Baccarat Online Casino Overview - Bond With the Classic

Baccarat Example

There's a good chance you have some vague notions about Baccarat being a game only for highbrow aristocrats or suave secret agents. But interest in this once exclusively high limits affair has been steadily increasing in the last decade, in no small part due to online publicity and exciting Baccarat offerings at online casinos. Though not exactly the same game in its more popular land and virtual forms as its more traditional ancestors, the appeal of its simplicity and low house edge make it hard to resist.

All forms of Baccarat are founded upon the notion of making one of three bets each hand called Banker, Player, and Tie. Game variants focus on the details of whether participants play a more active or passive role in how the game unfolds, and the rules governing when hands must stay with the cards they have or take additional cards from the deck.

Did you know?

Modern day Baccarat descended from an Italian game called baccarà, which found its way into France around 1490.

The game is still popular in its more original form of chemin de fer in France in which players take turns fulfilling either the Banker or the Player role, and dealing the cards. While there are several variants in modern times, most derive from two main branches off the chemin de fer trunk called baccarat banque (also "à deux tableaux") and punto banco (also "North American Baccarat").

The vast majority of Baccarat games offered online and in casinos outside of France are a scaled-down version of punto banco often called "Mini Baccarat" (in fact, punto means "player" and banco means "banker"). But given its predominance in land casinos and online, it's also becoming the de facto Baccarat in most peoples' minds. Essentially, Mini Baccarat is the game you're most likely to encounter on blackjack-sized tables in land-based casinos or online, and slowly becoming known simply as "Baccarat".

The card shoe typically has either six or eight decks. Players bet on the Player bet, the Banker bet, or the Tie bet prior to dealing a hand. House edges for these bets vary depending on the number of decks in the shoe:

Bet Six-deck Shoe Eight-deck Shoe
Banker 1.06% 1.06%
Player 1.24% 1.24%
Tie 14.44% 14.36%

As you can see, the Banker bet is always the best bet. However, most casinos charge a 5% commission if you win it, rendering it roughly as valuable to you as the Player bet.

Once all bets are in place, the dealer (or croupier) deals a pair of cards face up to two hands: the Player hand and the Banker hand, which are associated with the Player and Banker bets. The Player hand receives the first card, and the rest are distributed alternating between the hands.

Cards are valued as follows:

Card Value
10, Jack, Queen, King 0
Ace 1
2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Hands values are determined by adding the card values and keeping only the least significant digit. In other words, if the cards add to more than nine, the tens digit is discarded. For example:

Cards Sum of Card Values Hand Value
King, 4 0 + 4 = 4 4
6,8 6 + 8 = 14 4
9,6 9 + 6 = 15 5

The deal may or may not continue depending on the initial hand values. The dealer consults a table of rules also known as the "tableau" (French for "board"), which dictates whether and when either hand must draw additional cards. (In some countries, this version of the game is even called "Tableau"). Cards are drawn until the tableau rules are satisfied, at which point the hands are re-evaluated and the dealer determines whether the Banker, Player, or Tie bets won. The dealer then removes losing bets and pays out winners, keeping the 5% commission on any Banker bets that won. When Banker and Player hands tie, the Tie bet wins and the Banker and Player bets push.

Given the role of the tableau in determining the hands, the game is entirely deterministic and a "game of chance", with no player involvement other than to place bets and collect winnings. Even though the tableau rules may be complex, players really don't need to understand them, being inescapable and always enforced by the dealer. You simply place your bets and hope for the best. Nothing to it!

Some casinos have introduced interesting twists to Mini Baccarat. These variants generally eliminate the Banker bet commission to speed up the game payouts, with a slight change to the tableau to compensate and keep the house edge roughly the same. Some of the names of the variations you'll encounter include "Punto 2000", "Super 6", and "EZ Baccarat".

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