Are you looking for a fair casino game?
Good luck–they don’t exist. However, a few games came close.
One of those games is baccarat. It has one of the lowest house edges in the casino.
Baccarat is a popular casino table game that first appeared in 19th century France. The Baccarat chemin de fer is the original version. It is also known as baccarat banque and punto banco.
Despite its popularity and low house edge, many people avoid learning baccarat because they think it is a difficult game to learn.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Baccarat is an easy game to learn. In fact, you could argue that baccarat is easier to learn than blackjack. If anything, it’s because there is little to no decision-making or strategy involved in baccarat, while blackjack is the opposite.
However, you don’t have to take our word for it. Just read the next section and find out for yourself
How to Play Casino Baccarat
Most casinos offer punto banco as their baccarat game. So that’s the game for which we’ll explain the rules below. We’ll cover additional variations and side bets later in this guide.
Baccarat is a relatively easy game to learn.
The object of the game is to bet on who you think has the best hand: the banker or the player. Or you can bet whether you think they will be right. You can also bet on two or all three of these outcomes.
This is what an example hand looks like:
You and everyone else who participates place your bet(s).You can bet on the banker, player, tie, or a combination of these three options.
Once the bets are placed, the dealer deals two hands—one for the player and another for the banker.
The player’s hand is dealt first. The dealer gives it a point value so that he can decide if you get a third card or not.
That’s based on the value of your hand, which is based on the following values assigned to each card:
- 10, J, Q, K = 0
- 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are the nominal values.
- Jokers = not used.
- Aces equal one.
- It doesn’t matter if you grab or not.
The highest possible score is nine points.
When you have two cards that give a higher (double-digit) score, only the right digit is used.
For example, suppose you get two sixes for a total of twelve points. Only the rightmost digits—the two—are used. Your score is two points.
Here are more examples. On the left, you can see the actual (double-digit) value of your hand. On the right, you can see what your score will actually be if the left digit is omitted.
- 1 point = 11
- 12 points = 2 points
- 13 points = 3 points
- 14 points = 4 points
- 15 points = 5 points
- 16 points = 6 points
- 17 points = 7 points
- 18 points = 8 points
Once a point value has been assigned, a third card may or may not be dealt. In punto banco baccarat, this is determined by the croupier and done automatically (based on somewhat complicated rules).
Do not worry; there is no need to panic. We list the rules for both the player and the banker below. But you don’t have to remember them because, whether you play online or offline, the croupier or software does it all for you.
But it’s a good idea to have a vague understanding so you know what’s going on and why, so you don’t get confused as to why you get a third card one time and not another.
Here’s what happens based on the value of your hand:
- 0–5–The player draws another card.
- 6-7—The player stands.
- 8-9 (of course) – The player takes a stand.
Once the player’s hand is settled, the dealer is next. Here’s what happens based on their hand total:
- 1-2—Draws another card (regardless of the player’s hand).
- 3: Draws another card when the player’s hand is 1-7 or 9-10 and always stands on player 8.
- 4 – Draws if the player’s hand is 2-7 and always on player 1 or 8-10.
- 5 – Draws if the player’s hand is 4-7 and always on player 1-3 or 8-10.
- 6 – Draws if the player’s hand is 6-7 and always on player 1-5 or 8-10.
- 7 – The current standings (regardless of the player’s hand).
- 8 or 9 (natural) – State (regardless of the player’s hand).
Once both hands are ready, they are compared. You win the hand if you:
- Bet on the tie and both the player and the banker tie. This pays out at 8:1 or 9:1, depending on the casino. That means for every $1 you wager, you get your $1 back PLUS an extra $8 or $9.
- Bet on the player and that hand wins. This even pays money. That means, for every $1 you wager, you get your original $1 back PLUS an additional $1.
- Bet on the banker and that hand wins. This pays 0.95:1. That means for every $1 you wager, you get your original $1 back plus an additional $0.95. That’s because the casino charges a 5% commission on bank wagers.
Bet on the wrong outcome and you lose.
Then the money is collected and/or paid out. Then another round begins.
That’s all there is to playing punto banco baccarat. There is no strategy and no decision-making. So, this variation is easy to learn and play.
