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Last updated September 17, 2020

Baccarat: The Rules of the Game

Baccarat is one of the oldest casino games in the world yet still remains highly popular at both land-based and online casinos. While it may not be as popular as some of the other card games like Poker or Blackjack, Baccarat is still a mainstay and is very popular with high rollers and big spenders.

Baccarat rules

The origins of Baccarat are unclear but what we do know of its history is that it gained popularity in 19th Century France. It’s believed to have first come from 15th Century French soldiers returning from the Franco-Italian war. Since it’s murky beginnings, the game soon became popular with the French nobility, earning its reputation as a game for high rollers. Later on, in history, Baccarat became closely associated with James Bond, the fictional spy from Ian Fleming’s novels.

While the game has changed a lot since it was first played, the core rules remain the same. Similar to Blackjack, the player is up against the dealer. In this game though, rather than aiming for 21, the hand closest to nine wins. There are quite a few other rules involved in the game, and depending on which variation you’re playing, the rules can be quite different.

If you’ve never played Baccarat before, getting started can be a bit daunting. Whether you’ve played other casino games before or not, it’s normal to be cautious when checking out a new game. Luckily, once you know the rules of Baccarat, it’s very straightforward to play, and you’ll be able to jump straight in.

Here at SlotsBang.com, we’re big fans of all casino games and have a lot of enthusiasm for Baccarat and all the different variations of the game out there. We’ve spent many hours at the Baccarat tables and now want to put that experience to good use helping new players get into the game. If you’d like to learn about Baccarat and how to play, this guide is the perfect place to start.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the different types of Baccarat out there and the differences between them. We’ll explain the terminology of the game, how to play, and the best way to play the game. Before you know it, you’ll be playing like a pro and winning big at the online Baccarat tables!

The Basic Rules of Baccarat

Baccarat might seem confusing at first, but in reality, it’s fairly simple to learn. The most common type of Baccarat you’ll find online is Punto Banco. This variant comes from Cuba and quickly became the favorite variation of the game found in casinos in the US, UK, and other parts of the world.

In this guide, we’ll be explaining the rules of Punto Banco, as this is the game type you’re most likely to come across. Later on in the guide, we’ll also be going over the rules of some of the other types of Baccarat too.

The Objective

Baccarat is slightly different from most other casino games in that you can lose your hand but still win. While the play revolves around having a hand that gets as close to nine as possible, before the game you’re able to bet on whether you think your hand or the Banker’s hand will win. As long as you bet on the Banker, if your hand loses, you’ll still win. Before you’re dealt any cards, you’ll have to choose your bet and place it on either the Player or the Banker. The Player is you while the Banker is the casino.

Your Hand

Once the bet has been placed, the dealer will deal two cards each to the Player and the Banker. Both are dealt face-up, so you’ll be able to see the Banker’s hand, and they’ll be able to see yours. If neither the Banker nor the Player has a hand value of nine or eight (a natural win), then a third card will be dealt, depending on the values.

The Cards

In Baccarat, all cards from two to nine hold their face value. Tens and face cards such as Kings, Queens, and Jacks are all worth zero. Aces are worth one point. Hands can be worth a maximum of nine points, if they hit double digits, the second digit of the value is used. For example, a hand containing an eight and a seven would have a value of fifteen, but in Baccarat, the value would be five.

The Third Card

If neither the Banker nor the Player wins through a natural hand of eight or nine from the first two cards, a third card will be needed. If the Player has a hand value between zero and five, they’ll get the third card. If the Player has a value of six or seven, they stand. If the Player stands, the Banker will get the third card. The Banker can also draw an extra card after the Player draws, depending on some specific rules.

The Banker’s Rules

In Baccarat, if the Player has drawn a third card the Banker can still potentially draw another. The Banker takes another card if any of the following statements are true:

  • The Banker has a hand value of two or less, no matter what value the Player has.
  • The Banker has a hand value of three unless the Player’s third card was an eight.
  • The Banker has a hand value of four, and the Player’s third card was two, three, four, five, six or seven.
  • The Banker has a hand value of five, and the Player’s third card was four, five, six or seven.
  • The Banker has a hand value of six, and the Player’s third card was a six or seven.

The Banker will stand if they have a hand value of seven.

