Opinions differ as to the origins of the game of Baccarat with both France and Italy wanting to lay claim to it but we will side with the majority who think that Baccarat originates in Italy mainly due to the Italian word baccarat which means zero and could have a connection with the fact that tens and picture cards count zero in the game. Baccarat is also known as Punto Banco which makes reference to the two main betting opportunities which are Punto (meaning the player and possibly the origin of our own name punter?) and Banco meaning the bank. Gambling on Baccarat has possibly been around since the middle ages and became a casino game surrounded in mystery and only played by the extremely wealthy in secluded areas of the casinos reserved for high rollers. Why that should be we do not know as the game is simplicity itself to play requiring nothing but luck to win or lose and anyway, online casinos make it possible for anyone to play at very modest stakes or very large stakes if you so wish.
Baccarat tables in land based casinos are usually quite large accommodating up to 14 players at any one time and up to three croupiers to look after it all but online casino gambling tables are much smaller often only for one player and the croupiers are replaced by electronics that make it simpler and more accurate. The game is played with multiple decks of cards, three being the most popular although there are variations and unusually you have the chance to bet on the bank winning.
Your first decision in Baccarat is to decide your stake for that particular deal and then to place your bet. There are only three possible bets in Baccarat and they are Player to win, Bank to win or a Tie; and as you are placing your bets before any cards are dealt there is not much skill involved. Although one of the bets is called the player there is in fact no player as both hands that are dealt are played by the dealer; they could just as well be called A and B. This in itself makes the game unique as it must be the only card game where both hands are played by the same person but strangely enough it makes no difference as there are strict rules for how to play all possible combinations which makes it an ideal game to play online as the online casino software can easily replicate the rules of play.
Having placed your bet, two hands are dealt consisting of two cards in each hand, one to the player and one to the bank and play proceeds according to strict rules. You do not actually need to know the rules to play Baccarat as it is all taken care of either by the online casino software or by the croupiers but it does help your enjoyment if you can follow what is going on. All cards have a points value with an ace counting as one point; 2 through 9 counting points according to their face value and a ten, jack, queen or king having zero value and the winner of the game is the hand with higher points value. So far so good but now it gets a bit complicated as it is not possible according to the game rules to have a points total of more than 9. This is achieved very simply by deducting ten points every time that the hand achieves over 9 points. In other words a hand containing a six and a seven for example would have a value of three (6 plus 7 =13 minus 10 =3); or a hand containing a 9 and a 5 has a value of 4 points. This is the most important bit to get your head round as further play depends on the points total of the hand and clearly the best hand has a points total of 9.
In the deal the cards are face up and if either hand contains a points total of 8 or 9 (bearing in mind the counting system outlined above) that hand wins straight away and there is no further play. A hand of 9m points will beat a hand of 8 points. Because these hands require no further play they are often called “naturals”.
If no hand is a natural the players hand will be played first as follows:- If the points total in the hand is 6 or 7 no further cards are dealt to the hand and that becomes the value of the hand that the bank has to beat, however, if the value of the players hand is 5 or less a third card will be dealt to the hand and the total points value after that becomes the value that the bank has to beat; remember however the counting system explained above. It is possible for the hand to decrease in value with the addition of a card for example if the two first cards were a 4 and a queen the value of the hand is 4 but if the third card is a nine the total becomes 13 so the value becomes 3. Next comes the play for the bankers hand and this play depends upon whether the player was dealt a third card or not. If the players hand was not dealt a third card then the banker must stand if the value of that hand is 6 or 7 and must draw a card if the value is 5 or less in the same way as the player. If the player did receive a third card it really gets complicated and now depends on what that third card was.
If the banker has a value of 2 or less he will be dealt a third card. If the bankers hand has a value of 3 a third card will be dealt unless the third card dealt to the player was an 8 in which case he will not. If the bankers hand has a value of 4 a third card will be dealt unless the players third card had a value of zero, one, eight or nine. If the bankers hand has a value of 5 a third card will not be dealt unless the third card dealt to the player was a 4, 5, 6 or 7 and if the bankers hand has a value of 6 a third card will only be dealt if the players third card was a 6 or a 7 and finally if the bankers hand has a value of 7 no further card will be dealt.
That all sounds very complicated but at the end of the day the two hands are compared and the higher hand wins.
Bets on the player or the bank pay out at even money but due to the rules the bank is more likely to win than the player (nothing new there then!) so to compensate, the house will make a 5% deduction on winning bank bets which if you are a betting person is equivalent to odds of 19:20. If the result is a tie, bets on player or banker are refunded and bets on the tie pay out at the declared odds; this can be 8:1 or 9:1 so check the table you are playing.