Basics: What Is Baccarat
Baccarat is a card game, where two hands of cards are dealt. You bet on which of the two hands wins or if there’s a tie. If you guess correctly you win, wrong guesses lose. Even though the two hands are called banker and player you can bet on either one.
There are three major version of the game:
- Punto Banco, also called the North American Baccarat
- Chemin de fer, also called Chemmy
- Baccarat Banque
The most popular game of this trio is Punto Banco, which also is what online Baccarat always is. It’s strictly a game of chance. The other variations have a skill factor and strategy is involved, as you can either accept or decline additional cards like in Blackjack.
In this article, we focus on Punto Banco as it is the most common version of Baccarat. It’s also one of the most profitable casino games in the world from the casinos’ perspective. For example, over 90% of Macao’s total land-based casino income comes from Punto Banco.
How to Play Baccarat
You start a hand of Baccarat by making a bet. You have three options to bet: Banker, Player or Tie. After you’ve placed your bets, two hands (Banker and Player) are dealt. Either one hand wins by being closer to 9 in value or there’s a tie. If you bet correctly, you win money according to the payout rules.
Here’s how hands are scored in Baccarat
Each card has a point value, which is as follows:
- Numbered cards (2-9) are worth their face value
- Face cards (10, jacks, queens, kings) don’t have any value
- Aces are 1 point
When counting the point total only the rightmost digit of the hand’s sum counts. For example, a hand of 3 and 4 is 7. A hand of 8 and 6 is 4 (since 8+6 = 14 and only the rightmost digit matters).
As you can see, the maximum hand value in Baccarat is 9.
Baccarat payouts for winning bets are as follows
- Player: 1:1
- Banker: 1:1 -5% commission*
- Tie (“egalite”): 8:1 or 9:1 depending on the Casino
* 5% house commission is deducted from winning banker bets. If you bet $100 on banker and won, you would receive your $100 + $95 ($100 – 5% commission) = $195 back.
Dealing Rules of Baccarat
In Baccarat the croupier plays both hands with fixed drawing rules called “tableau” (French for “table”). This is true both at real-life and online casinos, so you can concentrate on your betting strategy instead of worrying about dealing.
Here’s the dealing rules for completeness’s sake though.
Unlike in Blackjack, dealing and drawing in Baccarat is automatic. You don’t have a say in what happens. This is great if you wish to gamble with high payout percentage and don’t have any prior experience of table games. There’s no skill factor involved, so you can’t make mistakes.
In a Baccarat deal, two cards are first dealt to each of the two hands. Depending on the point value of the first two cards, the Player and Banker can either stop or continue. If both continue, the Player’s cards are dealt first.
Baccarat dealing rules for player
- If the first two cards are 0-5 in value, a third card is dealt.
- If the first two cards are 6-9 in value, player stands (does not receive another card).
Baccarat dealing rules for banker
- If Player received only two cards, Banker plays as the Player.
- If Player received a third card, then Banker refers a lengthy chart to make a decision. In short, Banker stands on 7 and otherwise draws if losing the hand.
There are a couple of exceptions to this, but this is the rough idea of how Banker plays. Online Baccarat games always have an option for viewing how the banker plays.
Baccarat Questions And Answers
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What’s the best bet/strategy for Baccarat?
The optimal strategy is simple: When playing Baccarat, always bet on the Banker. The best tip for Baccarat is to always bet on the Banker. No matter what the exact rules used at the casino you are playing at, Banker is always more likely to win than Player.
Most often the house edges in Baccarat games are:
- Banker: 1.06%
- Player: 1.24%
- Tie: 14.44% (with 8:1 tie payout)
- Tie: 4.85% (with 9:1 tie payout)
(Calculated with eight decks of cards.)
Casino games go from deeply strategic to completely luck based. Examples of these ends could be video poker and Keno. Where video poker takes a lot of skill to play correctly, Keno is all luck. Baccarat, both off-line and online baccarat, are similar to Keno. There simply is no strategy involved.
What’s the house edge of Punto Banco Baccarat?