But there are other variants, including variants where you do make decisions. Let’s look at those now
There are many different baccarat variants, including the three base games, additional variants, and side bets. The first list contains the most popular variants you can find and what makes them unique. Then we list the most common side bets.
This is the original version of baccarat and the most popular variant in France. This is the version used in the James Bond books. One player is designated as the banker and will act. The banker must be able to cover all bets made. The roll moves counterclockwise around the table, giving everyone the chance to be a banker.
The uniqueness of this variant is that whenever there is an opportunity to receive a third card, it is up to the player and banker to decide to accept or decline it. This is the only chance for a “strategy”.
James Bond played baccarat chemin de fer in several books, including GoldenEye, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderbolt, and Casino Royale. However, baccarat was traded for Texas Hold’em in the movie Casino Royale as the popularity of poker skyrocketed at that time.
In this version, the banker only continues as long as he wins. Once he loses, the position is passed to another player.
What’s unique about this is that three hands are dealt: one to the first player to his right, one to the second player to his left, and a third to himself. Each hand represents that side-the dealer, the left side (five players), and the right side (five players).
From here on, the rest of the rules-including accepting or declining a third card-are the same as in baccarat chemin de fer.
This is identical to classic baccarat, with one exception: winning bank bets are paid evenly (1:1) instead of 19:20, except when it wins with a total of three seven-point cards. Then it’s a push or barred hand. This changes the house edge from 1.06% to 1.018% (for the banker). This rule is the same as the casino’s taking a commission of 4.912% instead of 5%.
Punto 2000/Super 6
Even money is paid on winning bank bets (instead of 95%). The exception is when the banker wins with a 6; in this case, he gets paid 50% of the stake. The house edge is 1.46% over the standard 1.06%.
This is a smaller version of punto banco baccarat with a lower stake. The main difference is that it is usually played at lower limits. Players do not pick up the cards either.
This is identical to mini baccarat, except the table is larger. It is also usually found in high-limit rooms rather than on the casino floor.
That’s it for variations. However, you will also find baccarat games with different rules depending on where you play. Here are some of the different rules you’ll find:
- Rules for Liberal Bankers
- Rules for Liberal Players
- Liberal Tie Regulations
- Three-card baccarat
- 2-on-1 Baccarat
- 7-Up Baccarat
- 98 Power Baccarat
- Baccarat Double Fortune
- Dragon Tiger
Baccarat Side Bets
Here are some of the most common baccarat side bets:
found in EZ Baccarat. This pays out 40:1 if the banker gets a winning three-card 7. This has a house edge of 7.61%.
found in EZ Baccarat. This pays out 25:1 if the player is dealt a winning three-card 8. This has a house edge of 10.19%.
It is reportedly offered in some casinos in London. This is a bet where the player or banker gets a king and a queen in the first two cards. This pays out 75:1 for a king or queen of the same suit and 30:1 for a different suit. This has a house edge of 2.13%.
A game where multiple players play against an animated dealer This bet pays 75:1 for a player with three of a kind and 68:1 for the banker. This has a house edge of 5.27% for the player and a house edge of 8.57% for the banker.
A side bet is usually offered in mini baccarat. The payout depends on what you “win” with, with a win of 9 paying out 30:1 (the maximum). This has a house edge of 2.65% for the player and a house edge of 9.37% for the banker.
This is a side bet (rumored) to watch or play in Atlantic City. There are three bets available on the total value of each hand. 4 pays 3:2, and 5 and 6 pay 2:1.
large and small
This can be found at online casinos that use Playtech software. This is the same as the 4-5-6 bet-a “small” pays 3:2 if the total number of players and bank cards equals 4. The “large” pays if the total is equal to 5 or 6. The house edge is 5.27% for the small and 4.35% for the large.
found at casinos that use Playtech software. This pays off if the first two cards (to the player or the banker) form a pair. This pays out 5:1.
found at casinos that use Playtech software. This pays off if the first two cards (for both the player and the banker) form a pair of the same suit. This is paid 25:1.
found at commission-free baccarat games at the Pala Casino in California. This pays out 18:1 if the banker gets a win. This has a player advantage of 2.34%.