Baccarat Terms

When you first start getting into Baccarat, you might be confused by some of the terms and phrases that casinos and players use to describe certain things in the game. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this glossary which explains some of the most common Baccarat terms and helps you to understand them.

  • Action – Action usually refers to the action that a player takes in the game. In Baccarat, it may also mean the amount of money that a player plans to wager or the total amount of money wagered on the table.
  • Baccarat – Baccarat is the name of the game, but it’s also the name of the worst hand in the game. Conversely to Blackjack, which is named after the best hand, Baccarat is named after the worse. The worst hand in the game is any hand with the value of zero.
  • Banco – Banco is the Spanish word for bank and is used to refer to the Banker in Punto Banco as this originated in Cuba. Betting on the Banker is the best bet to make in the game due to the louse house edge.
  • Bankroll – Bankroll is how much cash a player has available to bet with. Managing your bankroll is an important aspect of playing any casino game.
  • Banque – The French word for the bank. It also refers to a specific type of Baccarat where Players can also take over as the Banker. The game is rarer to find online but is often found at some big European online casinos.
  • Burn Card – In games that involve real cards being dealt from a shoe, the first card of the deck is usually discarded after a shuffle. This is known as the burn card.
  • Carte – Another French term, this one means asking for another card. Similar to hitting.
  • Chemin de Fer or Chemmy – Chemin de Fer is the traditional version of Blackjack and one of the oldest casino games still being played. The role of the Banker is passed around the table between the players. You might have trouble finding this game online, but it is out there.
  • Cheval – Some versions of Baccarat give the player two separate hands. Winning both hands wins the round while only winning one hand results in a push bet. This type of rule is more common in the French versions of the game.
  • Commission – In Punto Banco, the casino takes a percentage of the player’s winnings if they successfully bet on the Banker. This is generally around 5%. Some casinos offer no commission Baccarat which normally gives the player’s better value.
  • Coup – In Baccarat, a round or a hand is known as a coup.
  • Down card – A down card is any card that is dealt face down. Generally, all cards in Baccarat are dealt face-up, but some variants include down cards.
  • Dragon bet – A Dragon bet is s type of side bet offered by some Baccarat games. It’s a bet that either the Player or the Banker will win with a natural and a margin of four or more points. Generally, this is a bad bet to take as it has a high house edge.
  • Flat bet – Flat betting is where a player makes the same bet consistently for several rounds.
  • High roller – A high roller is someone who bets very large amounts on the game. High rollers can spend hundreds of thousands on the game and are drawn to Baccarat thanks to its reputation and the fact that many casinos offer high limit Baccarat tables.
  • House edge – The house or casino always wins, and the house edge is the representation of that. The House edge is displayed by a percentage and gives you an idea of the advantage the casino has. In Baccarat, the bet with the lowest house edge is the Banker bet which has a house edge of 1.06%.
  • La Grande – Known as the big one, this is the term used to describe a natural nine being scored from the first two cards dealt with the player.
  • La Petite – Known as the little one, this is the term used to describe a natural eight being scored from the first two cards dealt with the player.
  • Natural – A natural is any hand from the first two cards that hits a value of either nine or eight.
  • RNG – An acronym for Random Number Generator. All online casino games (with the exception of live games) use RNG to determine which cards are dealt. RNG means that games are fair and don’t have predetermined outcomes. All games have their RNG tested to ensure fairness and online casinos are regularly audited by the gambling commissions that regulate them.
  • Shoe – The shoe isn’t a literal shoe you wear on your foot but a box that contains the decks used to play the game. While most online casinos won’t use a shoe, they can still be found when playing live casino games online and when you play at land-based casinos.
  • Tie – A tie is where the Player and the Banker both have an equal hand value. It’s possible to bet on the tie, but it has a high house edge so isn’t advised.
  • Upcard – The upcard is any card that is dealt face-up by the dealer. Most cards in Baccarat will be upcards.

Baccarat Bets Explained

When you’re playing Baccarat, you’ll have a few different betting options to choose from before you play. You must place at least one bet before your cards are dealt, and the outcome of the game will determine whether your bet wins or loses. Different bets will have different payouts and chances of happening. Below you’ll find an explanation of each bet and its payout and house edge.

