Is baccarat online (and in the casino) complicated or rather simple? Is it fun or rather bland? How does the base game work and how much can I win in the side-bets? Can I impress my friends with my Baccarat skills? What tricks and strategies are there and what does Phil Ivey have to do with it?
Baccarat Rules and History
Before we get into strategy, odds and dangers, we need to briefly look at the background of the game. Baccarat online and the history in the casinos belong inseparably together.
History, spelling and pronunciation
To avoid embarrassment on your next visit to the casino, please remember that the “t” at the end is not stressed. So it’s Ba-Ka-Rah. Other spellings for the game are Baccarat and Bakkara.
Exactly when Baccarat was invented is unclear. Some experts suggest that precursors of Baccarat were played as early as the 16th century in Naples, Italy. However, the two official predecessors of the game as we know it today came from France and only began their triumphant advance after 1800. In America, Baccarat is also called Punto Banco.
James Bond plays Baccarat
Today we know James Bond as a poker player. In 2006 we were at the forefront of the worldwide poker boom. Thus, in Casino Royale, the producers also had their hero take a seat at the poker table. In the past, however, another card game was considered much hipper.
In the melodious baccarat chemin de fer, the players play against each other and not against the bank. Here, between 8 and 12 players sit at the table, one of whom takes the role of the banker. How cool this version is is best shown by this video from the masterpiece “James Bond – 007 chases Dr. No”.
Baccarat: game with complicated rules?
Baccarat has the reputation of being a complicated game that can only be learned with great effort. We can’t let that stand. In fact, once you get the hang of the Baccarat rules, it’s actually quite easy, even easier than Blackjack.
The trick is that you don’t necessarily lose when the dealer wins and vice versa. It all depends on whether you bet on the dealer or not.
In any case, you don’t need to get scared and you can sit down at a Baccarat table even as a newbie without having any major jitters.
The game objective: How to win
How to win at Baccarat? The hand with the highest card value wins. The highest possible card value is 9 points.
This sounds super-simple, but at the same time requires the necessary context of the rest of the Baccarat rules. You don’t have to win as a player, you just have to make the right bet on whose hand will win.
Decks and card values
Let’s start with the playing cards. The game is usually played with 6-8 normal French decks of 52 cards each, so in total there are several hundred cards in play. Each card has a certain value:
Ace: 1 point.
2-9: correspond to their numerical value. For example, a 5 is worth 5 points.
Ten, Jack, Queen and King each count as 0 points.
More than 9 points are not possible, always the last digit counts. A 6 and a 7 would actually be worth 13 points, but in fact this hand is worth 3 points.
The suits of the cards (hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades) have no significance for the game.
Betting on the outcome of the game
What do we actually bet our money on in Baccarat? Quite simply, on the outcome of the game. Before the cards are dealt, you place your bet. Here you can bet that:
- the bank (Banco) wins (chance of winning: 46%, house advantage: 1.06%, payout: stake times 1.95
- the player (Punto) wins (chance of winning: 44% , house advantage: 1,24% , payout: stake times 2
- the round ends in a tie (chance of winning: 10%, house advantage: 14.36% , payout: stake times 8)
Procedure of a game round
After placing the bets, the dealer deals two cards to the player and two cards to the banker face up. If the scores are equal, the game ends in a draw.
If either the player, the banker or even both have 8 or 9 points with the first two cards, then it is called “natural 8” or “natural 9” respectively. No further cards are dealt. The bet on the one with the higher score wins. So a natural 9 can beat a natural 8. But a draw is also possible here.
If the player has six or seven points, then he must pass. The banker then draws a card, unless he has 8 or 9 points.
If the player has 0 to 5 points after the cards are dealt, then he draws a card. The banker draws a card unless she has 8 or 9 points.
The player gets a card first. By the way, it is always regulated when who has to draw a card. Neither the bank nor the player can decide – the game round follows fixed moves! Or in other words, you can’t make a mistake.
Big Table vs Mini Baccarat
There are several variations of the game, the two most popular being Big Table and Mini. Baccarat is played online as well as in the casino almost only in the mini version. The disappearance of Big Table Baccarat has mainly practical reasons.
Not only are the stakes usually very high, but you always need 12 to 14 players. The rounds drag on forever, hardly anyone is in the mood for that anymore. In addition, there are up to 3 dealers, so that the personnel costs are also very high. The tables themselves are also enormous and simply take up too much space.
That’s why Mini Baccarat has become popular everywhere. Here you play online only with the dealer or in the casino with up to seven other players.
Private Baccarat rounds vs. casino
In a private setting, it is quite common for players to compete against each other. However, there are now only a few rounds of play. One meets less and less other enthusiastic players. Baccarat has long been considered an old-fashioned game.
In the casino, on the other hand, players compete against the bank, each one for himself.
Tempting game? Baccarat Side Bets
By the way, you can usually place so-called side bets. Here you bet that either the banker or the player will get a pair – for example, two queens.
Another example is some casinos in London, where you can bet on a royal match – that is, a king and a queen in the starting hand.
If you play Baccarat online, you will get the following side bets:
- Double Pair (i.e. a pair on both the banker and the player)
- Super 6 Insurance: In this side bet you win if the banker scores 6.