What Is Baccarat?
Baccarat is one of the oldest and most popular card games played in casinos. It is a simple card comparing game, with three common variants played across the world. The game is played between a ‘banker’ and a ‘player’, and each round is called a coup.
The terms player and banker simply denote the two sides of play, and have no connotation to the player, house, or dealer. There are three possible outcomes of a baccarat game - player win, banker win, and a tie. All players can bet on any of these outcomes.
A game of baccarat is played with 8 decks of cards. The cards are contained in the shoe on a Baccarat table. Due to the simplicity of the game, it is very popular among casual casino visitors who don’t want to invest too much time and skill in their casino visits.
What Are the Most Important Rules of a Baccarat Game?
If you are new to baccarat, you should keep the following rules in mind while playing the game:
- The value of cards through 2 to 9 is their number, with the value of the Ace card as 1.
- The value of the 10, J, Q, and K cards is 0, and Jokers are not used in a baccarat game.
- If the sum total of both cards goes over 10, then the tens digit of the sum total is disregarded and the ones digit is considered to be the hand value.
- If either the player or dealer’s card total reaches a natural 8 or 9, then the hand is over and no more cards are dealt.
Some other rules that must be followed by both the player and the baker for drawing a 3rd card are:
- If the player’s initial total is less than 5, they draw a third card. If the player has an initial total of 6 or 7, they stand as is.
- If the player doesn’t need to draw a third card, the banker regards only their own hand and draws a third card with hands 5 or less and stands with 6 or 7.
- If the player drew a third card, the banker acts according to the following more complex rules:
- If the banker’s total is 2 or less, they draw a third card regardless of what the player's third card is.
- If the banker’s total is 3, they draw a third card unless the player's third card is an 8.
- If the banker's total is 4, they draw a third card if the player's third card is 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- If the banker's total is 5, they draw a third card if the player's third card is 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- If the banker’s total is 6, they draw a third card if the player's third card is a 6 or 7.
- If the banker’s total is 7, they stand.
- Losing bets are collected and winning bets are paid according to the rules of the house. The player can also bet whether either side will end up with a pair.
- If both hands have the same value, then tie bets are paid, and the player or banker bets remain active for the next game. In some casinos, players can retrieve these bets if they don’t want to continue betting.
The payout structure followed by most casinos for baccarat games is as follows:
|Bet Type||Payout Ratio||Description|
|Banker||0.95:1||Player placed a bet on the banker's hand to win.|
|Player||1:1||Player placed a bet on the player's hand to win.|
|Tie||8:1||Player bet that the value of both hands will be equal.|
|Banker Pair||11:1||Player bet that the initial two cards in the banker’s hand will be a pair.|
|Player Pair||11:1||Player bet that the initial two cards in the player’s hand will be a pair.|
How Is Baccarat Played?
In casinos, you can play cash games of baccarat by presenting your cash to the casino dealer, who will provide you chips to play the game. For this game, the bets are made before the cards are dealt. After all the bets have been placed, a player or casino operator will deal 2 cards each to the player and the banker.
In baccarat, the card ranks are regarded as their values. The object of the game is to reach a sum total of 9 without going over. All you have to do is sit on the table and bet, since all the calculations will be made by the dealer.
- The player’s hand has 5 and 6, and the banker’s hand has a 3 and a 5. In this instance, the player’s total is 11, and the final value is 1. On the other hand, the banker's hand is a natural 8. So no more cards will be dealt and the game will be declared in favour of the banker.
- The player has a pair of aces, and the banker has a pair of queens. The player’s total would be 2 and the banker’s total would be 0. One more card will be dealt to both sides, till the game can reach a conclusion. The pair bets for both sides will also be paid regardless of the outcome of the game.
Deals are slightly in favour of the banker’s side, so if you win on a banker’s bet, the casino gets a 5% commission. Any number of players can sit on a baccarat table at a time and play the game.
What Are the Most Common Types of Baccarat?
Given below is a brief overview of the different variations of a baccarat game that you must familiarise yourself with before playing an official game.
Punto banco is the most common type of baccarat played in casinos. For this variation, the drawing rules are fixed for all games. The cards are dealt from a dealer’s shoe containing 6 to 8 decks of cards that have been shuffled together for maximum variation.
A cut card is placed before the last 7th card of the shoe and indicates that the shoe has run out. The dealer burns the first card and the number of cards its value indicates. It is one of the most popular games in a casino and accounts for more than 90% of revenue in most major casinos across the world.
