Baccarat Rules and Games

Baccarat is a casino card game that attracts high-rollers who love some kind of ostentation, well-developed betting system and playing ritual. High stakes are usually played in a separated lounge, which induces the feeling of privacy and safety. The principle of baccarat is a fight between two opponents, of which one of them is called "Player" and the other one "Banker". They try to beat each other in such way that the value (total) of their cards approaches number nine as much as possible.

Baccarat is not only attractive due to high stakes and extraordinary atmosphere, but also because the house advantage is one of the lowest, thus it brings a good return for the players. Baccarat exists in three versions that are also briefly characterized at the end of this page:

  1. Punto Banco, also known as North American or Nevada Baccarat;
  2. Baccarat Chemin de Fer; and
  3. Baccarat Banque or Baccarat à Deux Tableaux – "Baccarat on two boards".

The basic rules of baccarat are common for all three games, the differences can only be found in bank handling. The games have in common that there are always two cards dealt to both the Player and the Banker. Under specific conditions they may or must draw a third card or on the contrary they may or must stand pat.

While Punto Banco is a strict game of chance – neither skill nor strategy are required, since the game has exact and fixed rules, when the opponents must or must not draw the third card or stand pat – in Baccarat Chemin de Fer or Baccarat Banque both opponents can make choices and thus influence the course of the play by their skill or knowledge of the opponent.

Card Hands in Baccarat and Their Valuation

The value of cards and the way of arriving at the total is always the same for the Player and the Banker in all versions of baccarat. The cards 2–9 are worth their face value, 10s and face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 0 points and Aces are worth 1 point.

The calculation of the total is the following. The value of the cards is added together (separately for the player and the banker) and if the sum (of two or three cards) is greater than 9, then the ten digit is ignored. For instance:

= 2 + 4 = 6
= 3 + 1 = 4, but:
= 5 + 7 = 12 = 2
= 1 + 9 = 10 = 0

Therefore e.g. the hand of Ace+9 is worth zero and that is the worst total, from which the name of the game was derived – the word baccara means zero in Italian. The highest total that can be achieved is 9 (e.g. 3 and 6, A and 8, 10 and 9 etc.). The totals of 8 and 9 are known as Natural. In France the total of 9 is called La Grande (great) and the total of 8 is called La Petite (small).

= 3 + 6 = 9, = 1 + 8 = 9, = 0 + 9 = 9

If the Player or the Banker (or they both) achieves a Natural, the third card is not drawn and the result of the game is evaluated immediately. For instance if the Player has J + 9 = 9 and the Banker's hand is 5 + 2 = 7 the croupier announces: "Player wins 9 to 7".

As it was mentioned above, in Punto Banco it is set exactly when the Player and Banker must draw the third card or stand pat, in Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque they may make choices under given conditions (if the total is 5). It is clear that the third card may change the initial hand to better or worse. For example if you had 2 + 3 = 5 and drew 5, the total would be 5 + 5 = 10 = 0, thus the lowest one!

+ = 2 + 3 + 5 = 10 = 0
+ = 1 + 0 + 8 = 9

Betting Options in Baccarat

There are only three possible results or betting options in Baccarat: Player (Punto), Banker (Banco) and Tie. The participants of the game – we avoid the word "Players" deliberately – may bet on the victory of the Player (i.e. the total of the Player's hand is greater than the total of the Banker's hand) or the Banker.

There may be up to 12 participants (or players with little p). If say 10 of them decide to bet on the Player, then it does not mean that each of these players receives their own cards. On the contrary, the two cards dealt for the Player determine whether it wins or lose so do those 10 players win or lose their individual bets. It is quite similar as if e.g. ten players bet on the red color in Roulette.

Another specificity of Baccarat and its versions is that the term Banker does not need to be a designation for a player (or a participant of the game) that holds the bank or, in other words, covers the bets of other players by his or her own funds. For instance in Punto Banco the bank is held by a casino and one of the players only acts as a banker in a formal way especially by dealing cards from a shoe.

Conversely in Chemin de Fer the bank is held by one the players and so the players bet against each other. The role of the banker rotates around the table, while it is possible to give it up and pass it to the next player. The minimum bets are higher than in other casino games, they usually start on $25 and can reach up to $500. The maximum bet is around $10,000, but it can be practically unlimited if there is an agreement between the players and the house. The house edge is as low as 1.4% only.

The payout for winning bets is 1:1, i.e. the win is a double of your bet. The house takes a provision 5%.

Brief Introduction to Baccarat Games

The rules of Baccarat are not difficult with a little practice. The croupier watches over the game and points out when you can play or stand pat.

  • Punto Banco (Nevada Baccarat)
    Punto Banco is a baccarat game with strict rules that cannot be deviated from. It is firmly set when both Player and Banker may or must draw a third card or stand pat. There is no choice; the result of the game depends on chance only. It is suitable for those players who do not want to think about their bets too much, but rather try to take a guess of a winner. The role of the Banker is ceremonial only.
  • Chemin de Fer
    In this baccarat variation the players really stand against each other as one player holds the bank. The banker sets aside the amount he or she is willing to risk. Unlike Punto Banco the players have a choice when the value of cards is five. So the game may be partly influenced by the choices made. Chemin de Fer is a favorite baccarat of 007 James Bond.
  • Baccarat Banque
    The bank is usually held by a casino, which covers all the bets. The Banker plays two hands against two tables (à de tableaux) at the same time. The players on the left and right side are always represented by a single player from the side, the one who makes the highest individual bet and to whom the cards are dealt. Again the players can make their choice with the value 5. Thanks to the two tables the game is bit slower, but more charming.
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