Baccarat is one of those games which many players look at and think that they are never going to be able to get to grips with it. This is mostly in part down to the third-card rule, which even we’ll admit, is a little puzzling. However, what players don’t know is that they don’t have to keep tabs on when that third-card is taken when playing baccarat, especially online. It is largely down to the dealer to keep tabs on it. Baccarat is a popular game like roulette and blackjack.
This certainly makes things a lot easier, and now that you know this, perhaps it is time you revisited baccarat? In this guide, we’ll tell you how to play this game. And how you can get going with baccarat online today. Let’s get started, though, with a bit of history…
A brief history of baccarat
Baccarat is potentially older than almost any other card game you can find in online casinos. Many people credit the game as an Italian invention, played by aristocrats in the Italian city-states of the Fifteenth Century. If you believe the lore (because nobody knows for sure), Felix Falguierein created a game called “baccara” which means “zero”. The French would later adopt the game and change its spelling to “baccarat”, and from there on out, the rest is history. Or is it?
There are also reasons to believe that Falguierein may have pinched the game from the Ancient Etruscans (who lived in Italy before the Romans) and played the game with dice. We may never know who “started it” but the game caught on when it was shipped off to courts of King Charles VIII in France as Chemin de Fer and was also popular in England, and eventually the New World, where the Latin Americans renamed it Punto Banco or “player bank”. Check all casino bonuses!
The United States was late picking up the game. And it wasn’t until the Sands Casino first showcased in the late 1950s that Americans were really introduced to it. Of course, when most major casino games were ported to the internet, even the somewhat unpopular baccarat went with it. The game also made the move to mobile and live dealer platforms more recently, too.
Even though the game has since been made famous by Ian Fleming’s James Bond in numerous novels and films, Americans are still less enthusiastic about the game than many players from Europe, instead preferring blackjack and poker. Baccarat is not as difficult as you might think, though, as you will see. Slots are also nice to play.
Getting started with baccarat
Whether you wish to call it punto banco, or baccarat, or chemin de fer, the rules are relatively the same in all games. This is one of the few card games where you can place bets without having to play (the other major game which follows a similar betting structure is craps).
The basic idea in baccarat is to bet whether you think the banker will win the hand or the player. You can also bet on a tie. You don’t have to be the player to have a bet, as you can see in land-based casino and live casino versions of the game, but in RNG (random number generator) baccarat you will usually take on the role of the player, even if you bet on the banker winning.
How to play baccarat?
Naturally, before any gameplay can begin, players must first decide whether they wish to bet on the banker on the player winning the hand. The house has an edge of 1.06% on the banker’s hand and an edge of 1.25% on the player’s hand, with a massive 14.4% house edge on a tie. Naturally, it is, therefore, better to wager on the banker’s hand, though if you bet on the banker’s hand and win, you will typically need to pay 5% commission to the house.
After a bet has been placed, the dealer (banker) will deliver two cards to both their own hand and the hand of the player (remember, you don’t have to be the player to bet). The objective in baccarat is to get as close to 9 points as possible. Unlike blackjack, you cannot bust if you go over nine. Each card counts for its own numerical value, with aces counting as 1s. Tens and face cards all count as 10s. Should the player have a hand which is worth more than 9 points, then the left-hand digit is dropped from the total. For instance, a hand of 13 becomes 3, and a hand of 17 becomes 7.
The player (or banker) which gets closest to 9 points wins. Hands of 8 or 9 are known as naturals and automatically win if the opposing hand is worth less, of course, a 9-point hand beats an 8-point hand.
On occasion, a third-card may be taken. There are limited rules to when a third card must be taken, and this is where players get confused and put off. However, as mentioned, it is the banker’s responsibility to deal with this when playing online, so you don’t have to worry about it. If you want to learn, though, we’ve detailed the rules below.
The third card rule
A third card will be taken in baccarat if…
The player’s hand is worth 5 or less, and the same is true of the banker’s hand.
If the banker has a hand worth 2, he will always take another card, irrespective of what the player’s third card happens to be.
The banker’s hand is worth 3, he will take a third card unless the player has a hand worth 8.
If the banker has a hand worth 4, he will take a third card unless the player’s third card is a 0, 1, 8 or a 9.
The banker has a hand worth 5, he will take a third card but only if the player’s third card is worth 4, 5, 6 or 7.
If the banker has a hand worth 6, he will take a third card if the player’s third card is worth 6 or 7.
The the banker has a hand worth 7, he will stand and not take a third card.
Whether you win with the banker’s hand or the dealer’s hand, the payout is always 1:1. However, as mentioned, if you bet on the banker’s hand the banker wins. You will be forced to pay 5% commission. So the payout is really 0.95:1 unless you happen to be playing No Commission Baccarat. In the event of you betting on a tie and winning, you can expect to receive winnings worth 9:1.
As we’ve just mentioned, there are variants such as No Commission Baccarat out there. No Commission Baccarat is a game played without the 5% commission on a winning banker’s hand. Other major variants in Baccarat Banque, which sees the player with the largest pot become the banker; Punto Banco, which is essentially the same as baccarat (although there may be a few subtle rule changes in some variants); and Chemin de Fer, which allows the player to manipulate the third-card rule somewhat to their own design, for better or for worse. It is also possible to play baccarat variants which include side-bets, although these are less common.
Misconceptions about baccarat
There are several misconceptions about baccarat which should be cleared up before you decide to play. They include the following:
You need to know how the third-card rule works to be able to play
No, you don’t. It helps, but it is not mandatory to know these rules since the banker deals with them. Moreover, you don’t even have to “play” to wager on baccarat.
Baccarat is only a game for players with plenty of money to spare to play
No, it isn’t. True enough, there are plenty of baccarat games out there on the net which are reserved for high-rollers. And most casinos usually require players to stump up more substantial sums than they would in blackjack to play. But there is also a wealth of cheap baccarat games for you to play online.
You must be the banker at some point
Again, not true. In Baccarat Banque, players take turns being the banker. In land-based casino and online casino games which are not Baccarat Banque, you will never end up being the banker.
Play online baccarat today
You see? Baccarat is not so scary after all. If you happen to be playing a standard game of baccarat at casino sites. Then you needn’t worry about the third-card rule at all. Making baccarat one of the simpler games you will come across. Now that you know a bit about it, why not give baccarat a go today? Also read more about the casino games bingo and scratch cards.