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Baccarat: What is It?

Baccarat is one of the oldest cards games still played today, with some claims that the game has roots back to 15th century Italy. In these early versions, players would bet hands against each other with the player with the highest score winning. Modern twists emerged, most notably Punto Banco, in South America and eventually spread to North America. Punto Banco has become the most common online version and In United States casinos and websites this version is so common it has become synonymous with baccarat overall. Still, it’s not hard to find other options that better follow the older European rules.

How to Play Baccarat Online

In Punto Banco, now far and away the most common version in the Americas, players place their bets on one of two hands, each with two cards. One is designated “banker” and one “player”, though neither is tied to its namesake. Someone playing baccarat can place their wager on the “player” hand, the “banker” hand or on a “tie” between the two.

Unlike blackjack, where a player is betting on themselves against a dealer for the best possible outcome closest to or equal to 21, a bet on the “player” or the “banker” spot is just a wager on which of the two will be closer to or equal to nine. A player can also wager on the “tie” spot, but this has lower chances of winning as it only pays out if hands for both the player and dealer are equal.

Assuming they don’t bet on the tie, the wagering player seeks to bet on the hand with the highest score, with nine being the best. If a hand adds up to more than 10, then the score is the right-hand digit of the sum of the numbers. For example, a hand of an eight and a five results in a value of three. Face cards are worth zero value. Suit doesn’t impact the outcome.

If the player hand or banker hand equals eight or nine, the game is over and bets are distributed. If the “player” hand equals zero through five, that hand is given an additional card. That hand is not given an additional card if it equals six or seven. In a scenario where neither hand initially equals eight or nine, the rules get more complicated for the banker hand. In this situation:

  • If the banker’s hands are valued at two or less, it draws another card, regardless of what the player hand has.
  • If the banker’s hand is worth three, the banker hand draws another card unless the player hand received an eight on its third card.
  • If the banker’s hand is worth four, the banker hand draws another card if the player hand’s third card is between two and seven.
  • If the banker’s hand is worth five, the banker hand draws another card if the player hand’s third card is between four and seven.
  • If the banker’s hand is worth six, the banker hand draws another card if the player hand’s third card is a six or seven.
  • The banker hand will not draw a third card if its valued at seven.

How to Find the Best Online Baccarat Casino Sites

The most important key to find a top online casino in New Jersey is to check out the site’s game variety and pay limits for baccarat tables and for other casino games overall. A good rule of thumb is that the more offerings, the better and more trustworthy the game is. Players should also check out the pay-out percentage, which reflects a casino’s edge. Online casinos are required to disclose this, and it gives players an idea what odds to expect for a possible win. One final key is to read a review like this one from an industry leader to find a more specific lineup of the top-rated games and leading casino sites.

"Follow the Shoe”- Basic Baccarat Strategy

There are not that many strategy options on baccarat, but baccarat strategy can be summed up with one classic saying: “follow the shoe.” The essential idea is to take advantage of a string of wins by placing a bet on the result of the previous hand. This strategy assumes wins come in groups and are not a series of alternates from player to dealer. In practice, that means if a player had a win in the last game, place your next bet on them. Then if the dealer wins, place your next bet on them.

Baccarat History

Baccarat traces its roots to the late 15th century Europe. There the game grew in popularity, particularly in France and Italy. In France, the game was known as Chemin de Fer, which is a version of baccarat still played today. Another version of the game emerged around the same time. Known as Baccarat Banque, this version is still played around the world but is especially revered in Europe.

The game spread to the Americas in the 19th and 20th centuries, evolving into the Punto Banco game still played at western hemisphere casinos and websites to this day. By the 1950’s the game had expanded to Las Vegas, the top gaming destination in the United States, and has been part of the gambling landscape ever since. After centuries of development, now most casinos, and top online gaming sites, offer players a chance to enjoy all three versions.