But because of the player advantage, you can not bet more than 10% of your bank stake on the lucky bonus. Between the two bets (banker and Lucky Bonus), the combined house edge is 1.11%. This is pretty good considering it’s not much more than the standard house edge for a side bet.
found in the same games at Pala Casino. This pays out 100:1 if both the player and the banker are dealt a three-card 6. It pays out 8:1 if only one card is dealt. It loses otherwise. This has a house edge of 13.37%.
found in UK casinos and some (online) live dealer casinos. On a winning banker total of 6, this pays out 12:1.This has a HUGE house edge of 29.98%. This is one bet you probably want to avoid.
Color is in the majority.
It is available at some live dealer casinos online. This pays off when one colour is the majority. The payouts are 1.5:1 for red cards, 1.53:1 for blackjack, and 2.87:1 for both.
This is also available at live dealer casinos. This is the same bet as above, except you want the cards to be all red (which pays out 22:1) or all black (which pays out 24:1).
The first two bank/player cards of the same suit
This is available at live dealer casinos. This pays out if the first two player or bank cards are of the same suit and pays 2.87:1 (player) or 2.86:1 (banker). The house edge is 3.95% for the banker and 4.20% for the player.
Total points greater than or less than 9.5
This is available at live dealer casinos. It pays out on the sum of the last player and banker points and is sort of an over/under sports bet. If both hands are less than 9.5, the bet pays 1.23:1. If both hands have more than 9.5 points in total, the bet pays 0.66:1.
Total number of points odd/even
It is also available at live dealer casinos. This pays out if the sum of both player and banker points is odd or even. If the total is odd, the stake pays out at 0.92:1. If the total is even, it pays out. 91:1.
This is a side bet in Macau. There are actually thirteen bets, one for each rank. The player is paid based on the number of cards of the chosen rank appearing in the net hand. It doesn’t matter how many cards are dealt in the next hand (4-6).
Think of the following hands:
Player: Q22 Banker: KQ2
A bet on a 2 would have paid 20:1 for three 2s, Q: 3:1 for two queens, and K: 1:1 for one king, and the other ten bets would have been lost.
found at the Palace Casino in La Center, Washington. This pays out on different outcomes where the player and/or banker have a total of 8.
- Three-card 8 with double suit: Both the dealer and the player have a three-card 8 of the same suit. The colours do not have to be the same. This pays 200:1.
- Suited three-card 8: Only the dealer or banker has a suited three-card 8. This pays out 25:1.
- Double 8: Both the dealer and player have eight points. This pays 15:1.
- Unlucky 8 – The chosen hand (player or banker) has a losing total of eight points. This pays out 8:1.
- Lucky 8 – The chosen hand (player or banker) has a winning total of eight points. This pays out 4:1.
This has a house edge of 13.65% (player) or 16.60% house edge (banker).
found in Las Vegas. This pays:
- Three-of-a-kind suitable | 500:1
- Unsuitable three-of-a-kind | 50:1
- Suitable pair | 15:1 — Based solely on the first two cards.
- Unsuitable couple | 7:1—Based on the first two cards only.
This has a house edge of 8.07% (player) or 9.31% (banker).
This is based on the combined total of player and banker points. If the combined points are
- 0 – It pays out at a 50:1 ratio.
- 18 – It pays out at a 25:1 ratio.
- 1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17 – It is a one-to-one bet.
- 4 to 14–It loses.
This has a house edge of 8.155%.
Those are the most common side bets you will find. Now let’s take a look at playing baccarat online and what to expect.
Online Baccarat Play
Playing baccarat online is a bit different from playing it live.
For starters, you don’t have a chance to be the dealer as you are playing the punto banco variant.
In fact, for most online games, you don’t have a dealer at all. The casino’s software can handle all of that except live dealer baccarat.
Most punto banco games are simple. Some pay 9:1 on a tie. Others pay 8:1. Some offer commission-free games. Others don’t. Some call it “punto banco.” Others call it baccarat.
