Baccarat, pronounced bah-kuh-rah, is a casino card game in which the goal is to get two or three cards totaling nine, or the closest to nine.
Baccarat is a popular casino game today, but its history dates way back to Medieval times. Legend says it was invented in Italy in the Middle Ages, then further developed in France in the 1400s. It is said that French royalty played a version of Baccarat called Chemin de Fer until the French Revolution. Then, an English version of the game called Punto Banco came to America with British colonists and eventually developed into the game that we know today.
The actual name “Baccarat” comes from old Italian, in which it meant zero. When it was played in Italy, it was called Baccarat because in the game, all tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings were worth zero (and still are today). Also, any hand whose total equaled zero was called Baccarat (also the same rule today).
Baccarat became very popular in the United States in the 20th century. Punto Banco’s popularity took off in the state of Nevada, and then made its way to other popular American gambling centers. It took on the reputation of being a game for high-rollers (much like it was popular with French Royalty), but with the advent of internet gambling, it became accessible to regular ol’ folks too.
All online casinos today offer at least the most basic version of Mini Baccarat, which follows the standard American rules that are used in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Baccarat’s terminology reflects its multi-cultural origins. Below are the main terms with which players should be familiar.
Baccarat: Literally, this means zero. In the game of Baccarat, all tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth zero.
Banker: Also known as banco, the banker has a hand where players can make three possible bets in a standard game. Payout odds are 1:1, minus banker’s commission.
Coup: Theplayer’s hand and banker’s hand make up a coup, which is one single round of baccarat.
Dealer: Also known as a croupier, this is the person who draws the cards..
Mini Baccarat: So-termed “mini” because this version of Baccarat has lower limits than the regular version. Another difference: in this version, the dealer draws all the cards.
Natural: A (good) situation in which the player’s first two cards total eight or nine.
Player: Also known as punto, the player has payout odds of 1:1 with a House advantage of just over 1%.
Run: This is a side bet which a player can bet on successive winning hands.
Standoff: A situation in which the player’s and dealer’s cards equal the same amount.
Tie: This is one of the bets a player can make on a hand of Baccarat. It has big payout odds of 8:1, but it is not used often because the House advantage is almost 15%.
Baccarat can be played with up to eight decks of cards at any time and up to 14 players at one table. Numbered cards from 2-9 are taken at face value, and tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings all have a value of zero. Ace has a value of one.
Each round, or coup, starts with the players placing their bets on which player they think will receive the highest hand. There are three possible wagers they can make: banker, player or tie. Once they make their wagers, the dealer deals two cards each to the players and banker. Nine is the highest, and best, possible hand. If a player gets cards that are worth eight or nine, no more cards are dealt to him. If the cards equal more than 10, only the second digit is counted, so that the actual value of players’ cards can never exceed nine.
The dealer is not the banker. The banker is set, but the dealer rotates clockwise around the table (as in Poker and Craps). As opposed to Poker and Craps, the dealer “shoe” stays put if the banker wins the hand.
Mini Baccarat has the same rules and odds as the regular version of Baccarat, but it has different dealing methods, which make the game move more quickly and changes the odds a bit. In Mini Baccarat, the dealer turns over all the cards and usually deals from a six-deck shoe.
There are three options of betting in Baccarat, but only two are really used. The options are to bet on the player, banker or tie – but tie is rare. Therefore, there is not much to mention with regard to strategy, except to remember that when you bet on the banker’s hand, the banker deducts a 5% commission. But the payout odds are 1:1 whether you bet on the banker or player.
It is important when playing that you are clear on all the rules, and clear on your budget as well. It is easy to get carried away (as in any card game), so your strategy should be to remain in control of what you are betting. The chances of winning at Baccarat are good, but there is a slightly higher chance of losing because of the House advantage – just keep this in mind as you play.
If you are interested in a version of Baccarat that involves more strategy, you can look for other versions of the game, such as Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque. You can find these games at land-based casinos around Europe, but they are also available at a small number of online casinos.
- Practice makes perfect! Start out on the free-play versions of online casinos, and then move on to those that require deposits.
- Don’t bet on Tie, because it’s just not an option that’s worth it. Unless you enjoy taking big risks and have money to spend, this is not a chance you should take!
- Mini Baccarat is the most common version of Baccarat and is offered at almost every online casino. If you enjoy other simple games like Baccarat, you might also like Blackjack.
- Before playing at just any online casino, check which ones offer Baccarat promotions – it’s a good way to maximize your money!
- Make a budget and stick to it. This way, you can have fun while experiencing the ups and downs of the game, but you know that when you hit a certain point, you will need to step away.