BACCARAT is viewed as the classiest option on the casino floor, mainly because it’s James Bond’s game of choice and was a favourite pastime of the French aristocracy.
It’s less well known than poker or blackjack and many consider the game to be quite complicated. But it’s actually very easy to play, especially in the most popular version of the game, Punto Banco, where all the work is done by the croupier. And it’s Punto Banco I will be using for this guide.
How does Baccarat Work?
Baccarat is contested between a dealer and player, with whoever gets closest to nine with a two or three-card hand winning the round. But the terminology is a bit confusing as every player at the table is not dealt a hand and you can win even if the dealer has the winning hand. Only two hands are dealt, one for the player and one for the banker, and the game is really about betting on who will win.
The easy way to understand a baccarat game is to compare it to betting on a football game. You can either beat on Team A to win, Team B to win, or a draw. The same principle applies to baccarat, with Team A being deemed ‘the player’ and Team B ‘the dealer’.
At the start of each round, you will place a bet on either the player to win, the dealer to win or a draw. So if you place a bet on the dealer you will want them to win instead of the player. The best outcome for a winning bet is a draw as this pays 8/1 but the chances of it happening are much slimmer than a win for the player or banker. Wins for the player and banker each pay evens but the house takes five per cent of your winnings for any hand the banker wins.
You can play Punto Banco Baccarat at most online casinos, many of them give you the option to play live against a real dealer in real time. Visit https://casinobetting.live/in/ for a list of some of the best casinos available.
The Baccarat Scoring System
The object of Punto Banco is to get a score as close to nine as possible. Each card scores at its face value, while Jacks, Queens and Kings have a value of zero and an ace is valued at one. The score is the value of the two cards added together but baccarat is just a single-digit game. That means if the combined value of your card is in double digits, you take away the first digit. For example, cards totalling 15 will score 5, cards totalling 11 will score 1, etc.
When is a third card dealt in Baccarat?
If either the player or banker has a score of eight or nine after their first two cards are dealt the hand will end there, with the hand closest to nine winning or a tie declared if they have the same score. If neither player nor dealer has a score of eight or nine the rules then differ over whether they receive a third card.
Player third-card rules: If a player’s first two cards total 0-5 they take a third card. If the total is 6 or 7 then they don’t take a third card.
Banker third card rules: If the player’s score is 6 or 7 and they don’t draw a third card then the banker will draw a third card of their own only if their own score is 0–5. If their score is 6 or 7 they will keep just two cards, the same as the player.
It’s when a player draws a third card that things get a bit complicated for the dealer’s hand. Here’s a rundown on the different scenarios:
- If the banker’s total is 2 or less, he draws a card, regardless of what the player's third card is.
- If the banker’s total is 3, he draws a third card unless the player's third card was an 8.
- If the banker total is 4, he draws a third card if the player's third card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
- If the banker total is 5, he draws a third card if the player's third card was 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- If the banker total is 6, he draws a third card if the player's third card was a 6 or 7.
- If the banker total is 7, he stands.
Once a third card is drawn for either the player, banker or both, the winning hand will again be the one with the total nearest to 9.
Different versions of Baccarat
Baccarat isn't just for fictional spies any more and while Punto Banco is the most common game of Baccarat, especially online, there are other versions of the game out there. Here’s brief rundown on the differences.
Ez Baccarat: In this version, five per cent does not go to the house on winning banker hands. However, if the banker wins with a three-card total of seven then the bet won’t be paid out. In Ez Baccarat there are also a couple of side bets. The first is Dragon 7 and this is a way to more than compensate for a winning three-card banker bet not paying. If you bet on a Dragon 7 and the banker wins with a three-card total of seven, your bet will pay 40/1. The other side bet is called a Panda 8 and this is a bet on either the player or banker getting a winning three-card total of 8. This bet pays 25/1.
Super 6: This doesn’t vary much from Punto Banco. Like EZ Baccarat, there is now five per cent payment to the house on winning banker bets. But if the banker wins with a score of 6 then only 50 per cent of a winning bet will be paid.
Three-card Baccarat: In this version of the game, only one deck of cards is used compared to the usual 6-8 decks in Punto Banco. Three cards are always dealt and the highest winning hand is having three face cards (for example, King, Queen and Jack). If neither banker nor player has three face cards, the hand closest to nine will win.
Chemin De Fer: This is a more traditional version of the game and it’s usually only played in France or certain casinos. The main difference is that one of the players takes on the role on banker and deals the cards hands down to the player. Both players and banker also have the choice on whether to take a third card, unlike Punto Banco. It's Chemin De Fer that James Bond plays in the Ian Fleming novels.
Baccarat Banque: This is similar to Chemin De Fer in that one of the players will become the banker. The difference is that the banker will play against two players instead of one. Punters to his left will bet on one player and punters to his right on another.
General Advice & Tips
Casinos in Singapore and Macau report up to 88% of their revenue comes from baccarat so it's a hugely popular game on the casino floor but you can also play it from the comfort of your own home.
Make sure you open an account with a licensed and regulated operator. Baccarat is a game of pure chance if you are playing Punto Banco as all the cards will be dealt by the dealer, just like in Poker, and you are merely betting on which hand will win. So there is no real need for strategy and it’s merely a case of going with your hunches.
This makes practice on a free site before you start wagering money less important than in Blackjack and Poker which have large elements of skill to them. Nevertheless, it may be best to play a few games on a free site or app first so you can get a feel for the game.
When you are ready to wager real money then have a look around to see which sites are offering the best bonuses and sign-up offers for new customers. It could be worth signing up for a few and taking advantage of all their offers then deciding which site you want to stick with for most of your gaming. But remember to check the fine print of any welcome offer or bonus.
They generally have what is called a wagering requirement and these can be quite high. This is the amount of money you will need to bet in order to release your bonus winnings into your main cash balance. For example, if you have a welcome bonus of £100 with a wagering requirement of 25, you would only be able to access the bonus once you have a bet a total of £2,500.
It could also be wise to play Super 6 or EZ Baccarat if they are available, given there is no five per cent house payout on winning banker bets. If you play a lot of hands then this could make quite a difference to your winnings.