How to Play Baccarat – Rules and Tips

How to Play Baccarat

Baccarat, also called Punto Banco, is one of the more popular casino games around. The game may seem complicated, however all actions are pre-determined making the game much more simple than may seem at first glance. Think of Baccarat as an elaborate way to flip a coin or guess odd or even.

The hand starts with a card dealt face down to the player, then one face down to the dealer. This is repeated and both the player and house have 2 cards.

Baccarat Table Layout

The player turns both of their cards face up. Often times players will slowly bend the cards and peek at the value before turning them over, called the “Asian Squeeze”. This creates a sense of suspense at the table. The player’s total is the sum of the two cards, with aces counted as 1 point and face cards 0 points. The 10’s digit is dropped so a player’s total will always be 0-9.

The dealer then turns their 2 cards over and the total is calculated the same way as the player’s hand. If either the player has an 8 or a 9 total, the hand is over.

If a player’s total is 6-9, the player “stands” and that’s their total. If a player’s total is 0-5. 1 additional card will be dealt to the player. No matter what the card is, the 3 cards are added for the player’s final total. No more cards are dealt to the player.

If the player’s total is 6-9 after the first two cards, the dealer hits all hands when their first 2 cards total 0-5. If the dealer’s hand is 6-9 as well, they stand as well and the hand is over.

If the player hits, the dealer’s action is based on the table below.

Baccarat Dealer Decision Table
Banker’s Score Player’s 3 Card Total
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
7 S S S S S S S S S S
6 S S S S S S H H S S
5 S S S S H H H H S S
4 S S H H H H H H S S
3 H H H H H H H H S H
2 H H H H H H H H H H
1 H H H H H H H H H H
0 H H H H H H H H H H

The winner is the hand closest to 9. If both the player and the banker have the same total, the hand ends in a tie.

Baccarat Betting Options

There are three ways to bet in Baccarat.

  • Bet on the Player
  • Bet on the Banker
  • Bet on a Tie

A winning player bet earns even money. If $100 is bet, you will win $100.

A winning banker bet earns even money, less a 5% commission. If $100 is bet, you will win $95.

A winning tie bet is paid at 8-1 odds meaning that if $100 is bet, your will win return $900 ($800 profit + $100 original bet).

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Sample Baccarat Hands

Winning Player Hand (8 or 9)

Player: K♦ 8♦

Dealer: 4♠ 2♥

Player has 8, Dealer has 6. Hand is over.

Winning Player Hand (Drawing)

Player: K♦ 2♦ – Draw 4♣

Dealer: 4♠ A♥ – Draw J♣

Player has 6, Dealer has 5.

Winning Dealer Hand (Drawing)

Player: K♦ 2♦ – Draw 4♣

Dealer: 4♠ A♥ – Draw 3♣

Player has 6, Dealer has 8.

Tie Hand

Player: K♦ 2♦ – Draw 4♣

Dealer: 4♠ A♥ – Draw A♣

Player has 6, Dealer has 6.

Baccarat Odds

Following is the house edge for each bet type, based on 1, 6 and 8 deck shoes.

Baccarat House Edge
  1 Deck Shoe 6 Deck Shoe 8 Deck Shoe
Player Bet 1.29% 1.24% 1.24%
Banker Bet 1.01% 1.06% 1.06%
Tie Bet 15.75% 14.44% 14.36%

As you can see, no matter how many shoes are used in Baccarat, the smart bet is to always bet on the banker every single hand, no exceptions.

Baccarat – Superstitions in Betting

When playing in a casino you will notice that scorecards and pencils are available for you to keep track of who has been winning. Some casinos will even have an electronic board showing the trends of what hands have won recently.

Keep in mind none of this information matters! If following trends was beneficial to the player, the casino would not offer you this advantage, enough said!

Baccarat Variations

Baccarat is found in 2 different versions in live casinos. All of the games are played the exact same way.

Baccarat – This standard version has seating for 12-14 players at the table. The dealer shoe is passed around the table similar to the dice in craps or the dealer button in poker. The cards are dealt out of the shoe by the players sitting at the table. The player who bets the most money on a given hand gets to reveal the player hand.

Mini-Baccarat – This version of Baccarat is played on a table similar in size and layout to a Blackjack table. The dealer turns over both the player and dealer cards.

One other Baccarat game worth mentioning is “No Commission” or “Low Commission” Baccarat. As the names indicate, some games offer a reduced or no commission paid on banker bet hands.

The Origins of Baccarat

Baccarat has been in existence for centuries, dating back to the 1400’s in France and Italy. Today the game is wildly popular in Asia, and in particular, Macau.

Baccarat in Pop Culture

The world’s most famous Baccarat player is none other than ‘007’ himself, James Bond. Bond was first introduced to the world while playing Baccarat in the 1962 movie Dr. No. He can be seen playing Baccarat in several other movies throughout the series.

One of the more famous stories coming out of the Baccarat world was about professional poker player Phil Ivey. His £7.3 million Punto Banco win at London’s Crockfords Casino was withheld under allegations of cheating. The casino believes Ivey identified a flaw in the card design to know what cards were coming out of the shoe. Ivey has since sued the casino for his winnings.