How to Play

There’s an old saying about games like golf and poker that goes, “It takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.”  Baccarat is nothing like that.  The game of Baccarat takes minutes to learn and master.  It’s one of the easiest games in the entire casino.
In Baccarat, you only have three choices: Banker, Player and Tie.  You place your bet on one of the three and the dealer does the rest.  Playing Baccarat is almost like black or red in roulette or odd or even. It’s virtually a 50/50 game. You put your money in and hope for the best.  But what is it that you’re hoping for?  What makes a good hand good?  What’s the best hand?  What’s the best bet?  The game is no fun if you don’t know what’s going on.  Here’s a play-by-play to help you understand how to play Baccarat.

  1. Once you sit down at the table, you’ll see three betting possibilities: Banker, Player and Tie.  All you have to do is place your bet on one of them to start the game.  Here’s what each bet means:
    1. Banker – When you bet on the Banker, you’re betting that the Banker’s hand will be better than the Player’s hand.  This is the best bet in Baccarat and would make you money if the casino didn’t charge a commission on your winnings (which they all do).  At a 5% commission, the house’s edge is 1.06% with an eight-deck shoe.
    2. Player – When you bet on the Player, you’re betting that the Player’s hand will beat the Banker’s.  There is no commission on your winnings when you bet the Player, but the house’s edge is 1.24%.
    3. Tie – Here you’re betting that the Banker and the Player will tie.  This is a horrible bet.  Most casinos offer 8-to-1 odds on Tie and get a 14.36% edge.
  2. After you bet, two cards are dealt to each Player and the Banker, then the hands are scored as follows:
    1. Ace – 1 point
    2. Face Cards – 10 points
    3. Other Cards – Face Value
  3. The first number in the score is ignored (ex. 15 is scored as 5 and 20 is scored as 0).
  4. The scores determine who gets another card.  Here are the drawing rules:
    1. If either the player or the Banker has an 8 or a 9, no one draws and the hand ends.
    2. If no one has an 8 or a nine, the following rules apply:
      1. The Player draws if their hand scores 5 or less.
      2. The Player stands if their hand scores 6 or 7.
    3. When the Player draws, the following rules apply to the Banker:
      1. The Banker always draws if their hand scores 2 or less.
      2. If the Banker scores a 3, they draw if the Player’s third card is anything other than an 8.
      3. If the Banker scores a 4, they draw if the Player’s third card is anything other than a 0, 1, 8 or 9.
      4. If the Banker scores a 5, they draw if the Player’s third card is a 4, 5, 6 or 7.
      5. If the Banker scores a 6, they draw if the Player’s third card is a 6 or 7.
      6. The Banker never draws if their hand is a 7.
  5. After the final draw, the hands are scored again and the side with the highest score wins.

It takes a long time to explain how Baccarat is played, but when you’re at the table, all of these steps happen in a span of ten seconds.  Remember, all you have to do is place your bet and the dealer will take it from there.