How to Play Baccarat

BaccaratBaccarat is one of the most exciting casino games of all times and as such, it is played by a number of players worldwide. Nowadays, the game, along with its many versions, can be found in many land-based casinos as well as online. Presently, the most widespread version of Baccarat, Punto Banco, is the game that is offered by the majority of the casinos. Furthermore, a number of online casinos offer its players the opportunity to not only enjoy Baccarat virtually but also play the game in real time with a fully-trained dealer. This way, they have the chance to get a very genuine feeling of it without having to leave their home.

The game undoubtedly appeals to a huge number of gamblers globally which is the reason why it is available in a number of casinos. Even though it is predominantly a game of chance, it is essential to get familiar with all of its rules, before playing, in order to be able to fully comprehend its fundamental principles and ideas. It is worth mentioning that besides luck, players should also have money management skills as without them, even if they win, they won’t be able to retain their profit.

Table Layout & Bet Types

In many land-based casinos, the Baccarat tables can be found in a separate section, conveniently designed to provide players with the needed privacy, or in the area where the rest of the table games are positioned. They can be easily distinguished as they remind of the shape of an hourglass. Each one of them has a middle area from which two dealers bank the game while the caller directs the gameplay. The caller is the person who is responsible for dealing the cards, whereas the dealers are in charge of managing the bets of the respective side of the table.

The caller also collects the commission from players who have joined the baccarat play. As the caller carefully follows the game, it is his/her job to announce when there is a hit or a stand. The caller is also the dealer who announces the winner of every gaming session.

In addition to the caller, the big baccarat table also has two house dealers on each side of the table. They will be there to help the players on their respective sides by handling their bets. Like in other casino table games, the dealers on baccarat tables are switched by other croupiers every few minutes.

Baccarat Table Layout

The Baccarat tables vary, depending on the version of the game and the respective casino. The seating capacity also differs from one table to another but in most cases, the common Baccarat table offers 14 available spots for players. It is worth noting that every table has 15 seats, however, the number 13 one is omitted as it is considered to be unlucky. Once seated, players will find in front of them, an area for placing bets which is conveniently separated into three sections.

There are three available betting options from which they can choose: “Players”, “Bankers” and “Tie”. Every bet has a different house edge and therefore, it gives players higher or lower chances of winning. Besides operating the game and managing the bets, the dealers are also responsible for keeping track of the commission that every player needs to pay. Usually, at the centre of the Baccarat table, there are commission boxes, especially designed to serve this purpose.

The commissions are handled only by the caller, with every player that places their money on “Bankers” owing the house a commission of 5%. Both “Bankers” and “Players” pay out even money to players who have made the correct bet. However, players who have made their wager on the “Bankers” side will also need to pay the aforementioned commission whenever they end up winning.

The Fundamentals

Baccarat FundamentalsBaccarat is a card game whose basic rules are moderately easy to comprehend which makes it suitable for all types of players. It can be played with six or eight decks which are placed in a box, called a ‘shoe’. The set rules are automatic, meaning that the dealer operates the game, without the need to consult with the players. In brief, players have to choose one of the three available bet options and after that, two hands are dealt. The highest possible total in Baccarat is 9 and thus, the winning hand is the one that has the closest possible value to this number.

The cards in the deck are shuffled together and a cut-card is placed before the seventh to last card of the deck. This is known as the cutting of the deck and drawing the cut-card indicates the shoe’s final coup (round of play). The dealer then burns the first face-up card of the deck and then discards as many cards as the respective value of the first burnt card.

For every coup, the dealer hands out two face-up cards to every side of the table, starting from the player’s side. If any of the hands or both of them reach a total of 8 or 9, the coup is finished and the caller will announce the result of the game. If neither of the sides has reached that total, the drawing rules are applied to determine whether the dealer should draw a third player card. Then, depending on the value of the drawn card, drawing rules are yet again applied to determine whether the dealer should hand out a third card to the bank.

Some variations of baccarat may have players handling the cards instead of a dealer. In Chemin de fer, which is a baccarat version that is played at a faster pace, one of the players is designated as the banker and he/she will also deal the cards. The rest of the players that have joined the table will be the “punters” playing against the banker.

In every gaming round, a different player will be the banker, with the position shifting counterclockwise. Once bets are made, the banker deals four cards facing down – two for himself/herself and two for the punters. Then the player with the highest wager or the first one in play acts as a representative of the punters and checks their two cards. The banker also checks his/her cards. If any of the sides has a total of 8 or 9, this is announced and the cards are revealed.