Baccarat has a razor thin house edge of about 1%. This tiny edge of only one percent is, btw, why internet casinos exclude online Baccarat from their welcome bonuses.
The exact edge depends on how many decks of cards are used and how ties pay out (some online casinos have higher than 8:1 tie bet payouts). Overall, the game offers some of the best odds of winning out of all the table games.
The small house edge has made this card game a favourite among inventive online and offline gamblers, who have attempted to come up with efficient winning strategies. However, it’s a pure game of luck, and as far as we know, nobody has figured it out yet.
Should I ever bet on a tie?
As seen on the list above, betting on a tie is a disastrous idea. The house can have a huge 14.44% edge on a tie bet, meaning that for every $100 you bet on a tie you can expect only to get $85.56 back. This is among the worst bets you can make at classic casino games.
The online casino Bodog.com pays out higher on ties than other casinos. The normal payout is 8:1, while Bodog’s is 9:1. While some online Baccarat players jump on this bet, it only drops the house edge on ties to 4.89%. That’s still more than four times the house edge of a Banker bet.
Is card counting possible or useful in Baccarat?
You can count cards, but it’s not very useful tactic. It’s not very useful because situations where knowing the count makes a difference are so rare.
In Black Jack, card counting can, in theory at least, be highly profitable. Baccarat is different since profitable situations appear extremely rarely in very specific situations (when a card shoe is almost empty, for example). This effectively renders card counting a waste of time. Many casinos even offer you a pad and a pen for keeping track of the cards, which goes to show how useless card counting is.
Why is Baccarat sometimes called Punto Banco?
The game described here is Punto Banco, which is the game you’ll find at every casino online and offline. Baccarat in its original form is a game where players play against each other and can make meaningful decisions during the game. That’s the Baccarat played in James Bond books for example.
Casinos replaced the slow-paced Baccarat with Punto Banco and started calling it Baccarat (confused yet? keep reading…). The original game is nowadays called Chemin de Fer. It’s main difference to modern Baccarat is that the players bet against each other and the casino croupier is there only to deal the cards and to make sure rules are followed correctly (just like a poker dealer). The players also can decide if they want a third card, which gives the game a bit of strategic depth. As a compensation casino takes a 5% rake out of each bet.
Where Baccarat is easy to find at pretty much every land and online casino, you’d have to travel to get to play chemin de Fer. While it’s not impossible to find, it’s currently only popular at Austria and Italy.
What is Mini Baccarat?
The word “mini” refers to the size of the table (really, that’s it!). Baccarat is normally played at a huge table that accommodates up to a dozen players, so some casinos want to save floor space by using smaller tables for a smaller number of players.
The main reason why casinos want to save space is that slot machines are almost every casino’s biggest money maker in Canada and elsewhere. So to fit in more slot machines casinos came up with a smaller version of Baccarat and started calling it Mini.
Another difference, although one that’s not always true, is that mini-games sometimes have lower betting limits than normal ones.
What is EZ Baccarat?
EZ Baccarat is a fairly new variation of Baccarat that has quickly grown extremely popular. The game is played as normal Baccarat, except betting on banker works a bit different. Banker bets pay with 1:1 odds without the normal 5% commission, but if the banker wins with 7 after three cards the hand is a push (everybody gets their bets back).
The best strategy for EZ Baccarat is exactly the same as for normal: bet on Banker. The new banker rules don’t change much, the house edge is 1.02% (versus 1.06% of normal Baccarat).
What is a Dragon in Baccarat?
Dragon is an EZ Baccarat side bet. This side bet pays 40-to-1 if the dealer’s three card total of 7 beats the player. Any other situation loses the side bet. This side bet has a 7.61% house edge.
What is a Panda in Baccarat?
Panda is yet another EZ Baccarat side bet. If you bet on Panda you win if the Player hand has a total of 8 points with exactly three cards. Panda pays 25-to-1 and has a house edge of over 10%.
What is a Perfect Pair in Baccarat?
Baccarat Pairs is a fairly common side bet found at real-life and online casinos. If you bet on a Pair you bet that the first two cards dealt are a pair. Note that a pair in this context means and exact pair (King & King, for example), a pair of similar valued cards (Queen & King) is NOT enough.
