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Online Baccarat Guide for Kiwis

Baccarat table

Whether you’re new to the Baccarat game or have been playing for a while, here are a few tips and tricks to ensure success.

Not only will this article help you to understand the game and suggest the best places to play but also help you understand the best game variants while learning about security and other services.

Baccarat History

As it originated in Europe, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many people mispronounce it. The correct way to say it is BA-CAH-RAH, not BACK-A-RAT.

The game of Baccarat is a card game played in casinos in which two or more punters gamble against the banker. The player who holds 2 or 3 cards that total closest to nine, wins.

While the origins of Baccarat are obscure and date back either to the 15th or 18th century, the game reportedly originated in Italy when French soldiers who were fighting there learned the game and brought it back home.

According to the James Bond franchise, Baccarat Chemin de Fed is James Bond’s game of choice and featured in the original Casino Royale and several other films.

Play Baccarat like a Pro

Let’s get down to basics.

Baccarat doesn’t always have a clear winner, as there is also the possibility of a tie. Similar to Blackjack, it’s a straightforward card comparison game where the only question to be answered is who will end up with a hand that has a card value closest to 9.

The two entities in Baccarat are the Player and the Banker. It is important to understand that Player is not associated with the bettor, and Banker is not associated with the house or casino. They are just used as reference names.

The punter can bet on either to win or bet on a tie, where Player and Banker will need to have identical card values.

Players place their bets, after which two cards are dealt, face up (in Punto Banco) and the value of the hand for both Player and Banker are calculated.

In some cases, the round (called a “coup”) can be concluded at that point after comparing the total card value of each of the two hands to see which is closer to 9.

The card values are as follows:

  • Aces = 1
  • Face cards = 0
  • 10 = 0
  • 9 = 9
  • 8 = 8
  • 7 = 7
  • 6 = 6
  • 5 = 5
  • 4 = 4
  • 3 = 3
  • 2 = 2

Unlike in blackjack, royal face cards are never desirable.

Baccarat Rules

Table and Decks

  • Baccarat is played at a table for 14 players, each assigned a number where bets should be place, marked 1 to 15 with the number 13 omitted (for superstitious reasons). A Mini-Baccarat table has space for up to seven players.
  • The table is marked with three boxes, one for bets on the Player (Punto), one for bets on the Banker (Banco), and one box for bets on a tie. Players place bets in one of the three boxes.
  • The cards are dealt to boxes for Player and Banker in the middle of the table.
  • Baccarat is played with multiple decks of cards, the number of decks depending on the casino.

Baccarat Card And Hand Values

The goal of Baccarat is to reach as close as possible to 9 points. After you bet, there’s nothing to do but sit back and hope for a good outcome.

The combined value of dealt cards is an amount between zero (worst) and nine (best). Online, the addition is done automatically. The ace is counted as 1, while the 10-spot plus the royal face cards are worth 0. The other cards, 2-9, are worth their numerical value.

If the total value of the cards is 10 or more, then 10 is subtracted from the total. For example, a King (0) plus a 7 adds up to 7. However, a 7-spot plus a 5-spot equals 12 and from this total 10 must be subtracted to give the hand a value of 2.

An easy way to remember is if the total of the hand is over 10,  just ignore the first digit. 

How to Play 

  • Place your bets! Select either Player, Banker or Tie then wait for the cards to be dealt. 
  • Round 1: Player and banker each gets dealt two cards facing up. 
  • If either Banker or Player totals 8 or 9, this is called a natural hand. 
  • The one who gets the closest to 9 is the winner. 
  • If there is no natural hand, the Banker and Player stand on 6 or 7, and draw on totals of 0 to 5. 
  • If both Player and Banker have the same amount of points, the Tie bet wins and pays 8 to 1. 

Dealer’s Third Card Drawing Rule

If Player gets a third card, the drawing rules get a bit more complicated, but don’t worry: it’s not rocket science. Whether or not the dealer draws a third card is determined by the total points of the cards that the Banker was dealt:

  • If the banker’s total is 7, 8, or 9, he stands
  • If the banker’s total is 6, and the player’s third card was 6 or 7, he takes another card
  • If the banker’s total is 5, and the player’s third card was 4 to 7, he takes another card
  • If the banker’s total is 4, and the player’s third card was 2 to 7, he takes another card
  • If the banker’s total is 3, and the player’s third card was anything but 8 – he takes another card
  • If the banker’s total is 2 or less, he takes another card, regardless of the player’s third card

After this step is taken, the hands are compared. The winner is the one with a hand value closest to 9. If there is a tie, neither Player nor Banker win. You win money if you bet correctly on the outcome.

