Online Baccarat rules: Understanding the basics of the game
Although its exact origins are unknown, what we do know is that baccarat is a card game that has been enjoyed for hundreds of years – first in Europe, before spreading across the rest of the world.
Some believe that French soldiers brought the game back to their country from Italy as long ago as the 15th century, while others believe it gained true notoriety as a favorite of the French aristocracy in the 19th century.
Casino gaming was legalized in France in the early 1900s, and it wouldn’t be long before the game spread across Europe and across the Atlantic to the Americas. Punto Banco, perhaps the most popular form of baccarat, has its roots in Cuba in the 1940s.
Baccarat gained further prominence when it was featured on the silver screen, with games played in Dr. No – one of the earliest outings for James Bond – and The Beatles’ big screen effort A Hard Day’s Night.
Given the simplistic nature of baccarat, it’s no surprise that the game has gone on to achieve great popularity both on the casino floor and in live casinos as well. Today, you can enjoy several different versions of it at Resorts Casino both in a traditional and live dealer format.
So, what are the rules of baccarat and how do you beat the dealer?
What are the basic rules of baccarat?
There are three different types of baccarat – Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer and A Deux Tableau, although in this article, we’re going to focus on the basic baccarat rules most commonly played online.
In some ways, baccarat is very similar to blackjack. It’s a straight-up battle between the player and the dealer, and instead of trying to score as close to possible as 21 as in blackjack, the magic number in baccarat is nine.
Both the player and the dealer receive two cards, and the individual who scores closest to nine wins – hands totaling eight or nine are declared a ‘natural’ and automatically win.
If neither the player or the banker’s hand scores eight or nine, a third card can be dealt to either side. If the player’s hand totals six or seven, in most versions, the baccarat rules dictate that they are forced to stand. If their hand value is less than six, that’s when a third card is drawn to try and get as close to nine as possible.
Where the player is forced to stand, the dealer can draw another card if their hand is worth less than six.
The online casino baccarat rules have one other item to be aware of. If you do draw a third card as explained above, what the dealer does next is determined by the value of the card you have been dealt:
- If the card drawn is a 2 or 3, the dealer draws with 0-4 or stands with 5-7.
- If the card drawn is a 4 or 5, the dealer draws with 0-5 or stands with 6-7.
- If the card drawn is a 6 or 7, the dealer draws with 0-6 or stands with 7.
- If the card drawn is an 8, the dealer draws with 0-2 or stands with 3-7.
- If the card drawn is a 9, 10-value or ace, the dealer draws with 0-3 or stands with 4-7.
So, what happens if your cards have a greater value than nine? In blackjack, your hand would be busted if it goes beyond 21, but in baccarat, there’s still a chance you can win. You simply subtract 10 from your hand’s value, e.g., a hand of 17 would instead score seven.
Here’s an important rule of baccarat: face cards and 10s are worth zero points, while aces are worth one. So, a hand of KQ would be worth zero, rather than the 20-point tally it would assume in other card games.
How do you play baccarat?
Now that we’ve established the baccarat rules, how do you play the game and – most importantly – how do you win?
We’ll cover the different betting options in the next section of this article, but as a basic guide, there are three different bets you can place: the player will have the hand closest to nine, the dealer will have the closest or both hands will be the same (a tie).
To place your bets, select your stake size and use the on-screen buttons to move your chips to the player, banker or tie positions.
The dealer will then hand you two cards as well as two cards to the ‘banker’ section of the gameboard, which they will oversee. The game will then unfold as per the rules described above.
What are the betting options and strategies in baccarat?
As we’ve learned, there are three standard bet types in baccarat: player or dealer, which pay at a rate of 1:1 on your stake, or the tie, which pays at a ratio of 8:1.
These betting options are available in all forms of online baccarat, while some variants offer additional side bets that you can place as well. These vary from one version of baccarat to the next, but as a rule can include:
- Player pair – You can bet that your two cards will have the same numeric value. If they do, you will be paid out at 11:1.
- Banker pair – If you take this wager and the banker has a pair in their first two cards, you’ll again be paid at 11:1.
- Either pair – You can hedge your bets a little and wager on either the player or banker cards to feature a pair. You’ll be paid at 5:1 if they do.
- Perfect pair – Because multiple decks are used in online baccarat, you could receive the exact same cards in a pair. Although there’s a payout of 25:1 on winning perfect pair bets, the odds of it occurring are generally much higher.
