Rules of Baccarat

An Introduction to Baccarat
The game of Baccarat has been around for a while, with popular belief indicating it came into France from Italy when Charles III was ruler of France between 1483 and 1498 A.D. The year associated with the introduction of the game to France is 1490. Today, there are three versions of the game – Baccarat Banque, Baccarat Chemin de Fer, and Punto Banco, with the last also popularly known as North American Baccarat. 

While North American Baccarat does not require skill and does not employ too much in terms of strategy, the other two versions require a degree of both skill and strategy. Basically, three results are possible – player, banker, and tie. 

Baccarat Understood
In the baccarat game , two cards are dealt to the "players" hand and two cards to the "bankers" hand. You are not the "player" , but rather the player hand is a one of the hands you can place a wager on. Your goal is to wager correctly on which hand will be closer to nine points, or will it be a tie.
   A hand of eight or nine points is considered a natural and automatically wins, unless there is a tie. If both hands have a natural, the hand with the highest point value wins. However, if you bet on the Banker or Player hand and both hands have naturals of equal point value, your bet is returned back to you. If neither hand has a natural, each hand is dealt a third card according to rules governing how the Player and Banker hands are dealt.

Point Values of the Cards in Baccarat:
Cards 2 through 9 = face value
10's and Face Cards = 0 points
Aces = 1 point 

Calculate Points:
Add the values of all cards together. If the value of the cards is greater than 9 points, drop the digit in the tens position. For example: 21 - digit in tens position = 1 point 

Basic Baccarat Rules – Bets in Baccarat
The game of Baccarat is simple to follow and easy to play. In the simplest of terms, this is how you play the game – the dealer deals out hands, and the better hand wins. You can bet on either hand. You win or lose depending on the fate of the hand you bet on. However, there are rules associated with the game that you should know about. These rules define how the game is played, the terms used, the values of the hands/cards, and the odds.

Most casinos have a dealer at hand, though some may allow players to deal the cards in turns. Online casinos have a virtual dealer. Unlike some of the other casino games, there are not too many complicated bet types in Baccarat. There are two main bet types in the game, and a third one that is not used often.

As a player, you can bet on either the player (also referred to as punto), or the banker (also referred to as banco). Apart from these two bets, there is also the standoff, a bet that is not used too frequently and, therefore, has a higher payoff associated with it compared to the other two bets. If you opt for the banco bet, you must be aware that there is a 5% commission to be paid to the casino. This commission is because players opting for the Banco bet have been seen to win a few hands more than players betting punto. 

Baccarat Rules – Playing the Game
Now that you know about the bets associated with Baccarat (we will discuss the payoff a little later), the next thing to learn is how to play the game. The basic objective of playing Baccarat is to predict which hand would have a higher value, and then bet on it.

To play Baccarat, a dealer employs a shoe that has either six or eight decks. The dealer deals out two hands. Your hand can have either two or three cards, two being the lower number and three the higher. Before that, we will discuss the values of the cards. 

Again, unlike some of the other card games, in Baccarat, there is no value associated with the face cards, except the ace. The ace has the value of 1. Number cards below 10 retain their face value; e.g. the 5 of hearts would have a value of 5. Also, the four suits bear no relevance in Baccarat. So what happens if your card value reaches double figures, e.g. the value of your two cards is 16? In such a situation, you would discard the left digit from your total value, which means your 16 would now be valued at just 6. So what would be the hand value for a hand that adds up to 10? The actual value would be zero, as you would need to remove the 1 at the left, as per the rules.

So who gets to play first? The player who has the highest punto wager is given the opportunity to go first. If you are that person, the dealer will first deal two cards face down under the corner of the shoe holding the decks, and then deal two cards to you. Your cards also remain face down on dealing. 

The next step is for you to see your cards and pass them back to the dealer. The dealer then turns all the cards face up and you get to know whether you won or lost, as do the other players who may have placed bets on the game. A hand becomes a ‘natural’ if its total card value is 8 or 9. In such a situation, there is not third-card deal. If you do not have a natural hand, you may receive a third card. There are rules governing the third card deal, both for the player as well as for the bank

Baccarat Rules – Player and Bank Third Card Rules
There are specific rules that govern the dealing of a third card to the player or the bank. For the player, there is no third-card deal if the value of his hand is 8 or 9. The player’s hand can ask for a third card if he has a hand whose combined value is a maximum of 5. 

The player may not get a third card, in which case the bank hand will stand on a card value of a minimum of 6 and accept a third card if its hand value is a maximum of 5. On the other hand, should the player hand receive a third card, the third-card deal rule for the bank will determine if it gets the third card or not.

The bank can ask for a third card deal if its total hand value is a maximum of 2. In such a situation, it does not matter what card the player hand holds as the third card. There are other specific rules governing the third card deal for a bank hand.

Should the total card value of the bank hand be a maximum of 3, it can ask for a third card. The only exception to this is when the player’s third card value is 8.

If the bank hand total is a maximum of 4, it can ask for a third card. The only exception to this rule is if the third card value for the player is 0, 1, 8, or 9.  

For a bank hand total of maximum 5, there can be a third card deal. The exception to this rule is that the player’s hand value should not be 4, 5, 6, or 7. 

•       For a bank hand total of maximum 6, there can be a third card deal. The exception is if the player’s third card value is 6 or 7.

There is no third card deal for the bank hand if its hand value is 7.

Baccarat Rules – The House Advantage
Baccarat is a good game to play because the house advantage is very low, at least much lower than some of the other casino card games. The house advantage varies slightly when it comes to the two major bets – the punto and the banco. However, there is a steep difference in the house advantage for the standoff bet.

For the punto bet, the house enjoys a 1.36% advantage, while for the banco bet the advantage is slightly lower at 1.17%. In the case of the standoff or tie, which is a rare occurrence, the casino enjoys a massive 14.12% advantage. However, the good news is that there is a corresponding increase in the payout, at 8:1, compared to the 1:1 payout for the other two bet types.

Now that you know the rules of Baccarat you may want to check out out Baccarat strategy guide.
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