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Baccarat is a staple of Asian casinos and has steadily gained popularity with European and American players. With our simple, lesson-based baccarat guide, you too will be able to master the game and learn what all the fuss is about.
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Baccarat is played at most casinos – both online and offline – but as a game it has failed to capture the imagination of casual gamblers, unlike blackjack and roulette. It’s a very popular game with ‘high rollers’ (i.e. players who can afford to gamble massive amounts on one hand), and if you visit a bricks-and-mortar casino, you’ll probably only find baccarat tables behind roped off sections that are open to VIP players only.
The game is played with a standard deck of playing cards with the jokers removed. The cards each have a point value. The cards two to nine are worth their face value, while tens and court cards are worth zero. An ace is worth one point.
The total worth of a hand is the right-most digit of its total point count. Therefore if you have a seven and a nine, the value of your hand is six, not sixteen. The highest possible value of a baccarat hand is nine.
When you are playing baccarat at an online casino, you are actually more likely to be playing a slight variation of the game known as ‘punto banco’, which is French for ‘player banker’. This refers to the two hands that are dealt – the player’s hand, and the banker’s hand. These are just the names of the hands and have no direct association with the actual player playing the hand (as in ‘player’), and the croupier dealing the cards (as in ‘banker’).
When you play baccarat online, you have a choice of three bets – betting on the player, the banker or a tie. Betting on the player’s hand gives you odds of evens, whereas betting on the banker has odds slightly under evens (0.95 is the usual rate, although that depends upon the casino where you are playing). Betting on a tie gives odds of either eight or nine to one.
Once you’ve placed your bet, the dealer will deal two cards face up for each hand, and the hands will then be evaluated to see which is the winner.
If either the player or the banker has an eight or a nine, the hand is over. If the player has a total less than six, then another card is dealt (you, as the person making the bet, have no say in whether further cards are dealt or not).
Once the player has completed his turn, the banker now plays, following the same rules as the player as long as the player did not draw a third card. If, however, the player did draw a third card, then things get a little complicated. The banker must follow a set of rules that decide whether he is able to draw a third card or not.
When all possible cards have been drawn, the hand is over, and your wagers are evaluated.
Baccarat’s history can be traced all the way back to the 1400s, when it arrived in France from Italy (‘Baccarat’ is an Italian word meaning ‘zero’ and the game was so named due to the controversial idea that all court cards were worthless).
Some game historians dispute the idea that baccarat arrived in France as long ago as the 1400s from Italy and instead claim that this is a mix up with a different card game called ‘basset’. Basset was a simple gambling game similar to the game now known in UK as ‘Newmarket’. It was eventually replaced by a different, more challenging game called ‘faro’.
For many years faro was the most popular card game in European casinos before being replaced in the late nineteenth century by blackjack and baccarat.
There’s very little evidence to suggest baccarat was played before the 1840s. There were two forms of baccarat – ‘Baccarat en Banque’ and ‘Baccarat Chemin de Fer’. The name ‘Chemin de Fer’ means ‘iron way’ in French which is thought to be a reference to railways. In Chemin de Fer the shoe containing the cards to be dealt is passed around the table to each different player as the deals progress.
More historians conclude that the Chermin de Fer variation of baccarat arrived in the USA in the early 1910s. As the time gambling was illegal so the game could only be played for money at illegal gambling joints. There are several reports in newspapers at the time of baccarat players being arrested for breaking the gambling taboo.
Baccarat started to grow in popularity after it arrived in Nevada casinos in the late 1950s, but the game has never matched the popularity in the US of blackjack, roulette and craps.
Since the rise in popularity of online gambling, baccarat too has risen considerably in popularity – in fact it is probably the third most popular table game offered at online casinos behind blackjack and roulette. Most online casinos that offer live casinos will offer a live dealer version of baccarat.
The majority (if not all) of the versions of baccarat offered by casino operators are based on the ‘punto banco’ version of the game. Don’t be confused if you find a casino that offers both punto banco and baccarat as they are virtually the same game – punto banco is more geared towards online casinos as the ‘three card’ rules are followed routinely and without variation.
Learn how to play baccarat and discover why it’s a favourite of high-rollers (and James Bond!)
Baccarat (that’s back-ah-rah) is one of the most ancient games still popularly played in casinos and remains a favourite of Asian players. Whereas online slots take up the lion’s share of casino floor space in Las Vegas, baccarat dominates in Macau.
The game is starting to gain ground with Westerners and its appeal is based on three important characteristics: it is simple to play, classy and has an extremely low house edge. Our introductory lesson will take you through the basics and help you to get to grips with the rules of play.
The table shown below is the full ‘big table’ version, featuring two dealers and a croupier. ‘Mini’ tables are also common, using only half the board and a single croupier.
Most live baccarat tables use three dealers and up to 12 or 14 players. The table is labelled with numbered segments, indicating players’ positions. In land-based casinos, three dealers handle the cards. In online games, the dealers are replaced with a computer and the table with an electronic interface.
