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Online Baccarat Games

Baccarat is an old casino game, and it's been popular with high rollers for year. Online baccarat games are a little bit of a newer phenomenon, but they're no less popular. Online baccarat has a couple of good selling points as a casino game:

  • Online baccarat is an extremely easy game to learn how to play.
  • Online baccarat, compared to other casino games, has a relatively low house edge.

(Baccarat is not only popular among high rollers, by the way. It's also a big hit with Asian gamblers. One of the most popular games in Macao is baccarat. It's also popular with James Bond. At least in the older movies. In recent Bond movies, he plays Texas holdem instead.) Learn strategy for baccarat and other casino games at online casino blog.

How to Play Baccarat Online

In a traditional land-based casino, baccarat is played by well-dressed people with lots of money in a separate room from the other games. Generally speaking, the baccarat section is full of high rollers because they're the only people in the casino who can afford such high minimum bets. A baccarat table is similar in size to a craps table and usually has three dealers and room for a dozen or so players.

Another cool thing about baccarat is that the players get to take turns being the "dealer". This role gets passed around the table, like being the shooter in craps does. Being the dealer is optional; if you don't want to deal, you just pass the cards to the next player. And as long as the banker keeps winning, the dealer keeps dealing. (Again, this is similar to craps.)

The deal works in the following manner: the baccarat player dealing puts two cards under the shoe and gives two cards to the person who placed the biggest bet. (The cards are face down.) The player who receives cards looks at them and gives them back to the dealer, who turns over all of the cards. The casino dealers then announce the totals to the entire table. Sometimes a third card is dealt, based on the totals.

Once the winner is determined, the casino dealers make payouts and collect losing bets. The casino still pays all bets and collects all losses. Just because a player is dealing doesn't mean he's playing against the other players.

Mini Baccarat VS Baccarat

Mini baccarat has several differences from baccarat:

  • The dealer handles all the cards; players don't act as dealers in mini baccarat. This speeds up the game. (Some estimate that 300 hands per hour are dealt at a mini baccarat table.)
  • Mini baccarat is often dealt from a six deck shoe instead of an eight deck shoe.
  • Mini baccarat is usually played in the main casino area instead of in a separate baccarat room.
  • Mini baccarat usually has lower betting limits, making it a more appropriate game for a typical gambler.

The rules for how to play, the odds, and the payouts for mini baccarat are identical to regular baccarat.

If you assume that you're betting $100 per hand on the banker, the house edge would indicate that you're going to lose $1.06 per hand over time. At a regular baccarat table, if you get 100 hands per hour, you'll have lost $106. At a mini baccarat table, playing 300 hands per hour, you'll have lost $318. Of course, you could defray some of this cost by betting less per hand at the minibaccarat table. But even if you bet $50 per hand, you'll lose $159 in an hour.

100 hands per hour is close to the high end of how many hands you can play per hour at a regular baccarat table. Some tables are as slow as 50 hands per hour. Online baccarat games can be even faster than a live casino's baccarat game, so take your time.

Baccarat Rules

Baccarat is played with traditional playing cards. The cards are given values (as in blackjack), but the values are:

  • Aces count as 1.
  • Numbered cards count as their number.
  • Tens and face cards count as 0.

Baccarat players either bet on the player, the banker, or a tie. The player gets two cards and so does the dealer. The point values of the cards are totaled, and the winner is determined by the right digit of the sum. For example, if the total is 14, the 4 would be used to determine the winner. Scores always range from 0 to 9. Unlike blackjack, you cannot "bust" in baccarat.

A third card is sometimes dealt, but baccarat has rules for hitting and standing that apply to both the player and the banker. Unlike blackjack, the player cannot decide whether or not to take an additional card. If the player or the banker has a total of 8 or 9, they both must stand. If the player has a 5 or less, he has to take an additional card; if he has a 6 or 7 he stands. If the player stands, the dealer hits or stands based on the following rules:

  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
7 S S S S S S S S S S
6 S S S S S S H H S S
5 S S S S H H H H S S
4 S S H H H H H H S S
3 H H H H H H H H S H
2 H H H H H H H H H H
1 H H H H H H H H H H
0 H H H H H H H H H H

The numbers across the top represent the dealer's total, the numbers along the side represent the player's total, the H stands for "hit", and the S stands for "stand". After the third card is dealt (IF a third card is dealt) the scores are compared, and the player or dealer wins if he has a higher score than the other.

A bet on the banker pays off at 19 to 20. (The other 5% is a "commission".) A bet on the player pays off at even money; there is no commission. A bet on a tie pays off at 8 to 1. Also, in the event of a tie, the players who bet on the banker and the player have their bets returned to them. That's considered a "push", just like in blackjack.

To make things easier to track, winning bets on the banker are paid off at even money, but a marker is given to the player to represent the 5% commission. When a player is ready to leave, he pays all the commissions he owes before leaving the baccarat table.

Baccarat House Edge

Baccarat Odds and Baccarat Probability

Each bet has a different house edge. Baccarat odds and baccarat probability are a little bit different based on whether or not the casino is using eight decks or six decks. Below is the house edge for each baccarat bet based on eight decks or six decks.

  Eight Decks Six Decks One Deck
Player 1.24% 1.24% 1.29%
Banker 1.06% 1.06% 1.01%
Tie 14.36% 14.44% 15.75%

Clearly the bet on the banker has the best odds for the player, but a 1.06% house edge means that for every $100 bet, the player will lose $1.06. (That's over an extremely large number of trials though; anything can and will happen in the short run.)

Baccarat Commissions

Some casinos offer reduced commissions on the banker bet. Reduced commission improve the odds for the player. If you can find a casino offering a 2% or lower commission on the banker bet, then you're playing a baccarat game with a positive player expectation. In fact, even if the house reduced the commission to 2.75%, the house edge would become a tiny 0.03%, making this one of the best games in the casino by a good margin.

Baccarat Tie Payouts

Not all casinos offer 8 to 1 on a tie bet. Some casinos offer 9 to 1 on a tie, which reduces the house edge on a tie bet significantly. In an eight deck game, a 9 to 1 baccarat tie payout reduces the house edge on that bet from 14.36% to 4.84%.

Baccarat Systems

Players will often try to track who seems to be running hot at the baccarat table, and the casino encourages this. (The casino understands the math of independent trials better than players who believe in baccarat systems.) Pencils and paper are available for players who want to try to pick up on trends at the baccarat table.

Baccarat Strategy

Baccarat strategy can be summed up in a single sentence:

Always bet on the banker.

No other strategy works.

Baccarat is a table game with no strategy. You might as well be playing a slot machine. No amount of strategy or tactics will ever affect whether or not you'll win more or less often.

Baccarat and the Martingale System

The Martingale system has been thoroughly debunked, but if you want a simple and fun system, you could use that. When you use the Martingale system, you double the size of your bet after every loss. When you eventually win again, you recoup your losses plus one bet. This works great until you hit a long enough losing streak to deplete your bankroll or to reach a point where the next "doubled bet" is greater than the table maximum bet.

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