“Simplicity is the trademark of genius.” This quote by Canadian author Robin Sharma rings true in all aspects of life, including gambling. If you’re searching for the most straightforward and brilliant form of gaming, the baccarat card game won’t disappoint.
This paid entertainment genre has been around for hundreds of years, captivating nobles, sports stars, and celebrities alike. Nowadays, baccarat is more accessible than ever, thanks to online casinos. Our review will help you learn the ropes, discuss betting systems, and show you the best sites that offer the game today.
Top Baccarat Casinos
The Most Popular Baccarat Online Version
If you look at baccarat’s past, you’ll notice that it gradually evolved into the genre we know today. Some of its older versions, like “Chemin de Fer,” are still enjoyed in European land-based casinos, but the variant adopted in virtually all online gambling sites is called “Punto Banco” (Player Banker).
This version was developed in Argentina in the mid-20th century and was eventually picked up by Vegas casinos. It’s also known as “American Baccarat.” The main reason for its appeal is convenience — you have a dealer that does all the card shuffling and distribution. Players only need to worry about predicting the outcome of the next round. After this clarification, it’s time to explain how the game is played.
How to Play Baccarat: The Basics
In a classic baccarat game, there are three possible outcomes and three corresponding bets you can place. As you can see from the above image, these are “Punto” (Player), “Banco” (Banker), and “Tie.” In a nutshell, you’ll win if you correctly guess which side will get more points. It’s sort of like a coin toss that can also end up as a draw.
Do note that if a tie occurs while you’ve wagered on “Player” or “Banker,” your bet will be returned. After you place a wager, cards will be dealt to both sides according to pre-determined baccarat rules. Let’s examine them.
Card Values & Baccarat Rules
Typically, this game is played with eight standard French decks containing 52 cards each. Jokers are not included. Two cards are dealt to each side — the “Player” receives the first one, the second one goes to the “Banker”, then the process is repeated. The card values are simple to remember:
- Aces are worth 1 point;
- Count the face value for numbered cards in the 2-9 range;
- The 10s and all picture cards (J, Q, K) are valued at 0 points;
According to the baccarat rules, the highest attainable score is 9 (known as the “big natural”), followed by 8 (small natural). If a hand’s total exceeds 9 points, you subtract 10 from it to remain in the single-digit range. For example, if you see a 9 and 7 on the “Player” side, its total worth is 6 points (9 + 7 = 16 – 10 = 6).
The “Third Card” Rule
We’ve reached a part of the rulebook that isn’t that straightforward, but we’ll try to explain it in a simple way. Basically, if a 2-card hand has a low point tally, the baccarat game will draw a third card to try and improve its value. If we go back to the previous screenshot, you’ll see that the 2-card “Banco” hand had a total of 0 points (two Queens that aren’t worth anything), so the rule came into effect, and “4” was drawn as the third card.
This rule is different for each side. Since the “Player” hand is acted upon first, it receives a third card only if the sum from the first two is between 0 and 5 points. The “Player” side always stands on a 6 or 7. The baccarat rules also state that if the Player or Banker gets a natural (8 or 9 from the first couple of cards), a third card won’t be drawn to either side.
The “Banker” goes second, so it “reacts” to the “Player.” Here’s when it will receive an extra card:
- On a score of 0-3;
- On a 4 when the “Player” has 2 to 7 points;
- On a 5 if there’s 4-7 on the other side;
- On a 6 if the “Player” gets a 6 or 7 from 3 cards;
- The “Banker” always stands on 7, 8, and 9;
The Payouts & House Edge of the Baccarat Card Game
Many bettors think that the “Punto” & “Banco” sides are equally good in baccarat. Online casinos have taken advantage of this misconception for years. As we already established, the two hands are governed by different regulations.
“Banco” gets to act second and can draw a third card versus a 6-point hand on certain occasions. This gives it a slightly higher probability of winning, which is balanced out in an interesting way. Winning “Punto” bets are paid out 1:1. “Banco” has the same payout, but a 5% commission is charged when you win, meaning that you’ll get 19:20. It’s best to go with “Banker” as it comes with a 1.06% house edge versus 1.24% for the “Player.”
Ties have larger payouts. Still, we recommend avoiding this bet in a baccarat casino. Online operators will pay you 8:1 or 9:1 for correctly predicting a tied result, but the house edge there is always above 12%. Remember, you won’t lose money if you’ve wagered on “Player/Banker,” and there’s a draw.
RNG vs. Live Dealer Streams — What to Choose When Playing Baccarat Online?
There are countless “Punto Banco” games on the Internet, but they generally fall into two big categories — all-virtual titles with RNG engines and live dealer streams. Both types have pros and cons that you need to consider before making a choice. Let’s check them out:
Live Casino Baccarat:
|Authentic and social — real cards are dealt, and you can chat with the dealer and other players.||Can’t be played for free.|
|Wider betting limits (on average).||Live streams consume more data.|
|One live lobby contains at least 4-5 different versions.||Relatively low rounds-per-minute ratio.|
|Demo modes available — you can practice for free.||Not always suitable for high rollers.|
|Fast gameplay — some titles have a “turbo” mode that drastically speeds up card dealing animations.||Not as immersive as live broadcasts.|
|Data efficient.||Exotic versions and side bets are hard to find.|
Side Bets: The Secret Weapon of Every Baccarat Online Casino
Playing baccarat online might get old for some punters after a while since most of them alternate between the “Player/Banker” sides. To shake things up, casino software developers often add different mini-games known as “side bets.” Usually, a side bet will give you a larger payout, but, much like the “tie” bet, its house edge is substantial.
Let’s take an example with “Player/Banker Pair,” a common wager in most RNG and live games. Gamblers put money on it whenever they think a pair (e.g., two 5s) will appear as the first two cards on one side. If you’re correct, you’ll receive a reward in the range of 11:1. The trouble is that the theoretical RTP of this stake is 89.64%, more than 9% lower than the basic “Banker” bet. The baccarat card game is known for having many side bets offered in different land-based and online casinos. When playing on the web, you can always check out the “Help” section to see more information on the bets’ payouts, rules, and return rates.
What You Need to Know When Employing a Baccarat Betting System
For some people, wagering systems are an inseparable part of the baccarat experience and gambling as a whole. They falsely believe that if a certain result happens several times in a row, it’s less likely to occur in the future, or vice versa. We don’t advocate against such systems as long as you know that they don’t actually increase your chances of winning.
Instead of providing you with a “winning baccarat system” (we believe there’s no such thing), here we’ll dissect a popular approach known as “Martingale”. Here’s how it works — you start with a pre-determined wagering unit, let’s say $1. You put $1 on “Player” and continue doing so as long as you win. When you lose, you double your wager. If you lose once, you bet $2, if it’s twice in a row — $4, and so on.
At first glance, the idea has merit, especially if you have a large enough bankroll. However, in practice, long losing streaks are possible, so you run the risk of busting your budget or hitting the table limits, which aren’t always wide. With this baccarat betting system, a streak of 10 consecutive losses starting from a $1 wager means that your 11th wager needs to be $2,048.
Feel free to do your research on these systems, but always remember that they come with inherent risks and can spin out of control. Our advice is to play responsibly and set loss limits. If you wish to test a strategy, always use a demo mode first.