Baccarat has a mystique about it because it’s associated with the high rollers. But learning how to play baccarat is actually very easy, does not involve skill (only luck of the draw), and the croupier explains it all as you go along. Basically, if you can count to 9, you can play baccarat. Actually, even if you can’t, you can play, because the croupier adds up the hands.
There are two important things you should remember about baccarat:
1. The house edge is very low except for on “tie” bets.
2. Avoid tie bets.
Baccarat has three possible outcomes: banker wins, player wins, or tie. The cards that are drawn dictate the outcome. Here is how to play baccarat at a regular land casino.
You’ll play at either a baccarat table that accommodates up to 13 players, or a mini baccarat table that accommodates fewer. Buy-ins may be as low as $25. The tables for the big spenders are usually off in another room, and buy-ins at them may be as high as $500.
On the table are boxes where you place bets. The box closest to you is for betting on the “player” winning, and the box farther away is for betting on the “banker” winning. There is also a place to bet on ties. Tie bets have a house edge of over 14%, so even though tie bets may pay out at 8:1, they’re not advisable due to the big house edge. With baccarat, “player” and “banker” don’t refer to the actual dealer and you, but to a theoretical banker and player, and you bet on one or the other (or a tie).
Both dealer and player are dealt two cards. Usually after two cards are dealt, there is a winner, and the winner is the hand that adds up closest to nine. Cards from 2-9 are scored based on face value, 10s and face cards are allotted zero, and aces get one point. If a hand adds up to more than ten, you only count the last digit. That’s why you only have to know how to count to 9.
Two cards are dealt face-down for the “player” and “banker,” then the player’s cards are revealed, then the banker’s. The hands are added up by the croupier. The player is dealt a third card if the player’s hand adds up to 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. The banker may be dealt a third card depending on the player’s third card. The rules for the banker getting a third card go according to the table:
If Player’s 3rd Card is: —– Banker Draws if: —- Banker Stands if:
2 or 3 His score is 0-4 —— His score is 5-7
4 or 5 His score is 0-5 —— His score is 6-7
6 or 7 His score is 0-6 —— His score is 7
8 His score is 0-2 ———- His score is 3-7
Ace, 9, 10, or face card —- His score is 0-3 —– His score is 4-7
The dealer gives instructions if a third card is needed, so you don’t have to memorize the table. Once all cards are dealt, the hand closer to 9 is the winner, and ties are allowed. As for odds, the banker wins slightly more often than the player. The house edge is 1.36% on player bets and 1.17% on banker bets. The best, and really only baccarat strategy is knowing when to walk away with your winnings.