Baccarat is one of the staples of casinos, found in all the big-name venues worldwide, from Las Vegas to Macau. It’s a straightforward game to play, requiring no skill whatsoever, making it an excellent choice for those new to gambling or those simply looking to relax with a game that requires little thought.
But how do you play baccarat online? And what are the various versions of baccarat you’ll find at casinos? You’ll find out the answers to these questions, as well as much more when you read through our comprehensive page on baccarat below.
How to Play Baccarat at Online Casinos
The first thing to say is this: confusingly, the game referred to as baccarat nowadays is actually punto banco. It is very rare to find traditional baccarat being offered at a casino, either online or offline. Both games have very similar gameplay; however, the most significant difference is that players choose whether to draw another card in traditional baccarat. In punto banco, extra cards are dealt automatically in specific situations.
As already mentioned, baccarat is a straightforward game to play, despite looking a little complex at first. The aim of the game is to pick whether the player or the banker will get a combination of cards that is closest to nine or whether the hand will end in a tie. The value of a hand is determined by adding the values of the constituent cards together. Should the value be above nine, only the second digit of the number will be used. For example, if a hand has a 7 and an 8, which comes to a total of 15, the hand would have a score of 5.
To start the game, the player will choose whether to bet on the player, banker or a tie. This is done by simply putting chips on one of the options. Successful bets on the player see you doubling your money, while a successful bet on the banker also sees you doubling your money but then paying a 5% commission to the house. Finally, a successful bet on a tie has odds of 8:1.
But what bet should you place? Thanks to how the game is structured, the best bet is actually on the banker, despite this bet having the smallest prize. When betting on the banker, the house edge is 1.06%, while the house edge for betting on the player is 1.36%. When betting on a tie, the house edge is a massive 14.40%, which is why experienced players don’t place this bet.
Once you’ve placed your bet, the cards will be dealt, with both the dealer and the banker receiving two cards. Whether the player then gets another card depends on the value of the cards dealt to them. Once their hand is complete, the dealer can then also receive another card, but only if the game’s situation dictates it.
When both hands are complete, the hand that’s closest to nine will be declared the winner. If you made a correct bet on the winning hand or correctly predicted a tie, you will be paid automatically, with the money sent to your casino balance immediately.
Different Variations of Baccarat
Above, we’ve described how to play the most common variation found at online casinos. However, as with most table games, there are a few different variations of baccarat, all of which have the same basic gameplay but feature a few tweaks to the rules. You can find out about the two most popular baccarat variations below.
Chemin de Fer
Chemin de fer used to be a prevalent version of the game, and it is still played often in France. It follows the same rules as baccarat, but with one significant change: instead of playing against the house, players compete against each other.
One player is designated as the banker and places the first bet. Other players then choose how much they want to bet. If the total bet by the players isn’t as much as the banker’s bet, spectators are also invited to bet. If the value of bets is higher than the banker’s bet, the banker can increase their bet, or players can remove bets from the table.
Cards are then dealt, with the players all sharing one common hand. As in standard baccarat, the hand that is closest to nine will be declared the winner. Winning players then receive their prizes. A new hand then starts, with the banker moving one place anticlockwise.
Mini baccarat, as the name suggests, is simply a game of baccarat that’s been downsized. This means that the game takes place on a much smaller table, and it also means that the bets are generally much smaller. What’s more, players never touch the cards during the game. Other than those differences, it plays pretty much the same way as standard baccarat/punto banco. Mini baccarat is particularly popular with gamblers in Asia.
Side Bets in Baccarat
If baccarat alone isn’t exciting enough for you, it’s often the case that side bets are also offered. These are optional bets you can make on a specific occurrence, and they are entirely independent of the main game. While they undoubtedly add excitement to the game, experienced players generally avoid them, as they almost always have a higher house edge than the main game. Find out about three of the most popular side bets below:
- Super 6. This pays out if the banker wins with a total of six. If you place a winning bet, you’ll receive returns of 12:1. This side bet has a huge house edge of 29.98%.
- Royal Match. This pays out if the player or banker draws a queen and a king as their first two cards. If they’re suited, the prize is worth 75:1, while unsuited cards lead to a prize of 30:1. The house edge with this side bet is just 2.13%.
- Perfect Pair. This simple side bet pays out if either the player or the banker manages to get a pair of exactly the same cards in their first two cards. It’s a side bet often found online. In an eight-deck game with a prize of 25:1, the house edge is 13.03%.
You will also find various other side bets when playing baccarat online and at land-based casinos. They’re often explained on the felt of the table; however, if you’re unsure of how they work, just ask the dealer. If playing online, you’ll usually find information on playing the side bet somewhere in the game’s rules.
Top Tips when Playing Baccarat
If you’re reading this section hoping to find some sure-fire way to win at baccarat, we’re going to disappoint you. This is because, as with every casino game, there is no trick you can use to guarantee you walk away with more money than you started with. So, that’s the first tip: ignore anyone who claims to have a way of beating the house, as they’re either lying or misinformed.
You can boost your chances of winning with one simple action, though: always bet on the banker. Due to how the game is structured, betting on the banker has the lowest house edge of all three bet options, with players losing, on average, just £1.06 for every £100 bet. Betting on the player has a lower RTP, but it’s still reasonable, with the average player losing £1.36 per £100 bet. Avoid the tie at all times – it might offer the highest payouts, but if you bet on the tie all the time, you’ll lose, on average, £14.40 for every £100 you bet.
Finally, a tip for everyone at a casino, regardless of the game they’re playing: make sure you use good bankroll management, as this will make sure you always have money left over to play with another day. We’d recommend only ever risking 5% of your bankroll when playing a session of baccarat. So, if you have £200, just put £10 on the table and walk away if you lose that money.
Find the Best Online Casinos Offering Baccarat Today
Now you know everything you need to know about how to play baccarat. The next step is to find a casino offering baccarat that’s perfect for you, and we’ve made this extremely easy. You just need to read through the reviews of the casinos we’ve recommended, all of which contain information on everything from bonuses through to payment methods, and then pick the casino that looks like the best fit for you. Why not check out the reviews right now and decide where you want to play baccarat online?