Back around the turn of the millennium, few people knew or cared how to play baccarat. It was considered one of the more obscure casino games, something that was popular back in the 1950s when Ian Fleming used it to drive the plot in his first James Bond novel Casino Royale. Baccarat rules were so shrouded in mystery that when the Daniel Craig movie was made in 2005, the game was changed to poker so that viewers would understand what was happening.
How times have changed. Today, online baccarat is one of the most popular games at Mount Gold casino. We have noticed that more and more people are learning how to play baccarat, and once they get into the game, they never look back. Part of the reason is that baccarat rules are actually incredibly simple. In fact, baccarat is far less complicated than blackjack, a game most of us picked up in a matter of minutes when we were still children!
The set-up in baccarat
The only thing that can be difficult to get your head around in baccarat is the concept of Player and Banker. These are the two protagonists in the game, but we capitalise them because they are notional characters. You are simply looking on and betting on the outcome of each hand.
Player and Banker are each dealt two cards, in much the same way as blackjack. Note that if you are playing live baccarat with other players around the table, the dealer will not deal cards for each of you. All players are observing and betting on the same game between Player and Banker. It’s a little like roulette, where many players will all be betting on the same spin of the wheel.
Who is the winner?
The winning hand is the score that is closest to nine, and there are three possible outcomes. These are a Player win, a Banker win or a Tie. You and any others sitting at the virtual table can bet on any one of these outcomes by placing your chips in the appropriate area.
An essential thing to understand in the baccarat rules is that unlike blackjack, it is impossible for either Player or Banker to go bust. This is because the game uses a single digit numbering system from 0 to 9. When the cards add up to more than 9, the first digit is ignored. Like blackjack, cards are counted at face value. This means face cards and 10s have a value of zero and aces are worth 1. Suits are irrelevant.
Rules for hitting and standing
When you play blackjack, the main thing you need to think about is whether to hit or stand. Once you understand how to play baccarat, you will see this is something you don’t need to think about at all. There are specific baccarat rules that the dealer follows and these dictate whether or not Player or Banker are dealt a third card. In baccarat, no more than three cards are dealt.
The beauty of the game is that you do not need to understand these rules in order to play the game and develop a baccarat strategy. We will, therefore, only explain them briefly for the sake of completeness. The dealer will essentially go through the following four-point checklist in order:
- If either or both of Player and Banker is dealt 8 or 9, no further cards are dealt and the winner or tie is and declared. Otherwise, move on to point 2).
- If Player is dealt 0-5, a third card is dealt. Player stands on 6 or 7.
- If Player stands, and Banker has been dealt 0-5, a third card is dealt to Banker.
- If Player is dealt a third card, the value of that card along with the value of banker’s hand determines whether Banker is dealt a third card.
This fourth point is quite convoluted, and there are tables available online if you really want to know more. But from your perspective, all that really matters here is that this fourth point shifts the overall odds very slightly in favour of the banker.
For this reason, while a player win pays out even money, a banker win only pays 95 percent of your stake. The tie has a 9/1 payout.
It is more important to understand these statistical outcomes than to know the exact rules that govern whether or not Player and Banker are dealt a third card, as these will form part of your thinking in formulating a baccarat strategy.
Baccarat is a game that is easy to play, and one in which beginners can play alongside those with years of experience on equal terms. Why not choose a table at Mount Gold casino and try it for yourself?