The world of online casino and live dealer casino games is on a roll. Among so many gambling games available online or land-based casinos, Baccarat has gained a lot of popularity. Primarily a game of luck, the game is all about chance, and not even the best of ‘experts’ can guarantee a win. This makes it a relatively good option for novice gamblers who have just started. However, if you understand the rules of the gameplay, you can certainly better understand how to decipher the odds and the probabilities, and improve your chance of winning.
In this basic guide for beginners, we will focus on the basic rules and lingo of the online version of the baccarat game.
In an online version of the game, you have a choice to play the standard version or the live dealer version based on what the casino site offers. Interestingly, some gambling enthusiasts would also say that baccarat can be played without knowing the rules; simply bet on the banker’s hand, player’s hand, or a tie.
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Introduction to Baccarat
Baccarat (pronounced: baa-kuh-rah) has a debated origin story. We can’t say if it was invented in Italy or France, but it made its way to the United States in the early 19th century. It was in the 1950s when baccarat was introduced to the casinos of Las Vegas. Since then, it has only grown in popularity.
For years, it was considered a game for the elites. However, the world of online casino gaming has made it easier for anyone to take a seat at the table and join the play.
Baccarat is based entirely on luck and has multiple versions, which include Chemin de Fer, Baccarat Banque, Punto Banco, Super Pan 9, and Mini Baccarat, which you can find at many American casinos today. Overall, the game rules are the same with just slight variations. What makes a baccarat game more beginner-friendly is a relatively low house edge.
Let’s quickly run over how the card values are calculated in baccarat.
All baccarat games are played using 6 to 8 traditional decks of 52 cards, all placed in a shoe. Aces go for one point, 10s and all face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are equal to zero, while the remaining cards 2 through 9 are worth their face value. For example, a 2 is worth 2 points, a 3 is worth 3 points, and so on.
When adding up the total of the points of cards in a hand, it is common to have a hand value that surpasses 9. In such a case, you need to only pay attention to the last digit. For instance, 15 counts as 5, 18 counts as 8, and so on.
Let’s start with a look at the game rules.
Rules of Baccarat
Like every casino game, baccarat has its set of rules and regulations to ensure standardization and fair play. To put together a winning strategy, it is essential that the player thoroughly understand the game rules.
Making the Bet
In the game of baccarat, you can place your bet on one of the three options—the player’s hand, the banker’s hand, or a tie. The objective of the game is to predict which of the two hands will reach a total closest to 9 or exactly 9. If the outcome of the hand matches your bet, you win!
As per the game’s statistics, the chances of winning when betting on the banker’s hand are slightly more than as compared to the player’s hand. While this might sound a bit puzzling as the hands are dealt randomly, it actually has to do with the rules that determine whether the third card is dealt or not.
The rules related to the player are pretty straightforward.
If the player’s hand (or the dealer’s hand) is an 8 or a 9, then the hand is considered a natural, or what we call a “natural” winner. If both hands get an 8 or a 9, the result is a tie. If none of the two hands gets an 8 or a 9, the play continues.
If the player’s hand totals anywhere from 0 to 5, it is automatically dealt a third card, and then the total score of the hand is calculated. Otherwise, the player will stand.
Now the value of this third card determines whether the banker’s hand will receive a third card or not. Please note that whether to draw a third card or not does not involve any strategy, as these decisions are covered under game rules. Neither the player nor the banker will decide whether they want to receive a third card. The game software decides that based on the programmed set of game rules. The game software will deal you a third card automatically when necessary, as per the game rules.
If the player’s hand total is 6 or 7; then no further cards are drawn for either hand, which means a ‘stand’. At no point in time, can there be more than three cards available for either hand.
Remember, all 10s and face cards are valued zero. The action then turns to the banker’s hand.
But before that, here’s a quick review:
Player’s Initial Two-card Hand
- 0-1-2-3-4-5 results in the third card drawn;
- 6-7 results in no card drawn;
- 8-9 (natural) results in no card drawn.
The rules related to the third card of the banker follow similar principles, but just a bit more complicated. However, the casino software will state a detailed explanation of the rules for the players.
The banker’s rules will depend on the banker’s initial hand and whether the player has received a third card. And if so, what is that third card.
Here is a quick overview of the rules involving the banker’s hand:
- A banker hand with a total of 0-1-2 receives a third card in any case.
- A banker hand with a total of 3 would receive a card if the player’s third card was 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-9-10; it will stand on 8.
- A banker hand with a total of 4 would receive a card if the player’s third card was 2-3-4-5-6-7; it will stand on 1-8-9-10.
- A banker hand with a total of 5 would receive a card if the player’s third card was 4-5-6-7; it will stand on 1-2-3-8-9-10.
- A banker hand with a total of 6 would receive a card if the player’s third card was 6-7; it will stand on 1-2-3-4-5-8-9-10.
- A banker hand with a total of 7 does not receive a third card and will always stand.
All this gives the banker a slight statistical advantage of winning more hands than the player.
