The favourite of James Bond, Baccarat may be a luck-based game, but there’s still things you need to know. This guide is packed full of tips and advice to get you started, including the best baccarat casinos online at which to play.
Baccarat is a card game played between dealer and player, with quite a strict set of rules. There are three variants of baccarat- punto banco, baccarat chemin de fer and baccarat banque. The typical version played by most casinos and online casinos is punto banco, also called ‘North American baccarat’.
Punto banco baccarat is purely a game of chance. There is no skill element involved, as the outcome of each game is decided by the cards as they are revealed. There is a list of rules which the game must follow, a kind of automated program. With each round or ‘coup’, either the player or banker will win, or there will be a tie.
The cards in baccarat have a point value, with the cards 2 to 9 having their usual value, tens, jacks and queen are worth 0 points and aces are worth 1. If double figures are reached by adding cards together, the rightmost value is used, so a 13 becomes a 3. This means the maximum is 9. The term ‘punto’ refers to the player and ‘banco’ the banker, but these designations are not literally controlled by player and dealer, they are just representatives of the rules. With each coup, two cards are dealt to player and banker with the hopes of getting a total of 8 or 9. Should no resolution be found, more cards are dealt according to strict rules.
Baccarat is not quite as common as other online casino games, but the best casinos will host at least one version. These can vary slightly in rules and appearance.
Stick to these three simple principles and you will be playing baccarat like a pro in no time:
With standard baccarat, unfortunately there’s little a player can do to moderate victory or failure. The game plays itself out with little input from the player, who can only bet on the banker, player or a tie. In essence, this is a coin toss, though house edge reduces the chances a little.
Typically a banker bet pays out 5% less than a player bet to even things out. The player bet is 1 to 1, while the banker is 19 to 20. However, the player bet has a slightly higher house edge than the banker bet.
The tie bet is usually 8 to 1 and it’s difficult to hit, so most players avoid it unless feeling very lucky.
Punto banco baccarat follows a set of rules known as the ‘tableau’. The banker and player are each drawn two cards, adding the totals together to get a score, reducing double figures by only using the rightmost digit. If either banker or player has 8 or 9 (a ‘natural’), they win- if they both have it, it’s a tie.
Should neither have 8 or 9, the game follows the rules of the tableau to see what happens next. The player’s rule is checked first, then the banker’s. If the player has an initial total of 0-5, he draws a third card. If the total is 6 or 7, he stands. If the player stands, the banker follows the same rules, drawing on 0-5 and standing on 6-7.
However, if the player drew a third card, the banker has a more complex action:
Depending on the casino, in the event of a tie, current bets may remain in place for the next round or they may be reset.
Improving your chances is difficult with baccarat, since the base punto banco game does not have any player input. However, there are players who swear by using certain betting strategies which help to control how much is being risked. For example, the 1-3-2-4 strategy is recommended, but as with any, there’s no guarantee of success and players must still be willing to risk all money wagered.
The strategy is simple- place the first bet, if it succeeds then place the second. Continue up to the fourth. If a bet fails at any point, start again from the first. The first bet is a single unit, so this might be a bet of £5.
The second bet is three units, so this would be £15. The third is two units, therefore £10. The fourth is four units, which is £20 in this example. The idea is that if the first two bets land, even if the third fails, the player has a profit.
When playing chemin de fer, the generally agreed strategy is to hit on a score of 0 to 4 and stand on a 6 and 7. On a 5, the player can essentially play at random.
There are several variations on baccarat, both historical and modern.
Super 6 or Punto 2000 is a version where even money is paid on winning banker bets instead of 19 to 20, except when the banker wins with 6, when only 50% of the bet is paid. This has a higher house edge on the banker bet but it’s faster to play.
Chemin de fer is named after the railway because it’s a quicker version of baccarat. A player is designated banker and this changes each round. The banker places a wager and the players have the option to ‘go bank’ and match it, or place their own wagers.
The banker gets two cards as normal but the other two are held in common by the other players. One player is chosen to decide if a third card is drawn, adding an element of choice to the game.
Baccarat Banque is similar to chemin de fer, but the bank stays with one player and the players are dealt cards as two groups, split into two sides, around the chosen banker. Each side wins or loses by the cards dealt to them as a group. Players may choose when to draw a card.
Baccarat has a disputed origin, but it seems to have appeared in the 19th century. Some sources believe that it was originally named ‘baccara’ and came to France from Italy, as early as the 15th century, by soldiers returning from the Franco-Italian War.
The term ‘baccara’ means zero and seems to refer to the face cards having 0 value in this game. Some attribute the creation of the game to a man named Felix Falguiere. The original game had four different dealers, each player could be the banker and players could get against each other.
In France, the game became a favourite of King Charles VIII and took off among the aristocracy. Much later in England, the game was popularised by Ian Fleming’s portrayal of it in the James Bond novels. It is believed that punto banco baccarat began in Cuba, catching on as that version of the game spread to mainland America.
Though it never became a common casino game played by the public, it is considered a high-class game played by VIPs, for amazingly high stakes.