Baccarat is an exciting game, full of suspense and intrigue! Baccarat is both simple to learn and play. A game of baccarat has three possible outcomes: Player win, Banker win, and tie.
How to play Baccarat
Baccarat is played on a large table that can comfortably seat 12 to 14 players. Although the seats are numbered to help keep track of buy-ins and commissions, no number 13 exists, probably because it is unlucky to be superstitious. The game is played with standard English decks of 52-cards, usually, six or eight shuffled and placed in a shoe.
Know that you can bet on either of two hands. One is the Banker’s hand, the other is the Player’s hand. A player may bet on either hand. Bets must be placed on either the Player or Banker before cards are dealt.
Know how cards are dealt. Two cards are dealt to both the Player and the Banker. A player or casino operator holding the shoe slides one card out and places it face up in the Player’s box on the felt table. The next card, the first of the Banker hand, is placed in the Banker’s box on the table. The house then deals another Player card, then the second Banker card. The dealer’s first round consists of two cards for both the Player and Banker.
Announce the point total of both of sets of cards. Tens and face cards all are worth zero points; all other cards are worth their face value, with the ace worth one point. If a total is more than 10, the second digit is the value of the hand. For example, a 9 and a 6, which total 15, make up a five-point hand. In order to win, your bet must be on the hand that totals closer to nine.
Understand the “natural” win. If in the first two cards dealt, the point total is 8 or 9 for either the Player or the Banker, this is called a natural win and the game is over. Bets that have already been placed are cashed out.
Determine whether the player gets a third card by looking at the point totals.The Player hand is completed first. A total of 8 or 9 for the Player will get no additional cards. The Player stands on totals of 6 or 7. On any other total, 0-5, the Player draws a third card, unless the banker has 8 or 9, in which case the bank hand wins with no further draw.
Know the rules governing the third card for the Banker. If the Player stands pat (or draws no new cards), the Banker draws with a hand total of 0-5 and stays pat with a hand total of 6 or 7. All other hands are dependent on the third card the Player draws:
- If the Player’s third card is 9, 10, face-card or Ace, the Banker draws when he has a 0-3, and stays with a 4-7.
- If the Player’s third card is 8, the Banker draws when he has a 0-2, and stays with a 3-7.
- If the Player’s third card is 6 or 7, the Banker draws when he has a 0-6, and stays with a 7.
- If the Player’s third card is 4 or 5, the Banker draws when he has a 0-5, and stays with a 6-7.
- If the Player’s third card is 2 or 3, the Banker draws when he has a 0-4, and stays with a 5-7.
Once all cards are dealt, calculate the winning hand. The winning hand is that which totals closer to 9. In the event of a tie, neither hand wins or loses. Sometimes a commission is paid out of winnings when betting on the Banker’s hand.
Baccarat Rules and Strategy
Baccarat is not an exceedingly complex game, but it does have certain idiosyncrasies that take some getting used to. For instance, the banker hand and the player hand:
Banker vs. Player
Regardless of how many people are playing, only two hands are dealt. One is designated the banker hand, the other is the player hand. Any customer may bet on either hand, with the exception that the customer holding the shoe in the full-scale game must either bet banker or pass the shoe. Do not think of the bank hand as belonging to the house or the player hand belonging to the bettor. To avoid confusion, we’ll refer to baccarat “bettors” or “customers” rather than “players.”
In full-scale baccarat, the bettor holding the shoe slides one card out and passes it facedown to the stand-up dealer, who passes it to the customer with the largest player bet. The next card, the first of the banker hand, is placed next to the shoe. The bettor then deals another player card, then the second banker card.
The dealer calls for the player hand, and the customer with the largest player bet first looks at the cards, then gives them to the dealer. The dealer turns the cards faceup and announces the point total. Then the dealer calls for the banker hand, and the shoe holder looks at the cards and gives them to the dealer. If the player total requires a draw, the dealer will say, “Card for the player,” and the shoe holder will pass a card to the dealer, who will pass it to the player-bettor, who looks at it and passes it back to the dealer, who turns it faceup.
Finally, if the banker requires a card, the dealer will call, “Card for the bank,” and repeat the process with the shoe holder.
The casino is more than willing to offer the time-consuming ceremony to its largest bettors. In mini-baccarat, however, the dealer plays out both hands, with no fuss and in half the time.
