Baccarat is a popular casino game that has been around for many years. It’s particularly popular in Asia, and in the large Las Vegas casinos where “whales” often play it for hundreds of thousands of dollars a hand. There are various versions of the game played: traditional or full-size table baccarat where the house takes a 5% commission on winning Banker bets, or the now more popular midi-baccarat which uses a blackjack table size, has no commission, but instead pays only half whenever the bank wins on a 6. The full table game has a house edge of 1.06% on banker bets, and 1.24% on player bets. The midi-baccarat game has a slightly higher edge. Note that the TIE bet should be avoided in either game (pays 8:1) – it has an edge of 14.4%!
How do you play Baccarat?
In Baccarat, the highest possible card total for either player or banker is 9. Tens and picture cards count as zero, and all the other cards count as their face value (i.e. aces are 1, 3’s are 3, etc). When a total over 10 is made (i.e. a 7 card with an 8 card) then only the last digit counts (in this example, 5).
1. You can bet on either the banker or the player to win, or on a tie. The idea is simply to bet on the side that WINS (has a higher score). A TIE bet means that both sides need to have the same score to win.
2. The dealer will draw the cards according to some rules, to determine a winner.
3. When the dealer has paid the winning bets you may place a new bet for the next hand.
Player Drawing Rules
If total of first two player cards is 0,1,2,3,4,5, then dealer draws a third card.
If total of first two player cards is 6,7 then dealer stands.
If total of first two player cards is 8,9 a natural, then dealer draws a third card.
Note: When a natural (a two-card 8 or 9) is encountered for either a player or the banker,no further cards are drawn to either hand.
Bankers Drawing Rules
When the first two banker’s cards total zero, one or two, the Banker’s hand draws a card. When the total of the Banker’s first two cards is three or more (but not 8 or 9, a natural), the outcome depends on the third card drawn by the player, as shown below:
With the hands decided upon and finalised, the bets are settled.
Casino Barred’s Advice
Baccarat is a fun and entertaining game to play, and offers reasonable odds. In the long term it makes little difference whether you bet player or banker – although I tend to bet banker more often as it will statistically win more hands, giving you a lower house edge on the game. Avoid the TIE bet. Have a reasonable bankroll when you play – ideally 30 – 40 times each stake, to give yourself a chance to ride out any “storms”. Saying that, wins on one side or the other of more than 5 or 6 hands in a row are uncommon. They can happen, but they don’t happen often.
Find a land based casino you enjoy. Alternatively, if playing online, this game can be found at Virgin Casino and Betfair Casino. Playing at Betfair Casino is your better option, as it has Zero Baccarat – a special version of the game in which banker bets only attract commission of 2.75% (lowering the overall house edge on the banker bets to about 0.5% – almost half of what you’ll find elsewhere).
Have fun playing Baccarat – the game of whales and small fishes alike!