Baccarat is quite possibly the most exciting casino card game. This centuries-old game is easy to learn, and incredibly rewarding when lady luck smiles on you. With humble origins in Italy, Baccarat is a derivation of a game known as ‘Baccara’ which quite literally translates into ‘zero’ in Italian. The suspenseful nature of Baccarat is perhaps its most endearing characteristic. It is the quintessential James Bond game, filled with mystique, high-roller action, and tremendous fanfare. 

The rules of Baccarat are surprisingly easy to understand. There are only three possible outcomes in a game Baccarat. These include a banker win, a player win, or a tie. Baccarat enjoys VIP status in many Asian countries, notably with players in Macau.

And the game is plenty popular in Las Vegas and Atlantic City too. Our comprehensive Baccarat guide will take you behind-the-scenes into the high-roller world of this exciting casino card game.  Buckle up, you're about to get the inside scoop on Baccarat from the pros!

Table of Contents

Baccarat rules

Every casino game is governed by a set of rules. Once you understand the rules, you will be in a much better position to confidently place your bets. The rules of Baccarat will guide you, helping you to select bets with the most favorable odds. Make no mistake about it, Baccarat really is an easy game to learn. There is no complicated strategy to understand, save for careful bet selection and effective bankroll management. With just three possible outcomes, you are tasked with picking a winning hand, including the following:

•    The Player Hand
•    The Banker Hand
•    Tie 

Several points are worth mentioning, notably the fact that Players are required to do nothing other than place bets. You don't need to pick up any cards, or even request any additional cards. Everything is controlled by the croupier a.k.a. the dealer. Be advised that the Player Hand and the Banker Hand refer to hands controlled by the dealer – neither of them is the Dealer's Hand or the Player’s Hand. In other words, you can easily place bets on the Player Hand, the Banker Hand, or a Tie. It's your call. 

What are the card values in Baccarat?

Baccarat has a unique set of card values. The goal is simply to pick a hand that will score the highest winning total. The magic numbers in Baccarat are 8 or 9, often referred to as a Natural. It's entirely possible for the Player or the Banker Hand to score the higher hand total, or even for a Tie to result.

The game is played with standard playing cards. How do you play Baccarat when there are 1, 6 or 8 decks of cards in play? There’s no difference, as you’re about to see. The number of decks in use will vary from one casino to the next (8 decks are typically used), but the card values are standard, including the following:

•    Ace – Aces assume a value of 1, not 11
•    2 – 9 – Cards 2 – 9 assume their nominal value (face value)
•    10, Jack, Queen, King – These cards have a value of 0 in Baccarat

A few practical examples will highlight exactly how to determine hand values in Baccarat.

•    Player hand – 7 of hearts + 9 of spades = 16. Baccarat value = 6
•    Banker hand – Jack of spades + 8 of hearts = 18. Baccarat value = 8

>WINNER: Banker Hand

•    Player hand - Ace of spades + King of diamonds = 11. Baccarat value = 1
The player must draw an additional card.
Player draws 7 of hearts: Baccarat value is now 8
•    Banker hand – 8 of spades + 8 of clubs = 16. Baccarat value = 6
Banker must draw when the player’s third card is 7 and the Banker's hand total is 6
Banker draws 3 of spades: Baccarat value is now 9 (A Natural)

>WINNER: Banker Hand

•    Player hand – King of clubs + 7 of hearts = 17. Baccarat value = 7
•    Banker hand - Queen of spades + 6 of diamonds = 16. Baccarat value = 6

>WINNER: Player Hand

FUN FACT: You can never bust in Baccarat. Any hand value greater than 9 automatically has the tens digit removed. Given the rules of play, both the Player Hand and the Banker Hand will act according to the set framework. Even though the magic number in Blackjack is 21, it's easy for players to bust when drawing additional cards. That’s not the case in Baccarat.

Baccarat drawing rules 

Now that you know the Baccarat card values and the objective of the game, it's time to learn the rules. The drawing rules are really important, so pay close attention to them. As a player, you don't have to do draw any cards since everything is done by the Baccarat dealer. Nonetheless, a rudimentary understanding of these drawing rules will help you.

To begin, two cards will be dealt to the Player Hand and two cards will be dealt to the Banker Hand. The first card is dealt to the Player and the next card is dealt to the Banker. Another Player card is dealt, followed by another Banker card. Next, the hand totals will be calculated. 

Remember that face cards and 10s assume a value of 0, Aces assume a value of 1, and cards 2 – 9 assume their nominal value. Any hand total greater than 10 automatically has the tens digit removed. Your goal is to get as close to 9 as possible. A natural is a hand total of 8 or 9. This immediately crowns a winner and ends the game.

When are third cards drawn in Baccarat?