- Three-card win – As the name suggests, you can bet on whether or not it will take the player or banker three cards to win the round. The three-card win bet applies to both the player and the banker, so it will pay out on either, although the prize is different for each – 4:1 on a player win and 5:1 on the banker.
Given that online baccarat is a game of pure chance, with no input from you as a player beyond placing your initial bet, strategies for successful baccarat play are thin on the ground – there is very little you can do to influence the game or enhance your chances of winning.
That said, knowing some basic math confirms that the banker bet is the most efficient baccarat betting strategy of them all – it pays at the same rate as the player bet but has a lower house edge. Therefore, in the long run, the banker bet will prove to be the most equitable.
Other baccarat strategies revolve around staking: are you going to flat stake with every bet, change the amount or use a system such as Martingale or Fibonacci? If you are a complete newcomer to online baccarat, using a flat staking plan and sticking to your budget for each gaming session is the smartest way to go.
What are some tips for playing baccarat?
Like many casino games, baccarat is all about whether your luck is in on the day or not – however, there are some things you can do to not only enhance your enjoyment of the game, but also increase your chances of winning as well.
Of all the tips for baccarat, playing the banker bet regularly is the simplest strategy but also one of the most mathematically sound. The payout is 1:1 for winning banker bets, but the house edge here is around 1.06%, depending on the variation of baccarat played. Compare that to the player bet, where again the payout is 1:1, but this time the house edge is 1.36% – clearly, you hand even more of an advantage to the casino when placing player bets.
It’s true that you might have to pay commission on banker bet wins, but theoretically, you should win more often with this wager than the player bet – over time, it still becomes the more equitable betting option.
One of the other common tips for baccarat is to avoid using the tie bet altogether, and the numbers support that notion. It’s true that you’ll enjoy a payout of 8:1 on winning tie bets, but remember that the house edge is a mammoth 14.4% – as you can see, in the long run, any winnings you make from tie bets will eventually be eaten away and superseded by losing bets. Betting on the tie can be fun when you consider the possible reward, but it really does not represent a smart option if you plan to play multiple baccarat hands over time.
So, what other tips for baccarat are there?
One of the other strategies that some baccarat players use is to only play versions of the game that uses a low number of decks. Typically, baccarat is played with eight decks of cards dealt from a shoe that are re-shuffled after every hand. This eliminates the possibility of patterns forming and maximizes randomness, which takes away any slight advantage the player might have from noticing that a high percentage of picture cards have been dealt lately, for example.
But by playing games with fewer decks, you can circumnavigate some of the ‘randomness’ factor by knowing that fewer versions of each card are available in the shoe.
Another good tip when playing online baccarat is to focus on money management. Plenty has been written about the use of progressive staking plans, and while on paper these might seem like a good idea, the reality is that if you embark on a lengthy losing run – which is perfectly possible in games of absolute chance like baccarat – you will need a sizable bankroll to maintain the staking pattern.
It’s much better to set a budget for each baccarat session you play and break that down into equal-sized stake units – if you want to play 50 hands, for example, then you can divide your budget by 50 to get a flat stake for each hand.
Having an end game is important as well. Many online casino gamers follow a similar path to stock traders, who set ‘take profit’ and ‘loss limit’ orders on their open positions to lock in a profit or to ensure they never lose more than they are willing to.
That’s a mindset that can prove to be very useful in online baccarat. Consider how much you would like to win from your session – and be realistic here – and if you reach that target, then walk away from the table. Similarly, a loss limit ensures that once you have lost what you are willing to, you walk away from the table. That way, you can budget better and not be prone to ‘bad behavior’ such as emotionally chasing losses. Instead, you will have the bankroll to come back tomorrow or another day to play again.
How to become a better baccarat player
Hopefully you have found this article useful, and if nothing else, you now know the rules of baccarat and how to play it.
Among the main game and side bets, it’s wagering on the banker that gives you the best probability chance of being profitable – although, of course, you are free to wager on any of the different options if you’re feeling lucky.
If you want to improve your baccarat play, consider setting stake limits for every session you play, as well as ‘take profit’ and ‘stop loss’ amounts so that you remain in control throughout. The use of progressive staking systems should only be considered by those with experience and a deep bankroll to play with. If you’re a beginner baccarat player and interested in learning more, you can get acquainted with baccarat attack strategy.
As with all casino games, the emphasis should be on having fun. Baccarat is such a simple and enjoyable game to play once you are comfortable with the rules, and with no strategy required, you can simply sit back, relax and let the action unfold in front of you.