Mini-baccarat is a miniature version of a regular baccarat game. It is played on smaller tables and has smaller minimum/maximum bets than regular baccarat. The house edge as well as the odds of winning and payout can differ from casino to casino. The game has various options for play such as Super 6, Punto 2000, Dragon 7, EZ-baccarat, Panda 8, etc.
Chemin de Fer
Chemin de fer is a faster version of the game that is played outside the casino. In this version, the players function as the banker and the banker's position switches counterclockwise within the group for each game. The banker makes the first bet on the amount of money he is willing to wager.
Following this, other players can either match the banker’s bet, i.e., “go bank” or make standalone wagers that total up to the banker’s bet. The dealing options and payout depends on the players playing the game.
Though very similar to Chemin de fer, there is a slight difference in the way baccarat banque is played. In baccarat banque, the banker’s position is fixed. The shoe contains three inter-shuffled decks and the banker’s position can’t be changed unless the banker either runs out of money or all the cards in the croupier have been dealt.
Macao is a precursor of baccarat, in which two decks are shuffled together and players/punters place their bets against the banker. The player receives individual cards and their objective is to beat the banker’s card value or they risk losing their bets.
How to Strategize in Baccarat?
A game of baccarat relies a lot on chance, so it might seem impossible to strategize in this game. However, there are certain strategies that can help you gain an edge over other players when playing baccarat. Some important things to remember when playing baccarat is to keep practising different strategies, shop around till you reach your favourite strategy, and finally have fun playing!
Some of the most common strategies popular among baccarat players are listed below.
The Baccarat Martingale
It is the most popular strategy among baccarat players. For this strategy, you must double the amount of your bet for every hand you lose to offset the value of your lost rounds. The strategy is very flexible and you can adjust it to your preferred min and max bet limits.
Side with the Banker
Typically, the banker has a slightly higher chance of winning in baccarat, so if you stick with the banker’s bet for multiple rounds, eventually will win more than you will lose. However, there is no guarantee that the banker will win at any time.
Focus on Pair Bets
The pair bets have the highest return potential due to the highest payout value. To win with this strategy, you must exclusively bet on pair bets. For every win, you will receive 11x the amount you lost, so it will offset the value of your loss.
If you’re not familiar with the Fibonacci series, it is a series of numbers in which each number except the first two is a sum of the previous two numbers. For this strategy, you must decide your minimum bet value and only bet on a fibonacci series. If you lose, you move one round lower on the sequence and if you win, you move up on the sequence.
The James Bond
For the James bond strategy, you must pre decide the maximum value of your bet on each round and split it across the board. For example if you were to bet Rs. 200 in a round, you must bet Rs. 140 out of it on the banker, Rs. 50 on the player, and Rs. 10 on the tie. Since you are betting on all outcomes, your chances of making a profit increase.
The 3 2 System
While following this strategy, you must bet 5 chips of equal during each round. For instance, during the first round you would bet 3 chips on the player and 2 on the banker. In the next round, the order would reverse and so on.
The 1 3 2 6 System
Similar to Fibonacci strategy, this strategy follows a series. The 1 3 2 6 series represents the number of chips you would be betting in each round. You can modify the value of the sequence as per your preference and move up and down the series as you win and lose. Your bets must be focused on player or banker bets rather than pair or tie bets as they have a higher probability of winning.
The Reverse Martingale
The reverse martingale is a modified version of the martingale strategy. It dictates that instead of doubling the amount of the bet every time you lose, you must double it if you win and halve it if you lose. It focuses on limiting the amount of loss during the entire game.
Side with the Player
It is similar to the side with the banker strategy with one distinct difference - you must side with the player during all rounds. The odds of winning are slightly lower on the player’s side but the payout is also slightly higher since it does not include the casino’s commission.
The Mix Up
Mix up is an incredibly flexible strategy in that it allows the player to switch up their bets as they want. For this strategy, you must set yourself a strict guideline on how many identical bets you are willing to place. Once you reach the number, you can switch to another bet and cycle through all the types of bets until the end of the game.
Origins and Pop Culture References Around Baccarat
It's hard to pin down the exact origin of the baccarat. Though some sources indicate it originated around the 15th century, yet others claim it originated in the 19th century. It was undeniably the most popular game among the French nobility since the 19th century.
Baccarat has been a common presence in pop culture due to its immense popularity. Most notably, it was depicted as James Bond 007’s favourite card game in the novels by Ian Fleming. It was also a part of other popular media like A Hard Day's Night, Rush Hour 3, etc.
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