Two hands are dealt: one for the player and another for the banker. Both receive two cards. Players begin by betting on either the ‘player’ or ‘banker’ hand. Every time a player wins on a banker bet, they must pay five percent commission to the house.
The winning hand will have a value closest to 9. 1-9 are based on pip value (the number displayed on the card). Tens and face cards are worth zero and aces have a value of one.
In hands with a value exceeding 10, the second digit will be the total (e.g. two 7s = 14, meaning a hand value of 4). A player hand total of 8 or 9 is called a ‘natural’ and the player gets no more cards – these pay instantly unless the banker can match them. The player must also stand on a value of 6 or 7. A third card is drawn for any other total.
The banker is subject to the same rules, but will have to ‘hit’ (draw a third card) on a hand value of 3 unless the player’s third card is an 8. He/she will also hit on 4 if the third card is a 1, 8, 9 or 10, hit on 5 if the third card is a 4, 5 or 7 and hit on 6 if the third card is a 6 or 7. A natural stops all further draws.
Player can also wager that the two hands will play equal points. These bets pay out at odds of 8/1, but the 9.5% house edge makes this one to avoid. All other bets are even money (with the exception of the 5% commission on winning banker hands).
The table below contains a summary of conditions under which the player and banker must draw a third card.
|Draws a card
|Natural – stands
|First two cards total:
|Draws when player’s third card is:
|Stands when player’s third card is:
|Natural – stands
Learn about the different baccarat variations and discover new ways to play.
Most online casinos avoid messing around with something as elegant as baccarat, but there are different variations of the game in live casinos. All the variants listed below have the same house edge: 1.06% on the banker bet and 1.24% on the player bet.
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Incredible advancements in casino software have made it possible to translate live dealer, casino baccarat to a variety of platforms. This page will teach you everything you need to know about the live game.
Live baccarat is the next best thing to stepping over the velvet rope and hitting the felt at a real casino. Video streaming technology brings online players face to face with live dealers in dedicated studios and actual, functional casinos.
The standard rules of baccarat are kept intact for live games. The only difference is that bets are carried out via an electronic interface.
While roulette and blackjack were the first games to receive the live treatment, baccarat is starting to gain a more widespread following. The rules of play are identical to those you would find in a casino. Live dealers handle the cards and are beamed to players in real time using video streaming technology. Casino software is used in conjunction with image recognition technology to keep track of hands and distribute winnings.
The majority of casinos with live baccarat tables have optimised their services for multiple mobile devices. This means you can access the classy thrills provided by this illustrious casino gem at any time – all you need is a robust signal, 3G, 4G or wi-fi and a dose of luck. Check out our mobile page to find out which casinos are compatible with your device.
Many casinos allow players to browse dealer galleries in order to familiarise themselves with the live staff. If you attain VIP status, you might even be permitted to request your favourite dealer at your table. Feel free to check out the casinos listed below and take a gander through their dealer galleries. You might spot a face you like!
The first thing you need to play live baccarat is a casino with a live dealer suite (most NetEnt, Microgaming or Playtech powered operators have one of these). Live baccarat is the third most popular live casino option at online casinos, behind blackjack and roulette, but ahead of casino poker.
If you want to get an impression of live baccarat without playing, then you needn’t worry as most live casinos will allow you to observe what is going down at a live baccarat table without sitting down yourself. Just log in to the casino and choose your table. You will only be allowed to observe for a short period though – most casinos will not be happy with you eating up their bandwidth and taking the place of a player who has every intention of making a bet.
Once you enter the live casino, you’ll be presented with a live video feed, over which will be overlaid a graphical interface – the kind of which you will be familiar with if you’ve played baccarat at an online casino. You use the interface to make your bets, and your actions are relayed to the dealer via a monitor at their end. The dealer will be able to see your username and other stats about you, and most will happily chat with you. You won’t be able to talk to them direct, but you can use the messaging services. Note, you must never be abusive to a dealer under any circumstances. You would run the risk of having your account terminated and your ip address banned across all live casino providers.
Once you (and the other players present, who remain unseen when you are playing live casino baccarat) have placed your bets, the dealer will deal the cards. Typically, the first card from the shoe is discarded unseen. This is to prevent card counting which, as I am sure you can appreciate, is a lot easier when you are playing alone via a laptop or PC than it is when you’re playing in a casino for real.
Each card that is dealt is passed over an optical card reader. This is so the cards that are being dealt can be fed automatically into the computer software which is running the game, and automatically handling your bets. The dealer will be highly-trained as a casino croupier (they require a lot more talent than just a pretty face!) so mistakes are extremely infrequent. They will play out the game as per standard baccarat rules. As baccarat is played without player interaction each hand is over very quickly.
Once each deal has played out, the computer software will automatically work out whether your bet was successful, and re-calculate your bank balance.
