Baccarat is one of the most popular casino card games, and it is relatively simple to play – all you need to do is bet on one of three outcomes from comparing two hands of cards.
The simplicity of the game might be what draws players in to begin with, but the hidden complexities, the mathematical basis of the card positions, and the opportunities to use different playing strategies are the reasons why the game remains popular – and why this is where you’ll see the high rollers dropping thousands on a stake in a brick-and-mortar casino.
If you want to up your baccarat game and improve your chances of a win, this article will help give you some strategies that you can use the next time you play in an online casino.
What is Baccarat?
There are several different versions of baccarat. The roots of the game are disputed, but it is clear that the game was popular with the French nobility in the 19th Century and came to the US with immigrants around the close of that century.
The version you are most likely to play in a casino is known as punto banco, which literally translates to player banker. There are two hands, designated player, and banker.
Each round of play is called a coup, and in a casino game with 6-8 decks of cards to deal from, you can get 80-90 coups.
The croupier deals from a shoe, and starts with the ‘player’ hand, alternating between it and the ‘banker’ hand to deal two cards each, face up.
The idea of the game is to bet on the hand that has the highest total points value, decided on using the following rules:
- Number cards 2-9 = face value in points.
- 10, Jack, Queen, King = zero points
- Ace = 1
- Jokers are not used.
The highest value possible is 9. Double figure points are valued using the last digit (so 14 becomes 4, for example).
There are three possible outcomes, either the player wins, the banker wins, or it is a tie.
How Do You Play?
In Baccarat, players do not receive any cards. The bettors are there to choose who they think is going to win each hand and bet on the outcome before the cards are dealt.
The croupier will usually burn the first card from the shoe, face up, and then burn the relevant number of cards behind depending on the usual value of the cards (i.e., 1-10).
The two cards that are dealt to the punto and the banco position are added up, and the croupier declares their value. If either hand has a total value of 8 or 9, then the coup is over and the highest hand wins. This is either known as a ‘natural’ or a ‘pair’. If the card value is the same, then it is a tie.
The casino will pay out evens on a player hand winning, and 19/20 for a banker hand winning (this represents the house edge. The tie is the worst position to bet on.
Tableau (Playing Rules)
The tableau is the rules that decide whether a third card will be dealt to the player or the banker.
- Player Rule: If the initial total is 5 or less, a third card must be dealt.
- Bankers Rule: If the player doesn’t draw, and the bankers score is 5 or less, a third card must be dealt. If the player does draw, the banker will draw depending on the value of the cards in the hand and the cards in the player hand.
Baccarat Roads – Are They Helpful?
In online casino baccarat games, you can see charts and tables that show the wins/losses/ties from the current shoe. This will help you spot streaks or runs and might help you predict the outcome of the next coup, so you know what to bet on.
Mathematical probability can be used to play baccarat, as can card counting and edging – but there are other strategies that you might find easier.
Simple Strategies for Playing Baccarat
The martingale strategy works best for evens bets, so best placed on a player win. Essentially, you want to double your stake every time you lose, until you win. Start low, as doubling will eat into your bankroll quite quickly – but the wins will be worth it.
Known as the Reverse Martingale, the Paroli system suggests that you double your stake every time you win and start over when you lose. This is a helpful strategy to draw out your bankroll and give you more opportunities to play, ensuring that you aren’t chasing a losing streak.
The name of this strategy describes how you bet. Choose a betting unit and multiply it by the relevant number each time to bet when you win. So, the first might be £10, then $30, then $20, then $60. Start again when you get to the end, regardless of win or loss.