Baccarat enjoys the lofty reputation of a game for high-rollers, and has always drawn an elite but limited crowd. In the meantime, other card games such as poker or blackjack get all the mainstream attention. In fact, most people have a basic understanding of poker and blackjack just from watching TV or going to the movies, while baccarat has always remained somewhat of a mystery even for average casino goers. What most people don’t know is that baccarat rules are as simple as simple gets, and anyone can easily learn how to play baccarat.
Thanks to online casinos, baccarat is no longer a well kept secret. Baccarat rules are now accessible to everyone, and low stakes baccarat games can be found at the click of a button. Players with small or medium bankrolls can now enjoy a baccarat game without mortgaging their house, and beginners can get a taste of the baccarat game absolutely free of charge. In fact, we at Ace Hoyle have our money on baccarat to become the next explosive card game.
How to Play Baccarat
Our baccarat rules lay out the game in simple terms, making it easy for beginners to learn how to play baccarat. We will focus on the Punto Banco baccarat rules, since it is the most popular North American baccarat game variant.
The objective of baccarat, simply put, is to correctly predict whether the player’s hand will win, the banker’s hand will win, or if the hand will end in a tie.
Like so many other casino table games, the foundation for baccarat is the 52-card deck. In some cases, as many as eight 52-card decks are used. There are only three potential bets, and three possible results – ‘Player’, ‘Banker’ or ‘Tie’. Only two hands are dealt – one for the player, one for the banker. The player, however, is not tied to his hand. Rather, he may place a bet on either the Player or the Banker hand to win, or he can bet for a Tie. This can be confusing, so try to remember that the Banker position does not represent the casino, while the Player position does not necessarily represent you.
How to Win at Baccarat – Winning Hands and Card ValuesThe winning hand is the hand that is closest to a point total of 9.
The point total of a given hand is calculated as follows:
- Aces count as 1
- Cards 2 through 9 count at face value
- 10's and face cards count as 0.
- Suites don’t make a difference.
It should be pointed out, however, that it is not possible to accumulate points beyond the total of 9. Once you reach 10 points, you’re back down to 0. For example, if you're dealt a 9 and a 6, the combined total of your hand is not 15, but instead, 5. If the banker is dealt a 4 and an 8, his total is not 12, but actually 2.
Initially, two cards are dealt for each hand. The perfect hand therefore is one that totals 9 exactly with the first two cards, for example a 5 and a 4, or a 9 and any face card. According to baccarat rules, 8 is the second-best hand. Along with the 9, these two hands make up the two "natural" hands.
Payouts are very straightforward:
- If you correctly bet on the Player to win the hand, the payout is 1 – 1 (even money)
- If you correctly bet on the Banker to win the hand, the payout is 19 -20 (even money minus a 5% commission to the casino).
- A Tie will yield you a payout of 8 to 1.
If a tie occurs, all bets on Banker and Player are ‘pushed’, meaning they are not automatically lost. Rather, they stay in place for the next hand to determine their outcome. As explained in detail in our baccarat strategy
section, this ‘push’ rule improves your odds of winning.
Online tables usually have a maximum of $250, and a minimum bet of $1.
The Three Types of Baccarat
There are three different types of baccarat, and each skews the baccarat rules in some way. Some casinos offer only one version, some two, and some offer all three, though the casino's location and clientele often dictates which variation is available. The three types are: Punto Banco (favored by American casinos), Chemin de Fer (preferred by European casinos), and Banque (popular worldwide). Depending on which baccarat game you play, the hands may be controlled by a dealer or by the players.
In all three baccarat versions, only a maximum of three cards may be played per hand. Two cards are initially dealt to both positions, and a third card may be earned or requested – depending on the variant. In Punto Banco, every move is dictated by the game's rigid baccarat rules, so there is no obvious advantage to players and the game is essentially chance-based. However, Chemin de Fer and Banque versions of the game allow for some player interaction, making them a more profitable proposition for card players than their North American counterpart.
Punto Banco (North American Baccarat) Game Flow
1. The cards are shuffled before each and every round, ruling out any possibility of card counting.
2. Bets are placed before any cards are dealt.
3. The dealer then deals 4 cards: 2 for the Banker, 2 for the Player.
4. If the total of either or both sides (Player or Banker) is 8 or 9, the hand is declared `a natural` and no more cards are dealt.
5. If the point total of both sides is identical – it's a tie.
6. After the two initial cards have been dealt, if both the Banker’s and the Player’s points each don’t add up to a natural, or when no tie occurs, another card will be dealt according to specific Baccarat rules, which are broken down below.
7. Player’s third card:
- If the Player’s total is 5 or less – this is the only situation in which the player is dealt an additional card.
- Player's total adds up to 6 or 7 - he/she must stand and will not receive additional cards.
8. Banker’s third card:
- If the Player did NOT draw a third card, the Banker stands on 6 or more, and draws on 5 or less.
- If the Player DID draw a third card, the following rules determine if the Banker will draw a third card:
- Banker hand adds up to 0, 1 or 2 - the house must take an additional card, regardless of the value of the Player’s third card
- Banker hand totals 3 – he will draw, unless the Player’s third card was an 8.
- Banker hand totals 4 – he will draw, unless the Player’s third card was a 0,1,8 or 9.
- Banker hand totals 5 – he will draw only if the Player’s third card was 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- Banker hand totals 6 – he will draw only if the Player’s third card was 6 or 7.
- Finally, if the Banker hand adds up to 7 or more - he must stand regardless of the Player’s third card.
How to Win at Baccarat
You’ll notice that the ‘draw or stand’ rules above are automatic, and don’t require any decision makein by the player – a fact that makes baccarat an easy game to paly. The dealer will automatically deal out the hand according to the baccarat rules, and announce the winner (or a tie). Now that you know how to play baccarat, you should check out our baccarat strategy
page to find out how to win at baccarat.