However, the betting limits will vary. Most online casinos start at $1. From there, you will find limits ranging from $100 to $250 to $500 per hand. However, depending on the casino, you may find limits higher than $1,000. Pinnacle is one of those casinos; they offer limits of up to $5,000 per hand.
An interesting baccarat variant that you will find online is live dealer baccarat games. These are games dealt by a real human dealer. Baccarat is one of the most common live options (just like blackjack and roulette).
One thing that makes these games unique is the dealers. They come from different backgrounds, ranging from European to Asian countries. There are also different themes, such as dealers wearing Playboy costumes.
Live dealer games usually have higher stakes because they have more overhead. However, that is not always the case. Bets can range wildly from $1 all the way up to $75,000. Some even offer side bets and commission-free games. You can see a list of live dealer baccarat options here.
And while it depends on where you play, you can find baccarat for your mobile device. Some casinos, especially those with smaller selections of mobile games, don’t have it. But if you stick with bigger casinos like Bet365, you will find it.
One more thing—another unique aspect of online gambling is that most casinos offer bonuses. However, because baccarat is an approachable game, you will find that most casinos will either not let you participate in their bonuses, or they will seriously hamper the offer.
Let us give you an example:
888Casino.com offers a 100% match bonus up to $200. This means that for every dollar you deposit, they give you an extra dollar. You can receive as much as $200, for a total of $400.
In order to keep that dollar and eventually cash it out, you have to bet that much money. Casinos call this “rollover” or “playthrough requirements.” The exact amount to bet will depend on the casino, the offer and the games you play.
Slots have the lowest playthrough because they have the highest house edge. But we want to play baccarat, which has a lower house edge.
And if you want to play baccarat while clearing a deposit bonus at 888Casino.com – or most other online casinos – your wagers count less than your wagers on slots.In the case of 888 Casino, your wagers only count for 10% of what a slot machine wager will be.
So let’s say you have to wager 50x on slots. Here’s what it looks like for baccarat players:
- 100% or 50x rollover for slots
- Baccarat = 10% or a rollover of 500 times
A big difference, right?
This is important to keep in mind because instead of wagering $10,000 or $20,000 for the slots bonus (depending on how exactly 888Casino.com structures their offering), you have to wager that 10x-or $100,000 to $200,000.
And that’s BEFORE you can request a payout.
You need to decide if it’s worth it before making a deposit. And for most players, it won’t be.
How to Win at Baccarat: Strategy and Systems
Baccarat is impossible to win or beat. Not really.
Brick-and-mortar casinos give you scoring strings and pencils that you can use to keep track of the outcome of each hand. Online, they have what looks like a (live) keno scoreboard that tells you the outcome of the last few hands.
Players will follow these religiously. They look for patterns like “big road,” “beaded road,” “big road,” “little road,” and “cockroach road.”
However, experts say this is a waste of time because there really is no way to get an edge over the casino. Counting cards doesn’t work either.
And according to Jim Thorp (a well-known gambling analyst, blackjack player, and author),
The advantages in baccarat are very small, they are very rare, and the few that occur are almost always in the last five to twenty cards in the pack.
What about betting systems?
Betting systems don’t work either. Many players will use the popular Martingale betting system. This strategy can be somewhat effective, as the odds of losing six to ten or more hands in a row are rare. However, this or any other negative or positive progressive betting system will not help you beat the casino. If anything, you could lose your money faster.
The WizardOfOdds.com emphasises several times that negative or progressive betting systems DO NOT improve your chances of winning at baccarat.He also shows why gambling systems (in general) are flawed.
No, it all doesn’t work. The biggest benefits you’ll find are borderline tactics like border sorting. Some consider this a fraud. Others don’t. We’ll talk more about it in the next section.
Other than that, there isn’t much you can do to get a head start at baccarat, other than maybe make some wise decisions. Here are some tips for what you can do or do better than your peers:
- The bank bet is the best you can make. It has the lowest house edge (1.06%). So this is where you will either earn the most or lose the least.
- Do not bet on a draw. We want to emphasise this as it has a 14% advantage, which is a relatively terrible advantage-an advantage that is comparable to some slot machines.
- Skip the progressive jackpots or side bets. Many of these have a large house edge, such as 3-5x what the standard (1.06%) house edge is.