The object is to bet on the two- or three-card hand that totals closer to nine. Tens and face cards all are worth zero points; all other cards are worth their face value, with the ace worth one point. If a total is more than 10, the second digit is the value of the hand. For example, a 9 and a 6, which total 15, make up a five-point hand.
Initially, two cards are dealt for each hand. The point totals determine whether either hand gets a third card. The player hand is completed first. A total of 8 or 9 is called a “natural,” and the player hand gets no more cards. In fact, unless the banker has a natural 9 or ties the natural 8, no further cards are drawn, and the naturals are automatic winners.
Player also stands on totals of 6 or 7. On any other total, zero through 5, player draws a third card, unless banker has a natural, in which case the bank hand wins with no further draw.
Banker rules are a bit more complex. Banker also stands on 7, 8, or 9 and draws on 0, 1, or 2, but on other hands the banker’s play is dependent on the value of the player’s third card. Banker hits 3 unless the player’s third card is an 8; hits 4 unless the player’s third card is 1, 8, 9, or 10; hits 5 only if the player’s third card is 4, 5, 6, or 7; and hits 6 only if the player’s third card is 6 or 7.
Player Hand: When first two cards total:
|1-2-3-4-5-10||Draaws a card|
|8-9||Natural — Stands|
|First two cards total:||Draws when player’s third card is:||Stands when player’s third card is:|
|8-0||Natural — Stands|
There are a few exceptions. A natural, as noted above, stops play with no further draws. And if the player has one of its other two standing hands, 6 or 7, bank stands on 6 as well as 7, 8, and 9.
And that’s it. Neither hand ever gets more than three cards. After the hands have been played out, the hand totaling closer to 9 wins. Winning bets are paid off at even money. Ties push — neither hand wins nor loses.
Bets on Ties
Bettors also may wager that the two hands will finish with an equal number of points. Winning bets on ties pay off at 8-1. That sounds tempting, but this wager carries a hefty 9.5 percent house edge. Avoid it.
As in other table games, buy chips by placing cash on the layout and asking the dealer for change. The dealer is not allowed to take money directly from players’ hands.
If you are the bettor with the largest wager on player and receive the player cards, do not look at them until both player and banker hands have been dealt. And if you hold the banker hand, do not look at the cards until the dealer has flipped the player hand faceup.
Baccarat players are allowed to keep track of the results of each hand, and most casinos provide score sheets and pencils to do so. Most players simply put an X in a column beneath “Banker,” “Player,” or “Tie.”
This is a pure guessing game. Which hand will win? The banker hand will win slightly more often — 50.68 percent of all decisions, not including ties — giving the house its 1.36 percent edge on player bets. But the house collects a 5 percent commission on winning banker bets, leading to the 1.17 percent house edge on banker.
Mathematicians long have suspected that baccarat, like blackjack, might be vulnerable to a card-counting system. But the best system yet developed appears to yield a slight edge to the bettor on the average of about one hand per eight-deck shoe. That’s an edge not worth pursuing — to have the advantage, the customer would have to count down hand after hand after hand, without playing, until this tiny advantage came to pass. The customer would lose more in time than he’d gain in the edge, and the casino would be unlikely to hold a seat for someone spending hours without placing a bet.
For the bettor, baccarat is a game of luck plus money management. Do not make bets too large for your available bankroll, and do not increase bets when losing. Making larger bets while chasing losses is a good way to go broke fast. If you’re going to vary your bet size, increase it while winning and bring it down when losing. Set limits on your losses and stick to them.
If you sit down at a mini-baccarat table with $100, tell yourself you’re not going to leave with less than $50. Then, if you have a cold streak and you hit that $50 mark, walk away. An important part of casino survival is developing the discipline to leave a table while you still have money.
Learn to walk away with winnings, too. If you have a good run and build that $100 up to $150, try one of these two techniques. Either put the original $100 in your pocket and just play with the $50 in winnings, while keeping that $50 loss limit, or adjust your thinking to tell yourself you’ll not walk away from the table with less than $125. Then stick to it.
The longer you play a game with a negative expectation, even one as narrow as 1.17 percent, the more likely it is that the casino will grind down your bankroll. Walk away from the table with at least part of that bankroll intact — not just at baccarat, but at any casino game — and you’ll be surprised at how much more often you wind up a winner for the day.
Baccarat is not necessarily the most popular game in a casino, but it can be just as exciting as blackjack or craps. Though the organization of the game can seem strange at first, the tips in this article should have you placing bets in no time