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Baccarat is a card game played in the casinos that is believed to be brought to France from Italy during the time Charles VIII was the ruler of France (1483-1498). This card game has three variations, the North American Baccarat or Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer, and Baccarat Banque. The first variant, Punto Banco, is purely a game of chance, while skill can be applied on the latter two variants of the baccarat game.

Baccarat is a famous game worldwide, and is now played as an online baccarat game that can be found in online casino websites today. It can be played by using 1, 6, or 8 standard 52-card decks, in which the house edge slightly decreases as the number of decks used increases. Most online baccarat games use 8 decks in the game.

How To Play Baccarat

Playing the card game baccarat is very simple. The objective of the game is to have a total hand value that is closest to nine. Up to 14 players can play the game on live casinos and choose to wager on three betting options, the 'Player', 'Banker', and 'Tie'. But it should be noted that the term 'Player' does not apply to the customer, and the term 'Banker' does not apply to the house. They are just options for the players to bet on.

There are different game play mechanics depending on the variation of baccarat used. But all of them are following the same valuation of hands, in which 9 is the highest and zero is the lowest value.

Baccarat Hand Values

In any baccarat game, cards are valued depending on their face values. The cards 2 to 9 are valued according to their face values. 10, Jack, Queen, and King all are valued zero, while an Ace is worth a value of 1. Mathematically speaking, the final hand value is equal to the sum of the cards modulo 10. This is calculated by adding the values of the cards then dividing it by 10 and getting the remainder. The remainder will be the final hand value. In other sense, you add all the values, then ignore the 10s digit and get only the 1s digit. For example, a hand consisting of an 8 and a 9 has the hand value of 7.

Punto Banco and Online Baccarat Game Play

In most casinos in the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Finland, and Macau, as well as in most online casino websites, the Punto Banco variation of baccarat is used. In this variant, the casino always plays the side of the 'Banker', and the players are forced to move according to the cards being dealt to the 'Player' designation. Thus, they purely relies on luck in winning the game.

Cards are dealt to both the Banker and the Player designations, one to the Player first, then to the Banker, then another to the Player, and then another to the Banker, making a total of two cards each hand on the initial deal. The croupier then turns the cards on each hand face up, and declares the total for each, such as "seven to the Player, five to the Banker". At this point, the table of play, known as the 'Tableau', is used to determine whether there is a need for each hand to draw a third card or to stand pat. The final hand that has the higher value (either the Player or the Banker) wins, or if both hands are equal, it is a Tie.

If the initially dealt two cards has a value of 8 or 9 on either the Player or the Banker or both, it is termed as a 'Natural'. There is no need to draw a third card for the side that has the natural. If both has a natural, the game is won by the hand that has the higher value, or there can be a Tie. If only one got a natural, his hand instantly wins. However, if nobody got a natural, the play proceeds, and each side can either stand or draw a third card according to the following rules:

Player's Rule - If the initial hand dealt to the Player has a total of 0 to 5, a third card is needed. If the Player has 6 or 7 as the initial value otherwise, the hand stands.

Banker's Rule - If the Player stood on only two cards, the Banker acts according to the same rule as the Player, which is to stand on a total of 6 or 7, and to draw another card on a total of 0 to 5. However, if the Player drew a third card, there are more complex rules that the Banker should follow, depending on the following value of the third card drawn by the Player:

  • 2 or 3: draws if he has 0-4; stands if he has 5-7
  • 4 or 5: draws if he has 0-5; stands if he has 6-7
  • 6 or 7: draws if he has 0-6; stands if he has 7
  • 8: draws if he has 0-2: stands if he has 3-7
  • Ace, 9, 10, J, Q, K: draws if he has 0-3; stands if he has 4-7

After evaluating the final hands, the winning hand (either the Player or the Banker) or a Tie is announced by the Croupier, the losing bets will be collected, and the winning bets are paid according to the corresponding payouts. If the Player bet wins, even money (1:1) is paid. If the Banker bet wins, only 95% of the bet will be paid to the winners, 5% of the bet will go to the house as the commission. If both hands are equal, those wagering on the Tie bet will be paid at 8:1, while the bets on the Player and the Banker still remain to be used for the next baccarat game. Depending on the rules of the casinos, customers may or may not be able to retract their bets.