But then, why would you ever bet on the player’s hand? Smart question. This is a game of chance, and no one is assured a win—neither the player nor the banker. Betting on the player’s side gives you a chance to keep all your winnings with a 1-1 payout. For example, if you bet R20 on the player and win the round, you will receive your betting amount plus an extra R20. However, when you bet on the banker and win, you still earn a 1-1 payment, but you will have to pay a commission of 5% on all your winnings to the house. This reduces the payout odds on the banker’s hand to 19 to 20. So, when you talk about the total winning amount, winning bets on the player’s hand is always more.
It is up to you to decide when you want to bet on the banker and give yourself a better chance at winning, but pay a commission on the winnings. Or bet on the player while affording to win less often, but take all your winnings home.
If you go by statistical data of the game, you might want to bet on the banker’s hand.
Betting on a Tie
Apart from betting on the player’s hand and the banker’s hand, the third choice is to bet on the possibility of a tie. Before the hands are dealt, you have to bet on a tie option to win it. If the first two cards of both the player and the banker total is 8 or 9, it becomes a case of “naturals” and it is declared a ‘tie’. Just like the player and banker bets, the tie bet also has advantages and disadvantages.
The large payout is the biggest advantage. A winning tie bet pays 8-to-1 meaning if you bet say R20 and you win; you will receive your R20 plus an extra R160.
However, gambling experts believe that it is a sucker bet, since only less than 10% of bets will ever tie. For example, if you are betting R20 on a tie every hand, it means you would end up losing R1,800 and winning R1,600 for the session.
How to Play Baccarat
Whether you are playing baccarat in an online or a land-based casino, the rules, and gameplay remain the same. The only major difference is that the online version of the game is a one-player version, whereas the land-based casino can involve up to 9 different players on the table game. Although, it doesn’t matter how many players are playing at a table. It is because all the players make their bets on only one hand dealt.
The game begins as you press the ‘deal’ button and two 2-card hands are dealt face-up on the table—player’s hand and banker’s hand. But before the hand begins, you will have to place a bet on either the player or banker hand, or a tie. Generally, online baccarat casino sites would allow lower bets as compared to a land-based casino.
At the end of the action, the hand with a closer score usually wins and the player, who had predicted the winning side (player or banker) right, wins the bet.
This card game is fun and relatively simple to play. All you have to do is place a wager and push the “deal” button. What might interest some beginners is that there are no playing decisions made at your end except the wager amount you want to bet. An embedded action grid takes all the gameplay decisions.
Playing baccarat online gives players an opportunity to practice before choosing to play with real money. Every beginner can, and should, practice on the instant play version or the free play mode of the game to learn and practice their game strategy.
How to Choose a Good Baccarat Site
Here’s a quick checklist you must consider while doing your research for a genuine gambling site for playing baccarat for any other casino game. You must look for:
- Licensed & regulated by a recognized licensing authority
- Large selection of games and limits
- Bigger bonuses and promotions
- Mobile compatibility
- Convenient cash and payment policies
- Updated website security features
- Dedicated customer support team
- Ask a friend for a recommendation
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Top Baccarat Tips for Beginners
While every player learns from the experience of playing a game, it is a smart move to understand certain actions early when it comes to online casino gaming. Here are a few tips for rookies which can help them develop a playing strategy.
Ignore the ‘tie bet’ option: Statistical data suggests that the house edge for a tie bet is a whopping 14.4%. If we had to put that in perspective, for every 100 games played, only around 10 would theoretically end in a tie. Just skip it every time you play.
Banker is the best bet: The likelihood of a banker win is the highest among the three possible bets a player can make. This can be said for two reasons. The first is the highest percentage chance of winning, and the second is the lowest house edge of the three. Despite the 5% commission fee on winning banker hands, it is the best bet in baccarat.
Watch for winning streaks: Keep track of the trends regarding wins and losses to improve your odds of winning. If you make your bid on the hand that matches the winning trend, the odds of winning the game are in your favour.
Pass on the next after the bank loses: If you chose the banker bet and won, stick to it for subsequent rounds. It is natural that at some point the streak will break, and the banker will lose. Don’t get tempted to bet on the player in the next round. Either take a break and let the next round pass, or bet one more round on the banker hand and see who wins the round. If the player wins the round, only then switch to the player hand for the next round.
Set limits: Any type of gambling need to have limits in place. In a fast-paced game like baccarat, you can easily lose track of time playing for hours at a stretch or get involved in excessive wagering. Set your bankroll and a time limit, and when you get to it, you should know when it is your time to walk out.
Baccarat is one of the most exciting online casino games that has been around for centuries. With no strategic skills required and easy-to-understand rules, new players don’t face a hard time understanding how to play. Apart from the slightly complicated banker rules, the baccarat game is pretty straightforward and players can easily improve and become more confident with the rules through practice.
If you are someone playing baccarat for the first time, we recommend playing Punto Banco to get a good idea of the game without any time restrictions.
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