score of 0-5, then a third card will be drawn.
    • The banker will stand on 7 and not draw a third card.
    • If the banker has a hand with a value of 0 to 2, they will draw a third card.
    • If the player draws a third card with a value of 0 to 9 but not 8, and the banker has a value of 3, they will draw a third card.
    • If the player draws a third card with a value of 2 to 7 and the banker has a total card value of 4, they will draw another card.
    • If the player draws a third card value 4 to 7 and the banker has a total of 5, a third card is drawn. 
    • If the player draws a third card that is a 6 or 7 and the banker has a total of 6, they will draw a third card.

    Know that this third card rule is not something you need to remember; baccarat is an action-packed and fast game, and this will all happen automatically without you needing to know or do anything.

    What are the Best Strategies for Baccarat?

    While you could feasibly win at baccarat with no understanding of the game by just placing a bet on one of the three options, it obviously makes sense to understand the rules. For this reason, we recommend playing a few free games first; it won’t take long to learn how to play the game of baccarat, and then, you can confidently play at the real money games or the even more exciting live casinos.

    With the low house advantage of the banker bet at 1.09%, this is obviously the wagering option to choose with the biggest chance of winning, even if you take the 5% commission on winnings into account.

    At the other end of the scale is the tie bet; this will be a player’s worst wager. It pays out at 8:1 or 9:1, depending on the casino, which might sound good until you hear the casino’s advantage. The bets have a house advantage of 14.4% for 8:1 and 4% for the 9:1 payout. This is a bet to avoid!

    One area not to neglect when playing baccarat, and any other casino game for that matter, is to have a money management system in place. You don’t want to go through your bankroll too quickly, and you want to quit when you are ahead. Set some rules beforehand, and don’t be ruled by emotions. You will be in a much better position if you apply some sensible cash management from the outcome.

    Baccarat Guide FAQ

    If you play at a reputable casino that is licensed and is regularly audited, then you’ll be safe. There are rogue casinos that you should avoid. Any of the casinos you find listed on our site have been validated by our team of online gambling experts to ensure we only recommend the best and safest online casinos.

    No, there is no real skill needed to play baccarat; you just need to bet on one of three outcomes, and then it’s all down to the cards.

    If you wager on the player or banker bets, these payback 1:1. The banker bet has a house edge of 1.06%, while the player bet is 1.24%; you will pay a 5% commission if you win with the banker bet. Despite this, the odds are still the best.

    Yes, you can! We always recommend playing the free play baccarat games that online casinos offer to get acquainted with the rules and gameplay. Once you have got a good understanding while playing the free baccarat game, you can experience the excitement of the real money games and come away with real cash winnings!

    The same as land-based casinos, the online game uses 6 to 8 decks of cards for the standard game.