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Baccarat, also known as punto banco, is one of the oldest and most popular games in casinos all over the world. It is especially popular among high-rollers and Asian gamblers. In Macau, baccarat is extremely dominant. Although the game seems serious and elegant, it is really as simple as betting on the flip of a coin.
Baccarat Basics - How to Play with Wizard's Free Demo
There are three types of baccarat tables:
Big Table Baccarat is played in a snooty roped off area to separate itself from the other games. The players are usually very well dressed and the table minimums are often high. The regular baccarat table is about the size of a craps table with 3 casino dealers and up to 12 or 14 players. Each player, including the player dealing, may still bet on either the player or the banker but it is customary for the dealer to bet on the banker.
The deal will rotate around the table, much like the dice rotate around the craps table. If a player does not want to deal they may pass the shoe to the next player. The same person will keep dealing as long as the banker keeps winning. The person dealing will put two cards, face down, tucked under the shoe, and give the player with the greatest bet on the player the other two cards, face down. This player then looks at the cards and then gives them back to the player who is dealing. Then the player who is dealing will turn over the cards and one of the casino dealers will announce the totals. Depending on the totals, the dealer may then instruct the person dealing the cards to deal a third card. Finally the dealers will pay winning wagers and collect losing ones out of the dealer's tray. The player who actually deals is not assuming any financial responsibility of the other players bets, unlike pai gow, and is just turning over cards.
Mini baccarat has the same rules are big table baccarat. However, unlike the game at the big table, the dealer turns over all the cards, making for a much faster game. The odds are exactly the same as those of the big table, assuming the same number of decks. Mini baccarat is sometimes dealt from a six-deck shoe, changing the odds slightly. It can usually be found in the main casino areas.
Midi baccarat is the same as mini baccarat, except the size of the table is larger, and it is usually found in the high-limit rooms, as opposed to the main casino floor.
Following are the rules of baccarat. The terminology can be a little confusing. To try to minimize this, when referring to a particular bet or hand, I will use capital letters. In particular Player and Banker refer to bets as well as particular sets of two or three cards each.
- Usually eight decks of cards are used.
- Cards are given point values as follows: Ace = 1, 2-9 = pip value, 10 and face cards = 0.
- Play begins by all players betting either on the Player or Banker. There is also a side bet on a Tie. At some tables there are also side bets on a Player Pair and/or Banker Pair. There are lots of other newer side bets, which I go into in my baccarat appendix 5.
- After all bets are down, the dealer gives two cards each to the Player and Banker hands.
- The maximum number of points in both the Player and Banker hands is 9. The way to arrive at the points per hand is to take the total points of each individual card in the hand. If the sum is more than 9, then drop the first digit. For example, if either hand had a 9 and 7, then you would drop the 1 from the total of 16, for a 6-point hand.
- A third card may or may not be dealt to either the Player or Banker hands, depending on the following rules.
- If either the Player or Banker have 8 or 9 points, it is referred to as a "natural." If there is at least one natural, then both hands will stand.
- Otherwise, if the Player's total is 5 or less, then the Player hand will draw one more card, otherwise, with 6 or 7 points, the Player hand stands.
- If the Player hand stands with 6 or 7 points, then the Banker hand will draw a third card on a total of 5 or less. Otherwise, with 6 or 7 points, the Banker will stand.
- If the Player does draw a third card, then use the Banker will use his positional advantage to decide whether to take a third card according to his total and the third card drawn to the Player, according to the following table.
Banker Drawing Rules
Player's Third Card 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 7 S S S S S S S S S S 6 S S S S S S D D S S 5 S S S S D D D D S S 4 S S D D D D D D S S 3 D D D D D D D D S D 2 D D D D D D D D D D 1 D D D D D D D D D D 0 D D D D D D D D D D
S = Stand on two cards
- The score of the Player and Banker hands are compared; the winner is the one that is greater. In an event of a tie, the Player and Banker bets push.
- The Tie bet wins if the Player and Banker hands tie. All other outcomes lose.
- The Player Pair bet wins if the first two cards in the Player hand are of the same rank. All other outcomes lose.
- The Banker Pair bet wins if the first two cards in the Banker hand are of the same rank. All other outcomes lose.
- Following is how to pay each bet:
- Player: Wins pay even money.
- Banker: Wins pay 19 to 20, which is equivalent to even money less a 5% commission.
- Tie: Almost all casinos pay 8 to 1 on a tie, which is often expressed as the equivalent to 9 for 1.
- Player Pair and Banker pairs: Wins pay 10 to 1.
The reason the Banker gets paid less than the Player is the Banker enjoys a positional advantage, with more information available to make the decision on drawing a third card.
Following are some rules on dealing procedures. The beginner can skip this part.
- At the start of a new shoe, the dealer will turn over one card. This will determine how many cards the dealer will burn, according to the baccarat value, except a 10 or face card will result in 10 cards burned.
- The cut card will be placed 16 cards from the bottom of the shoe. When the cut card appears, the dealer will finish that hand, play one more hand, and then start a new shoe. If the cut card comes out instead of the first card, the dealer will finish that hand, and then start a new shoe.