The rules of play will determine whether the Player Hand or the Banker Hand gets to pick a third card. Remember the Natural we referred to a moment ago? If either hand has a total of 8 or 9, both the Player Hand and the Banker Hand will stand. The higher hand total will win. If the Player Hand has a total of 8 and the Banker Hand has a total of 9, the Banker Hand wins. If they both have an equal value hand, the Tie bet wins. 

•    If the Player’s Hand total is 5 or less, the Player Hand will draw an additional card
•    If the Player's Hand total is 6 or 7, the Player Hand will stand
•    If the Player Hand draws a third card, the Banker Hand may pick a third card based on a specific set of rules

The Banker drawing rules are quite specific when it comes to a third card. The following table illustrates when a Banker Hand will draw a third card:

baccarat table

KEY: S = Stand and D = Draw

As a case in point, if the Player’s Third Card is 7 and the Banker’s total is 6, the Banker will draw another card.

How do you play Baccarat if the Player Hand the Banker Hand are the same value?  If you happen to place a bet on a Tie outcome, that bet will win when the Player Hand and the Banker Hand tie. Note that there are additional betting options in Baccarat, notably the Banker Pair and the Player Pair. If the first two cards of either the Banker Hand or the Player Hand are the same rank, the respective bet will win. All other possibilities automatically lose.

Baccarat Payouts 

Let's talk money for a second! Baccarat is known to be a terrific payer, particularly when your bets come in. The following payout chart lists the payout possibilities on different types of bets:

•    Bets on Banker Hands – 1:1 (even money)
•    Bets on Player Hands – 1:1 (even money)
•    Bets on Tie Hands – 9:1 
•    Player Side Bets – 12:1 
•    Banker Side Bets – 12:1 

Baccarat odds will vary based on the number of decks in play. If 8 decks of cards are being used, the probability of a Banker win is 0.4585 and the return less the 5% commission reduces the odds to 0.4356. Baccarat odds on a Player win are 0.4462. Clearly, the return is higher on a Player Hand, but the probability favors a Banker win. It's your call which bet to place while you're learning how to play Baccarat online. 

Finally, there are also important Baccarat odds on Tie bets. These bets have a probability of 0.095 of occurring. The payouts on Tie bets are generous, but the likelihood is slim. Many experts recommend avoiding the Tie bet in Baccarat because it gives the house a really high edge of 14.36% when the payouts are 8:1. When the payouts are 9:1 the house edge is 4.844% (Elliott Jacobson PhD).

You may be wondering about Baccarat odds when fewer numbers of decks are used. Suffice it to say, when 6 decks of cards are used in a Baccarat game, the Baccarat odds and probabilities are virtually the same as when 8 decks are used. With 8 decks in play, the house edge on the Banker Bet is 1.06%, the house edge on the Player Bet is 1.24%, and the house edge on a tie is 14.36%.

When 6 decks of cards are used in a game of Baccarat, the house edge on Banker Bets is 1.06%, the house edge on Player Bets is 1.24%, and the house edge on Tie Bets is 14.44%. In the unlikely scenario of just 1 deck of cards being used in a game of Baccarat, there is a 1.01% house edge on Banker Bets, a 1.29 % house edge on player bets, and a 15.75% house edge on Tie Bets. 

SIZZLING HOT TIPS: There is something that you need to know about payouts on Banker Hands. When you place a bet on the Banker Hand and it wins, you will receive 95% return. 5% is given to the house on Banker Bets. 

If at all possible, always try to seek out a Baccarat table with a reduced commission on banker bets. Anything less than 5% will certainly bode well for your payout potential. Games like ‘Zero Lounge Baccarat’ can increase your return substantially. With 8 decks of cards in play and 0% commission on Banker Hands, you can expect a return of 1.235%. That return increases when 6 decks of cards are used at 1.237%, and goes even higher with just a single deck of cards at 1.286%.

How do you play Baccarat online?

Online Baccarat rules are identical to the rules of playing at a Las Vegas casino. It's much more convenient and certainly a lot less stressful playing online. At 888casino New Jersey, you can register to play Baccarat online, claim a welcome bonus package as a new player, and enjoy high-class Baccarat at your leisure.

Baccarat can be played on PC, Mac, iOS and Android. This casino card game is revered among the whales of the gaming arena. It has affordable minimum bets and high maximums – exactly what VIPs enjoy. When you play online, you don't have to worry about dress code, or stage fright – simply place a bet on the Player, Banker, or a Tie – and that’s the answer to your question: How do you play Baccarat online?

check out our winning baccarat tips.

About the Author

With digital marketing strategies in his blood, Louis Wheeler has traveled around the world, exploring gambling cultures and gaining experience in casino games from 2003. If you are in a casino anywhere around the planet, you may find him right next to you, playing blackjack, roulette or texas hold'em.