Betting on the Player

Betting on the Player means you’ll be betting that your hand beats the Banker. If you place a Player bet and your hand lands closer to nine than the Banker’s hand, this bet will win. Player bets payout 1:1 meaning you’ll get your stake back plus the amount you staked. For example, if you placed a player bet of $10 and it wins, you’ll get back $20. This is your $10 stake plus the $10 you won.

The House edge for this bet is generally at 1.24% for a game using between six and eight decks. A single deck game will have a slightly different house edge of 1.29%, but it’s rare to find these.

Betting on the Banker

The Banker is who you’ll be playing against, but you can bet that they’ll have a better hand than you. If you place a bet on the Banker and their hand is closer to nine than yours, you’ll win your bet. Banker bets payout at 1:1, but there is a five percent commission at most casinos. This means if you place a winning $10 bet on the Banker, you’ll win $9.5 dollars. You’ll also receive your stake back, so you’ll get $19.5 dollars returned to you.

The House edge for the Banker bet is the lowest in the game, even when the 5% commission is included. A six or eight card game will have a house edge of 1.06% for this bet. For a single deck game, the house edge is 1.01% for a Banker bet. The low house edge makes this the most popular bet for Baccarat players.

Betting on the Tie

Not every game of Baccarat will end in a winner. In some cases, the hand values of both the Player and the Banker can be the same, resulting in a tie. This is a much rarer outcome and so the payout is considerably higher than the other two bets. A successful tie bet will payout 8:1. This means with a $10 bet, you’d win $80 and receive your stake back too for a total of $90 returned to you.

While the tie bet pays out big, it also has a much higher house edge than the other two bets. The House edge for a tie bet is around 14% for six and eight card decks. For single card games, the house edge for this bet is 15.57%.

Some casinos offer a larger payout of 9:1 which would give a much lower house edge of 4.85%. This is still a higher edge than the other bets, but is much more reasonable and encourages more players to sometimes bet on a tie.

Baccarat Side Bets

While there are three main betting options in Baccarat, some games will also allow you to place side bets. These bets give players a bit more variety and can make the game a little more exciting. Depending on the version of Baccarat you’re playing, you might be able to find the following side bets:

  • Dragon bet – Dragon bet is a bet that the winner will have a natural and will win by a certain margin of points. Most Dragon bets will be for a margin of more than four points, but some games allow you to choose how much of a margin you bet on. Payouts vary depending on the game type and the margin. House edge is typically high compared to standard Player or Banker bets.
  • Big or Small – Some Baccarat games allow you to bet on how many cards will be used in the game. A bet on Big will payout for a game that uses more than four cards whereas a bet on small pays out for a game that only uses four cards. Small bets payout 3:2, giving you winnings of $15 (plus your stake) if you bet $10. Big bets payout 2:1, giving you winnings of $20 (plus your stake) if you bet $10. The House edge for small bets is 5.27% and 4.35% for big bets.
  • Odds or Evens – This lets you bet on whether the final value of the two hands will be an odd or even number. A bet on an odd-numbered hand will payout 0.92:1 giving you $9.2 dollars in profit from a $10 bet. A bet on an even-numbered hand will payout 0.91:1 giving you $9.1 dollars in profit from a $10 bet.
  • Pair Bets – With a pair bets, players can choose to bet that either the Player or Banker will have a hand containing a matching pair. For example, if you bet on the Banker having a pair, if the Banker had a hand containing two threes or two Queens, you would win your bet. The payout for any pair is normally set at 11:1. This means if you bet $10, you could potentially make $110 in profit if your bet wins. While this is a big potential payout, pair bets also have a high house edge. Typically, the edge will be between 10 and 11%.

Other side bets include betting on suits, betting that a hand will lose with a total of eight, betting on all cards being red or all being black, and more. The range of side bets offered will depend on the version of the game you’re playing.

Different Types of Baccarat

So far in this guide, we’ve covered the basic rules of the most popular type of Baccarat you’ll find at most online casinos. Of course, if you fancy playing something slightly different, there are plenty of other versions of the game out there to experience. Depending on the online casino you’re playing at, some will be much more common than others. Below are some of the most popular types of Baccarat and their rules.