- To speed up the game, the dealer will keep track of commissions owed on winning Banker bets using small laminated markers. He will collect all commissions owed at the end of the shoe.
The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the Player, Banker, and Tie bets for an 8-deck game. As the lower right cells in each table show, the house edge is 1.06% on the banker bet, 1.24% on the player bet, and 14.36% on the tie.
Banker Bet — 8 Decks
Player Bet — 8 Decks
Tie Bet — 8 Decks
Pair Bets — 8 Decks
The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the Player, Banker, and Tie bets for a 6-deck game. As the lower right cells in each table show, the house edge is 1.06% on the Banker bet, 1.24% on the Player bet, and 14.44% on the Tie.
Banker Bet — 6 Decks
Player Bet — 6 Decks
Tie Bet — 6 Decks
Pair Bets — 6 Decks
The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the Player, Banker, and Tie bets for a single deck game. As the lower right cells in each table show, the house edge is 1.01% on the Banker bet, 1.29% on the Player bet, and 15.75% on the Tie.
Banker Bet — 1 Deck
Player Bet — 1 Deck
Tie Bet — 1 Deck
Pair Bets — 1 Deck
Some Internet casinos claim to use an infinite number of decks in baccarat. The following four tables show the analysis of the Banker, Player, Tie, and Pair bets assuming an infinite deck shoe.
Banker — Infinite Decks
Player — Infinite Decks
Tie — Infinite Decks
Player/Banker Pair — Infinite Decks
Reduced Commission Banker Rules
Sign formerly seen at the D casino.
A less than 5% commission on winning banker Bets has been known to happen. As the image above shows, the D casino used to have a 4% commission Banker bet, but no longer do. For a short time in 1989 the Sahara offered 0% commission. The Betfair Internet casino offers a 2.75% commision in their "Zero Lounge." The following table shows the expected value on the Banker bet according to the number of decks and commission.
Reduced Commission on Banker Bet
|Commission||1 Deck||6 Decks||8 Decks|
Red 8 Rule
Some casinos in London have a "Red 8" rule, where winning Banker bets pay no commission on certain wins. For example, the Hippodromo casino has a "red 8" rule where Banker bets pay even money if all of the following are true:
- Banker has two-card total of three points.
- Player has two-card total of five points or less, thus drawing a card.
- Player's third card is an 8.
Assuming eight decks, this lowers the house edge on the Banker bet from 1.06% to 0.81%. The following return table details the possible outcomes of the Banker bet under the Red 8 rule.
Red 8 Rule — Eight Decks
|Red 8 win||1||243,809,554,247,680||0.048778||0.048778|
|All other banker wins||0.95||2,048,443,012,190,200||0.409820||0.389329|
Liberal Player Rules
The "bonus casino" at the 5 Dimes Internet sports book pays 1.01 to 1 on the Player bet. Assuming eight decks, the house edge on that bet is 1.04%.
Liberal Tie Rules
The Tie has been known to pay 9 to 1 at some casinos. For example, Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas used to, and the online casino pays 9 to 1. Here is the house edge on the tie bet if it pays 9 to 1.
- 8 decks: 4.844%
- 6 decks: 4.931%
- 1 deck: 6.385%
The "bonus casino" at the 5 Dimes Internet sports book pays 9.4 to 1 on the Tie bet. Assuming eight decks, the house edge on that bet is 0.79%.
Liberal Pair Rules
I have an unconfirmed report that the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls pays 12 to 1 on either a Player pair or Banker pair. Based on an eight deck game, that would reduce the house edge to 2.89%. In a six-deck game the house edge would be 3.86%.
Egalities are side bets on specific ties in baccarat. These bets are often seen England and seldom elsewhere. Information about them has been moved off to my page on Egalite bets.
Every baccarat table will have plenty of score cards and pencils for the players to keep track of the outcome of every hand. Most players will do so religiously and carefully analyze their card for trends as the winning hand switches back and forth from the banker to the player. This is a big waste of time! The smart player will bet on the banker every time and leave the score cards alone.
Now you can enter any distribution of cards and my baccarat calculator will give you the odds for the Player, Banker, and Tie bets, broken down by all possible Player and Banker totals.
Practice your game for free with my baccarat game. It features a full history display and exact odds for the next hand.
Practice Mini-Baccarat for Free
Try my mini-baccarat Java applet. This will allow you to get familiar with the rules and how the game is played.
Before you go and waste your money with a betting system in the casinos, test it out on my 250,000 simulated eight-deck shoes. They were created using a Mersenne Twister random number generator and a Fisher Yates shuffle.Each file has 25,000 shoes and is 4.06 MB in size. Each line in each file is an individual shoe, starting with the shoe number, and followed by the outcome of each hand (P/B/T). The files are comma delimited for easy loading into Excel.
- Simulation 1
- Simulation 2
- Simulation 3
- Simulation 4
- Simulation 5
- Simulation 6
- Simulation 7
- Simulation 8
- Simulation 9
- Simulation 10
- 1000 6-deck shoes: 1000 computer generated baccarat shoes using six decks. (1.6 MB)
- 1000 8-deck shoes: 1000 computer generated baccarat shoes using eight decks. (1.2 MB)
Written by:Michael Shackleford