Say What?

For a simple game, baccarat has more than its fair share of colorful expressions.

A Deux TableauNickname for Baccarat Banque, another variant of the game played in Europe, especially in land-based casinos.
BancoItalian (and Spanish) for Bank, or Banker in Baccarat. Similar to Punto, Banco is simply the name for one of the competing entities whose cards are compared. It has nothing to do with the house or casino. Baccarat Banque is a game variation (see above)
Bankers BetThe decision to wager that the Banker will end the round with the highest card value. This is the bet with the smallest house edge, and to compensate, a commission (usually 5%) is reduced from the bettor’s win.
Card CountingCounting the value of cards played in an attempt to gain an advantage in betting on the likely outcome. While this had some miniscule possibility of helping decide whether to bet on Player or Banker in a land-based casino, the practice is essentially useless
ChemmyNickname for Baccarat “Chemin de Fer”, French for “Railroad.” This is a more complex but fast-moving variant played mostly in European terrestrial casinos. Here Player cards are dealt face down.
CoupFrom the French for “hit” or “blow”, this is the name given to a single round of Baccarat including both the Banker and Player hands. It is often used interchangeably with “round”.
Dragon BonusOptional side bet for the player or banker hand which win if the hand selected by the bettor wins either by a natural or by 4 points or more.  This is rarely if ever available online.
La GrandeFrench for “the big one”, this is the unbeatable “natural” hand, totaling 9 in the first two cards dealt in a coup. It can comprise ace plus 8, 2 plus 7, 3 plus 6, 4 plus 5, or a face card/10 plus 9.
La PetiteFrench for “the little one”, this is a natural totaling 8 in the first two cards dealt in a coup. It can comprise ace plus 8, 2 plus 7, 3 plus 6, 4 plus 5, or a face card/10 plus 9.
PuntoItalian for Player. In Baccarat, Player has nothing to do with the bettor or “punter”. It is simply one of the two entities whose cards are compared. Punto Banco, literally “Player Banker”, is the Baccarat game played most often in North America, Asia and online.
RunA side bet available in some land-based casinos that allows a bettor to wager on a series of rounds or “coups” such as betting that Player will win 4 times in a row. This option is rarely if ever found online.
ShillOriginally referred to the now deprecated practice of hiring an attractive skimpily clad lady to serve as the baccarat croupier or dealer. Today its meaning has expanded to encompass any hired lackey sent to do his or her employer’s bidding.
ShoeDealing box which distributes the cards in a land-based casino, sometimes passed from bettor to bettor. In mini-Baccarat, the croupier controls the shoe. Online, the shoe is replaced by software, so you can go shoeless without offence. “Following the shoe” is a strategy for betting in a way that follows wins.
VigorishCommission taking by the casino off the top of the bettor’s winnings. In the case of the Banker’s bet, it is used by the casino to compensate for the very narrow house edge on this kind of bet.

Do’s and Don’ts

Don't: Bet on a Tie

Baccarat is renowned for its small house advantages on the first two of its three bets: Banker, Player and Tie. Statistically, while the Banker has a tiny house edge of 1.06%, and Player is not far behind at 1.24 percent. These are tiny advantages, relative to other games of chance.

Betting on a Tie, however, has an astoundingly bad 14.4% house advantage. Some casinos try to sweeten the Tie by paying 9x on wins rather than 8x, but this merely reduces the house edge to more than 4%, which is still far inferior to the other two.

Do: Seek low house commissions

The odds for the Banker bet are so favorable that many casinos charge a commission on your winnings. It’s a good idea therefore to seek online casinos where commissions are low. The average sits at around 5%. While you may get lower, steer clear of anything higher.

Player bets are commission-free. You keep all winnings.

Do: Try proven baccarat betting strategies

There is a long tradition of baccarat betting strategies, applicable to online games as well as those played in land-based casinos. These strategies include:

  • Betting on the banker and going with the streak until you lose.
  • Wait one decision after a banker loss. Don’t rush to a player bet.
  • If you lose on a player bet, don’t wait: immediately hop on the banker.
  • When playing mini-baccarat, bet only on the banker and ignore other bets.

Do: Manage your money and decisions

In mini-baccarat, the game can fly by as you make up to 200 decisions in an hour which works out to more than 3 per minute.