The card shoes at a live baccarat table are changed on a very regular basis, again, to prevent card counting. The dealers themselves tend to work in shifts of one hour.
Although many online casinos do provide live casinos, they are only typically provided by a handful of gambling software companies – Amaya, Evolution Gaming, Medialive and Microgaming to name but four. This means if you do find a dealer you really like the look of, you should be able to find them at multiple online casinos!
Although the game offered by most live casinos is advertised as ‘baccarat’, it is in fact the simplified, casino-based version called ‘punto banco’, which means ‘player banker’. In this version of baccarat there is no decision-making on the part of either the player or the banker – the cards are dealt following a strict set of rules.
Some live casino versions of baccarat will allow you to place side bets. Such bets include player pair and banker pair (where you bet on either the player or the banker receiving a pair when their hands are dealt to them), a dragon bonus (you win additional cash if the player or the banker (whichever you bet on) wins by four points) and a tiger bonus (if during the game both player and banker receive a third card, and the baccarat-style value of these cards is two). Other such sidebets are available, depending on where you play.
Find out which of our casinos support your device and play mobile baccarat today.
The latest upgrades in mobile and iGaming technology have made it possible to bring high-quality baccarat to a range of mobile devices. This incredible achievement means you can experience all the baccarat entertainment you desire at any time.
Mobile gambling has totally revolutionised the way we play. It is estimated that around $10 billion is wagered through mobile platforms every year.
Baccarat is quite an easy game to port to mobile devices, as there is very little action, and there’s a maximum number of six cards that can be dealt throughout a single round. Despite this, there are not a huge amount of options for Baccarat players who prefer to wager ‘on the go’ to take advantage of. Many software houses simply do not provide a mobile verion of baccarat, concentrating on the ‘big three’ of online slots, roulette and blackjack.
With a little detective work you should be able to find a mobile-friendly baccarat provider. There are even a few online casino sites where you can play baccarat with live dealers.
As technology has moved on, mobile baccarat has become more popular. As outlined in the previous lessons, it’s not too difficult a game to play although lots of players have difficulty in getting their heads around the third-card rules. Baccarat is a ‘battle’ between two hands, both of them attempting to score as close to nine as they can. You, as the ‘player’, can either gamble on the ‘punto’ (player) hand or the ‘banco’ (banker) hand. As the ‘banco’ plays second, it has a slight advantage, so you win slightly more if you bet on the ‘punto’.
The most difficult aspect of playing baccarat on a mobile device is finding an online casino that offers baccarat as an option. There are usually two types of software available – a downloadable app, or a browser-based app that you can play on your smart-phone or tablet via a browser.
Most casinos are now taking advantage of HTML5-based technology and using the latter option. These games don’t require a specific download and installation, so they won’t eat up so many precious bytes on your device’s memory card. It’s probably best to ‘experiment’ with a browser-based version of the software before you download a dedicated app.
You won’t be too surprised to learn that both iOS and Android systems are very well-covered when it comes to mobile playing options. Apple will allow gambling apps to be hosted at iTunes, but Android users will not find gambling apps available at Google Play, due to Google’s restrictions. You will need to download and install an apk (Android package) file from a different software source.
If you use a Windows Phone or BlackBerry then your chances of playing baccarat on your device are practically zero. Your best bet is to find a site which offers a mobile version of baccarat as an in-browser option. Your browser on your Windows Phone or Blackberry should be able to cope with a browser-based site as long as it is written in HTML5.
The app you use to play baccarat is unlikely to be too technical. You start the game as you would any other game of baccarat – by betting on the player, banker or tie (or multiply combinations thereof). Two cards are dealt face up to each player, and then a third card to the player’s hand and then the banker’s hand if it qualifies for one.
The deal is over in a matter of a few seconds and the software will announce whether you have won or lost.
Because baccarat is such an ‘automated’ game you barely have anything to fear when it comes to disconnections. If you do lose your connection during a hand, the game will simply pause until you are back up and running. If you cannot re-connect, then the hand will simply play out as if you were present, and your bankroll adjusted accordingly.
There are multiple versions of baccarat available online, but via mobile you’ll find you will be restricted to the basic, ‘punto banco’ version which typically uses between six and eight decks.
Despite being relegated to a distant third place in the casino table games stakes (and even then with Casino Hold’em nipping at its toes), ‘live dealer’ casino baccarat is extremely popular, especially with high rollers.
A handful of online casinos do allow you to play with live dealers on your mobile device, such as the live casinos presented by BetFred and William Hill. It’s best to make sure you have a dedicated Wi-Fi connection to your phone if you are playing at a live casino. Video-streaming requires a decent amount of bandwidth, and you will find yourself kicked from the table if you are constantly lagging or being disconnected.
While less popular than slots, roulette and blackjack, baccarat is gaining a keen following from gamblers who appreciate its class, simplicity and favourable house edge. A number of live games have also been optimised for mobile devices, providing authentic baccarat action in the palm of your hand.