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How to Play Baccarat

Baccarat TableBaccarat is quite possibly the simplest game in the casino. The point-scoring system might be a little strange, but all you have to do is choose whether you want to bet on the banker or the player. Both bets offer a house edge of less than 2%, so not only is this one of the easiest games to learn, but it’s also one of the easiest on the pocketbook.

This might come as a surprise to some of you since baccarat is known as the game of high rollers and whales. The table minimums have traditionally been set higher than what the average gambler can afford, so baccarat has been a bit of a mystery to the general public.

This has all changed in recent years thanks to online casinos and mini-baccarat. Online casinos offer baccarat at small stakes, and mini-baccarat is almost identical to baccarat except it’s played with fewer players, a faster dealer, and lower table minimums.

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If you already know how to play, you can practice Baccarat on this free flash game, courtesy of Cherry Red Casino: Or, learn about other Internet Baccarat casinos. If you don't know how to play Baccarat, scroll down for the full rules of Baccarat.

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Object of the Game

Two hands are dealt in the middle of the table and the object of the game is for you to guess which one will win. One hand is called the “Banker Hand” and the other one is called the “Player Hand”, but those names do not represent the house or the actual players because players may bet on either one. Those just happen to be the names used to distinguish the hands from each other.

You may also bet on a tie between the two hands, but that’s not a good idea because the house edge is more than 14% on this bet (even though the bet pays out 8:1). Bets on the Player have a house edge of 1.24% and bets on the Banker have a house edge of just 1.06%. Both the Player and Banker bets pay out an even 1:1.

The winner of each round is determined by which hand gets the closest to nine points. The points system is a little strange in baccarat, so you can either just trust the dealer or read on for the full explanation of the baccarat scoring system.

Card Values

Here are the card values used in normal Baccarat games:

Card Point Value
Deuce-Nine Face Value
Ten-King 0 Points
Ace 1 Point

When calculating the points total of a hand, you add up the values of each card and then drop the ten if the number is ten or higher. For example: if the banker has an 8-4, the points total would be 2 (12, drop the ten).

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Play of the Game

The Player and the Banker each get two cards. If one of them gets a “natural” (a hand total that equals 8 or 9), the round ends here and the hand with the natural wins. If both hands result in naturals, the highest natural wins. If both naturals are of the same value, the round is considered a tie.

For all other point totals, the following rules dictate the play of the game. These rules are set in stone and neither the Banker nor the Player will ever draw more than one card.

Player Rules

  1. If the Player’s hand value is six or seven, the Player stands (doesn’t draw any more cards).
  2. If the Player’s hand value is five or less, the Player draws a card.

Banker Rules

The rules for the Banker hand are more complicated because they are based upon the card values of the Player’s hand.

First Two Total: Draws if Player's 3rd card is: Stands if Player's 3rd card is:
0, 1, 2 Always Draws -
3 1-7, 9, 10 8
4 2-7 1, 8, 9, 10
5 4-7 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10
6 6, 7 1-5, 8, 9, 10
7, 8, or 9 - Always stands

Baccarat Strategy

Some players like to track the recent results of rounds and then place their bets based on that information, but it’s mostly for fun rather than true strategy. The results of every hand are completely random, and past results don’t have any affect whatsoever on future hands.

The best strategy for Baccarat is to bet on the Banker because the house edge is only 1.06%, even after the 5% commission the house charges on winning Banker bets. If you would like to know more about the bets and the house edge, read about baccarat strategy.

Once you place a bet on a Baccarat hand, there’s nothing you can do to affect the outcome of the hand. The casino game is based on luck - that's all there is to it. If you can accept that fact, Baccarat is a great game because your money will last longer and the house edge is tiny.

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