Baccarat is a centuries old card game which is still hugely popular today. The origin of the game is from Europe but along the way, the rules have changed a bit here and there, and, as a result, Baccarat has developed into numerous different variations.
Nowadays, four popular versions of the game remain as widely known and played: European, American, Chemin de fer, and Baccarat en Banque. It is possible to come across some other variations, too, with slightly different rules – or, rather, slightly different rule interpretations. Nevertheless, you will be able to follow for sure, once you have familiarised yourself with the basic rules and the main aim of the game.
The most popular variation of Baccarat these days is the American. Therefore, the rules explained here refer mainly to that version of the game. Before actually starting a round of Baccarat, it is, of course, advisable to find out which version is being played at that specific table to avoid any possible embarrassment and frustrating bet losses due to unnecessary misunderstandings.
Aim for 9
The object of the game in all of the variations is the same: as a player, you are trying to get a winning hand as close to 9 as possible. The differences with the variations of the game occur mainly in who is playing the role of the bank, and on some of the drawing rules. A game of baccarat has three possible outcomes: Player win, Banker win, and tie.
Two hands will be dealt on the table: Player’s and Banker’s. In the American version, you are neither of them yourself, you just bet on them. As a player, you need to choose on which you are betting on, and so the game starts. In American baccarat, regardless on which hand you place your bets, you’re play against the House, meaning that the casino provides the financial backing for the game. As a comparison: in Chemin de fer, you must choose to be either the Player or the Bank, with the players wagering among themselves, whereas in Baccarat en Banque, the casino is the Banker, meaning that the bets can be much bigger than when it’s another player who’s acting as the bank.
Bets must be placed on either the Player or Banker before cards are dealt. The Banker bet has the lowest house edge, therefore being safer.
The dealer’s first round goes as following: two cards are dealt to both the Player and the Banker. A player or casino operator holding the shoe starts by taking one card out and placing it face up in the Player’s box on the table. The next card, the first of the Banker hand, is placed in the Banker’s box in a similar manner. The house then deals second cards for both the Player and the Banker.
Then, the point total of each set of cards is to be announced. Tens and face cards are all worth zero points, whereas all other cards are worth their face value, including Ace as one point. If the point total results in more than 10, the second digit defines the final value. For example, if the total is 12, two points is earned by that hand. In order to win, your bet must be on the hand that totals closest to nine.
In case the point total is 8 or 9 for either the Player or the Banker straight after the first two cards have been dealt, the round ends in natural win and the game is over. Bets that have been placed are then cashed out.
If natural win does not occur, there is the option for third card. The Player hand is completed first. On totals of 6 or 7, the Player stands. On any other total, 0-5, the Player draws a third card, unless the banker has the total of 8 or 9, in which case the bank hand wins automatically.
If the Player stands pat, the Banker draws with a total of 0-5 and stays pat with a total of 6 or 7. All other hands are dependent on the third card the player draws:
- If the Player’s third card is 9, 10, face-card or Ace, the Banker draws when they have a 0-3, and stay with a 4-7.
- If the Player’s third card is 8, the Banker draws when they have a 0-2, and stay with a 3-7.
- If the Player’s third card is 6 or 7, the Banker draws when they have a 0-6, and stay with a 7.
- If the Player’s third card is 4 or 5, the Banker draws when they have a 0-5, and stay with a 6-7.
- If the Player’s third card is 2 or 3, the Banker draws when they have a 0-4, and stay with a 5-7.
Thus, the winning hand is that which totals closer to 9. In the event of a tie, neither hand wins or loses, and usually no bets are cashed out. Sometimes a commission is paid out of winnings, however, when betting on the Banker’s hand.