We will help you to understand the game, including locating the best places to play, choosing the best game variants, and gaining insights concerning security and service.
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If you already are familiar with the game and want to plunge ahead and play, here is our recommended short-list of the best of casinos.
Baccarat once was a game reserved for the snooty European elite, but the Internet has democratized the game and now it is accessible – and winnable – by normal folk, including Kiwis. First you need to pronounce the name of the game correctly: it’s not BACK-A-RAT but BA-CAH-RAH, with an accent on the second syllable. Got it? Good. So now you can communicate better with Alexis or Siri and impress your friends with your European sophistication.
Baccarat is renowned for its small house advantages on the first two of its three bets: Banker, Player and Tie. While Banker has a tiny house edge of 1.06%, and Player is not far behind at 1.24 percent. Relative to other casino games, those are tiny advantages. However, the Tie bet has an astoundingly bad 14.4% house advantage. Some casinos actually try to sweeten the Tie by paying 9x on wins rather than 8x, but this merely reduces the house edge to more than 4%, still far inferior to the other two. Avoid at all costs.
The odds for the Banker bet is so favorable that many casinos charge a commission on your winnings, so it’s a good idea to seek online casinos where commissions are low. 5% is about par for the course, but keep your eyes open for lower rates, and avoid higher ones. Player bets are commission free. You keep all winnings.
There is a long tradition of baccarat betting strategies, applicable to the online games as well as those played in terrestrial casinos. Among the most popular:
In mini-baccarat, the game can fly by with as up to 200 decisions in an hour: more than 3 per minute. Essentially you are betting on the flip of a coin: it’s wise to budget your bankroll, allocating about 5% of your total for each betting call. So if your bankroll is 100 units, consider betting just 5 units per call. If you win a tidy sum, great, pocket half your winnings and play with the rest. Keep winning and do it again. If you lose, take a break, and return to the solid banker bet.
Baccarat is a bit like flipping a coin for head and tails, with the exception that in Baccarat there is also the possibility of a tie. it’s a straightforward card comparison game, where the only question to be answered is who ends up with the hand with a card value closes to 9.
There are two entities in this game: Player and 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 reference names, and the punter can bet on either to win, or (if foolish, bet on a tie outcome, where Player and Banker have the same amount of points.
After the initial bet, two cards are dealt, face up (in Punto Banco). 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. Aces are worth 1, face cards and the 10 card count as 0, and the other cards are counted at their numerical value. Unlike in blackjack, royal face cards are never desirable.
Baccarat might seem to be a complex game, but it is among the simplest to learn and play. However, it is still a good idea to practice at an online casino free game before risking your money. The best practice is to take some time and explore the game at various casinos to see which ones feel best. There is a wide range of quality in game variants, so look for one which is smooth and intuitive, with nice graphics and good speed in the game play.
Another key factor is exploring the welcome bonuses that online casinos offer a new player as well as high roller and reload bonuses. But be careful: even though Baccarat is essentially a game of pure luck, it is known for a very narrow house advantage or edge. Baccarat rarely contributes much to playthrough or wagering requirements but the bonus money is still great for practicing. When available, live dealer bonuses will be a better deal than regular bonuses.
Also, look for the commission rate that the casino charges on Banker bets. In terrestrial casinos, this rate rarely falls below 5% but online you may find some that are down to 4, 3, or even 2.75% which reduced the house edge to virtually nil.
We have carefully scrutinized casino terms and conditions to find those sites which are good for playing baccarat. Not to be underestimated, too, is the need to vet licensing, security, customer service, and eligibility. Although casinos will screen you for eligibility when you sign up to ensure you can gamble legally, we have screened the casinos to rate and review them as online gambling venues. Stick to our recommended list to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Online versions of Punto Banco Baccarat are simple and luck-based, with none of the complexities of Baccarat variants found at terrestrial casinos – unless you’re playing with live dealers. Two top 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.
2. Don’t Bet on Ties.
Yes, we mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again because lots of players can’t resist the temptation. The house advantage is much higher than in other games and is not worth the risk.
We discuss more strategies like Martingale in the FAQ section.
Most of these betting strategies don’t really work, even if perfectly implemented because of the slim house edge advantages in Baccarat. At best, these can give you some marginal advantages to reach certain monetary goals at the expense of other goals. In other words, these are tactics with marginal and limited benefits. And you should also bear in mind that certain strategies may seem to work most of the time, but carry the statistically significantly risk of a catastrophic loss of bankroll even if they are played perfectly.
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:
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.
Baccarat is not a game that most of us played growing up, so here are some of the most frequently asked questions, and some brief answers to get you started. Some of the questions are answered in the body of this guide, but the FAQ format is helpful for formulating a clearer understanding of the various dimension of the game and the betting process.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. What is the main difference between Baccarat and Mini-Baccarat?
Mini-Baccarat is a low-limit variation of Punto banco Baccarat, reducing the amount of players at the table and removing the need to pass around the card shoe from player to player. The croupier (dealer) deals all cards, face up. Generally it features smaller stakes than the full, classic game.
5. Does card counting work in Baccarat?
This is an easy one. No. While some terrestrial casino will distribute pen and paper to Baccarat players as a courtesy, this is not for counting cards! In land-based casinos, we are talking about a 6-deck shoe and almost no way to use any information you might learn from your count. Obviously in an online game, there is no shoe and cards are generated by a Random Number Generator.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. What does it mean to Follow the Shoe?
Like the reverse Martingale strategy, 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.
9. 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 two variants, 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.
10. What is Punto Banco and why is the most popular Baccarat variant online?
Punto Banco, which means, Player Banker, is a simple variant of Baccarat. It is most popular in North America, Asia and Down Under. The game is often merged with the “mini” version of the game to further simply. This is the best Baccarat variant for beginners. If you want a more exclusive and challenging experience, try playing it live at one of our recommended casinos.
11. What is special about Chemin de Fer?
Chemin de Fer, means Railroad in French, is a faster and more complex variant of Baccarat. Popular in Europe, especially France, the game was the centerpiece of the original Casino Royale. In this classic game variant, all four of the first cards are dealt face down and there is more freedom for the player to choose whether to draw cards, provided there is no “natural” 8 or 9 winner.
12. 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.
For a simple game, baccarat has more than its fair share of colorful expressions.
|A Deux Tableau||Nickname for Baccarat Banque, another variant of the game played in Europe, especially in land-based casinos.|
|Banco||Italian (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 Bet||The 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 Counting||Counting 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|
|Chemmy||Nickname 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.|
|Coup||From 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 Bonus||Optional 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 Grande||French 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 Petite||French 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.|
|Punto||Italian 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.|
|Run||A 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.|
|Shill||Originally 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.|
|Shoe||Dealing 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.|
|Vigorish||Commission 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.|
The origins of Baccarat are obscure, dating back either to the 15th or 18th century. The game reportedly originated in Italy and French soldiers fighting there learned the game and brought it back home, where it gained popularity. Worldwide interest in the game spiked again after US and British soldiers encountered when based in France during the second world war. Baccarat is distinguished for its reputation as an exclusive high-roller club, with impeccably dressed high rollers gathering behind velvet ropes, winning and losing collective millions nightly. Baccarat Chemin de Fed is James Bond’s game of choice, featured in the original Casino Royale (in the recent sequel it was replaced by Texas Hold’em) and several other films. Of course, the internet democratized the game and variants are available in most online casinos at more reasonable bet levels.