- Skip commission-free baccarat. Based on the more than six different games we found, the house edge (for bank betting) was always 0.25% to 0.50% higher, if not more, than the normal house edge of 1.06%.
- Find a casino that will allow you to play baccarat to clear their bonus AND will not handicap you (too severely) against their normal rollover requirements. Between that and simple cash back programs, this is really the only way to “beat” the casinos… IF you spin right.
- Find baccarat games with smaller shoes. By participating in a six-card game over an eight-card game, you pay only 4% commission on winning bank bets. This reduces the house edge to 0.50%.
Other standard casino “tips” also apply. You should only play what you can afford to lose. You must have a bankroll and/or stop-loss. And you shouldn’t chase your losses.
The bottom line is that gambling is a form of entertainment and baccarat is no different. These are things you should already know.
One last thing: please don’t buy “systems” or other programmes that show you how to beat baccarat for a win.
They claim to show you how to consistently beat the casinos for $300+ per hour. And if you sign up today, you’ll also receive tips for beating Keno. All for a measly $67.
If the $300/hour wasn’t an absolute giveaway that you’d be wasting your money, the fact that you’d also get winning keno secrets would be.
These systems just don’t work. They probably don’t use the tips themselves, but make their money by chasing people stupid enough to buy them.
Don’t be one of those people. You can’t beat Baccarat. You just can’t. Not unless you cheat.
Cheating at Baccarat by Edge Sorting
The most common form of “cheating” in baccarat is edge sorting.
We put cheating in quotes because not everyone thinks edge sorting is cheating. Some people think it’s fair because it’s a bug or error that the casino could look for and track down, but it didn’t.
But first, what is border sorting?
Edge sorting is a tactic where you look for subtle and intentional differences on the backs of playing cards and then figure out whether it’s a high or low card.
Once the player has figured this out, they ask the dealer to flip the cards over (turn them 180 degrees) so that all the low cards face one side and the high cards face the other. They say it brings good luck.
Edge sorters will also ask the dealer to use an automatic shuffler as it doesn’t rotate the cards 180 degrees like with manual shuffling. That way, the low and high cards are in the same position.
Players who pull this off can gain a big statistical advantage over the casino, even in a game where there is usually no advantage to be found.
Phil Ivey, a popular high-stakes poker player, is an example of someone who used edge sorting to get an edge. In 2012, Ivey and an accomplice won $9.6 million USD playing baccarat at the Borgata. The Borgata filed a lawsuit against Ivey in 2014 for his winnings.
Also in 2012, he reportedly won $11 million USD playing punto banco at Crockfords in London. The Crockfords returned his $1 million stake and agreed to send him his winnings. When they later refused, Ivey sued for payment. He lost the case in the British Supreme Court.
The UK Supreme Court ruled that edge sorting is a fraud under civil law and that casinos have the right to refuse payment to players.
While Ivey thought he had a reasonable edge, given that the casino could have easily protected itself, the judge said Ivey used the croupier to gain an edge rather than simply finding a flaw or anomaly.
It’s a small difference, but it’s enough of Ivey not getting paid. Not yet anyway.
In late 2015, it was reported that Ivey had been cleared to appeal his case after a judge ruled that his case “raises an important point of law and has a real chance of success”.
It goes without saying that we don’t condone cheating, although this is certainly one of those cases where it’s up to your own moral compass to determine whether edge-sorting is cheating or not.
Instead, we tell you that if you use edge sorting, you do so at your own risk.
That’s baccarat in a nutshell.
It’s a very easy game. The only thing you really need to know is that you should bet on the banker if you want to win more money.
The rest is not in your hands-at least for punto banco. The only reason to understand the other stuff is that you know what’s going on and can follow you-and that’s where all the excitement is going to come from-and so you’re not confused about why you got paid or not.
That’s why it’s kind of funny to us how people confuse this with a hard-to-learn game. In any case, it is one of the easiest and most hands-off casino games out there, with a lack of decision and strategy.
If you like that sort of thing – a game where you can bet, relax, and enjoy the lower house edge – then you should give baccarat a shot. Because few other casino games can say the same,