Baccarat: Punto vs. Banco, Made famous by Ian Fleming's James Bond, baccarat is at once a simple game of chance, yet it can be a game played for extremely high stakes... Following are the game rules.
Baccarat is a popular casino games with multi-national origins to rival the best of them: it was supposedly invented in Italy in the Middle Ages, developed in France around the 1400s, and was later brought to the United States by English colonists and eventually reshaped into the format we currently know.
The name “Baccarat’ is derived from an old Italian word for “zero,” as it originally referred to the fact that all tens, jacks, queens and kings are worth zero. Today, any hand that equals ten has a value of baccarat – this is the one rule that has remained the same since the game’s inception in Italy.
French royalty played the game of Chemin de Fer until they were deposed in the revolution, but it was actually the English adaptation of Punto Banco that was brought across the Atlantic to the New World.
Almost every European card or table game that has stood the test of time did so because it was popular in the United States in the 20th century. Punto Banco was very popular in Nevada and other American gambling centers, although it remained a game for big-spending American high-rollers in the same way as it was popular with French nobles.
Thanks to the introduction of Internet gambling, Baccarat is now a game that can be enjoyed by all – not just by those with a big bankroll! Today, online casinos offer at least the most basic version of Mini Baccarat, following the standard American rules used in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.
Thanks to its origins, many of Baccarat’s unique terminology are actually derived from old French and Italian. Other words reflect the American influence on the game.
Baccarat: Literally, this means that the total value of a player’s hand is zero. As you would expect, this is not a good thing.
Banker: A bet on the banker’s/dealer’s hands, one of the three possible moves in a standard game. The payout odds are 1:1 minus banker’s commission. Also known as banco.
Coup: A single round of baccarat, which consists of a player’s hand and a banker’s hand.
Dealer: The person who draws the cards. Also known as a croupier.
Mini Baccarat: Alternative version of baccarat in which the dealer draws all the cards. This version usually has lower limits, and for this reason is the most popular form of online baccarat.
Natural: A scenario in which the player’s first two cards total eight or nine.
Player: A bet on the player’s hand. Just like the banker’s hand, the payout odds are 1:1 with a House advantage of just over 1%. Also known as punto.
Run: Side bet which one may wager on successive winning hands (whether player hand, banker hand or tie hand).
Standoff: A scenario in which the player’s and dealer’s cards have the same value.
Tie: A bet on a standoff or tie between player and banker. Although this has large payout odds of 8:1, it is rarely used because of its House advantage of almost 15%.
Baccarat is played with up to eight decks at any time and up to 14 players at the one table. The numbered cards from 2-9 are taken at face value. The ten, jack, queen and king cards are all given a value of zero. An ace has a value of one.
Each “coup” begins with players placing their bets on who they think will receive the highest hand. They may wager on one of three options – banker, player or tie. Hands of two cards are then dealt to the player and to the banker. The highest possible hand is a nine. If a player receives cards worth eight or nine, no more cards are dealt. If the cards total more than 10, only the second digit is counted, so that the actual value never exceeds nine.
Although there is a banker, the dealer “shoe” rotates clockwise around the table just as in Poker and Craps. As opposed to those other games, the deal shoe does not move if the banker wins a hand.
Mini Baccarat uses the same rules and odds as regular Baccarat, but with alternative dealing methods which make the game quicker and alter the odds slightly. In Mini Baccarat, the dealer turns over all the cards and usually deals from a six-deck shoe.
As Baccarat offers players only two realistic options (betting on player’s hand or betting on banker’s hand), there is not much to remember in way of strategy. The most important thing to know when starting out is that both the player’s hand and banker’s hand payout at odds of 1:1, but the banker’s hand deducts a 5% commission.
In addition to knowing what it is you’re doing, you should also know what you are spending. Make sure to set a maximum bankroll for yourself and take care not to exceed it. Baccarat gives you a good chance of winning and a slightly larger chance of losing (thanks to the House advantage), but all is fine if you know what you can afford to spend.
If you’re looking for a version of Baccarat that allows for more maths and advanced strategies, then it is worth checking out the older European versions of the game – Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque. This game can usually be found at land-based casinos in Europe, but is also available at a small number of online casinos.
- As with any other card or table game, the best way to work on your game is to take advantage of the free-play versions hosted by online casinos.
- Don’t bet on Tie, unless you enjoy taking big risks and have money to spend. This bet pays out much higher odds than the player or banker hands (8:1), but the chances are you won’t win.
- Mini Baccarat is the most common form of baccarat offered by online casinos, but if you really enjoy the game then you might find some value in the French version of chemin de fer. Having said that, Baccarat became popular for its simplicity, so if you’re looking for advanced strategy you might just want to try another game like poker or blackjack.
- Some online casinos offer better deals for baccarat players than others. House advantage will stay the same no matter what the operator, but if you find an online casino with specific baccarat promotions then at least you’ll be able to maximize your deposits.
- Keep track of what you spend. There are really only two realistic options in a game of Baccarat, so as long as you recognize this fact you’re sure to have fun and possibly come away with some cash. The best way to ensure you succeed is to set your own spending limit and stick to it.