If none of the sides has 8 or 9, the player might choose to accept or refuse a third card, which is dealt facing upwards. Then, it is the banker’s turn to decide whether to draw a third card. Once all decisions are made, both sides reveal their cards and the result of the game is announced.

Unlike other card games such as Blackjack, players can never exceed the highest possible total and therefore, it is not possible to go bust.

Baccarat Table Variations

Baccarat Table VariationsWhen you set foot inside a land-based casino, you have the chance to come across one or several different variants of baccarat tables. Although the rules of the game remain the same, having to play at a bigger or smaller table may indicate that bets are placed in a different manner.

If you learn to differentiate the baccarat tables by their size, you will have no problem playing the game as soon as you spot it at any brick-and-mortar casino. What is more, the online variations of baccarat may also have tables of different sizes and it is always useful to know how to place your bets.

Full-Size Baccarat

Full-Size BaccaratBig baccarat tables are typically present at some brick-and-mortar casinos that welcome more players and can cater to a higher number of baccarat fans at the same time. Usually, big baccarat tables have several dealers who will handle the betting on the baccarat table.

There are several specific characteristics of the big baccarat tables’ layout:

  • Big tables accept between 12 and 14 players to join the game at the same time
  • Full-size baccarat tables can be found only at secluded areas on the casino floor, as they are typically dedicated to high-rollers
  • The big baccarat table requires three different dealers to conduct the gameplay (one caller and two house dealers)
  • Since big baccarat tables cater to high-rollers, the betting limits are typically higher
  • The two house dealers stand on both ends of the baccarat table, assisting the players on their respective side

Midi-Baccarat

Midi-BaccaratThe midi-baccarat table has a similar layout and playing rules to the full-sized one but it is smaller in size. There are, however, some specific features of midi-baccarat that will help players differentiate between the different versions of the casino classic. Other than just a few tweaks in the betting style, midi-baccarat is not that different than the rest of the variations of the game.

  • Midi-baccarat tables accept only 9 players at a time
  • In midi-baccarat, players are allowed to handle their cards
  • The betting limits are lower compared to big baccarat tables

Mini Baccarat

Mini BaccaratBig baccarat tables are typical for land-based casinos, with most of the time, such tables being suitable only to high-rollers. Meanwhile, those who would like to still enjoy the game but make more reasonable bets can try their luck on Mini Baccarat. Typically, the online variations of baccarat also utilize the layout of Mini Baccarat, as there is no need for a huge as each player is playing on his/her own.

While the rules of the game are essentially the same, there are a few specific features of Mini Baccarat that will help you spot such tables at land-based casinos.

  • Mini Baccarat tables can be joined only by 7 players at the same time
  • Betting limits are significantly lower
  • The Mini Baccarat table is a lot smaller than the full-sized one
  • Players are not allowed to handle cards

The Role of the Banker

The Role of the BankerIn Punto Banco, the role of the banker is performed by the participants in the game as all of them, take turns with the dealing of the cards. Usually, the first player who gets to be the banker, is sitting at the first position on the table. The role of the banker is passed to the next player from right to left and his turn is over when he loses a hand. It is also possible to reject being the banker, in which case, the next player automatically takes this role. Another important thing to consider, when it comes to the banker’s positions, is that the respective player has the same betting options as the rest of the participants in the game, however, it is customary that he places his wager on the ‘Banker’ section.

Gaming Process

Gaming ProcessAs already mentioned, the three possible bets that can be made are: “Player” (Punto), “Banker” (Banco) and the rarely considered one – “Tie” (Standoff). After the players have chosen and placed one of the three bets, their move is done and there aren’t any more decisions to be made. It is worth noting that the ‘Player’ bet should be viewed as an independent one. The same goes for the ‘Banker’ bet as it doesn’t belong to the casino. To clarify this matter further, let’s have a look at the gaming process and the rules behind it.

In Baccarat, regardless of the number of participants in the game, only two hands are dealt, each one consisting of two cards. The game is conducted in the following sequence – first, players make their bet choice and then, the banker deals two cards that are face down. The caller passes his hand to the player who has placed the highest bet on the ‘Player’ section. The respective player gets to look at the two cards before giving them backing to the banker.

