Baccarat is a popular card game that’s regularly played in casinos worldwide and now in many online venues. It can be traced all the way back to 1490, when an Italian card game was introduced to the French nobility. The game eventually made its way to Nevada in the last century, where it became extremely popular in the glamorous Las Vegas casinos. It’s now also wildly popular in Macau, Asia. Hollywood has portrayed many games of baccarat and the game is a regular feature in the James Bond books and films.
Although the game looks complicated and mysterious because of the table set up and tendency to attract high rollers in elite, roped-off games, it’s actually a simple game of chance. The only really unusual feature of the game is the use of a ‘shoe’, which is essentially a box for dispensing cards without making it visible what they are first. You’ll also see a device called a paddle – it looks a little like an elongated spade or a flat trowel – used to distribute cards around the table. Neither of these accessories are essential to the actual game of baccarat.
There are actually three variations of the card game baccarat. These are known as punto banco, baccarat chemin de fer (also known as ‘chemmy’), and baccarat banque (also known as ‘à deux tableaux’). Punto banco is the most common version of baccarat and the one you’ll most often play in a casino online or offline. This kind of baccarat is a game of chance, and there is no skill or strategy involved beyond learning the basic rules of the game. The dealer of the cards determines how you play. However if you play baccarat chemin de fer or baccarat banque, you can use skill to gain an advantage and make certain choices. This article will focus only on Punto Banco baccarat, as it’s the one you’ll encounter most often in casino settings.
How to play baccarat live or online
Punto banco baccarat is generally played on a table that’s similar in size to a craps table. In a live casino setting, it’ll often be played in a separate area from the main casino floor, with up to three dealers. Around a dozen players can usually join in a live baccarat game, or it can be played between just one player and the professional dealer.
The simplicity of the baccarat game is reflected in the fact that there are only two bets you can make: either banker or player (banco or punto). There is one other bet, referred to as standoff, but this is rarely used. The brief version of the game is that all players bet either on banco, punto or (less commonly) standoff. Whoever deals the cards gives out two cards, one to the player and one to the banker. The basic idea of the game is that you bet on the hand that you think will have the highest total value.
If you’re playing online, the cards will be dealt automatically by the computer. You can then bet on either punto or banco (banco is more common). With live baccarat, the card-dealing shoe remains with a player as long as the bank is winning. However if punto wins, the shoe passes to the next player who then deals.
Two hands will be dealt and players bet which one will win, or if there will be a tie. The payoff is 1:1 and the house gains its edge by taking a 5% commission each time banco wins.
When played in a live environment, two cards are dealt to both the bank and the player. The dealer puts the cards face down on the table and presents the highest punto roller with another two cards, also face down. The punto player examines their cards and returns them to the dealer. The dealer then reveals all the cards to determine whether punto or banco has won. The decision is called by one of the casino dealers.
The card score is determined by summing up the two cards in each hand and taking the rightmost digit. So for example if the hand contains a 6 and a 7, the total is 13. Only the rightmost digit counts, so that is a 3. If either of the two sets of cards contains an 8 or 9 then no more cards will be dealt. But if there is neither of these cards in either set, a third card may be dealt. This depends on the rules of the individual casino. Whichever player has the highest count wins the game. Losing bets are collected first to pay the winning ones. The casino’s own dealer will handle the payouts, but the players can act the part of the dealer at some points in the game. The player acting as a dealer will not handle the chips but will manage the card dealing.
The value of cards in a baccarat game
In any baccarat game, all face cards and 10s have no value. Cards less than 10 are counted at face value, Aces are worth 1. Only single digit card values are counted, so if a card is a double digit card then the first digit value is ignored. This means that 15 or 25 both become 5.
The decision as to whether to play a third card or not is made by the rules of the house, not by the players. There are third card rules in place that resolve any questions about this. For example, if either the player or the bank draw an 8 or 9 on at least one of the first two cards, then no third card will be drawn. However if the player’s total is less than or equal to 5 then the player will draw a third card.
