Table games have a special spot both at land-based and online casinos. Baccarat is among those games as it has been part of the casino experience for several centuries. The gameplay is extremely simple but regardless of that, the game remains popular. These days online casinos offer various options of the different Baccarat variants that exist. It’s the most popular game in South East Asia and the rest of the world is not far behind. As a matter of fact, this table game is widely known as James Bonds’s favorite card game. With that being said, there are a lot of solid but also vague facts about the game. In this article, we will discuss history, rules, and some tips that can help you win the game of Baccarat. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know on this topic.
History of Baccarat
There is an ongoing debate about the origins of Baccarat but most experts agree that the game was created in Italy. Sometime in the 1400s, a man known as Felix Falguiere or Falguierein. His game was called “baccara” which means “zero” in Italian. The idea for the name is simple because all the face cards and tens in the game are worth zero. There is a myth that suggests the game of “baccara” was based on an Etruscan legend. The story goes that back then, every virgin girl had to throw a nine-sided die that would decide her life.
If the die landed on an 8 or 9, the girl was allowed to become a priestess which was the highest glory back then. A roll of a 6 or 7 meant that the girl was allowed to live but she couldn’t be a part of any religious or community events. However, a role below 6 meant the girl was banished to the sea to drown. The story is gruesome but this is how the initial rules of Baccarat came to be. People today don’t get banished to sea but they still lose for an outcome lower than a 6.
The first version of the game was played differently than what we have today. The cards were dealt by four different dealers and each player could be the banker. Additionally, players could bet against the house but also against other players. In today’s version, there is only one dealer and the players bet against the house. From Italy, the game of Baccarat moved to France where it was called “Chemin de Fer”. It was known that the game was a favourite of King Charles VIII and the noblemen around him.
Chemin de Fer
After a few decades, the French aristocracy accepted Baccarat as their favourite game. It spread over to England as well where there is a rumour that Ian Fleming learned how to play it. That’s why his James Bond character loves to play Baccarat.
Through the years, Baccarat made its way across the ocean to South America and the Caribbean. However, people there had a different name for the game. It was called Punto Banco and it became a part of the local culture. The first change they made was that players could only bet against the house and not against each other. This brought the game closer to how it looks today. Also, the casinos acted as the bank; the privilege was not passed to the individual players. With time, this version of the game became known as “American Baccarat”.
The last part of the story takes us to the 1950s when Tommy Renzoni brought the game of Baccarat to Las Vegas, Nevada. However, it wasn’t as popular as the other table games like roulette and blackjack. For that reason, casino owners marketed the game only to a select public. Once again, Baccarat became a game for the highest class of people. Most of the tables in Vegas were for high-rollers where minimum bets were huge. Because of this, the game rose in popularity and every rich person in the USA wanted to try it.
How to Play Baccarat?
As a table game, Baccarat has the easiest gameplay. The regular version of the game is played with eight sets of cards and each set has 52 cards, without jokers. Players make their bet before the initial card draw. The player can bet on his cards, bet on the banker’s cards or bet that the round will end in a draw. Keep in mind that the player can place just one, two or even all three bets. Once the bets are placed, the banker deals two cards for himself and two for the player. The sum of your cards needs to be between 0 and 9. The idea behind Baccarat is to get a total sum of nine or get as close to that as possible. Once the sum of the cards is calculated, the winner is the one with the closest result to nine.
As we said above, all the face cards and the tens have a value of 0. The other cards all have a value between 1 and 9 while the Ace has a value of 1. In most cases, a round of Baccarat is very fast and ends right after the initial two cards are dealt. The player (or the bank) who has a hand total of 9 or closest to it wins the round. However, if the sum of the two cards is between 0-5, the player has to draw another card. This will only happen if the banker has a hand that’s lower than 8 or 9. If he has a sum of 8/9, the player doesn’t get that third card because the banker automatically wins the hand.
Now that we have mentioned the basics of Baccarat, you can see that it’s very similar to blackjack. Unlike table games like poker where players play against each other, this game pits the player against the banker (dealer). The aim is 9 instead of 21 but the gameplay is pretty much the same. Below, we will explain all the rules in proper detail.
The most important thing in Baccarat is the card values because the whole gameplay is oriented around them. Also, this is where the major difference between blackjack and this game comes into play. Cards from 2 to 9 have their own value while face cards and 10s count as zero. The ace has a value of 1. The player and the banker can have a sum of cards between 0 and 9. Any hand that has two digits will have 10 deducted from it. For instance, if you have a hand of a 7 and a 5 which means a total of 12, your hand will have a value of 2 because 10 will be deducted from it.
Unlike all other table games where the player needs to have the better hand, in Baccarat you only need to bet on the winning hand. So, if the banker has a better hand than yours but you decided to bet on his hand, you will still win. Since the bet is placed before any cards are dealt, it’s mostly luck that decides the fate of the hand. This is what makes the Baccarat game exciting and risky. The last thing we have to mention in this section is the “natural win” outcome. This happens when the player is dealt cards that have a sum of 8 or a 9. When this occurs, no more cards are dealt and all bets are paid out.
Types of Bets
Baccarat has three main types of bets that the player can place. Depending on the game variant, the house edge will be different. Versions at online casinos pay commission to the casino which means the house edge is less favourable. The house edge is the difference between the return offered by the online casino and the true chance of a winning hand. This margin exists so the casino can always make a profit, regardless if the player wins or not. For that reason, the three types of bets in Baccarat are different depending on the house edge of the game.
