A Complete Guide to Baccarat

When you are playing casino games, we guess that most of you stick to slot machines, blackjack, and roulette. Actually, that isn't a guess - we can tell that from the data we've seen from casinos. There are loads of other great games to try in either a land-based or online casino, and we want to try to help you learn about each one so that you can feel comfortable sitting at a table the next time you are feeling the urge to gamble.

This page is going to look at the game of baccarat. A game that has been around for centuries, it seems like more of a niche game in a casino, but those who play it swear by the game. Let's break the game down for you - where it came from, how to play it, and what to look for if you are looking to play baccarat online.

A Brief History of Baccarat

Depending on the source, there are a couple of stories about the invention of baccarat. While we can't guarantee whether the game was invented in France or in Italy, we can agree on one thing: it was one of the two places. The word "baccarat" is a word used to describe the number zero in both languages, which is an even bigger clue. The first mention of the game dates all the way back to the 1400s.

Baccarat is a game that was very popular with the royalty in France, and when it was first played, it was more of a social game. However, the game became even more popular as it spread across the country and when gambling was added into the mix. Over the centuries, the game spread from France and Italy across Europe and finally made its way over to the United States in the 19th century.

The game was not nearly as popular in the US as it was in Europe, but it did continue to be played. Baccarat was introduced to Las Vegas casinos in the 1950s and is a staple of almost all casinos in the country today. Baccarat still isn't as successful as games like blackjack and roulette, but we are convinced that this is because the casinos don't do a great job of teaching people how to play.

The Best Baccarat Sites

One fun way to learn faster is to use these guides in conjunction with playing the game online. Rather than wait for you to read this entire page (and any others you may come across), we thought we would pause here to give you a head start on finding a great baccarat site. We'll talk a little bit about what makes up a decent baccarat site later on.

These sites will all give you not only great baccarat games but also excellent promotions and customer service to round out your player experience.

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How to Play Baccarat

Okay, while you are looking at sites and starting to create accounts, it's time to turn our attention to teaching you how to play the game! We'll be focusing on the online version of the game, which is a one-player version, versus the table game in a land-based casino which can seat up to 9 players.

The number of the players at the table actually doesn't matter, because in baccarat, there is only one hand dealt that all players make their bets on. This game, which features a player hand and a dealer hand, is really quite simple, as the player also doesn't have to make any actions - the dealer takes care of it all. It is almost like you are just betting on the hand of another player at the table.

The premise of the game is simple - the hand that has the highest score wins. However, the value of the cards is different than in most other games. In baccarat, the ace has a value of 1, and all 10s and face cards have a value of zero. The 2-9 are valued the same as their number indicates. The goal is to get as close to 9 as possible, with either 2 or 3 cards based on the rules we will outline here.

People Playing Baccarat

Before each hand is dealt, you will have the choice to bet on the player hand, the dealer hand, or a tie. Once you have placed your bet, the cards are dealt (online, you have to press the deal button). At that time, the dealer deals two cards face-up to the player spot and two cards face-up to the dealer spot.

Here is where the playing rules come in (remember, you don't have to do anything, as the dealer takes care of it all). If the player or dealer's hand is an 8 or a 9, then the hand is considered a natural, and the action stops right there. If neither hand is an 8 or a 9, play continues.

The player hand is first to act. If the player has a 6 or a 7, then no more cards are drawn. If the player has a 0-5 total (remember that all face cards and 10s are worth zero), then a third card is dealt with the hand. At this point, the player totals the cards, and that is their score for the hand.

The action then turns to the dealer hand, which takes on slightly more complicated rules. We'll try to keep this as simple as we can. If the player has not taken a card, then the dealer plays on with the same rules as the player. However, if the player did end up taking a card, then the dealer switches to these modified rules:

  • A banker hand with a value of 2 or less receives a third card no matter what
  • A banker hand with a value of 3 would receive a card unless the player's third card was an 8
  • A banker hand with a value of 4 would receive a card if the player's third card was 2 - 7
  • A banker hand with a value of 5 would receive a card if the player's third card was 4 - 7
  • A banker hand with a value of 6 would receive a card if the player's third card was 6 or 7
  • A banker hand with a value of 7 does not receive a third card

At the end of this action, the winner of the hand is determined by which hand has the higher total. Winning bets on the player's or dealer's hands are paid out at 1.95 to 1, as the house keeps a 5% commission on all winning hands. A tie hand pays those who bet on the tie 8 to 1.

