It’s been called the game for high rollers, and has long been associated with wealthy gamblers who have massive bankrolls. In reality, baccarat is a game that can be enjoyed by players of all levels, and has been for hundreds of years.
Despite its relatively good odds, a quick walk around the casino will reveal that many gamblers overlook the game. Whether it’s due to the game’s reputation or simply a lack of knowledge, baccarat remains somewhat enigmatic in terms of table games.
In this article, I’ll lay out a few things players should know before playing the game themselves.
1 – You Don’t Need to Be a High Roller
Yes, you might find the velvet-roped section of the casino a little intimidating. As millionaire gamblers flock to the baccarat table in an exclusive area of your preferred gaming establishment, it can seem as if you’ll never be able to join in the fun.
What you might not know is that the game is available for players of all levels – not just the high rollers.
Although the history of baccarat is one of participation by the upper-class of society, it has nothing to do with the rules of the game itself. In fact many casinos make baccarat accessible via video sets that require as low as a $10 minimum…something everyone can afford.
2 – It’s Easy to Learn
I won’t get into all the minute specifics, but if you’ve never learned how to play baccarat you could be missing out on a profitable game to add to your betting portfolio. Here’s a basic rundown that you can use that should be serviceable enough to generate some wins, or at least make you feel more comfortable at the table.
Step 1: Place Initial Bets
In baccarat, you start by betting on one of two hands. One option is the Banker’s hand, and the other is the Player’s hand. You must make this decision before the cards are dealt.
Step 2: Understand the Dealing
After placing your bet, cards are dealt. Two cards are given out to both the Banker and the Player. The Player’s box receives a card face up. The first card of the Banker’s hand is then placed in the Banker’s Box. The second card is dealt in the same fashion.
Step 3: Know the Value of the Cards
Whereas in blackjack tens and face cards are worth 10, in baccarat these cards are worth 0. All other cards are worth their face value. If the number of the combined cards is more than 10, then the second digit is the value of the hand. For example, if you have an 8 and a 4, the total would make up a 2 point hand. The goal is to bet on the hand that is the closest to a total of 9.
Step 4: The Natural Win
Much like a “21” in blackjack, there is a natural win in baccarat. If the point total is 8 or 9 for the player or the banker, a natural win is called and the game is over.
Step 5: The Third Card Determination
Here’s where things get a little more complex, although it’s still very easy to understand.
The Player’s hand is always played out before the banker. If the Player has a total of 8 or 9, there are no additional cards dealt to the Player. If the total is 6 or 7, the Player must stand. If the total is between 0 and 5, then the Player draws a third card. However, if the Banker has 8 or 9 in their hand, the bank wins and there are no more cards drawn.
Step 6: The Banker’s Third Card
If the Player stands and the Banker has a point total of 0 to 5, the Banker must draw a third card. The Banker stands if the total ends up at 6 or 7, in which case all other hands would depend on what the third card is that the Player draws.
Step 7: Calculate the Winner
As previously stated, whichever hand, Player or Banker, is closest to 9, wins. If other players at the table bet on the Banker and the Banker wins, there are commissions that can be paid out accordingly.
While this may sound complicated, after just a few hands it’s fairly easy to get the hang of the rules. With that being said, it’s always advisable to read up on baccarat until you’re at a point where the game makes total sense.
3 – Online Baccarat Is a Viable Option
Table games like online poker or blackjack have been popular for quite some time now, but baccarat provides several opportunities to be successful as well. In fact, I would recommend that new players try their hand in the online space before heading into a casino.
For starters, playing online will usually allow you to take advantage of online casino bonuses that you aren’t going to find in a physical casino. These bonuses can be a deposit match, which essentially gives you free money to gamble with – something that’s extremely valuable for newer players.
Another advantage to playing online is the fact that minimums are often much more affordable. In short, you can learn the game, and even win some money, without taking a huge risk. It will also allow you to learn the game without the inherent pressure that comes with playing with a bunch of strangers who likely have some prior experience.
4 – Mini Baccarat Is Great for Beginners
As with many other casino games, baccarat has several different variations that are great for gamblers who are new to the game. In this case, it’s mini baccarat that should be at the top of the list.
The differences in the game itself aren’t all that significant from regular baccarat. For example, instead of the traditional 14 spots at a regular table, mini baccarat only has room for seven. Additionally, in mini baccarat players don’t deal their own cards, or even touch them throughout the course of the game.
Finally, the main reason why it’s so popular is because of the accessibility to the vast majority of players. It’s unpretentious, requires a much lower minimum bet, and isn’t roped off section of the casino reserved for high rollers.
5 – No Commission, No Thank You
In a situation where commission is only 4%, the house edge is lowered to around 0.6%. Sounds good, right?
Now, you might be wondering how often that actually happens, which is a fair question. The data suggests that this scenario comes up a little more than 5% of the time, which means it will likely come into to play if you’re playing baccarat for any significant amount of time.
The bottom line is that although the concept of no commission sounds good, like many other casino games, it’s not what it seems. Stick to the regular commission rules and you’ll have a better chance to win money over time.
If you’re growing tired of the same old blackjack, craps, and roulette routine at your favorite casino, try giving baccarat a chance. Once you understand the basics of the game, there are even side bet options which can be very profitable if you know what you’re doing.
Because of the different variations, it’s best to study up and practice online – even if no real money is involved. Getting a feel for the game can put you in the best position to take advantage of that “beginner’s luck” you thought you lost a long time ago.