The Basic Baccarat Rules
Baccarat is not a very complicated game, and it does not take very long to understand the basic rules and terminology. The aim of the game is very simple; there are two positions you can bet on, the Player and the Banker, and you need to predict which will have a value closer to 9 when the round ends.
There are just three bets you can place. You can bet on the Player, the Banker, or a Tie. If you place a bet that matches the outcome of a round then you win.
After placing your bets, you and the Banker are dealt two cards each. There are some circumstances where you may receive a third, but we will come to that later. In Baccarat, the face cards and 10s are all worth 0 and the other cards are worth their face value. When you add up the value of your cards you only pay attention to the final digit, for example if you have a 7 and an 8 then your hand is worth 5 not 15. At the end of a round, the hand that is closest to 9 wins.
Drawing a Third Card
The circumstances in which a third card is drawn can at first appear a little bit confusing. However, when playing online you will automatically be dealt this card if necessary, so if you do not fully understand the rules it is not the end of the world. Furthermore, the rules are not that complicated.
- If the Player or the Banker has a total of 8 or 9 then they always stand.
- If the Player has a total of 6 or 7 then they stand.
- If the Player stands, the Banker will draw a card if they have a total of 5 or less.
- If the Player has a total of 5 or less then the player draws a third card.
If the Player has drawn a third card then the Banker draws a third card in the following situations:
- If the Banker has a total of 0, 1 or 2.
- If the Banker has a total of 3 then they will draw if the Player’s third card was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, or 0 (not 8).
- If the Banker has a total of 4 they will draw if the Player’s third card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- If the Banker has a total of 5 they will draw if the Player’s third card was 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- If the Banker has a total of 6 they will draw if the Player’s third card was 6 or 7.
- If the Banker has a total of 7 they will always stand.
In nearly every version of Baccarat, a winning bet pays at 1:1. However, a 5% commission is taken on winning banker bets. However, there are no commission versions of the game and in these, the Player and Banker bets both pay at 1:1, unless the Banker wins with a 6, in which case the Banker bet pays 0.5:1. The Tie bet pays 8:1 in nearly every version of the game.
Some Basic Tips
There are not many betting options in Baccarat, and it basically seems like you have a 50/50 chance when you bet on the Player or Banker. However, there are actually advantages and disadvantages to each type of bet.
When playing the regular game (i.e. not no commission baccarat) according to the game’s statistics, the Banker’s hand will actually win slightly more often than the Player’s hand. This is due to the rules concerning the third card. Due to the slight statistical advantage that the rules give the Banker’s hand, they will win slightly more often than the Player will.
This does not mean that you should never bet on the Player. First off, if you bet on the Player then you will keep all of your winnings as in most games of Baccarat you pay a 5% commission if you bet on the Banker and win. As a result, winning a bet on the Player produces bigger returns. This becomes important when looking at basic Baccarat strategies (which we will shortly come to).
If you are playing No Commission Baccarat then the situation reverses. The Player bet will have the lower house edge and as such, it is the best one to place.
Just as the Player and Banker bets have their own advantages and disadvantages, so does the Tie bet. The major advantage of betting on a Tie is that it offers much larger payouts. The majority of Baccarat games will payout at 8:1 for a Tie.
The major disadvantage to betting on a Tie is that statistically less than 10% of hands will result in a Tie. This means that if you bet on a Tie for one hundred hands, you are statistically likely to win just ten of them. If you were betting $20 a time it means that you would lose $1,800 and win $1,600, leaving you down $200 for the session.
However, this is not really how statistics work. You could play one hundred hands with Tie bets and win 90 of them. Therefore, as long as you are managing your bankroll sensibly, there is nothing wrong with placing the occasional Tie bet.
A Basic Baccarat Strategy
As discussed above, the Banker bet has a slight statistical advantage. Because of this, it is a good idea to start a game by betting on the Banker. If the Banker wins then you should stick with the same bet and keep placing it in subsequent rounds.
At some point the Banker will lose, at this point you may be tempted to switch to the Player bet. However, this is a bad idea. Bet on the Banker for one more round and if the Player wins that round then switch to the Player bet, otherwise stick with the Banker bet. If the round ends in a Tie then continue betting on the Banker. Furthermore, if you are successfully betting on the Banker and a Tie occurs, then ignore it and keep betting on the Banker as if nothing had happened. If you are betting on the Player and you lose a hand then you should immediately switch to the Banker bet.
As with any other casino game, the essential thing is that you manage your bankroll sensibly. If you know that you want to play 100 rounds, then be sure that you are betting an amount that you can afford to lose 100 times over, whether this is $0.10 a hand or $1,000 a hand. It is unlikely that you will lose 100 consecutive rounds, but it does not mean that you should not plan for it.
It is always important to remember that Baccarat is ultimately a game of chance and that the outcome of one hand has no bearing on the outcome of the next. However, this does not mean that it can’t provide hours of fun, and there are of course strategies to help you manage your bankroll and come out on top.