How to Play Baccarat - Learn and Play in Less Than 5 Minutes

Let’s learn how to play Baccarat, from the basics to how dealing and betting works, along with the winning and losing conditions. The most easy-to-digest comprehensive guide in the world.

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The Basics: The Setup of Baccarat

Baccarat is a popular table game played using cards and chips. You can play it at a brick-and-mortar casino, or from the comfort of your couch. Play online on the mechanical version, or in a live casino.

What is Baccarat?

Baccarat is one of those classic table games that comes to mind when thinking of old-world casinos like Monte Carlo and Venice.

Like Blackjack, and unlike Texas Hold’em, it’s a Player vs. Dealer game, meaning, you’re taking on the house rather than “going to war” against other players.  

While being an old-school game, it has recently grown in popularity. Probably due to its speed, simplicity, and odds of winning.

We can’t talk about Baccarat without mentioning it is James Bond’s favourite casino game. But that’s the first and last time we’ll mention 007 here!

How to Play Baccarat the Card Game

To play Baccarat, choose a table that suits your betting limits.

You’ll then decide where to place your bet. The two participants in the game are the Player and the Banker. You aren’t the player in the game, and the dealer isn’t the Banker, they are just two arbitrary titles. You bet on who you believe will win, or alternatively you can bet on a Tie.

After the bets have been placed, the dealer will deal two cards to each the Banker and Player boxes.

The dealer has a set of rules that they must follow in terms of when to add further cards and when to stop. It’s not really important to understand these rules.

But the basics are that every time either the Player’s or Banker’s score gets to 10 points, it resets to zero.

Picture cards all have a value or 10, while the remaining cards score the points represented by their face value.

The box totalling the closest to nine is the winner of the hand.  

What is Needed to Play Baccarat?

You’d need a dealer, a baccarat table, cards and chips. Luckily, you can go online to play the game, without anything but your smartphone. Unlike Poker, Baccarat isn’t really the sort of game you want to set up live at your dining room table. 

No matter what medium you play baccarat on, virtual or physical, the table looks pretty much the same. In the centre, you’ll find two sections: “Banker” and “Player”.  A part of the table is designated for the Baccarat dealer, known as the Caller. 

In front of each player’s spot, there is a box where you can place your bets. This is split into several sections: Bank, Player, and Tie. On the Banker side there is a large C, representing the commission. More on that later. 

How Many Players Can Play Baccarat?

Generally, physical casinos will accept between seven and 14 players, while online Baccarat tables will accept up to 24. Because cards aren’t dealt individually to players at the table, the number of participants at a table is only really limited to the physical size of the table. 

All seats are numbered, to help you keep track of your bets. 

How to Bet and Play Baccarat Online

Baccarat is all about betting. Since you don’t receive your own cards in hand like you would in Blackjack or Caribbean Stud, the only choices a player has in this game are their bets. 

In a normal, simple setting, you will have an opportunity to make a bet on who you believe will win. You essentially have three betting options: player, banker, or tie.

The three outcomes you can place a bet on are Player, Banker, or Tie. The simplicity in betting choice is why this game is a classic that is still so widely popular.

How to Make Side Bets

Side bets are a way for players to make more complex bets while playing the simple base game of Baccarat. It’s a way to delve deeper into the game, giving you the chance of winning a much bigger payout. 

Not all these options are available in every version of Baccarat, but we just wanted to arm you with all the information. Here are all the ways to make side bets:

Sidebet NameConditions
Total Points Odd/EvenWith this side bet, you’ll choose if the final sum of points of either the Banker or the Player is odd or even. 
First two Banker/Player Cards Same SuitThis one depends on if the first two cards dealt to either the Player or the Banker cards is the same suit.  
Lucky 8You’ll win this side bet if a Player’s or Banker’s cards containing 8 points will win.
Perfect PairInspired by Blackjack, to win this side bet, either the Banker or the Player must have an identical pair, both in rank and suit.
Dragon BonusThis one pays out when your winning base bet is a natural winner, or if it wins by a large margin. Win a non-natural win by nine points for the largest pay out.
Either PairThis bet will be won if either the Banker’s or the Player’s first two cards are a pair.
Unlucky 8On the converse side of the Lucky 8, is the Unlucky 8. With this bet, a Player or a Dealer’s hand adding up to eight will lose.
Double 8Place your side bet on this one and you will win if both the Banker and Player have eight points.

