Baccarat was once a fairly popular casino game and it still is at land-based and online casinos. It’s a card game that is played against the house i.e. the dealer, the house’s representative. So, when you are seated at a baccarat table, you are not playing against other players, which means there is no such pressure focused on you.
The name ‘baccarat’ is used to refer to the standard and commonly offered variation by casinos. However, depending on where you are playing, you will find three variations:
There are several more that were invented recently and all of them share the same concept with small variations in the rules or with additional bets. So, once you learn one baccarat game, you will know how to play the rest of them by adapting to the small, but significant changes.
The true origins of one of the oldest European games are unknown. However, there are several theories around, according to which the game of baccarat comes from Italy or France just like roulette and blackjack. It’s believed to be invented in the 1400s and the name of the game refers to the value of the lowest ranking hand, 0. It comes from an Italian dialect.
There are two significant scandals in the history of baccarat involving royalty and one happened in France. It was during the reign of King Louis XIV and his prohibition on gambling games. The game was popular in his court, so he banned it, which made it even that much popular in the underground.
This counter-effect was the problem with every prohibition and as a result the people continued to play the game organizing contests secretly, and it later evolved into its French variation, chemin de fer, which is played till date across casinos.
When chemin de fer reached the USA, it was advertised as “European baccarat”, and was very unpopular among low rollers and the average casino player that was not part of the elite. It was because of the many complex rules which involved being the banker, three dealers were required to control the game and the stakes were too high, which is why it was popular among the wealthier players.
This gave rise to the North American version, also known as punto banco. It’s a simplified version of chemin de fer, where the dealer performed 99% of the game play. The only thing the player needed to do is to place a bet. Everything else was ‘automated’ by the dealer.
When the game reached the online world, this meant an even wider potential public that liked a simple baccarat game like punto banco, where the game play is automated with the help of a programming language. Thus, came online baccarat, a game that could be played by the wide masses on their mobile devices without the need of skill at all.
We will explain the basic rules for the most widely played baccarat version, which is punto banco, or sometimes known as mini baccarat too. In this variation, you can make one out of three possible bets, and once you’ve made the bet, the dealer or the computer plays out the rest of the game based on the cards drawn. You can bet that the player hand will win, the banker hand will win, or if it’s going to be a tie, which is the highest paying, but also the hardest bet to predict.
The initial dealer and player hands are consisted of only two cards. Based on that, it is decided whether they will need an additional third card in their hand. If the hand total is 5 or less, the player or banker hand gets an additional card. If the hand total is above 5 but no more than 9, no third card is given.
Baccarat cards have a bit different values than other games like blackjack or poker when it comes to the cards that are normally valued as ten, such as 10, Jack, Queen and King. In baccarat their value is 0, because of the rule explained in the next paragraph.
The point in baccarat is to get as closest to 9 as possible. But, if your hand total is bigger than nine, only the second digit is considered. For example, if your hand total is 13 (6+7), your hand is actually valued 3, and you get an additional card. Whichever total you have that consists of two digits, only the right-most digit is considered. Therefore, ten-valued cards are counted as zero.
If you get a zero, that’s ‘baccarat’. Based on this, the player and banker hands are compared, and whichever has a higher hand total, wins. The hand that has a total of 9 with just two cards, is called a natural.
The player hand is not your actual ‘personal’ hand in the game. No one owns the player hand, you just bet on it.
The odds of winning at baccarat are relatively favorable. This is why many high rollers have been very interested in the game ever since its beginning. It was even featured as the favorite game of the James Bond character from the same novels and movies. With just the right high roller bet, you could be cashing out your entire year’s profit.
The banker bet has the lowest house edge. It’s only 1.17%. The player bet has a slightly higher edge of 1.36%, while the tie bet has an edge of 14.4%.
Since baccarat is a game of chance, no strategy will guarantee you that you can win most of the time. However, the most common tip you will get is to always bet on the banker hand. Statistically the banker hand will win more than the player hand, which on long term can mean profit for you.
Short term banker bets won’t help you much, so try to play as long as possible without depleting your bankroll. Also, try to stay away from the tie bet unless you believe you can beat the house when it has almost 15% advantage on you.
It’s important not to fall for no kind of baccarat betting systems that people try to sell online. The game has been devised in such a way that the outcomes cannot be fully predicted. The only one that makes money out of a baccarat system is the person that sells it.
Even the most popular betting systems like the progressive one can’t guarantee you a certain long-term profit because it only assures it in theory. Counting cards won’t help you either because it’s even more difficult to apply it on baccarat.
You will feel frustrated if you go on and take baccarat more seriously than you should. It’s not poker or other game of skill where you can deliberate all your moves carefully. No, all the situations are as random as they can get just like in slots and just like in roulette. So, the only logical thing to do is to have fun with the bets, with the people around you and to be careful with your money.
Betting smart is to know how to control your gambling urges at the right moment, when you desire for an adrenaline pump is the biggest. If you are a high roller, you should be even more careful with your money.