So, you want to give gambling a go next time you’re in Las Vegas?
While the slot machines may seem like the cheapest and easiest way to gamble in a Vegas casino, having a go at a card game actually raises the odds that you will come out a winner.
Say hello to Baccarat, an easy card game that you can quickly master and win big with. Baccarat, also called Punto Banco, may seem intimidating to a beginner and there is a lot of mystique around the game (it was James Bond’s game of choice). However, it really is a very simple game. The really big “whale” players often pick this game when they gamble and often bet $100K per play or more, so you can trust us when we say this is a great game to make some money (with a bit of luck).
What is Baccarat?
The game of Baccarat is quite a straightforward card game. All you can do is bet—literally. The main objective of the game is to correctly bet on the winning side.
You will have three sides (we’ll get into the definitions of these in a second!) to choose from:
- The Banker’s Bet
- The Player’s Bet
- The Tie Bet
Each side will put their set of cards down and add them up. The grand total of the sum of the cards equals the number of points that side has. The side with the total number of points closest to 9 wins. And the players who bet on the winning side also win!
We will go over the specific rules about what beats what for both the Player and Banker. If you find them a bit confusing, it is okay, since you don’t need to know them in order to play. It is similar to horse race betting, in that you don’t need to understand the rules a jockey must follow in order to place a bet.
The Baccarat Table:
The table itself is quite straightforward. It consists of three parts. Both sides of the table have the same set up of selected areas to place the bets for either a Banker’s Bet, Player’s Bet or Tie Bet. The middle section is reserved for where the cards are actually played.
There is enough room at the table for up to 14 players to play the game at once—sitting on either side of the table—with numbered spots 1-15 (there is no 13 as it is considered a superstitious number!).
In addition to the 14 players, there are three dealers that take part in Baccarat.
- The first dealer—also known as the “caller”— is responsible for directing the game and watches the players deal their cards. He stands in the middle of the Baccarat table and will make the calls of each played hand.
- The additional two dealers each sit at either side of the table and are responsible for managing the actual betting of the game.
The important rules to know:
1. How many cards are used?
In traditional Baccarat, there are usually between six to eight decks of playing cards used in the game. There are then two hands consisting of two cards that are dealt from the stack—the Banker’s Hand and the Player’s Hand.
2. What are the values of each card?
To determine the value of the hand, the two cards must be added up to reveal the total points.
Here’s a breakdown to help you add up the totals:
- Tens= 0 POINTS
- Face Cards = 0 POINTS
- Twos-Nines = 2-9 POINTS
- Aces = 1 POINT
But there are a few loop holes that you also need to be aware of
- Total values that are double digit numbers must only count the second digit in the total value. Let us explain this hypothetical scenario.
The Banker has a 10 of Hearts and a 6 of Diamonds. The Banker’s total card value will be 0+6 =6.
The Player has a 9 of Hearts and a 4 of Clubs. The Player’s total card value will be 9+4=13. Since we always ignore the first extra digit, the total is 3
The current draw is now 0-3.
The winner of this round is the Banker, because the Player can only use the second digit of the total value.
- Natural wins occur when one side has two cards that add up to either the value of 8 or 9. The round now stops as no more cards will be dealt out. Otherwise, if neither player hit this score, another card will be played.
3. What happens if no side naturally wins?
If after drawing two cards, neither side hits an 8 or 9, there are a range of different scenarios that can occur.
Let’s base this on the example hands mentioned earlier:
- The current total value of the hand determines if another card will be dealt.
- The player’s current value is 3 (9+4=13, the second digit being 3), so they will be given another card. Let’s say that card has a value of 1, bringing the new total to 4.
- The banker’s current value is 6 (10+6 =16, the second digit being 6). Let’s say their new drawn card value has a 2, bringing the new total to 8.
After the additional cards are dealt to each side, the new total values are compared, making the Banker the winner of our hypothetical scenario and those that bet on the Banker win the bet.
4. Can there ever be a tie?
It is possible for the sides to have a tie, referred to as the Tie Bet in Baccarat. This means that there are no winners in the round. It is as straightforward as it sounds—both sides have total values that equal the same number! So the only true winners from a betting standpoint, were those that bet on a tie. Tie bet pay-outs are usually very generous, often paying winnings on a 8:1 ratio!
5. So what are the best bets to place?
Right, so now the important part—knowing what side to bet on!
Did you know that Baccarat has one of the best winning odds compared to any other card game?!
Baccarat Odds and Payouts
Banker Bet: 45.85% chance of winning. 19:20 payout
Player Bet: 44.62% chance of winning. 1:1 payout
Tie Bet: 9.53% chance of winning. 8:1 payout or 9:1
The strategy for this is quite simple, and for those looking to win, we encourage you to be consistent with it. Are you ready for the big secret? Always count on the Banker to win!
This is because there is a smaller house edge if you bet on the Banker (45.85% Banker vs 44.62% Player). That’s great news for anyone wanting to have a lucky night out on the town!
As with all gambling scenarios, there is no free lunch. The house will always have an edge because of the slightly lower payout when you bet Banker (19:20 Banker vs 1:1 Player). Getting a Tie Bet is so rare — so you should really only choose it if you are having the luckiest night on earth. And while it is not improbable that the Player will win, the odds are more in the Banker’s bet favor. After you factor in the different payouts, ties, and possible commissions a casino might charge for each play (up to 5%), you will win the same amount in the long run if you bet Player or Banker. However, Banker wins more often, so it is more fun to play it. In any case, as we mentioned earlier, Baccarat has one of the best odds of any game.
When you compare Baccarat to other Vegas games that don’t involve any skill to play well, it offers the best gambling odds of any game.
6. Can you keep track of the scores?
Yes! Players of Baccarat are allowed to keep track of the scores of the rounds. In fact, you will find that the majority of casinos already have a pre-populated sheet available to players, along with complimentary pencils. Because the game is so fast-paced, most players of the game simply put a tick mark next to the outcome of the round, so they can make their best guess on who will win the next round.
7. What is the difference between Baccarat and Mini-Baccarat?
The end of the game remains the same. But here are some key differences you should know:
- 14 players
- The Players take turns being the Banker
- 3 dealers
- 8 decks of cards
- High minimum bets
- Mini Baccarat:
- 7 players
- The dealer is always the Banker
- 1 dealer
- 6 decks of cards
- Low minimum bets
While both Baccarat and Mini-Baccarat can be played in Las Vegas, Mini-Baccarat is a very popular option for many gamblers on The Strip!
At the end of the day, Baccarat is a game of luck over a game of strategy! Just bet Banker or Player for some of the best odds in Vegas. However, having a good money management strategy is important.
Baccarat Money Management
- Have a set amount you are willing to lose and stop playing when you hit it.
- When you are ahead, know when to walk away with a profit.
- Each outcome is independent. Even if the Player wins 10 times in a row, the odds of the Banker winning do not increase. It is best to just bet the same amount for each play.
- Avoid long-shot bets, like a Tie.
So, what are you waiting for? Head out to a Vegas casino and start your journey to being a great Baccarat player!
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