Other less popular side bets include: Lucky Bonus, All Red/Black, Suited 3-card 8, Double-Suited Card 8, Dragon 7, Matching Dragon, Rabbit Play.

As an extra note, when placing many of these bets, the winning side bet must be placed on the same side as the base bet.

How do you play Baccarat and win?

One of the best things about Baccarat is that once you have placed your initial bets, there is very little for you to do. How to play and win at Baccarat at this point is just about waiting for the outcome and making peace with your bets.

Outcomes can vary from a natural win, a non-natural win or a tie. Other outcomes were discussed in the side bets above.

A natural win is when either the Player or the Dealer is dealt two cards that result in a score of eight or nine.

The winner is decided by which is closer to a nine, between the Player and the Banker. A tie results from the Player and Banker receiving the same score.

If you win a bet on the Banker, you’ll need to pay the dealer 5% of your winnings. No commission is placed on Player wins. 

Main BetsWinning payout
Player1:1
Banker1:1 -5% commission
Tie8:1
Side BetsConditional
Total Points Odd0.92:1
Total Points Even0.91:1
Total Points Under 9.51.23:1
First two Banker Cards Same Suit2.87:1
First two Players Cards Same Suit2.86:1
Lucky 84:1
Either Pair5:1
Unlucky 88:1
Double 815:1
Lucky Bonus18:1
All Red22:1
All Black24:1
Panda 825:1
Suited 3-card 825:1
Perfect Pair25:1
Dragon Bonus30:1
Dragon 740:1
Total Points Over 9.566:1
Matching DragonVaries between 1:1 and 100:1 depending on the matches
Double suited 3-card 8200:1
Rabbit PlayVaries between 7:1 and 500:1

Strategies to Win

At the end of the day, there is no sure-fire way to always win any casino game, and that obviously includes Baccarat. How you play is, luckily, helped by a pretty low house edge. 

The best strategy we recommend is to stick to placing your bets on the Player, and perhaps one other side bet, if you have a good feeling for it. 

Remember that each side bet in Baccarat has a different house edge, so placing this sort of bet might not be a good idea in the long run.

How to Play Baccarat in a Casino

Usually when you play casino games online, all etiquette goes out the window. You can play in your underwear, chew with your mouth full or drink water out of your pooch’s water bowl, no one will be any the wiser.

But once you make your way to an IRL casino, there are certain rules of conduct that apply. For example, once your bets have been placed, leave your chips alone. And definitely don’t go fiddling with another player’s chips.

Others include not putting money directly into the Dealer’s hands when exchanging it for chips or handling drinks too close to the table. You won’t be too popular if you spill one mid-hand and play is suspended for half an hour while the table is replaced. 

Varieties of the Baccarat Game and How to Play Them

Different providers have all sorts of different options when it comes to how to play Baccarat at home, especially in terms of side bets. But in more general terms, there are only three variations of this classic casino game.

Punto Banco

This is the most commonly played version of the game. In this version, the base bet can be placed on the Player, the Banker or a Tie.   

Baccarat Chemin de Fer

This social version uses six decks of cards. Most players at the table are automatically designated as Players and must bet on the Player box. Players take turns to play on behalf of the Banker and must therefore bet on the Banker.

Baccarat Banque (à deux tableaux)

This time only three decks are used. Again, the player must bet on the Player box. The role of the Banker is rewarded to the player who is willing to bet the largest amount.