How to Play Baccarat – A Beginner’s Guide


by James Smith |
Date of Publishing: 28/07/2021


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Arguably one of the most difficult gambling games to get an understanding of, the game of baccarat also has the highest player participation of any other, around the world, with Macau being a particularly popular destination for the game.

While there is some debate as to where baccarat originated, it is believed it dates back to 15th century Italy, when a man called Felix Falguiere or Falguierein invented the game. Initially, the game was called ‘baccara’ which was Italian for the word ‘zero’, because this was the value of all of the face cards and number 10 cards. Later, in France, the spelling of the game changed to ‘baccarat’.

The game then reached France, and it swiftly became a favourite of King Charles VIII and his connected nobility, though it was originally known as Chemin de Fer (Chemmy). For a number of centuries, baccarat remained popular in France, especially with the aristocracy, before it was adopted in England, with James Bond creator Ian Fleming learning how to play to incorporate the game into his novels.

When the game migrated west across the Atlantic to North America and the Caribbean, the game was given another name; Punto Banco, which is still prevalent today. There are a number of differences between the two games, though, with the main one being that players only competed against the house and not each other. In the 1950s, a man called Tommy Renzoni introduced this to the Sands Casino in Las Vegas, where it effectively became known as American Baccarat.

Due to the fact that baccarat never really gained a lot of initial interest, with other casino games like roulette being more popular, casino owners adopted an interesting strategy as an attempt to make the game more exclusive. As a result, this was then played in plush private rooms with high minimum bets and needless to say, this tactic worked, bringing with it a more elite class of player.

The main rules of Baccarat

The first signs of gambling date way back to 2300bc. Of course, some forms of gambling will have most definitely pre-dated this, but this is the first time that historians found evidence. Tiles were uncovered in ancient China, and it is believed these were used as part of a game of chance. Other evidence relating to these tiles is the Chinese Book of Songs which talks about these objects and suggests they were used as part of a gambling game similar to the lottery.

Not only that, it also appears that the game of keno was first played in China. Keno slips have been found in the country that is guessed to be from around 200bc. What makes this so interesting is that historians think this may have been a game that helped to fund the state and could have helped in the funding and construction of the famous Great Wall of China.

This is a precedent for gambling in modern times, as it looks like not much has changed! While lottery-style gambling was most likely used to fund state construction, it is still used for this purpose today here in the UK.

What’s more, we can see methods like this being used in the construction of some of the most iconic higher education buildings around the world, such as the Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale.

Different terms in Baccarat

Where the game of baccarat can get confusing, is if you are not familiar with the various terms that are used and it is important that you understand each of these, in order to be able to play the game effectively.  Let’s take a look at the different ones that are used in the game.

Action

This refers to the fact that a bet is being wagered on the game and it is this where the phrase ‘do have any action on this?’ originates, which was later used in sports betting.

Banco

In Spanish, this term literally means ‘banker’, which is prominent in baccarat; however, it is a term that can also be used to talk about the person who is dealing and essentially who has the shoe.

Banque

Referring to tables being joined together and because of this, the banker is then positioned in the middle, where they meet. In casinos around Europe, this is a common characteristic of the game, however, in America, this is very rare to find and as a result, the term ‘banque’ in the US refers to having ‘zero in the bank’.

Banco Prime

This is essentially the player’s privilege to the right of the dealer at the table who can match the stake that has already been wagered if more than one player has called banco.

Bankroll

The amount of money that a player has set aside for the game and has determined that they can risk losing.

Burning

When the dealer discards the top three to six cards immediately after shuffling them.

Coup

A round of baccarat refers to when one player and one banker hand has been dealt.

Cut

When a deck of cards is divided immediately after being shuffled, the dealer shuffles the cards and then places them face down under normal circumstances. The dealer then asks the player to the right of them to ‘cut’ the cards, which means that they take a portion of the cards from the shuffled deck and place them on the table face down. The dealer then finishes the process by placing the remaining cards on top of them. This is a process that helps to ensure fairness.

Discard Tray

This is the name given to which ‘burn’ cards are put to ensure that they are not accidentally incorporated into the game.

Dragon Bonus

A side bet in the game of baccarat that is considered to be quite popular. This allows players to not only wager on the banker and other players, but also to place bets on the total number of points that the winning player will beat the other by.

Fading

This term is used to describe placing bets against another player.

La Grande

Translating literally as ‘the big one’ in French, this name is given to a ‘natural nine’ and, ultimately, the best hand in the game.

