How to Play Baccarat in a Casino: Baccarat Rules

Baccarat, a casino card game that was once played exclusively by the super-rich, is now an exciting card game that can be enjoyed by both beginners and experienced online casino players.

With Return to Player percentages (RTP) averaging at 98%, baccarat is a game with easy-to-learn rules and nail-biting gameplay.

Most importantly, baccarat it’s a luck-based casino classic that any type of player can master once they learn how to play the baccarat card game.

Online Baccarat Rules: A Step-by-Step Guide

The main objective in baccarat is simple: bet on the hand that will come closest to or add to a total of 9. Having two cards with a total of 8 or 9 is called a 'natural', which will probably help you understand why James Bond repeatedly had a winning hand at baccarat tables in his films.

What makes baccarat unique is that you can bet on the player hand, the banker hand or even a tie - the choice is yours! And unlike other casino card games, baccarat is led by the dealer, meaning you can sit back and focus on your bets and strategy without worrying about making hands.

You will quickly notice that the two cards dealt to the player hand and the banker hand can sometimes accumulate to a higher number than 9, which can be confusing for beginners.

On a baccarat table, 10s and face cards have a value of zero, and an ace has a value of 1. Additionally, say the player is dealt a 5 and a 7 – which adds up to 12 – you will then either subtract 10 from the total or remove the first digit, meaning the actual total for the player is 2.

It’s also important to remember that most casino games have a demo mode, so you can play with virtual money and get acclimatized to the game before staking real money if you’re still somewhat confused with baccarat rules.

With that now firmly in your mind, this is a step-by-step guide showing you how to play baccarat online.

1. Place Your Bets

The game begins with blind betting as the dealer calls for bets to be placed. You need to decide who you’ll wager on winning and how much you’ll bet. Remember, you’re betting on which hand will be closer to 9 - the player's hand, the banker's hand, or a tie.

2. The Cards

After you’ve made your bet the cards are dealt, and the player and banker are each given two cards. In online baccarat, you’ll press the deal button yourself, but in live baccarat, the cards are dealt automatically by the dealer.

3. The Cards are Revealed

Both the player and the banker show their hands. If either hand totals 8 or 9, it’s a natural win (9 wins over 8). If they draw, it’s a tie, and if neither hand totals 8 or 9, the play falls to the third card.

4. The Payouts, Winner, and Loser

Whether play went to the third card or was settled in the first two, the round now has a winner, and the dealer will dish out the prizes or take your bet if you lost.

In online baccarat, ties pay 8 to 1, and a win for a bet the player's hand pays 1 to 1. If you decide to bet on the banker hand and the banker wins though, there’s an extra 5% commission charged, meaning the payout is reduced to 19 to 20.

Finally, if you have placed a bet on either the player or the banker and the result is a tie, you will receive your original wager back.

Online Baccarat Drawing Rules

The most complex area of baccarat gameplay is the third card rule, so it’s definitely worth delving into this further and explaining how it works. Keep in mind that when learning how to play baccarat, the software or dealer will automatically call for any of the additional cards and lead the gameplay, but it can still be useful to understand when the player or the banker will draw a third card.

For the player, it’s extremely simple to understand when a third card is drawn:

  • If the 2 cards add up to 5 or less, the player draws another card.
  • If the player’s 2 cards make a total of 6, 7, 8 or 9, the player will stand.

For the banker’s hand it can be more complex, as a third card is drawn for the banker dependent on 3 things:

  1. The total of the player’s hand
  2. Whether the player had to draw another card
  3. The value of the player’s third card

The banker only draws a third card depending on the value of the player’s third card:

  • If the player draws a 2 or 3 as your third card, the banker can only draw if their hand is 0-4 and they must stand if their hand is between 5-7.
  • If the player draws a 4 or 5, the banker can only draw if their hand is 0-6, and must stand if their hand is between 6-7.
  • If the player draws a 6 or 7, the banker can only draw if their hand is 0-6 and must stand on 7
  • If the player draws an 8, the banker can only draw a third card if their hand is 0-2 and must stand if their hand is between 3-7.
  • If the player draws a third card that’s an ace, 9, 10, or face card, the banker can draw a third card with a hand of 0-3, but must stand with 4-7

    The below table indicates when the banker will draw another card (D = Draw) and when the banker will not draw another card (S = Stand).

Online Baccarat Card Values

As previously mentioned, there are no double-digit totals in baccarat. The aim of the game is to bet on the hand that's closest to 9, and that is made possible due to the card values and substitution rule.

  • Aces count as 1.
  • 10s and face cards are 0.
  • 2-9 are the values shown.

At one point in the game, the banker's hand may for example hit a double-digit number, like 15. When this happens, you’ll subtract 10 or remove the first digit. This makes it impossible to go “bust” at baccarat tables as you can in other casino card games.

For example:

The player’s first cards are 7 and 6 which equals 13. Their total is 3 and the player will draw a third card as the player's hand is under 6.

The banker’s first cards are 5 and 6 which equals 11. Their total is actually then 1, and they will have a third card drawn unless the player hand is a natural.

The player’s first cards are Ace, and 8 which equals 9. As the Ace counts as 1, this is a natural winning hand of 9.

Online Baccarat Bets

The simplicity of Baccarat means that you don't have that many options to bet on, which can actually be a very good thing for yourself being a beginner. It keeps it uncomplicated and allows you to quickly get to grips with and play a card game with the lowest house edge of any game in the casino.

  • Banker Bet: A banker bet means betting on the banker’s hand being closer to 9, which is arguably the best bet. This has an outcome probability of 45.87%, with payouts of 1 to 1 in online baccarat. But, the casino will cut an additional 5% commission from winning bets to the higher odds, making the payout of any bets actually 19 to 20.
  • Player Bet: Betting on the player's hand has a winning probability of 44.63% and a payout of 1 to 1.
  • Tie Bet: Tie bets have a payout of 8 to 1 with a probability of 9.51%. Due to this low probability and high house edge for tie bets, it's not really recommended that you play this bet.
  • Side Bets: If you want to spice it up when you play baccarat, you might consider a side bet. For example, side bets include betting on a player pair or banker pair. This means you bet on either the player or the banker’s 2 cards to be the same, with an example being that the banker's hand is a pair of 3s, and this usually pays out at 8 to 1.

However, be sure to check the game rules for the odds and payouts before taking a side bet, as what is offered can change depending on the baccarat game you are playing.

How to Play the Different Types of Online Baccarat

Most online variants of baccarat are played the same way, with the critical difference being the number of decks used, table set up, or the third card rule. Here’s how to play baccarat's most common online versions.

Baccarat Punto Banco: This is standard baccarat and the most common version you’ll find online. Aside from the Spanish name (this variant originates from Cuba circa 1940), it follows the regular format and is played with six decks. You're most likely to find this variation playing online.

Baccarat Chemin de Fer: This is one of the oldest variants of the game and is the French format. It’s usually played at brick and mortar casinos as players take turns to be the bank (it moves around the table with each round), and you can’t bet on the banker to win.

European Baccarat: European baccarat brings a key difference to the rules, in that the banker can decide if they want to draw a third card, and the player can opt to stand on five and over.

Live Online Baccarat: This can include any of the baccarat games we’ve discussed here (except Chemin de Fer), but it’s played live with a human dealer and streamed to online players in real-time.

BioPolitical scientist, and gambling expert, I have spent the most part of the last ten years writing about the casino and poker industry. As a professional journalist, I work with FOX News, La Repubblica, the Economist, Politico, and PokerNews. As a gambler, I won money pretty much anywhere in Europe. As a gambling editor, I'll help you do the same.
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