How To Play Baccarat – a complete guide for beginners

A baccarat game is a classic Bond-movie setting, which perhaps makes the game seem more intimidating than it should. Baccarat is actually a simple game to play. And in terms of betting, the baccarat strategy has much in common with coin flips. What is more, baccarat is a casino game with a relatively low, player-friendly house edge.

So for those wondering how to play baccarat, let’s first have a look at the game rules.

Baccarat Rules

The rules of baccarat require all the betting on any particular hand to be completed before the hand begins. The game then starts with two cards being dealt to each of two hands, known respectively as a Player hand and a Bank hand.

The game objective in live baccarat is to predict which of those hands will subsequently acquire a total which is closest to 9. This is done by betting on the Bank hand, the Player hand, or else wagering that the round will finish as a tie.

In calculating any hand total, all tens and ‘face’ cards have a value of zero, an ace has a value of one, and all remaining cards score at their face value

However, if any hand should score higher than 9, that score is adjusted by subtracting 10 from the original total.

The house rules at any particular venue will decide whether either the bank or player hands are entitled to draw a third card. And in any event, there will always be a maximum of three cards available for any hand.

Those who correctly bet on a winning player hand qualify for a 1 to 1 payout. However, while those who correctly forecast a winning bank hand will also be eligible for a 1 to 1 payout, under baccarat rules they must also pay a 5% commission. This has the effect of reducing the payout odds on this hand to 19 to 20.

A winning tie bet qualifies for a payout of 8 to 1.

How to bet on Baccarat

If you wager on the player hand and it comes nearest to nine, you win twice your stake.
If you wager on the banker hand and it’s a winning hand, the payout is 95% of your stake. But don’t forget that totals above nine require you to drop the first digit to get the true value. For example 9 + 6 = 15, drop the ‘1’ = 5.

A tie is the other betting option, which as mentioned will give you an 8-to-1 payout.
Score sheets are available at live baccarat tables to help you keep in touch with your score.

Player Hand

One thing which can be confusing about baccarat is the drawing of a third card. But the important thing to remember is: this is not a matter of strategy, these decisions are all covered by game rules and actioned by the dealer. So as a player you could simply ‘go with the flow’ – but it’s always a good idea to have some understanding of what may happen.

When a player’s hand totals 0 to 5, or equals 10, a third card is drawn. If the total is 6 or 7, the action is known as a ‘stand’, which means no third card is drawn. Totals of 8 or 9 are described as ‘naturals’, and here too no third card can be drawn.

These actions are summarised in the chart below:

 

Total for First Two CardsAction
1-2-3-4-5-10Draw a Card
6-7Stand
8-9Neutral - Stand

 

Banker Hand

The rules for a banker hand follow similar principles but are a little more detailed. Once again, the dealer is responsible for applying these rules and thus will announce the action to be taken. And once more, the actions involving the banker hand are summarised in the chart below:

 

Total for First Two CardsDraw on Player's Third CardStand on Player's Third Card
31-2-3-4-5-6-7-9-108
42-3-4-5-6-71-8-9-10
54-5-6-71-2-3-8-9-10
66-71-2-3-4-5-8-9-10
7Stand
8-0Neutral - Stand
0-1-2Always Draw

 

And one more point: When there is a tie, there is no loser. Should the first two cards total 8 or 9, the hand is deemed a “natural” and is thus an automatic win, except when both hands produce “naturals” of equal value, in which case it becomes a tie. If neither hand contains a natural, further cards are drawn to decide the winner.

Top tips to play baccarat

Like many other casino games, there is much you can learn from the experience of playing the game. But certain plays and actions should be understood early. So here are six baccarat tips to help you develop a sound playing strategy.

1) Ignore the ‘tie bet’ option: Experts have calculated the house edge for a tie bet is around 14.4%. Such a big percentage is a disadvantage from the outset and always makes this particular bet a poor choice.

2) The banker is your best bet: Because the bank wins just over 50% of games, this should always be your go-to bet. And the fact that 5% commission is charged to reduce the benefits to the player simply confirms this.

3) Follow the bank – until it loses: You should always watch for winning streaks, and statistically speaking, the bank will usually get the most. When this happens, bet with the bank – just don’t be over-aggressive.

4) Pass on the next bet after the bank loses: Whenever the bank finally loses out to the player, don’t bet on the next outcome. Wait until the following one. Note whether it’s a win for the player or the bank. Then resume betting in line with the outcome of that play.

5) Discount all tie bets: For strategic purposes, treat every tie bet as if it never happened. A tie bet is simply a drawn game without a winner or a loser, so don’t include it in your bank-win/ player-win calculations.

6) Practise good stake management: Though baccarat has an advantageous house edge, its win/lose ratio makes it a coin flip. So look to follow bank streaks as suggested, but always monitor your outlay. Staking 10 units for each wager with a limit of 200 units per session (followed by a complete break) is a wise schedule to follow.

 

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