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Baccarat is a game for quick minds and cool nerves. Read our summary of how to play this popular casino card game.
Baccarat has a long history, and its origins can be traced back to several different games from a number of European countries, notably Medieval Italy, and 15th Century France, while the game we know today was developed in the US by English colonists.
In the original Italian game, all tens, and face cards, like Jack, Queen and King were given a score of zero, and the old Italian word for zero is ‘baccarat’. Since then, the rules have changed somewhat, but the one that has stood throughout the game’s history is that any hand that totals ten is given the score of baccarat.
In France, the game of Chemin de Fer was played by the nobility and royals but the revolution brought this tradition to an end and it was Punto Banco, an English version that became established in the American colonies.
Punto Banco became popular in a number of American states, where gambling was legalised, such as Nevada and New Jersey, although in the early years it was still almost exclusively played by richer gamblers, just as it had been in France. But, as with so many casino games from Europe, it was this popularity in the United States that ensured the continued survival of Baccarat into the modern era.
Nowadays, particularly since the advent of online gambling, Baccarat is enjoyed by millions of players with budgets of all sizes, and it is no longer just a game for high rollers. Almost all internet casinos now feature a Baccarat game, often the faster Mini version, based on the American rules that have been used at land based casinos for many years.
Much of the terminology used in Baccarat reflects its’ Italian and French origins, although some American words and phrases have also been adopted.
Baccarat: This is the name given to a hand with a score of zero, and unsurprisingly, it is not a desirable result.
Banker: A wager on the outcome of the bankers hand. This is one of only three moves that can be made in the standard version of the game, and pays out at 1:1, with the banker taking a small commission. This move is also referred to as banco.
Coup: One baccarat round, comprised of the banker’s hand and the player’s hand.
Dealer: The cards are drawn by the dealer who may also be referred to as a croupier.
Mini Baccarat: This is a faster adaptation of the game where the dealer turns over all of the cards. Frequently offered with lower table limits, it has become the most widely played baccarat version at online casinos.
Natural: This occurs when the first two cards received by the player have a total score of eight or nine.
Player: Similar to the banker bet, this is a wager on the outcome of the player’s hand. This bet also pays out at 1:1, but with no commission taken, giving the house just a small edge of around 1%. This move is sometimes called punto.
Run: An additional bet on getting several consecutive winning hands, which can be banker, player or tied results.
Standoff: A situation whereby the player and dealer both have hands of equal value, also known as a tie.
Tie: A bet that the drawn cards will result in a standoff. The payout for a winning tie wager is 8:1, but as the house edge is close to 15% it is not a frequently chosen bet.
Baccarat games are played out using from one to eight decks of cards, and with anything up to 14 players around a single table. All cards between 2 and 9 are given their face values, with the ace being valued at one. The remaining cards, namely the ten, jack, queen and king, are valued at zero.
A round of play begins with each player making their bets on any of the three possible options, either the banker bet, player bet, or a tie. The dealer then draws two cards for each player, and two for the banker. The score of each hand is determined by the right digit of each card, making the maximum score nine. If the cards total 10 or more, the first digit does not get counted, so although cards with a face value of 6 and 7 would total 13, here they would have a score of 3.
The cards are drawn from a dealer ‘shoe’ by each player in turn, in a similar way as they are drawn in Craps and Poker games. However, if the banker wins any coup, the shoe does not move for the next round.
The difference with a Mini Baccarat game is that the dealer turns all of the cards face up and only six decks of cards are normally in the shoe. This makes the game speedier, and changes the odds a little, but the rules and payouts remain the same.
There are only two sensible bets to make in a Baccarat game, either the player’s hand or the banker’s hand, so there is little scope for developing a strategy. The crucial points to note are that both bets pay out at 1:1, but while the player’s hand pays out at exactly Evens, there is a 5% commission on the banker’s hand.
Bankroll management is key to the enjoyment of any casino game and all players should set themselves an affordable limit on what they spend at the tables. Due to its’ low house edge, Baccarat is a game where the odds of success are higher than most, but there is still a small advantage for the casino which cannot be overturned in the longer run, so determine your limit and stick to it.
A few casinos, both online and some European land-based ones, still feature Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque, which are games that give players more scope for using mathematical strategies and systems.
- Before committing real money to any game, practice first using the free-play versions that many online casinos now provide.
- Avoid the Tie bet, with its’ substantial house edge. Although the 8:1 payout may seem tempting, a win is unlikely, so only take this bet if you can afford to lose it or like the risk,
- The reason why Baccarat has become so popular is largely due to the fact that it is such a straightforward game. Most online casinos feature the Mini version which is both simple and quick, but anyone looking for a greater challenge may want to seek out a casino offering the Chemin de Fer game. There are, however, other games like Blackjack or Poker that can provide you with greater opportunities to use advanced betting strategies.
- It can be worth looking for an online casino that has special offers for anyone playing Baccarat, which can optimise the value of a players cash deposits, even though the actual game will keep the same odds and house edge.
- Bankroll management is vital and players must ensure that they stick to the limits that they have set for themselves. Baccarat is an easy game to play, with only two practical betting options to remember, and a low house edge which makes this an enjoyable game where you stand a reasonable chance of making a profit.