There are also third card rules which apply to the bank’s draw. For example, if the bank’s card draw adds up to three, then the bank draws again unless the player’s card was an 8. If the bank draws 4 in total, then the bank takes a third card unless the player has drawn a third card that’s either an 0, 1, 8 or 9. If the bank draws 5 in total, and the players third card was 4,5, 6 or 7, then the bank takes a third card. These are only a few examples from the third card rule – it’s worth reading the full list before you play a live game.
That’s obviously quite a lot to remember! It’s worth bearing in mind that baccarat is, in theory, a very simple game of betting on which hand is bigger or smaller – the third card rules add complexity and need memorising in order to follow the game but it’s otherwise as simple as betting red or black in a roulette game, or heads or tails on a coin flip. The complicated-looking third card rules just add a bit of spice to what would otherwise be quite a repetitive game.
The house advantage in any game of baccarat is 1.17% to the banco, 1.36% to punto, with the standoff at 14.12%. Although the standoff position is rarely taken, it pays out at 8:1.
Playing baccarat live online
It’s now possible to play live online baccarat from the comfort of your home. Here, you’ll get all the atmosphere of a live game and you can dip in and out whenever you choose. Online live baccarat lets you see a real dealer move the cards about rather than just interact with a computer in an automated game. It spices up the enjoyment of playing a game of baccarat. You’ll also be able to chat to other players if you join a multiplayer game. You can talk to the dealer and the dealer will also be able to interact with you about the outcome of each play.
Live online baccarat lets you play in two ways: as an individual with a dedicated dealer playing on a horseshoe shaped table, or as part of a multiplayer game. It’s really up to you which you prefer. Playing on your own lets you take things at your own pace and get the dealer’s full attention, but playing as part of a multiplayer game gives you more atmosphere.
What’s great about beaming into a live game in a bricks-and-mortar casino is that they are all different in style. You’ll find the atmosphere of the game varies greatly between venues and times of day. You can try out the gaming experience of Las Vegas, a club in Paris or Rome, or in somewhere like Manila or Macau, without having to step on a plane.
The quality of the experience of live streamed games is improving all the time. We’ll factor the image quality in when we assess which live games we think are best to join. We’ll present you with our pick of the best online live baccarat games, so that you get a realistic playing experience, as well as favourable odds and fair gameplay.
Live play works by giving you access to a console that’s synced in real time with whatever game is currently taking place. You’ll beam into a game anywhere in the world and be able to play as a full participant against other players currently there.
Some live games require you to download software to participate. This can be slightly inconvenient, but it may reward you with a better playing experience, so it can be worthwhile. We’ll ensure you are only recommended software that’s worthwhile downloading. Other casinos allow you to play just using your regular browser. It’s easier to get started if you play browser based games without a download requirement. Most offer an interactive interface that allow you to check your account balance, place bets, monitor the hands being played and also tip the dealer.
A large number of casinos worldwide now offer live baccarat games online, so you can join an active game at any time of the day or night. Casinos everywhere tend to operate around the clock, but some times of day or night are more lively. Depending on what time you choose to play, you’ll find a casino active somewhere in the world. We’ll recommend a few top picks that tend to have lively games on offer around the clock, so you can always drop into a game whenever you feel like it.
If you’re getting excited by the idea of this game and would like to learn more, it’s a very good idea to observe or practice some gaming before you plunge in. Many online casinos offer automated baccarat games that are free to play and you can try these out until you are sure that you’ve got the hang of things. You’re free to try as many of these out as you want, as often as you like, until you feel comfortable with the game and feel confident about joining a live online game. It’s the best way to ensure you know what you’re doing and can easily participate in a live action baccarat game without slowing the game play down.
If you’d like to read further on the subject of baccarat, there’s a guide to the game included in Ian Fleming’s first James Bond book Casino Royale. Once you’ve understood the card values and third hand rule, you’ll see that baccarat is actually a very simple game and moves very fast through the hands. It’s a game that’s always appealed to high rollers because the odds lends themselves well to making large wagers and there are few outcome possibilities to each hand.
Our mission is to seek out the best online live baccarat games for you to participate in. We’ll find the ones with the best interface, the best atmosphere and a great playing experience so you enjoy all the casino atmosphere from the comfort of your own home. Baccarat’s a simple game to learn and once you’ve mastered the few rules you can join any game in the world via live link to a casino. Check out our recommendations to join in on a great game now.