Baccarat

Baccarat (pronounced bah-car-rah) is an underrated casino game in which the house edge is among the lowest you'll find in any land based or online casino.

Known as being the choice game of James Bond, some players shy away from it in real-world casinos. They assume it's only for the upper classes and that the rules are complicated.

We can dispel both of these myths right here, right now. The game was originally viewed as snobbish because the baccarat pit in land-based casinos was separated from the rest of the casino games – mainly as a casino marketing ploy to give the game an air of sophistication to attract big punters.

Secondly, it's perhaps one of the most simple casino games to play. Once you choose which hand you want to bet on, your work is done. In this day and age, baccarat should be a game for players and wallets of all sizes, but it's still fighting to shed its old image.

Baccarat at a glance

  • Baccarat is the home of the banker bet, one of the best bets in the entire casino.
  • The game offers only three different types of bets.
  • Object of the game is to get a score as close to nine as possible.
  • Baccarat is the misunderstood kid of casino games. Some think it's too easy, some think it's too hard.
  • In baccarat, card suits are irrelevant.
James Bond playing Baccarat Sean Connery, aka James Bond, playing Baccarat in the original Casino Royale

Baccarat Basics - 9 is the magic number

  • No skill or decision making is required when playing baccarat, giving rise to the belief that it's a boring game.
  • There are only three bets in baccarat, bets on the banker's hand, bets on the player's hand or bets on a tie.
  • The aim of the game is to have a baccarat score that's closer to nine than the other hand.
  • Baccarat score is the sum of your cards minus the tens unit (26 = baccarat score of 6).
  • Baccarat variations are very rare but can be found in the form of mini baccarat, punto banco and progressive jackpot games.

Betting on Online Baccarat

Example Baccarat Table Example online baccarat table, as seen at 32Red Casino

When it comes to actually playing online baccarat, it's very similar to playing the game in a land-based casino. However, there are a few differences and definitely one or two plus points of playing online.

  • To start with, online casinos actually have baccarat whereas it's very rarely found in land-based UK casinos.
  • You're more likely to find punto banco in land-based casinos.
  • Players are able to bet on both the banker and player hands online while they're only able to bet on the player hand in punto banco at land-based casinos.
  • Some online casinos even offer punto banco and chemin de fer to provide you with a few extra options.

Other than these differences, online baccarat doesn't stray much from the games that you can play in land-based casinos (if you can find them).

As with the land-based version of the game, online baccarat offers some of the best odds available in casinos which is no mean feat given that some have more than 400 games on offer.

Scandals, Films and Tarot Cards

Like many casino games, it's hard to say for sure where exactly baccarat originated from. Baccarat history is, unfortunately, rather sketchy with many people not even sure if the game was developed in its current form or was adapted from others.

Baccarat is derived from the Italian baccara, (which means zero) which has led many historians to deduce that the game once originated from Italy. A commonly held belief is that it was created using Tarot cards by an Italian gambler named Felix Falguierein.

The age of the game means that there are a number of different variations,with the most well known being called chemin de fer. This game is undoubtedly French and is still played in some European casinos.

The main difference between chemin de fer and baccarat is that in the former, players take turns to act as the banker. In terms of the actual gameplay, there is little difference except that the players take turns to deal the cards. It's because of this reason that chemin de fer cannot be found online as it would be hard to recreate.

Over the years baccarat has received considerable coverage in pop culture. However, the game first came to the wider public's attention for the wrong reasons during the Royal Baccarat Scandal. This took place in 1890 involving the future King Edward VII. One evening the then-Prince and other guests at a party were playing baccarat, which was illegal at the time, when one of them, Sir William Gordon-Cummin, was found to be cheating. This all blew up in a rather large libel trial in civil court and ended with Sir William being dismissed from the army and living the rest of his life in near-isolation.

You may also recognise the game from various film appearances such as in James Bond films, Rush Hour 3 with Jackie Chan, and even The Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night. In fact, the very first Bond film, Casino Royale, centred around a game of baccarat, which was changed to Texas hold'em poker in the 2006 remake.

Baccarat Rules

You won't find many games that are easier to play than baccarat. Simply place a wager on the banker, the player or the tie and wait until the casino tells you whether you've won or lost.

However, in order to understand what's going on there's a bit more to take into consideration. Having said that, compared to other casino games baccarat rules are still fairly simple.

It's for this reason that the game has become very popular with online and land-based casino players who are all looking to try their luck. Despite its simplicity, a common perception of baccarat is that it's very tough to play with many players opting for blackjack instead.

If you're one of these people, then have a read of this guide to baccarat rules and you'll see just how simple the game is to play.

An easy game to learn

  • The aim of the game is to get a baccarat score as close to nine as possible.
  • If a player or the banker receives a baccarat score of 8 or 9, it's called a 'Natural'
  • You can bet on either the player's hand or the banker's hand or a tie.
Winning Banker Bet Winning on the banker bet with a 'Natural' hand

Baccarat - Basically Easy

The object of online baccarat is simple. There are two hands named the banker and the player. Despite the names of these hands, you can actually bet on either one of them, as well as having the option to bet on a tie.

Regardless of which hand you choose, you are betting on which one will achieve a baccarat score as close to nine as possible. This score is made up of the card totals that are dealt. Two cards are dealt originally, with a third card being dealt if the score of the first two cards is low.

Should either hand receive a baccarat score of 8 or 9 then it is called a 'natural' but this doesn't necessarily mean that it will win the game.