Chemin de Fer

Chemin de Fer is the oldest known form of Baccarat that first appeared in 19th century France. Its name comes from the French word for the railway, as this version was much quicker than the original version of the game. Chemin de Fer, sometimes known as Chemmy, is still the most popular version of Baccarat in France. In other countries, however, it can be hard to find a casino that offers Chemin de Fer.

This version of the game typically uses six decks that are shuffled together and added to the shoe. Players are seated around a table, and cards are dealt out counterclockwise around the table. In land-based casinos, players will deal with the cards, but when playing online, this is done by the casino.

One player will be designated as the Banker before the cards are dealt. The other players are known as punters or players. At the start of each round, the Banker announces how much they are willing to risk on the hand. Other players around the table can then decide in order whether they want to match the bet or not. If no players want to “go bank” and match the bet, players can combine their bets to match the amount.

Once the bet has been matched, the Banker then deals out four cards face down. Two of these are dealt to the banker while the other two are shared by the players. The Banker and the player then look at their cards, without showing them. If either hand reaches a value of eight or nine, that hand wins and is revealed face up.

If neither hand has a natural eight or nine, the player can then choose whether to be dealt a third card or to stand. If a player has a hand value between zero and four, they should accept the third card. If their hand value is between six and seven, they’re better off standing.

The Banker can also choose whether to accept a third card or not. If either the player or the Banker accepts the third card, it will be dealt face up for all players at the table to see. Once both the banker and the Player have made their action, both hands are then turned over to compare.

If the player’s hand beats the hand of the Banker, they win their stake and the matching amount which is paid out by the Banker. The role of the Banker then changes to a new player around the table. If the Banker wins, they collect the stake of the player and stay on as the Banker for the next hand. In the event of a tie, the wagers and roles stay as they are for the next hand.

This version of the game is very interesting because of the player vs player element that exists. While in normal Baccarat, you’ll be up against the casino, Chemin de Fer lets you play and win cash against other players at the table.

Mini Baccarat

Mini Baccarat is more or less the same as regular Punto Banco only with lower minimum stakes. Baccarat may be a game for high rollers, but if you’re just starting off with the game, you won’t want to be playing with huge stakes. Mini Baccarat is perfect for new players as it lets you learn the rules while keeping control over your bankroll.

The other main feature of mini Baccarat is it’s incredibly easy to find. Most online casinos will offer a version of mini Baccarat. If you’re not sure whether your online casino offers mini Baccarat or not, simply check out how much the minimum stakes on the games are. Regular Punto Banco typically has much higher stakes than mini Baccarat.

EZ Baccarat

This is a more modern version of Baccarat which was created in 2004. The game pays out even money on both Player and Banker bets. However, if the Banker wins with a seven on the third card, the bet is a push. This means if the player bets on the Banker, their stake will be returned. This version of the game also provides several side bets such as the Dragon 7 and Panda 8. The Dragon 7 is a bet that the Banker will win on the third card with a hand value of seven. This pays out 40:1. The Panda 8 is a bet that the Player will win with a three-card hand that has a total of eight. This bet pays out 25:1.

Super 6/ Punto 2000

In this version of Baccarat, Banker bets are also paid out at even money rather than 95% as with EZ Baccarat. In this version, however, the Banker bet will only pay out 50% of the stake if the Banker wins with a six. In this version of the game, the house edge on the Player bet is slightly higher at 1.46% compared to the usual 1.06% of regular Baccarat. This version is favored by a lot of land-based casinos due to the speed of eliminating the need to calculate a 5% commission on all Banker bets. It’s harder to find online, but some of the bigger online casinos do offer it.

Baccarat Banque

Baccarat Banque shares a lot of similarities to Chemin de Fer as it’s also a classic French version of the game. In this game, rather than the Banker moving around the table, the Banker keeps their role until they leave the table, or they run out of funds.

Before the game starts, any of the players at the table have a chance of being the Banker. The role is decided by the player who is willing to risk the most on the bet. Once the role of the Banker is established, the cards are dealt out. In most versions of the game, the table is normally split into two sides. The players on the right all receive one hand, the players on the left receive another, and the Banker receiving the third hand.

Players can then choose whether they want to go to the bank and match the Banker’s bet. It’s possible to place a wager on a single hand, but some version of the game will also let you split the wager between two hands.

