How to Play Baccarat

A decade ago, baccarat was one of the lesser-known casino games in Canada and was far less popular than it was in the 1950s and 60s when it was known as a glamorous game for high-rollers.  

However, since the advent of online casinos, all that has changed, and more people than ever are learning how to play baccarat. It’s exploded in popularity all over the world offline too, particularly in Las Vegas and Macau. 

One reason it’s so popular is that it has one of the lowest house edges of any casino game, and casinos are known to run up huge losses if a big-staking player goes on a winning run. 

Want to join the thousands of other Canadians playing? Baccarat rules are very simple, and if you know how to play blackjack, you will find that baccarat is even more straightforward. 

Baccarat basics

Baccarat is a battle between the banker and notional player. We say notional because you and any other actual players are not directly involved in the gameplay, but instead, place bets on whether the “Banker” or “Player” will win the hand. 

Two cards each are dealt to the Banker and the Player, either by the software or, in the case of our live baccarat games, by a real dealer. The winner is the score closest to nine, and the object of the game is to correctly predict either a Banker win, a Player win or a tie. 

One of the most important baccarat rules is that the game works in a single-digit numbering system, so if the score hits ten or more, only the last digit is considered. Cards have similar values as in blackjack, so this means number cards are scored at face value and due to the numbering system, 10s and face cards have a value of zero. So for example, a King and an eight is worth eight, a nine and a five is worth four, and so on. 

Hit or stand

In blackjack, deciding whether to hit or stand is fundamental to the game. When you play online baccarat, however, that decision is taken out of your hands, as there are specific rules that the dealer observes. 

You do not need to fully understand these rules to play baccarat – in fact, many Canadian baccarat players wouldn't be able to get them all right. But in brief they are as follows: 

  1. If Player, Banker or both has a score of 8 or 9 from the two cards dealt, the hand is finished and the winner declared. If neither has 8 or 9, proceed to the next step.
  2. If Player has a score of 0-5, a third card is dealt. For a score of 6-7, Player stands.
  3. If Player stands, and Banker has a score of 0-5, then Banker is dealt a third card. 
  4. If the player drew a third card, the banker acts according to the following:
  • If the banker total is 2 or less, then the banker draws a card, regardless of what the player's third card is.
  • If the banker total is 3, then the banker draws a third card unless the player's third card was an 8.
  • If the banker total is 4, then the banker draws a third card if the player's third card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
  • If the banker total is 5, then the banker draws a third card if the player's third card was 4, 5, 6, or 7.
  • If the banker total is 6, then the banker draws a third card if the player's third card was a 6 or 7.
  • If the banker total is 7, then the banker stands.

What are the odds?

This fourth factor governing whether the Banker gets a third card pushes the overall odds of winning very slightly into the Banker’s favour. For this reason, the odds on a Player win are even money, but on a banker win are slightly shorter at 95 percent. The other 5% is referred to as “commission”. The tie pays out at 9/1. 

It is far more important when considering your baccarat strategy to know these basic payouts than the underlying baccarat rules that bring them about! 

Playing a hand

The mechanics of a game of baccarat are very simple. First, you place your bet on either Banker win, Player win, or tie. Then, the game commences with two cards dealt to each of the Player and the Banker, and potentially a third card dealt according to the above rules. The dealer announces the winner, and winning bets are paid out. 

It really is as simple as that. Baccarat is a game you can pick up in minutes, and unlike poker or blackjack, it comes down to luck rather than skill. This goes some way to explaining why the game’s popularity is surging with the many new and inexperienced players who are visiting Refuel Casino. 

Why not join them at the baccarat table and channel your inner James Bond? Good luck!

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