The first bet type is the Banker Bet. With this bet, the player bets that the banker’s hand will be 9 or closer to 9 than his own hand. The banker bet is the best bet in the game because it has the lowest house edge. However, since the odds favour the player, the casino gets a per cent every time the player makes a bet on the banker’s hand and wins. Commissions are normal for every casino but they are different at each casino. When it comes to online casinos, different variants of Baccarat will have different commissions. Nevertheless, the commission will always be listed beforehand so the player knows what he is getting into.
Next, we have the Player Bet. It means you are betting on your own hand to be better than what the banker has. The house edge is less favourable with this bet but there is no commission for the casino. Lastly, we have the Tie Bet which is the hardest bet to win. The sums of both hands need to be equal and the chances of that happening are slim.
Now that we mentioned the three main types of bets, we have to share a few sentences about all the other possible bets. There are a lot of different Baccarat variants out there, especially when it comes to online baccarat games. These bets depend on the variant and on the casino that is offering the game. Below, we will explain these bets that will help you learn how to play Baccarat online. The most popular side bets are Dragon Bonus, Dragon 7, Panda 8, and the Perfect Pair.
- Dragon Bonus: This is the most popular side bet out there. Players can often find it in the Mini-Baccarat variant of the game. This bet can be placed both on your hand or the banker’s. You win the bet if the hand is a “natural win” or if it wins by a large margin.
- Panda 8: This is a bet you win when the “Player” hand wins the round with a hand total of 8. However, the hand total needs to be made up of three cards.
- Dragon 7: This is a bet you win when the “Banker” hand wins the round with a hand total of 7. However, the hand total needs to be made up of three cards. The Dragon 7 and Panda 8 bet types can be found in EZ Baccarat.
- Perfect Pair: This is a bet that you can only find in online baccarat titles developed by Playtech. To win the bet, at least one hand in the round (no matter if it’s the player’s or banker’s hand) needs to have a pair in the first 2 cards. So, the hand needs to have two identical cards, both in suit and rank.
Now that we know all the bet types, we need to talk about the payouts that come with those bet types. The three bet types always have the same payouts, regardless of the variant or the casino. Betting on yourself (the player’s hand), winnings are paid with a 1:1 ratio. The same ratio is applied when you bet on the banker’s hand. However, in this instance, the casino takes a commission which is usually 5%. Lastly, the tie bet has a much higher reward but the chances to win a tie bet are very small. The payout ratio for a tie bet is 8:1 or 9:1.
On the other hand, side bets are more rewarding but it’s harder to get a win with a side bet. The dragon bonus bet has a payout of 30:1. The dragon 7 side bet has an even higher payout which is 40:1. Panda 8 has a payout of 25:1 while the perfect side bet pays 12:1. However, if you get a perfect pair side bet with cards of the same suit, the payout will be 25:1.
Casinos all around the world have different variants of the Baccarat game. Some of the variants changed the rules a bit and they even changed the name. Below, we will talk about the most popular variants, especially the ones found at online casinos.
- Mini Baccarat – This is a variant where people can make smaller bets which is not the case in the classic version of the game. The rules are the same, and the same bets can be made. Basically, the “mini” version is a lower-stakes variant of the same game. It has faster gameplay and is played on a smaller table.
- Chemin de Fer – This is the variant that was initially played in France. The gameplay has only 6 decks, unlike the 8 decks that are used in the classic game. However, the biggest difference in this version is that players play against each other instead of the banker. Additionally, the game doesn’t have just one banker. The players take turns being bankers.
- European Baccarat – In this version of the game, the only difference is that players can decide whether they want another card if the sum of their hands is 5. The casino funds the banker’s hand which is usually $1,000 per hand. Because of this limit, players can’t bet more than $1,000 per hand. So, when a player makes the maximum bet, the other players can’t bet on that hand.
- Punto Banco – This is a variant that’s very similar to the classic Baccarat game. However, only 6 decks are used instead of 8. The other rules remain the same: there is one banker, and three main bets, and the player can’t change his bet after it’s made.
There are many strategies out there that can help you increase your winnings when playing Baccarat. However, since the game is based mostly on luck, there are certain tips that will help you more than any strategy. We have picked the best 5 tips that will teach beginners how to win online Baccarat.
Set a betting amount
This tip is true for any casino game out there. It’s always smart to set a betting amount before you start playing. This is an amount that you can afford to lose and if you go on a bad run and actually lose that amount, you need to stand up from the table.
Stop while ahead
Now that you have set the betting amount, this next tip is connected to the first one. Players should always manage their expectations of how much they expect to win from the game. So, if a good run happens, remember to walk away when you get close to the expected amount. An unexpected turn could happen, causing you to lose all your winnings which is why it’s important to stop while ahead.
Learn the rules
This is another tip that comes in handy with any table game you are playing. The first step is learning the rules and practising the game on demo versions before putting real money into the game. Since Baccarat is not a complex game, the rules are easy to learn. So, make sure you learn everything about the game before investing real money in the game.
Don’t rely on systems
As we said above, strategies and systems work in games where knowledge is required. Baccarat is an easy game that relies on luck. So, don’t waste time trying to beat the casino, or spend money on systems that don’t really work. Focus on these tips, improve your way of playing, and learn when it’s time to bet/when it’s time to stop.