La Petite

Translated from French to mean ‘the little one’, this is the second-best hand in the game, totalling a ‘natural eight’.

Punto

This literally means ‘player’ in Spanish.

Run

When players make a side bet that allows them to wager on a number of hands.

Standoff

When both the banker and player have the same value for their hands in a round and are essentially tied.

Upcard

This is when a card is face-up so that you can see the value.

Vigorish

Whereby the casino takes a percentage of the winnings from a bet.

Best tips for playing baccarat

Because the game of baccarat can be confusing and take a long time to learn, especially if you are new to gambling, there are a number of tips and strategies that you can apply to help you to become familiar with the game quickly. Let’s take a look at some of these below!

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Make sure that you know your bankroll

This is one of the most important pieces of advice that you can apply not just in baccarat but every other gambling game as well. In baccarat, a player’s bankroll can decrease quickly than they expect, because of how volatile that the game is. As a result, it is always worth making sure that you have an idea about the banker’s hand and how this can affect your own wagering behaviour. In baccarat, it is this hand that can have the biggest effect on your chances of winning, due to the fact that there are three possible outcomes.

Make sure that you are ready to play for real money

Even if you think that you understand all of the rules inside out, it does not necessarily mean that you are ready to play for real. This could be because you have not considered every possible outcome that might occur during a game and how you should respond to it. As a result, it is worth trying a few baccarat games on demo mode first, which means that you can play without wagering anything and understanding the possible consequences of each action you take.

Wager on bets with a low house edge

Definitely one of the most advisable and sensible tips in baccarat is to make wagers on bets that have a low house edge, which is where the risk is lower. Also, this is because the bank always has the most attractive house edge of 1.06 percent as well as the best odds. Furthermore, it would also be advisable to keep away from ‘tie bets’ because the house is favoured here at a considerable 14.6 percent.

Avoid the ‘all in’ bets

This is a great tip, especially if you are new to the game. With baccarat being a game that has so many different possible outcomes, the last thing that you want to do is to stake your entire bankroll. Even though the potential winnings might be significant, it simply is not worth the risk.

Do not play when you are tired

Even though it might be at the end of a long day and you just want to relax, baccarat is the last game that you should play because it requires a large amount of concentration, and as a result, your judgement may not be the best.

Choose the device that is right for you

Baccarat especially might be a game where you really might want to put a lot of thought into what device you choose. As a result, a tablet instead of a smartphone might be the best choice, because on a smartphone, you might get interrupted by a call halfway through the game and lose your progress and concentration.

Play with friends

If at all possible, play baccarat with friends, especially if you are new to the game. This way, you might get more help in terms of knowing what to do, while also not feeling judged as much for the type of decisions that you make during the game.

FAQs

While we have endeavoured to cover the game of baccarat in as much detail as possible, we understand that you still might have some questions, which we have anticipated and answered as concisely as possible, below!

Is baccarat a game of skill?

Because this has often been called a game of the ‘thinking man’, there are those who believe that a certain amount of skill is required to play baccarat and it has drawn comparisons to chess in terms of the type of decisions that a player sometimes has to make. For example, knowing when to make a bet and deciding the size of a wager can sometimes take a vast proportion of skill and judgement.

How do you win at baccarat?

One of the most important things to do if you want to give yourself the best chance of winning at baccarat is to become familiar with the rules first and then play on demo mode until you feel comfortable. As a result of this, you will find out that the best hand that you can get is a ‘natural nine’, though in addition, you will also learn when to make a bet and for what amount.

Is baccarat easy to learn?

Like anything, baccarat takes practice until you become familiar with it, though some people pick the game up quicker than others. It is, though, considered one of the harder gambling games to learn, so don’t feel frustrated if you do not understand it as quickly as you would like to.

How many players are there in baccarat?

Depending on the version of baccarat that you are playing, there can be anywhere from seven to 14 players involved in a game.

Can you win big in baccarat?

While baccarat is effectively gambling, it means that anything can happen, though if the stakes are big enough, then it is possible to win big if a limit has not been imposed on the game by the casino. However, it is important to remember to never bet more than you can afford to lose and do not chase your losses because this can lead to problems further down the line.

About the Author

Author: James Smith.

James Smith has been writing about casino games and strategies for over a decade. He is an expert in the industry and loves to help people get started with online gambling. In his free time, James enjoys reading books by other successful authors, cycling around town, or playing poker.