Baccarat is one of the oldest casino card games and dates back as far as the 1400’s. The name Baccarat is derived from the Italian word ‘baccarat’ meaning zero. This refers to the fact that all tens, jacks, queens and kings have a value of zero. It also refers to any hand that has a total of zero e.g. A hand of seven and three also equals zero and therefore ‘baccarat’.

There are three popular variations of the game of Baccarat. Punto Banco (or American Baccarat) is strictly a game of chance where each player's moves are forced by the cards that the player has been dealt. Baccarat Chemin de Fer was the original version of the game when it was introduced to France and remains the most popular version in that country. Baccarat Banque is very similar to Baccarat Chemin de Fer with the exception that one gambler will remain the dealer and banker for the entire shoe. In Baccarat Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque, both players can make choices which brings some skill into the game.


Whilst the origins of the game can be traced back to the 1400’s, Baccarat did not acquire its status as a premier casino game until the 1900’s. In Europe, Chemin de Fer was the most popular variation while in England Punto Banco was preferred. Punto Banco would subsequently make its way to America via South America.

All three versions of the game use virtually identical sets of rules with the only significant difference being how the cards are dealt. Punto Banco continues to dominate in casinos in the US along with mini baccarat. In the case of mini baccarat, the dealer deals all of the cards and the players just bet on one of the three outcomes.

Mini baccarat tables have become common place in US casinos because the big table versions invariably have high minimum bets which makes them rather exclusive. The mini baccarat tables have much lower limits and are therefore available to a much wider clientele.

Interest in the game of Baccarat has increased markedly with the development of online baccarat. Online casinos provide mini baccarat tables using the standard American rules. The cards are dealt using a random number generator (RNG) and displayed as graphics on the player’s screen. Some online gambling sites now offer ‘Live’ dealers where you are connected to a real dealer via a video link.

How To Play

In the game of Baccarat, cards 2–9 are worth face value. Ten, Jack, Queen and King have no value and Aces are worth 1 point. Hands are valued according to the rightmost digit of the sum of their constituent cards: for example, a hand consisting of 2 and 3 is worth 5, but a hand consisting of 6 and 7 is worth 3 (the rightmost digit of their sum total of 13). The highest possible hand value is 9. If any hand has a total of 8 or 9 it is called a 'Natural' and no more cards are dealt. A ‘Baccarat’ refers to anything with a value of zero. For example, in a hand of King, 4 and 6, the King is a ‘baccarat’, and the hand value is also ‘baccarat.’

Before starting the game, you should decide what your bankroll is for the session and what size of bets you will be placing. You do not want to over bet your bankroll so make sure that you have allowed sufficient funds for at least twenty hands.

There are three sections marked on the table: The player, the banker and the tie. Chips can be placed until the dealer calls no more bets. The dealer then deals two cards to the player hand and two cards to the dealer hand. At this point if either hand has a ‘Natural’ the game ends and winnings are paid out or losing bets are cleared from the table. Usually additional cards need to be dealt according to the determined baccarat ‘three-card-rule’. The player has no choice as to whether extra cards will be dealt. Once the final hand totals have been reached the dealer will clear the table of all losing bets and pay out on the winning bets.

Tips & Tricks

The most frequently given piece of advice is always to bet on the banker. The house advantage on this bet is the lowest when compared to the other two bets. Even after any commission has been removed, you will still have the best chance of coming out ahead by sticking to the banker bet. The statistics are based over a lengthy period of time and there are no guarantees of short-term profits.

Some players believe in following streaks or runs of outcomes and this can prove successful over a short period, although there is no guarantee of long term success. You would be strongly advised to avoid all claims to guaranteed profits for any game that is loaded in favour of the house. The tie bet has one of the highest house advantages of all casino games at 15% and is certainly not an option for making long term profits, especially when you consider that the advantage is just over 1% on player and banker. Most casinos in the United Kingdom pay the tie at odds of 9–1, reducing the house edge to around 4%.

The Player bet in Punto Banco has a low house edge of 1.24% and the margin for the Banker bet is just 1.06%. Despite this low house edge, Punto Banco does not lend itself to advantage play and card counting is not profitable. Despite the impossibility of improving winning chances by studying the result history of the shoe, the use of record cards in Punto Banco is prevalent in casinos and online.

In Chemin de Fer, basic strategy dictates that a player should always accept a card if their hand totals between 0 and 4 (inclusive) and always refuse a card if one's hand totals 6 or 7. This is based on sound mathematics and anyone wishing to discover more in-depth tips and tricks can find a great deal of information on the Internet. Most online casinos offer the chance to play baccarat for free, an ideal way to learn the game and test your methods before investing hard cash.