Online Versus Live Baccarat

While the games are essentially the same no matter where you play them, there are some differences when you play online versus playing at a land-based casino. The first difference is speed. When you are playing in a land-based casino, there are typically going to be more players sitting at the table, which will slow down the betting and payout process. The good news is that there is still only one hand being played, which makes the game faster than a full table of blackjack players.

Another difference will be in the way the cards are shuffled. Most baccarat tables use 6 or 8 decks in one shoe to keep the action going. This allows players to watch for patterns of cards as the shoe continues, although this doesn't present the same value as card counting in blackjack. When you are playing online, the shoe may have 6 or 8 decks, but all the cards are shuffled every hand, so there is no discard pile to take into consideration.

The final difference we will discuss is the number of variants of baccarat you will find playing live or online. Since the game isn't as popular as other table games or slots, land-based casinos usually only offer one or two baccarat tables, and these are typically Punto Banco tables, the most common form of baccarat. Online, with no space restrictions, a casino operator can offer other variants like Super 6 for you to choose from.

What to Look for in a Good Baccarat Site

While we have given you a few great options for sites to try online that feature baccarat, we know many of you want to do research on your own. We have a team of experts at this site that reviews hundreds of online gambling companies, and here are some highlights of what the team looks for when reviewing baccarat sites.

Game Selection and Limits

We talked briefly about the fact that online you are more likely to find a site that offers more than one version of baccarat. This is something we look for, so you have those options if you want to give each of the variants a try. Also, we want to make sure that if a site only offers one baccarat option, that it is a game you recognize. We also look at the betting limits for baccarat, and we hope to find games that allow novice players the chance to play for smaller denominations should they choose.

Bonuses and Promotions

Having a great selection of baccarat games is one thing, but we go a step further when we review a casino. We are always looking for the sites that provide the best value for your deposits, including those that have great deposit bonuses and ongoing offers. Many of these will not be baccarat-specific, but any type of bonus or loyalty offer that earns you money goes straight to the profit line for you, and given the nature of gambling, we want you to have the best chance of walking away a winner.

Mobile Compatibility

These days, you are more likely to use your mobile device than your PC, and the gaming world has responded by configuring most casino games and sites for mobile accessibility. Baccarat is a great game to play on your phone, so you should be looking first for sites that have a native app for iOS or Android. If a site doesn't have an app, that's okay, because almost all of them offer a browser-based version of games that will work on the majority of devices.

Conclusion

Now that you have read this page, we are certain you are ready to find a baccarat table and sit down. However, if you want to practice the game, we suggest you check our recommended sites for those with play money versions of the game so that you can get in some action while following along with our guide.

We think that you will find baccarat to be very enjoyable, and we hope that, armed with all this knowledge, you will have a long session or two the next time you decide to play casino games.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know the online baccarat game isn't rigged?
Many players have concerns about the validity of the games they are playing online. In the early days of the online casino industry, there definitely were incidents of improper gameplay on the part of games developers. However, the easiest way to tell if your site is safe these days is to look for certification of the random number generator and software. There are many third-party auditing firms that check all the math for each game. There is no real benefit to a supplier rigging the games, so if you find a site with a seal from an auditing firm, then you should feel very safe.
Can I play more than one spot in baccarat?
No. This isn't like blackjack, where you would see different hands in each spot. There is only one player spot for hands, and all the bettors are betting on the outcome of that hand. If you want to make a larger bet, be our guest, but at the end of the day, you are not able to hedge a bet by playing the second spot.
What is Super 6?
Super 6 is a version of baccarat that has become popular in the last few years. You will most likely find this game in a live dealer version of online baccarat, although it does also exist online. Super 6 is a game that plays exactly like Punto Banco, except that there is an extra bonus bet that you can make. To win this bet, one of the hands must be a 6 when the hand is complete. This bet, which cannot be played unless you are also playing on the winner of the hand, pays winners 10 to 1.

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