As you are essentially betting on the flip of a coin, be wise when it comes to budgeting your bankroll. Consider allocating about 5% of your total for each betting call. If your bankroll is 100 units, consider betting just 5 units per call

If you win, great. Think about pocketing half your win and play with the rest. When you win again, repeat the process. If you lose, take a break, and return to the solid banker bet.

Strategies For Online Baccarat

Online versions of Punto Banco Baccarat are simple and luck-based, without any of the complexities of Baccarat variants found at land-based casinos. This doesn’t include playing Baccarat through live casino portals.

Two strategies are:

1. Follow the Shoe

Keep mental track of the winning hands in the last three rounds. This will help you catch a winning streak.

Usually, if you see that the player has won two rounds, and the banker the third, then when you follow the shoe, you would bet on the banker.

Following the shoe is intended to ride on the tail of hot streaks and to shift your bets with the winning momentum of the game. You place your bet on the hand that just won. Statisticians will tell you that streaks are just a manifestation of the “gambler’s fallacy” and that they have no mathematical basis. But anyone who has played Baccarat may beg to differ.

2. Don’t Bet on Ties

The house advantage is much higher than in other games and is not worth the risk.

Due to the slim house edge advantages in Baccarat, even these betting strategies may not pay off. At best, these can give you some marginal advantages to reach certain monetary goals at the expense of other goals.

It is best to keep in mind that these are tactics with marginal and limited benefits. While they may seem to work most of the time, they can carry the statistically significant risk of a catastrophic loss of bankroll, even if they are implemented perfectly.

Why Play Baccarat online?

Benefits of playing Baccarat online include:

  • It is simple to learn and play
  • You can play games for free online to hone your skills
  • Many online casinos offer sign up match bonuses for you to play for real money
  • Baccarat is often excluded from wagering requirements when it comes to making use of bonus credits

Baccarat FAQ

What should I know about playing Baccarat in a Live Casino?

  • Live baccarat games have relatively high minimum bets.
  • The live game is staffed by three people: two dealers (croupiers) managing the bets and a “callman” making announcements and directing the action.
  • You may prefer live Baccarat tables in smaller casinos, or outside the high roller zone.
  • Mini-baccarat is a faster-paced option, featuring one croupier, up to 7 players, and lower minimums.

Which of the three Baccarat bets are best?

  • The Banker has the smallest house edge at a mere 1.06%. That’s about the best bet you can find in a casino, except perhaps for blackjack played by a master. Some baccarat experts only bet on the Banker
  • Betting on the Player has just a little higher house advantage at a still very respectable 1.23%.
  • But don’t take the Tie, despite the lure of its 8x payout. That’s a sucker’s bet at 14.4% edge.

Does the house commission affect the house edge?

Yes, commission is a factor in calculating the advantage an online casino enjoys relative to the baccarat player.

  • Sometimes casinos will promote a kind of happy hour discount on the commission on winnings from 5% to 4% or even a bit less.
  • A discount of 4% will cut the edge on banker bets by some 40% down to a mere 0.60%.
  • If you see a discount under 4, go for it, betting on the banker.

What is the Martingale betting system and does it really work?

Martingale betting strategies arose among baccarat players in 19th century France. The basic idea is that you double your bet after each loss, confident that you are bound to win eventually and thus recoup your accumulated losses. Martingale advocates claim it is virtually a sure thing, and most of the time it will work. However, the strategy’s weakness is that long losing streaks may bankrupt you.

What is the difference between Martingale and anti-Martingale strategies?

As opposed to the Martingale strategy, the reverse Martingale involves increasing a bet after wins, and decreasing bets after losses. The “theory” behind this is based on betting on hot “streaks” even though there is no mathematical justification for doing so. In general, this approach, as well as the original Martingale, has fallen into disrepute. The numbers don’t add up for the bettor.

What are the main variants of Baccarat?

  • The main type of Baccarat played worldwide online is punto banco (“American baccarat”), where the only choice a player has is whether to bet on banker, player, or tie.
  • In baccarat chemin de fer (“chemmy”), and baccarat banque (“à deux tableaux”), the player has some choice in whether or not to take cards or not.

What is Baccarat Banque?

The Banque variant of Baccarat, features a permanent Banker responsible for dealing the cards and setting the opening bet.

Other players can “go bank” and match the opening bet, or team up with another player to split the stakes. Most of the gameplay is very similar to Chemin de Fer.