The odds of getting a pair is easy to calculate. Take a card from a 8 deck card shoe. Now there’s a 31 of the same card left in the shoe and 415 total cards, so the odds that the second card fors a pair is 31/415 = 7.47%. Since Perfect Pairs pays 11-to-1 when you hit it, the house edge of this bet is over 10%.
Q&A: Fun Facts
Is it true that casinos can lose millions per night on this game?
Yes, it is. Baccarat is a traditional high-roller game sometimes played with bets of over $100,000 or even millions of dollars (especially in Las Vegas and Macao). Huge bets combined with a tiny house edge means that sometimes players win big.
Players can even win enough to make a casino blame its poor financial results on Baccarat. Especially in Macao a bad day of Baccarat can cost casinos tens of millions of dollars.
Is it possible to cheat in Baccarat?
The only way to cheat in Baccarat is to mark cards. By marking cards a cheater can see what’s the first card coming out of the card shoe. Since some cards favor Player bets and some Banker bets, you can make better bets with this information.
Edge sorting as it is called is basically marking cards with your fingernails or other means. It’s useful in Baccarat because A) you can see the back of the first card when you make your bet and B) the hand closer to 9 wins. Mark high cards (7-9) and now you know if you should bet on the Player hand (which is dealt first) or the banker. If there’s a high card coming out as the first card of the deal, bet Player. Otherwise bet Banker.
Of course you need to keep in mind that cheating is against all rules. You might get criminally convicted if you cheat.
> Online Baccarat in Canada Online Baccarat in Canada court later found that Ivey had been edge sorting.
Is live dealer Baccarat available online?
Yes it is, but it’s not quite as popular as Roulette or Blackjack, which means tables aren’t always open at convenient timems. For this reason you should play at one of the recommended casinos above, they have Baccarat tables open either 24/7 or times when we Canadians want to play.
Quick explanation for those new to live online gaming:
Live games are broadcasted via a webcam to your computer, phone or tablet from a real life casino. A clever system allows you to bet on these live games as if you were at the casino yourself.
Can I play for free?
Yes. You can play free Baccarat games at every online casino. Usually each casino has more than one game (for example Mini, EZ and Punto Banco), so you can bet your fun casino chips on the exact game you want.
Note however, that there’s one exception to the rule of being able to play everything for fun money: live dealer games are only available for real-money gamblers.
Is it possible to play with no bonus?
Playing with no bonus is possible. In fact, high-rolling Baccarat players almost never accept a bonus from a casino to make cashing out easier. How you can say no to a bonus depends on the casino. Either you check a box on the deposit page or contact the casino’s chat support to ask that you don’t get a bonus. Either way, I can guarantee every casino is going to accommodate you.
Can I play real-money Baccarat on mobile?
Yes you can. There’s no need to download an app for your phone or tablet if you head on over to one of our Canada-friendly online casinos.
Not needing to download an app is actually great, as Google Play (Android) and Apple App Store (iPad, iPhone) don’t allow real-money gambling apps. Instead, jut head on over to one of the casinos we recommend above. For mobile gambling I’d say the best of the bunch is Party Casino.
Mobile Baccarat games are easy to play for free and for real Canadian dollars.
- Register at an online casino
- Play free online Baccarat games
- Visit the Cashier of the site to deposit
- (If playing for real) Cash out if you win
This whole process, and the games, are exactly the same if you’re on your computer, tablet or cell phone. Note that while depositing is instant, cashing out will take anything between 2 hours and 2 days depending on the site.
What’s the minimum bet in Baccarat?
Baccarat is a traditional high-roller game. At real-life Canadian casinos the minimum bet is usually $20 or more (for example, at EZ Baccarat of Casino Montreal). However online casinos changed all this and allow real-money betting from $1 up.
What’s the best site for playing online Baccarat?
Join one of the online casinos listed on the top of this page and try playing online for free. When you have got hold of it, you can start playing with real money.
Our favourite for playing Baccarat online is Bodog. There are no bonuses for baccarat players, but you can benefit from $200 bonus towards other table games when signing up by clicking here.