If you’re one of those casino visitors who assume baccarat is a complex game for high rollers only, you couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, baccarat is one of the easiest casino table games to play, and, online at least, you can bet with just about any stake you like.
In this article, we outline the basic baccarat strategy guide so that you can be confident about playing this game – a favourite of British spy James Bond – and get maximum enjoyment.
We should point out that, in common with all other casino games, there is a house edge, so you are not expected to win in the long term. But the good news is that the house edge is very small and can be as low as 0.5% if you play the right way. This wafer-thin house advantage means there is a good chance you can make a profit on any given session.
Now let’s get started!
HOW TO PLAY BACCARAT
When we say baccarat is one of the simplest of casino games, we mean it. You don’t have to do anything else once you have elected to place your bet. All you must do is sit back and let the dealer do all the work.
You will see three betting options when you open a table:
Your choice is to second-guess whether the Player wins the hand, the Banker, or the game will be a tie.
Once you have placed your bet, the dealer will deal two cards face up to the Player and the Banker – the idea is to get as close to a total of 9 as possible, with 9 being the best score.
2s to 9s are taken at face value, an A is valued at one, and 10s, Js, Qs and Ks are worth zero.
Because you cannot have a total over 9, any score over that is negated, and the second digit only counts. So if, for example, the Player has a 7 and a 9, totalling 16, their score is given as 6.
That’s the easy part (and remember the dealer computes all this for you so you don’t need to decide whether to hit or stand) – there then follows a set of rules as to whether a third card can be taken.
First, the Player hand plays out.
- If the Player has 8 or 9 and is ahead of the Banker score, the Player wins.
- If, however, the Player total is 6 or 7, the Player must stand and let the Banker continue.
- If the Player has fewer than 6, a third card is dealt unless the Banker has 8 or 9 – in this case, the Banker wins straight away.
There are further rules, which seem odd at first, but remember the dealer does all this for you when it comes to the Banker hand.
- If the Player shows 6 or more, the Bankers acts like the Player: takes a third card with hands of 0 to 5, and stands on 6 through 9.
- But, if the Player had taken a third card, these rules apply, depending on the Banker’s current total:
– 0-2, Banker draws again, no matter what the Players third card was
– Banker draws again unless the Player’s third card was an 8
– Banker draws again if the Player’s third card was 2 through 7
– Banker draws again if the Player’s third card was 4 through 7
– Banker draws again if the Player’s third card was 6 or 7
– Banker must stand
Once all the hands are dealt, the dealer declares whether the Player or the Banker has got closer to 9 – or if both have the same score, resulting in a tie.
You might think betting on the game is close to 50/50 since, over time, the Player and Banker would win roughly the same number of hands, while ties are rare.
But the truth is there is an advantage for the Banker …
ALWAYS BET ON THE BANKER FOR BETTER PROFITS
Because of the way the rules for taking a third card are set, there is a slight advantage for the Banker. To make up for this, the casino will adjust the payout down slightly:
- Player win: 1:1
- Banker win: 0.95:1
- Tie: 8:1
The important thing to note is that, even with that slightly smaller payout on a Banker win, it is still a profitable bet in the long term. So, to make money in baccarat, you should always bet on Banker. Sure, this may not lead to the most exciting of sessions, but statistically, at least, this is your go-to solution.
While backing a tie comes with a nice-looking payout, the stats tell us you won’t win it enough times to cover your long-term costs.
These are the house edge numbers for most Baccarat formats:
- Bet on Player: 1.24%
- Bet on Banker: 1.06%
- Bet on Tie: 9.5%
WHAT ABOUT MAKING SIDE BETS?
Some Baccarat formats online come with side bets.
Just like at the blackjack table, where you should avoid playing side bets, side bets in baccarat are a losing proposition. Yes, it can be fun to mix things up a little with some side bet action, but you will be eating into your chances of making a profit.
Popular side bet games like All Red, or All Black, where you forecast that the Player or Banker’s hands will consist only of one colour, might look attractive with a 22:1 payout – but don’t be tempted!
You will likely notice that some baccarat players love playing streaks. That’s why live casinos and online platforms show a record of recent results at the table, allowing players to spot trends. If, for example, the last three hands have been won by Banker, you might assume it’s more likely that the next hand will be won by Player.
And if there has been no tie bet for 12 rounds, some players will keep backing Tie, expecting it to hit.
Unfortunately for them, this is a poor strategy because, like in all games of chance, previous results cannot affect the next round. Just as three heads in a coin toss do not mean the next spin is likely to be tails; it’s still a 50-50 shot!
PLAY BACCARAT RESPONSIBLY
Finally, whilst the basic strategy on this page, which ultimately says ‘always bet on the bank’ is the best way to maximise your odds of winning at Baccarat, keep in mind that like all casino games there is a house edge and this is a game of chance. Therefore you should enjoy it as a form of entertainment rather than a source of income. Don’t bet more than you can afford and don’t go chasing your losses. Played sensibly, Baccart is one of the simplest and most fun tables to test your luck on. So enjoy it for what it is!