Baccarat dates back to the 19th century. Believed to have originated in Italy, the game was seen as high-class at first, since it was popular among celebrities and those with deep pockets. However, thanks to the rise of online casinos, everyone got a chance to try their luck in this classy card game.
Baccarat is less complicated than other popular casino games. However, it is equally immersive. There are no complex rules and strategies to memorize, and the game is fast-paced, so it never gets boring. Most importantly, baccarat is a game with the lowest house edge compared to other casino games in both land-based and online gaming hubs. As a result, you’ll have better chances to walk away with a big bag of cash.
Still, for that to happen, you’ll have to get familiar with the basics, including the odds, which can help you predict what your chances of winning are with each bet you make.
Baccarat — How to Play
Even if you haven’t played baccarat before, there’s nothing to worry about. In essence, baccarat is a very simple game that only has three possible outcomes. As a result, it can be mastered rather quickly.
Just like other casino table games, baccarat is a card game that can be played with a few classic 52-card decks.Before the game starts, the cards are shuffled and put in a dealing machine known as the shoe. The game is led by a professional dealer, and your only job is to correctly guess the winning bet.
To put it simply, you can bet on the dealer or the banker, or you can claim that a hand will end in a tie. By betting on either the dealer or the banker, you’re actually saying that this person will have a hand closest to nine, while a tie means both sides will have cards worth eight or nine.
The game begins when the dealer deals two cards facing up to both the player and the banker. If any side happens to be dealt a hand worth eight or nine right away, that is considered a natural win.
However, if neither the player nor the banker gets a natural, an additional card is drawn based on the total sum of the cards. That’s the card that determines the winner. Naturally, there’s a set of rules related to drawing the third card, but it’s not necessary to dive that deep yet. Instead, let’s take a look at how the total sum of each hand is calculated in baccarat:
- An ace is worth one.
- Tens and face-cards don’t carry any points.
- The rest of the cards are counted at their face value.
In case the total worth of any hand goes over 9, it is reduced by 10 to get the final result. For instance, if the hand is 7-5-5, the total amounts to 17. After ten is deducted, the final worth of that hand is seven.
Now, let’s take a look at three basic bets you should focus on once at a baccarat table.
Basic Baccarat Bets — Odds and Payouts
As already mentioned, basic baccarat bets are pretty straightforward, and even a beginner can grasp them easily. You have the option to back the player or the banker or to claim that the round will end in a tie. Below you can read about each bet and learn more about their respective odds and payouts.
- Player’s hand bet: If you bet on a player and that hand gets closer to eight or nine than the banker’s hand, you win. Even if the player has nine and the banker has eight, the player’s hand wins. In this case, the house edge stands at 1.24%, while the payout for this bet is 1:1. In other words, you’ll be paid even money.
- Banker’s hand bet: The same rules from the player’s hand bet apply to the banker’s as well. Statistically speaking, the banker has an advantage over the player, as that hand is dealt second. That’s why the banker’s bet comes with a lower house edge of 1.06%. The payout for this bet is even money reduced by 5% house commission. Let’s say that you place a $100 bet and win — you’ll get $95 while the remaining $5 will be taken by the house.
- Tie bet: If you have a feeling that both the player and the banker will have cards of the same total value, feel free to put your money on a tie. The payout for this bet is 8:1, but you can also find better offers in some casinos. However, bear in mind that the house edge on this bet is 14.4%, which indicates that you can’t expect to win very often.
Baccarat Side Bets – Odds, House Edge, and Payouts
After you’ve placed a few basic baccarat bets, you can try other betting options at your disposal as well. These are called side bets, and they can expand your betting options once you’ve become comfortable with betting on the player, banker, or a tie. In the chart below, you can see the most common side bets that can be found in almost any casino nowadays.
Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if you sometimes come across some other side bets, as operators and software providers regularly try to come up with new betting ideas to make baccarat more attractive.
Note that this chart is based on an eight-deck baccarat game. The percentages will be slightly different when the number of decks changes.
What Is the House Edge in Baccarat?
Regular casino players probably know all about the house edge, but if you’re a total beginner, you may not be familiar with this concept. Yet, you are probably aware that even the highest-paying casinos have the ultimate goal of making a profit over time.
This is exactly what the house edge represents. To cut a long story short, the house edge is the mathematical advantage that a game — and, consequently, a casino — has over you within a certain time frame. In this regard, baccarat is considered the best game to play, as the house edge percentage is lower compared to other casino games.
Best Baccarat Bet to Make According to the Odds
If you were to only consider the odds when placing a bet in baccarat, the safest option would be to bet on the banker. This bet has the lowest house edge. Unfortunately, it has a lower payout too. A slightly better option would be to bet on the player’s hand, as the odds don’t differ that much, and the payout is a bit better.
If you want to spice things up a bit, you can go for some of the side bets offered by the casino, such as big and small bets, since the odds are still relatively small. One thing that all baccarat experts advise against is betting on a tie because this bet has a bigger house edge than any of the available side bets.
Baccarat vs. Other Table Games
Apart from blackjack, baccarat is known to have the lowest house edge of all casino games. And indeed, if you want to keep things simple and win some cash at the same time, baccarat is an ideal game for you.
However, one thing to be aware of is that baccarat is still a game of chance. You have to place a bet even before the cards are dealt, meaning that you can’t do anything to increase your winning potential. In simple terms, if you win, it’ll be sheer luck and nothing more than that.
On the other hand, some games, like blackjack or poker, demand certain knowledge and skills, as your moves directly influence the outcome of each hand. Basically, you can choose an optimal strategy and get the most out of each round. However, you can also make some wrong calls and lose money in these games. As you can see, the outcome is not entirely based on luck.
Also, compared to some other games of chance — like roulette, for example — baccarat isn’t that rewarding. For instance, the maximum payout you can usually get from common baccarat side bets is 25:1, which you will receive if you guess the perfect pair bet correctly. This is still much lower than a 36:1 payout you get for landing a double zero on the wheel of American Roulette.
Still, if you compare baccarat odds with those of craps, you’ll get a much better deal without question. Just make sure not to forget that the house always wins in the long run, regardless of the game you opt for.
Now that you know what the odds of winning the majority of bets in baccarat are, you can choose the way you’d like to play this exciting game of chance. Bet on the banker’s or player’s hand if you want to play it safe, or take a risk with some side bets and a tie, which come with a bigger payout.
Whatever you do, bear in mind that baccarat is a pure game of chance where no tips and tricks can help you increase your chances of winning. However, you should remember that you can reduce the house edge to just 1% and ultimately boost your winning potential by understanding the game’s rules and odds.