An Introduction to Baccarat
At its core, Baccarat is a comparing gambling card game where players are dealt two to three-card hands and must achieve the higher hand combination than their opponent. The game is simple, easy to learn and only has three possible outcomes; the player wins, the banker wins or there’s a tie.
Baccarat has several popular variations which all feature different rules and gameplay mechanics. Some of the most common baccarat variations include Chemin de Fer, Baccarat Banque and Punto Banco, but we’ll explain that later.
Good to Know: The baccarat games played at real and online casinos today generally tend to be a variation known as Punto Banco. The two variations follow the same rules but with two major differences:
In classic baccarat, the player is tasked with deciding whether or not to take a third card.
In punto banco, the player is automatically given a third card according to the game’s rules.
This guide outlines how to play the punto banco variation which is commonly found at real-life and online casinos around the world.
How To Play Baccarat
The aim of the game in American baccarat, the standard game which is based on the rules of punto banco, is to create a combination of two or three cards which total a number as close as possible to nine. Baccarat can involve multiple players as all they need to do is wager on which hand they believe will win; the player’s hand or the banker’s.
Baccarat is generally played with eight decks of 52 cards and to reach the total number of nine, all cards are given a numerical value which you must memorise before playing. Cards numbered one to nine are taken at face value, but other cards are given different numerical values:
- Aces: Valued at one.
- Jack, Queen, King and ten cards: Valued at either ten or zero points depending on the game.
Now, you’ve probably noticed that combining some of the numerical cards or picture cards worth 10 will push you well over the goal of nine. If this happens, and it’s likely that it will, the first digit of your double-digit number is dropped to give you a number under the value of nine.
For example, if you were dealt two cards totalling the number 15, you would drop the left digit (The 1) to be left with a value of five.
The History of Baccarat
As mentioned, a man named Felix Falguiere created the game sometime in the 1400s. Back then, the game was known as “baccara”, an Italian word which translates to “zero”. This version of the game was somewhat different to the one played today as cards were dealt by four dealers and each player was given a chance to play as a dealer, similarly to Chemin de Fer.
The game became a huge success in Italy and eventually began to spread across Europe. When it reached France the game was renamed to Chemin de Fer and, according to legend, it was King Charles VIII’s favourite casino game. It also became popular in England where it was known as Baccarat.
Baccarat then spread to the Americas but it failed to become as popular as it was in Europe. Eventually, the game and its numerous variations all made their way online and are played regularly by players all around the world.
Playing Baccarat at a Casino
Before the game starts, all players will be required to wager on which hand they believe will win, selecting either the banker or the player. The banker will then deal two cards face-down to the players and themselves. After the cards are dealt, they’re turned face-up and the banker announces the total of each hand.
One of several things can then happen:
- If a player’s hand totals eight or nine, known as a ‘natural, they automatically win UNLESS the other player holds the same hand
- If the one player’s hand totals eight and the other’s nine, the player with the hand totalling nine automatically wins
Some hand combinations can lead to a third card being dealt to both players:
- If the player’s hand totals six or above, no third card is dealt
- If the player’s hand totals five or below, a third card is dealt
- A banker is only dealt a third card when their hand totals 0-3 or when the banker’s hand totals 4-6 and the player’s hand totals at certain numbers
A fourth card cannot be dealt during baccarat and a winning player or tie must be announced by the dealer. Winnings are paid out depending on what you had wagered on and the payout ratios differ depending on the game
Important: Before you start playing any casino games for real money we suggest that you first practice. Most casinos today allow users to play for free to learn the rules and gameplay. However, it’s important to remember that you cannot win any money when you’re playing free casino games.
The main difference between classic baccarat and punto banco is that the individual player makes the decision on drawing additional cards whereas in punto banco, cards are automatically dealt to you by following specific rules.
Chemin de Fer
Chemin de Fer is the French variation of baccarat and while it follows similar rules, there are several key differences. This variation generally involves a group of players who each take a turn in becoming the banker. One user is selected to play on behalf of all the other players and must make a decision regarding the dealing of a third card.
When the game starts, the user acting as the banker will place a maximum wager and players around the table will then wager against the banker, though their stake cannot exceed the banker’s limit. The player who stakes the highest will act on behalf of all the other players.
After this, the banker will deal four cards, two each for the banker and player. The totals are announced and if neither player achieves a ‘natural’, they’re both given the option to take an additional card. After both players have made their decisions about a third card, the winner is announced and winnings are paid out accordingly. Once the game is finished, a new player will become the banker and so on.
Baccarat Banque is a popular European variation of baccarat which plays similarly to Chemin de Fer. The main difference between the two is that one player will take on the role of the banker for the entirety of the game, rather than all players taking it in turns.
This variation can only be found online. Most online casinos offer live baccarat games where real-life dealers are streamed to you and other players. During games, you can interact both with other players and the dealer through a chat room or messaging service.
Live baccarat games tend to follow the rules of punto banco, where the real-life dealer automatically deals a third card according to the game’s rules. When playing live baccarat, all you need to do is wager on what you believe will happen; the player wins, the banker wins or it’s a tie.
Baccarat: Did You Know?
The Chemin de Fer variation of baccarat is James Bond’s favourite casino game. The fictional secret agent, created by Ian Fleming for his series of novels, plays the game in several books including Casino Royale. The game has also been featured in several James Bond films such as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Casino Royale, Dr. No and For Your Eyes Online.