If no one from the participants in the game has put such a bet, the role is taken by the caller. After the dealing of the cards is done, the player’s hand is first revealed and then the banker’s one. These actions are proceeded by announcing the total of the hands, after which the dealer can request a third card to be dealt. Players should bear in mind that the third-card rule can vary, depending on the casino and the version. In case that the total happens to be 8 or 9, no more cards are dealt as the hand results in an instant win. The final stage of the game is the payout which is done by the dealers.

Assigned Value of the Cards

Assigned Value of the CardsLike many other card games, in Baccarat, the cards are assigned a particular point value and in this case, their card suits become irrelevant. This is one of the most important rules in the game and as such, players should learn in order to be able to play the game correctly. In comparison to other card games, the assigned values in Baccarat are moderately easy to remember which makes the game much more simplified. The assigned value of each card is as follows:

  • The cards from 2 to 9 are counted as their face value
  • Aces are worth 1 point
  • 10s and face cards (Jack, King, Queen) are valued as 0

Every combination of two cards, that reaches or exceeds the value of ten, has to be adjusted. In such cases, players have to remove the first digit of the total as the highest value in the game has to be 9. For instance, if the two cards happen to be 8 and 5, their total will be 13. Therefore, the first digit, one in this case, should be removed and as a result, a three point hand is formed. Following the same logic, if the total of both cards is 14, the hand will have a value of 4 as the amount exceeds 10 and the first digit has to be omitted.

Naturals

NaturalsThe hand whose first two cards have a value of 8 or 9 is considered to be a ‘natural’, meaning that it automatically wins and therefore, no more cards are dealt. If both the banker and the player have a natural, the hand with the highest value wins.

In case that the value of both naturals is the same, the result is a tie and no one wins.

The Third-card Rule

The Third-card RuleIf neither the player nor the banker have a natural, a third card can be dealt. Usually, the player as well as the banker have the chance to get a third card, however, it is also possible only one of them to take advantage of this option. When it comes to the third-card rule, it is worth mentioning that it can differ from one casino to another. Even though, it is automatically applied, it is highly advisable to get acquainted with it as even the smallest changes of the rules can influence the players’ odds. The maximum cards a particular hand can have is three and the minimum is two.

As previously indicated, the caller is responsible for various things, including helping players with the third-card rule and directing them towards the whole gaming process. In most casinos, if the player has a value of 5 or less, he draws another card. If the player’s hand totals 6 or 7, he has to stand. It is also possible to reject the possibility of drawing a third card, in which case the banker’s hand stands on 6 or more and takes a third card on the condition that its total is 5 or less. However, if the player decide to draw a third card, the following rules, whether the banker has to draw a third card or not, apply:

Baccarat Drawing Rules
Banker’s Score Player’s Third Card
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
7 S S S S S S S S S S
6 S S S S S S H H S S
5 S S S S H H H H S S
4 S S H H H H H H S S
3 H H H H H H H H S H
2 H H H H H H H H H H
1 H H H H H H H H H H
0 H H H H H H H H H H
  • If the banker has a total of 2 or less – another card is drawn for the bank, regardless of the third card of the player.
  • If the banker has a total of 3 – another card is drawn for the bank, except for the cases when the player’s third card is 8.
  • If the banker has a total of 4 – another card is drawn for the bank , unless the third card of the player is 0, 1, 8 or 9 as then, the bank doesn’t draw a third card.
  • If the banker has a total of 5 – another card is drawn for the bank, unless the third card of the player is 4, 5, 6 or 7 as then, no third card is drawn.
  • If the banker has a total of 6 – another card is drawn for the bank, except for the cases when the third card of the player is 6 or 7.
  • If the banker has a total of 7 – the bank is required to stand.

Conclusion

ConclusionBaccarat is one of the most exciting card games which is one of the reasons why it can be found in a number of land-based casinos as well as online. It has never been so easy and accessible to enjoy this game and nowadays, players can play it at the comfort of their home and still get just as thrilled as if they were present in a traditional brick and mortar casino. Gamblers all over the world have the chance to get familiar with the moderately easy rules of the game and enjoy it virtually.

This casino game is famous for offering high-limit tables which greatly attract high rollers worldwide. However, nowadays, it is possible to find many variations whose rules are especially designed to suit all types of players, regardless of their bankroll and betting style. What makes Baccarat so enticing is its simple rules, yet completely sufficient to create a highly entertaining game.