Baccarat Lessons: How to Play Baccarat

There is probably no other game which has been shrouded in mystery more than Baccarat, and yet became such an important part of the casino culture. It has two versions, one is played in American casinos, and the other one is popular in European casinos. The game has been made popular by Ian Fleming’s famous spy James Bond. Baccarat was a favorite of Agent 007 and has been mentioned in many books and movies as well. For a long period of time, Baccarat was played in separate areas of the casinos with only people with high bankrolls participating. But then casinos opened this section to the general public as well.


The historical background of baccarat is not very clear. Some believe that it has been derived from the French game called Vingt-et-tun, which is also the ancestor of blackjack. Others believe that the game dates back to the middle ages when it was played with a different set of cards. But mostly, historians believe that the game originated in Italy and was then introduced to France. The Italian word baccarat, which means ‘nothing’, is the root for the name baccarat, as the face cards and 10 cards in baccarat have zero value. Over the course of time, a different version of the game called Chemin de fer got a lot more popular in the European continent, whereas the traditional version became popular in America.

Goal of Baccarat

To many people who are unaware about the rules of baccarat, it seems a very intimidating game. The enormous table and the layout can make it appear so. But the goal of baccarat is quite straightforward: achieve a sum total of 9. If that is not achieved, then the aim is to get close to 9 by using 2 or 3 cards. All the face cards and 10 card have 0 value, ace counts as one, and rest of the cards are treated at face value. If the sum total of cards exceeds 9, then 10 is deducted from the sum. A maximum of 3 cards are allowed, and the 3rd card cannot be taken if your total is 6 or over 6.

If the first 2 cards have a total of 8 or 9 then it is called a natural hand. If either hand has a natural 9 or 8, then the other is not allowed to draw a 3rd card. A natural hand beats every other hand in baccarat. A natural 8 can only be beaten by a natural 9.

Baccarat has always been the game for the posh. But recently, in an effort to increase the popularity of the game, a game called mini baccarat has been introduced in a lot of casinos. The rules are very similar as the original game, but the table limits are a lot less so as to attract more people.

Game Rules

Both baccarat and mini-baccarat are available at BetOnline and are played with six or eight decks of cards dealt from a shoe. The cards are shuffled and kept in the shoe and then the players take turns to deal the cards. While playing at the full table, you will see 3 dealers. One of them stands in the middle and announces the total for the hands and also draws the 3rd card as per the casino rules. The other two dealers stand on the end and are responsible for keeping track of the wins and losses of the player and the commission owed by them. In case of mini-baccarat all these responsibilities are handled by a single dealer.

On a normal baccarat table, there are numbers for up to 14 players to place their wagers. Corresponding to these numbers there are slots for a player to place money on the player’s or the banker’s hand. There is also a place for keeping track of the commission owed by each player. Mini baccarat tables are even simpler. They have room for 7 players only.

When the game begins, it’s usually a player who acts as the banker. Two hands are dealt. One of them is for the player the other is for the banker. Bets are made for the winning hand. There is no other choice in the game of baccarat other than deciding which hand will win. The players hand gets one more card if its total is less than 6 and the bankers hand gets one more card if its total less than 6.

If a third card is drawn for the player’s hand, then the banker’s hand will always get one more card if its total of first 2 cards is equal to or less than two. If its total is 7, 8, or 9, then it always stands. On the other hand, if the banker’s card total is three, then the banker always takes a card unless the player has a total of 8. The rules do seem a bit complicated, but you don’t have to worry as everything is done by the dealer, and all you are required to do is place the bet on your preferred hand.

Betting Strategy

Baccarat is a purely luck based game. There is nothing you can do to control the outcome of the game. You have only three options, either to bet on the player’s or the banker’s hand, or to bet on the tie. The tie pays at 8:1, and the other two at 1:1. Statistically speaking, you have a slightly better chance of winning at the banker’s hand. That is the reason why casinos charge 5% of the winnings on the bankers hand as the house edge is extremely low.

There is one other method, through which you can keep track of the 4′s and 6′s leaving the shoe and adjust your bets accordingly. As the 4 cards come out of the deck, you should bet on banker’s hand and if 6 cards are coming out then bet on the player hand. But again, according to the experts, because of the limited choices that a player has, the probability of win in a game of baccarat rarely changes.


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