As with Chemin de Fer, the hands are kept hidden unless either of the sides of the Banker has a natural eight or nine. If none of the hands has a natural, the players and bankers all have the choice of asking for another card or standing. Once all the actions are complete, the hands are shown, and the winning hand is determined.

Macao

Macao is thought to possibly be a precursor to Baccarat. In other words, it may have inspired the game that is loved by so many people today. Despite this, not many people have heard of Macao, and it’s fairly rare to come across it, either at online or land-based casinos.

The game has its origins in Asia but was brought over to Europe by sailors in the 18th century. Players place their bets against the Banker and are then dealt one card, face down. The objective is to beat the Banker, and the game shares a lot of similarities to Blackjack. A natural nine will win triple your bet while a natural eight will pay out double. Any win of a seven or below will payout the equal value of your stake. Players can ask for more cards to try the get their hand to as close to nine as possible.

In the event of a tie between the player and the Banker, the hand with the fewest cards wins. When the deck is used up, the role of the Banker typically changes to the player to the left of the Banker. In online games, the role normally doesn’t change.

Punto Banco

Punto Banco is one of the more common types of Baccarat you’ll find online. We’ve already explained the rules of the game earlier on in the guide. Both the Player and the Banker will be trying to reach a nine, but the key feature of the game is that players can choose to bet on their own hand or the Banker’s hand.

The House edge for Punto Banco is one of the lowest of any table casino game. Player bets have a house edge of 1.24 while the Banker bet has a house edge of 1.06%. The house edge of the Banker bet includes to 5% commission that most games charge on the winnings. Tie bets usually have a house edge of 14.4%, but many casinos now offer a better payout of 9:1 for the tie, making the edge just 4.85%.

Author
Arthur is a staff writer at Slotsbang.com. He contributes to all things casino, from our ‘how to play’ guides to tips on finding the best sites for your favourite casino games. 

Baccarat Rule FAQ

  • What are the card values in Baccarat?
    For most of the cards in the deck, each card is worth the value printed on the card. For example, a two is worth two points, a four is worth four and so on. Tens and face cards are worth zero, however. That includes Queens, Kings and Jacks. Aces are worth one point.
  • Do suits matter in Baccarat?
    In most cases, no. Suits refers to the type of card, diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades. These suits don’t impact the quality of your hand, but some games do allow for side bets involving suited hands. For example, a game might allow you to bet on having a matching suited hand.
  • What’s the best hand in Baccarat?
    The best hand in Baccarat is any that uses two cards and forms a nine or an eight. These two hands are known as a natural. An eight will be beaten by a nine, making the natural nine the best hand. This can be formed from several different cards.
  • What’s the best bet in Baccarat?
    The best bet in most variations of Baccarat is the Banker. It typically has the lowest house edge, and while some players may be put off by the 5% commission, it still works out better mathematically.
  • What’s the worst hand in Baccarat?
    The worst hand is one with a value of zero, formed from two tens or face cards. This is known as Baccarat, and you’ll need a high card from the third card if you have any chance of winning the hand.
  • Is it possible to win at Baccarat consistently?
    Baccarat is luck based, and while there is some strategy involved, you can’t really improve your odds that much. It’s definitely possible to go on good runs, but ultimately, the casino will take more than it pays out.
  • My casino doesn’t offer Baccarat, where can I find it online?
    Any good online casinos should offer at least one type of Baccarat. If your casino doesn’t provide the game, check out our list of top online casinos to find a new site that does. You can check in our reviews to find out if a site offers the game before you sign up.
  • Is it possible to play Baccarat for free?
    Yes, a lot of online casinos will allow players to try out free demo versions of casino games. You can play for free but remember that you won’t be able to win any money this way. Most online casinos will also offer welcome bonuses which can allow you to effectively try out games with little risk. Playing for free is a great way to test out a game and decide whether you want to play for real money.
  • What’s the difference between regular Baccarat and live Baccarat?
    While the majority of online casino games use RNG to determine which cards are dealt, live games use real cards. With live casino games, you’ll be playing with a real dealer who’s being live-streamed from a studio. These games give you the authentic feel of the casino without needing to leave your house.