Baccarat scores are worked out by adding the card totals that have been drawn and dropping the tens unit.

Baccarat Card Values

Effectively the values of cards in baccarat are as follows.

Ace
1
2 - 9
Face value
10 and face cards
0

A simple example

  • 7 + 6 = 13 which is a baccarat score of 3.
  • 8 + K = 18 which is a baccarat score of 8.

The 5% Commission

While the payout for both the banker and the player hands is 1:1, when you win with a bet on the banker a 5% house commission is charged. This is because the banker's hand is statistically more likely to win and even with the commission it's still a better bet.

Should both hands end on the same baccarat score then the result is a tie and anyone who bets on the tie wins at 8:1 or 9:1. While this is obviously the biggest baccarat payout, don't be tempted to bet it as it is by far the worst bet in the game.

Third Card Rules

We briefly mentioned the drawing of a third card above and in case you aren't really sure what happens or why it does then do read on.

The following baccarat rule chart shows when the player and the banker hands will automatically be dealt a third card.

Player Hand
Baccarat Score of First Two Cards Action
0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Draw a new card
6, 7 Stands
8, 9 Natural hand
Banker Hand
Baccarat Score of First Two Cards Draw when the Player's Third Card is Doesn't Draw when the Player's Third Card is
0, 1, 2 Always draws a card
3 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 8
4 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 0, 1, 8, 9
5 4, 5, 6, 7 0, 1, 2, 3, 8, 9
6 6, 7 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9
7 Always stands
8,9 Player can't draw Player can't draw

Baccarat Strategy

We admit that it may be slightly misleading to have a page called baccarat strategy, as it implies that there's some element of skill in the game.

In reality, there's as much skill and strategy in baccarat as there is betting on raindrops on the window.

If you exclude the obvious money management, the best bit of advice we can give you is to bet on the banker and never ever be tempted to bet on tie, even if the payout is 8 or 9:1. The house edge on the tie bet of over 14% makes it one of the worst bets in the casino and one only slightly surpassed by games like keno and the wheel of fortune.

Below is a rundown of the three bets in baccarat:

  1. Bet on Banker (approx house edge: 1.1%)
    • The best bet by far. Statistically, betting on the banker will give you more frequent wins.
    • However, the 5% commission on the banker bet means your winnings will be slightly reduced.
  2. Bet on Player (approx house edge 1.25%)
    • Sure you'll win sometimes, but not as much as the banker bet.
    • On the positive side, you'll get to keep all your winnings.
  3. Bet on Tie (approx house edge 14.25%)
    • A payout of 8:1 or 9:1 on the tie bet might sound tempting, but the odds are so bad you wouldn't even recommend it to your worst enemy.

Baccarat Strategy Do's and Dont's

  • You should only bet on the banker and avoid the other two bets.
  • Although betting on a tie offers odds of 8:1 or 9:1, we don't recommend it because of the low chance of winning.
  • As well as having one of the best bets in the whole casino (banker), baccarat also has one of the worst (tie).

Don't be Fooled by Baccarat Systems

Baccarat Strategy Fool

No matter what you've heard, there are no baccarat systems in existence that work. The fact that neither skill nor any real decision making are needed during a game makes it simply impossible to have a system. All those sites out there that offer baccarat systems are simply a con to get people to part with their money in exchange for a useless bit of software and/or a PDF. You have been warned.

Baccarat Jackpots

'A baccarat game with a progressive jackpot? I've never heard of one,' we hear you cry. Well that's chiefly because you'll never find them in land-based casinos.

Fortunately, we can confirm that baccarat jackpots do exist and can be found on the internet. However, there aren't too many to be found yet. But given that online baccarat is increasing in popularity and progressive jackpots continue to be a player favourite, it seems like putting the two of them together is a very good idea.

In order to put them together, casino software developers decided to add a side bet into the equation rather than mess with the format of the game itself. This means that even if you don't want to play the progressive jackpot then you can still play the game without the side bet.

Want a Baccarat Jackpot? Stay online

  • Baccarat jackpots exist only in online casinos.
  • Baccarat jackpots often feature a side bet rather than altering the game.
  • Playtech progressive baccarat is the most common baccarat jackpot game.
  • Jackpots can be up to 10,000x the value of the side bet.

Jackpot Baccarat Games

While the benefits of having a progressive baccarat jackpot may seem obvious, fitting one into the game may not be quite so easy. Seeing as casino game developers tend to like adding jackpots to games, we assume that they've certainly tried before.

Having done our usual thorough search we did manage to get hold of a jackpot baccarat game. This is listed below and hopefully in due time we'll be able to add more to this list.

Playtech Progressive Baccarat

Progressive Jackpot Baccarat Progressive Jackpot Baccarat - it exists!

William Hill Casino

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Play Playtech's Progressive Baccarat at William Hill Casino.

Welcome Bonus: £150

Claim Your bonus

The Playtech Progressive Baccarat is one of, if not the first jackpot baccarat games to be made anywhere in the world. It allows players to play a normal game of baccarat with six decks of cards and reasonable betting limits, as well as providing the chance to win huge progressive jackpots ranging from £15,000 to over £70,000.

As well as the usual banker, player and tie bets, with progressive jackpot baccarat you are required to make a side bet in order to qualify for the progressive.

Playing this side bet means that you're eligible for the progressive jackpot and the other payouts on offer. These start at 10x the value of your side bet and rise all the way up to 10,000x and the jackpot itself. The progressive is triggered when the player and dealer have matching hands of suited Aces and 8s.