By Mitch Rice
Baccarat is considered a sophisticated casino game, glamorized by the high-roller scenes in James Bond movies. The game involves the placing of blind bets on either the Banker or the Player hand having the higher hand. Baccarat is also known as Punto Banco, names that are used interchangeably online. Another variant of the game is Chemin de Fer, though this French variant of the game is rarely seen online.
Baccarat can be played online as well as in land-based casinos. Online baccarat casinos offer the game in either six or eight decks of 52 cards each. Some offer multiple side bets while others provide only the main Banker, Player and Tie bets.
Rules of the game
In Baccarat, two hands are dealt of two cards each. One is the Player hand and the other is known as the Banker hand. Before the cards are dealt, punters bet on whether the Player or Banker hand will be closer to nine in value. The first hand dealt is usually the Player hand and the second is usually the Banker hand.
The suit is irrelevant, but all cards between 2 and 9 hold their face value. 10s, Jack, Queen and King are worth zero and Aces worth one. The card values are added together and any total more than 10 has 10 subtracted for a one-digit score, so a 5 and 7 has a hand value of 2. If there is a tie, the hand is passed, bets returned and the hand redealt.
A third card
Under certain conditions, a third card will be drawn for the Player hand and the Banker hand. These follow set rules that the casino will enforce so those playing simply bet on either hand. If either hand totals 8 or 9, both hands must stand and the hand with nine wins. A third card is issued if the Player hand totals 5 or less. If a Player hand stands at 6 or higher and the Banker has 5 or less, the Banker can request a third card. If the Player takes a third card, the number of that card will decide what the Banker hand can do next following set rules, which the casino will follow.
As with all casino games, the odds favour the house, with odds just over 50 per cent on a Banker bet and just under 50 per cent for a Player bet. The odds on a tie bet are so bad that the recommendation is not to take up this offer. Use instinct to adapt to the flow of the game. Payout is 1 for 1, meaning if you bet $100, you will receive $200 if you win on Player and $195 with a win on the Banker due to having to pay a 5 per cent commission. The suggestion is to bet on the Banker because the odds are better (hence the commission fee).
How much to play
Before you start playing decide on the sum of money you are willing to lose or win. Check the betting minimums at the casino as these can be quite high. If you make your money, walk away whilst you are ahead. If you lose, cut your losses and return another day.