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Baccarat Overview


Baccarat is considered one of the most prestigious games found at any casino, perhaps because of its classic European roots or the fact that casinos purposefully strive to maintain an aura of exclusivity around the game by setting the baccarat table off to one roped side on the casino floor.

Over the time, this exciting card game has transformed its image to a pastime that can be enjoyed by ‘the masses’, thanks to the introduction of mini baccarat – a simplified version of the game – as well as online gambling where baccarat is available to millions of players from around the world from the comfort of their own homes.


The game of baccarat was revived in the 15th century and based on an ancient Etruscan ritual that involved gods and virgins! The earliest version of the game was believed to have been played in Italy using a deck of tarot cards, although credit is given to Felix Falguiere who turned baccarat into a wagering game in the Middle Ages.

French nobility discovered baccarat in the 1500’s and the game was quickly adopted into royal courts. Renamed Chemin de Fer, baccarat became so much part of French culture that players cannot be blamed for believing that the game originated in this country.

The game spread in popularity to England, especially among the nobility, and then made its way across the ocean to South America. American baccarat is based on the Cuban version of Punto Banco, which was transported from Havana to Las Vegas in the 1950s. Since then baccarat has grown continuously in popularity, made even more so with the advent of online gambling in the 1990’s. Today baccarat is one of the most sought after games in the industry.


The objective of baccarat is to draw hands consisting of two or three cards with the total value of the cards being closer to nine than the banker’s cards.


Banco: The banker
Banker/Player Bet: Betting on the player or the dealer
Caller: In charge of the cards at the table
Chemin de Fer: European version of baccarat
Commission: 5% taken by the house on winning bank bets
Face Cards: The Jack, Queen or King, irrespective of the suit
La Grande: Considered the best hand in baccarat – a natural hand totaling 9
La Petite: A natural hand totaling 8
Mini Baccarat: A more compact version of traditional baccarat
Monkey: A ten, or face card
Pass: A win
Punto: The player
Shooter: The banker
Standoff: A tie between player and the banker
Upcard: The card that is dealt face up

How to Play/Game Rules

The Fundamentals:

Baccarat is played on a specially designed table with up to fourteen players around it. It is considered one of the simpler games on the casino floor and makes for fascinating watching and playing. The game requires almost no input from players, other than deciding which side to bet on (the punto or the banco). Alternatively, they can bet on a tie. Players will win if they predict correctly that the side they bet on gets nearer to nine than the other side.

Everyone is required to place a bet in baccarat, even if the player has taken the role of dealer.

Baccarat Play

 Two hands are dealt, consisting of at least two – but sometimes three – cards.
 The player decides whether to bet on the punto, banco or on a tie.
 Two cards are placed face down under the dealer shoe.
 Two cards are dealt face down to the player with the highest bet on the punto.
 The cards are looked at by this player and returned to the dealer.
 The cards are turned over.
 The results and winners are announced.

Card Values

In baccarat, Royal cards and the ten are worth zero. The Ace is worth one, while all other cards have their face value.

Unlike in games such a blackjack, players can never go ‘bust’ in baccarat. Totals never reach over 9 and this is done as follows: The ten value of every hand is always discarded and players use the last digit. So, for example, if the player is dealt a four and an eight, while the total is twelve in reality, the card values are actually calculated as two (discarding the ten).

A ‘natural’ is when either the punto or banco are dealt an eight or nine. No more cards are dealt in this case. A ‘tie’ is when both sides are dealt cards that total the same value. If no tie or natural is reached after the initial two cards were dealt, a third card is dealt under particular circumstances.

When is a Third Card Dealt?

The following rules of thumb apply when determining whether a third card is dealt to both sides in a game of baccarat:

If: The punto or banco has cards totaling 8 or 9
Then: A tie is declared and no other cards are dealt

If: The punto’s total is five or less
Then: The punto draws a third card

If: The punto does not draw a third card
Then: The banco stands on six but draws on five or less

If: The banco’s total is two or less
Then: The banco draws a third card, irrespective of the punto’s third card

If: The banco’s total is three
Then: The banco draws a third card, as long as the punto’s third card is not an eight

If: The banco’s total is four
Then: The banco draws a third card, unless the punto’s third card is a nine, eight, one or zero

If: The banco’s total is a five
Then: The banco draws a third card, unless the punto’s third card is seven, six, five or four

If: The banco’s total is six
Then: The banco draws a third card, unless the punto’s third card is six or seven

If: The banco’s total is seven
Then: The banco stands

Tips and Strategies

Baccarat is categorized as a game of chance, meaning that there is not much that can be done in terms of learning strategies and developing a skill for the game in order to shift casino odds. Having said that, there are still certain things that players can do in order to minimize their losses in the game.

 Don’t bother learning the third card rule, as the casino workers or online casino automatically do this for you. It is sufficient to simply familiarize yourself with the rule.
 The house will usually take a 5% commission on a banco bet. Don’t let this put you off betting on the banco, because this is the bet that wins more times than the other two options (punto or tie).
 Avoid betting on a tie. This bet has a small chance of winning only.
 Although this may prove extremely difficult, try to find a casino that uses less than eight decks of cards in a baccarat game as it may improve your odds.
 Accept that baccarat is game of chance and don’t try learning strategies for the game. More importantly, don’t waste your hard-earned cash on so-called strategies – these are more often than not bogus scams.
 Quit while ahead! If you’re having a good run, do the smart thing and quit while your bankroll is still full.

Baccarat Payouts

There is no getting confused with payouts in baccarat, as they are among the most straightforward in the industry.

 If the banco wins, payouts are 1:1
 If the punto wins, payouts are 1:1
 If the banco and the punto tie, payouts are 8:1


 Mini Baccarat: This game is played with the same rules as traditional baccarat, except that the dealer turns over all the cards. The odds may be changed slightly if the game is played with six decks of cards, however, presuming the same number of decks are played, the odds are the same as traditional baccarat.
 Midi Baccarat: Played on a larger table than mini baccarat and usually found in high limit rooms for more exclusive play.


Baccarat has transformed from an exclusive game into one that is particularly appealing to online gamblers and the Asian market. Nevertheless, the game is still dominant in high-roller markets such as Macau and it is quite possible to find table limits reaching into the thousands. The simplicity of baccarat, as well as its steep tradition and snooty reputation are among the many factors that make this game so popular.

See our Baccarat Resources page for further links to useful Baccarat sites and pages.









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