croupier displaying a baccarat board

Casinos worldwide feature the game of baccarat as one of their instant and/or downloadable casino games but many gamers, especially new players, shy away from baccarat because, at first glance, its betting tables and technicalities can seem intimidating. Today however, players can easily access guides that take them through baccarat gameplay step-by-step to enable them to enjoy a rewarding gaming event.

Our Comprehensive Strategy Guide for Mastering Baccarat allows players of all levels to improve their chances of success at the baccarat table with an overview of basic gameplay and insights into the intricacies of baccarat strategy. Check out the guide to gain the knowledge that you’ll need to play confidently and strategically.

Baccarat History

The origins of the game of baccarat are unclear but most historians believe that an Italian, Felix Felix Falguiere or Falguierein, created the game in the 1400s. The game was originally called “baccara,” which is Italian for “zero,” because all the face cards and ten cards were worth zero. The French spelling “baccarat” came shortly afterward when the game migrated to France where it was a favorite of the French nobility and royalty.

According to legend,  Falguiere created baccara based on an old Etruscan legend that told of a virgin whose fate was to be decided by the toss of a nine-sided die. If  the toss resulted in an 8 or a 9, she would be elevated to a position as a priestess.

  • If her throw came up a 6 or 7, she could live but would have to remain outside the community.
  • If  the throw resulted in a number lower than 6, she would be banished to the sea to drown.

The original game of baccarat involved cards being dealt by four separate dealers. Each player would play the part of the banker, in turn. Bets could be placed against other players, against the banker or against the house.

By the late 1400s the game was a favorite of the French court where it was called Chemin de Fer ("Chemmy"). King Charles VIII and his noblemen played it incessantly. Baccarat soon crossed the English Channel where it was introduced to the English Royal House.

One of England’s most famous native sons, writer Ian Fleming, learned to play baccarat and wove the game into his narratives of secret agent James Bond. When baccarat migrated to the Western Hemisphere, it became known as “Punto Banco.” Here, bets could only be placed against the house, a change that is not accepted in most land-based and online casinos worldwide.

Fundamentals of Baccarat Play

Before you start learning about advanced strategies, you should familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of baccarat gameplay.  Most casinos offer the Punto Banco variation of the game where the player plays against the bank.

The game involves two hands – the Player and the Banker. Your goal is to bet on the hand that will have a total closest to nine, or on a tie (riskier bet). The hand starts with 2 cards with an option for a 3rd card to be dealt. The 10, Jack, Queen, and King, each have zero value  and the Ace has a value of one point.

After the card deal, the values are calculated. If the sum goes over 9, the value returns to 0. So, for instance, two cards, one of 6 and the other of 7 will have a value of 3, not 13. Another example, three cards with values of 9, 6 and 9 will have a value of 4 instead of 24.

Some casinos, mostly those in Europe and Latin America, offer the Chemin de Fer variation of baccarat which can be played with up to 12 players. Players bet one at a time against each other instead of against the house.

Baccarat Banque (also called Baccarat Banque is also called Baccarat à Deux) is similar to Chemin de Fer baccarat but in this version, the casino always holds the bank. Baccarat Banque is almost never featured at either online or brick-and-mortar casinos but some people play it privately.

Key Strategies

Baccarat is basically a game of luck -- whatever numbers the cards show, both for you and for the banker, those are the numbers that you have to work with. The Return-to-Player rate is 98.94% which means that, relatively speaking, you have good odds of winning. Your odds can improve if you follow the following pieces of advice:

  1. Manage your money effectively. Money management is a fundamental aspect of a baccarat gaming strategy. Establish your budget for your gaming session and stick to it. Never chase losses with strategies that suggest that you “double bets on losses” or other such techniques – those are basically all strategies for chasing losses and they never work. Also, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.
  2. Focus on betting on the banker because statistically, the Banker hand has a slightly higher probability of as compared to the Player hand.
  3. Avoid Tie Bet which are statistically riskier than Banker or Player bets. Tie Bets carry the highest house edge in baccarat since the likelihood of a tie occurring is low. In the long run it’s the riskiest proposition.
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