Baccarat has 14 players at a single table. There are, however, 15 marked places for players because the number 13 is left out for what can only be described as superstitious reasons. In front of every player are three boxes – one for bets on Bankers, another for bets on the Player, and a third one containing bets for a draw (tie). Players deposit bets in one of these boxes. The cards for the game are dealt on the large Banker and player boxes placed in the center of the table. Baccarat is played with nine, eight or six decks – it depends on the casino. These get re-shuffled after every hand. One also gets a mini-Baccarat table, which is only 50% the size of a standard table. Only seven players take part in such a game.
What is the goal?
Your goal when playing Baccarat is to get as near to 9 points as you possibly can. Since the rules of the game are set, there aren’t really any decisions players have to make during the course of the game.
All a player has to do is to select who to place a bet on, the Banker or the Player – or a draw between the two. In Baccarat the banker doesn’t refer to the house, merely to one of the two parties marked on the table which you can bet on. Once you’ve placed your bet, the cards will be drawn by the dealer and you have no further decisions to make.
Since there are some variations of the game, and house rules for the different variants sometimes differ, we are only going to provide a brief summary of the rules to help novices get started.
– The dealer starts by dealing two hands, one to what is called the ‘Player’ and another to the ‘Banker’. These are NOT players in the game, but bet options.
– Players bet on the outcome of the deal. Three bets are available: Player win, Banker win or Tie.
– Once you’ve places your bet, both the Banker and Player positions are dealt two cards.
– The hand that which comes nearest to a total of nine wins.
– Cards have the following values: 1 for Aces; 0 for pictures and 10s; the rest = face value.
The top hand is a two-card total of nine, also called a Natural. The runner-up is a two-card total of eight, quite aptly called a Natural 8.
Extra cards are drawn by either Banker or Player in accordance with certain deal conventions (Third card rule).
House edge considerations and playing tips
If you’ve read this far you should by now realize that this is a fairly simple game. Make the bet of your choice – and their are only three – and then wait for the outcome of the deal. Hopefully the payout will be what you expected.
With only three bet options the question inevitably arises whether the different bet options have a different probability of succeeding, and if that is the case, which one is the top paying bet?
We have calculated house edges for live dealer Baccarat from a standard eight-deck shoe (this is the most common variant offered with live casino Bacccarat) and here are the results:
– If you bet on the Banker the house edge is 1.06%
– Bets on the Player give the house an edge of 1.24%
– Tie bets give the house an edge of 14.36%
The clear message to take home from this is that betting on the Banker should provide the best outcome over a large number of bets. With such a high edge for the house on Tie bets, these should be rather be avoided.
The best Baccarat strategy
Is there any particular Baccarat strategy that will improve your chances of winning? In fact there is, and it consists of five simple rules:
Commission. Look for an online casino that charges a commission when banker bets are below 5%.
Deck count. Opt for a game offering as few decks as you can find.
Account management. Decide on how much you are prepared to spend during any particular gaming session and if you lose that amount, walk away. Follow the same strategy with winnings – walk away when you’ve reached that level.
Don’t assume the past will repeat itself. If you develop a ‘system’ based on what happened in the past, you are bound to be disappointed.
Bet only on the banker. As we said earlier, this provides the house with the lowest edge and should therefore produce the best long-term results.