Last Update: Oct. 30, 2013
Baccarat, also known as punto banco, is one of the oldest and most popular games in casinos all over the world. It is especially popular among high-rollers and Asian gamblers. In Macau , baccarat is extremely dominant. Although the game seems serious and elegant, it is really as simple as betting on the flip of a coin.
There are three types of baccarat tables:
Big Table Baccarat is played in a snooty roped off area to separate itself from the other games. The players are usually very well dressed and the table minimums are often high. The regular baccarat table is about the size of a craps table with 3 casino dealers and up to 12 or 14 players. Each player, including the player dealing, may still bet on either the player or the banker but it is customary for the dealer to bet on the banker.
The deal will rotate around the table, much like the dice rotate around the craps table. If a player does not want to deal they may pass the shoe to the next player. The same person will keep dealing as long as the banker keeps winning. The person dealing will put two cards, face down, tucked under the shoe, and give the player with the greatest bet on the player the other two cards, face down. This player then looks at the cards and then gives them back to the player who is dealing. Then the player who is dealing will turn over the cards and one of the casino dealers will announce the totals. Depending on the totals, the dealer may then instruct the person dealing the cards to deal a third card. Finally the dealers will pay winning wagers and collect losing ones out of the dealer's tray. The player who actually deals is not assuming any financial responsibility of the other players bets, unlike pai gow, and is just turning over cards.
Mini baccarat has the same rules are big table baccarat. However, unlike the game at the big table, the dealer turns over all the cards, making for a much faster game. The odds are exactly the same as those of the big table, assuming the same number of decks. Mini baccarat is sometimes dealt from a six-deck shoe, changing the odds slightly. It can usually be found in the main casino areas.
Midi baccarat is the same as mini baccarat, except the size of the table is larger, and it is usually found in the high-limit rooms, as opposed to the main casino floor.
The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the banker, player, and tie bets for an 8-deck game. As the lower right cells in each table show, the house edge is 1.06% on the banker bet, 1.24% on the player bet, and 14.36% on the tie.
The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the banker, player, and tie bets for a 6-deck game. As the lower right cells in each table show, the house edge is 1.06% on the banker bet, 1.24% on the player bet, and 14.44% on the tie.
The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the banker, player, and tie bets for a single deck game. As the lower right cells in each table show, the house edge is 1.01% on the banker bet, 1.29% on the player bet, and 15.75% on the tie.
Liberal Banker Rules
Sign seen at the D casino.
A less than 5% commission on winning banker bets has been known to happen. Currently, the only land casino I know to offer reduced-commission baccarat, at 4%, is the D in downtown Las Vegas. For a short time in 1989 the Sahara offered 0% commission. The Betfair Internet casino offers a 2.75% commision in their "Zero Lounge." The following table shows the expected value on the banker bet according to the number of decks and commission.
Liberal Player Rules
The "bonus casino" at the 5 Dimes Internet sports book pays 1.01 to 1 on the Player bet. Assuming eight decks, the house edge on that bet is 1.04%.
Liberal Tie Rules
The tie has been known to pay 9 to 1 at some casinos. For examle Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas used to, and the Bovada online casino pays 9 to 1. Here is the house edge on the tie bet if it pays 9 to 1.
The "bonus casino" at the 5 Dimes Internet sports book pays 9.4 to 1 on the Tie bet. Assuming eight decks, the house edge on that bet is 0.79%.
Some casinos in London offer Egalite bets on specific ties, by the total of the tie. For example, a 5-5 tie pays 110 to 1. The following table shows the probability and return for each bet, based on eight decks.
Here are some Egalite bet groupings they have at some casinos in the U.K.
Every baccarat table will have plenty of score cards and pencils for the players to keep track of the outcome of every hand. Most players will do so religiously and carefully analyze their card for trends as the winning hand switches back and forth from the banker to the player. This is a big waste of time! The smart player will bet on the banker every time and leave the score cards alone.
Now you can enter any distribution of cards and my baccarat calculator will give you the odds for the Player, Banker, and Tie bets, broken down by all possible Player and Banker totals.
Practice your game for free with my baccarat game. It features a full history display and exact odds for the next hand.
Practice Mini-Baccarat for Free
Try my mini-baccarat Java applet. This will allow you to get familiar with the rules and how the game is played.
Before you go and waste your money with a betting system in the casinos, test it out on my 250,000 simulated eight-deck shoes. They were created using a Mersenne Twister random number generator and a Fisher Yates shuffle .
Each file has 25,000 shoes and is 4.06 MB in size. Each line in each file is an individual shoe, starting with the shoe number, and followed by the outcome of each hand (P/B/T). The files are comma delimited for easy loading into Excel.
If you need to see every card, I also have these two files.
Reason #2 why the Wizard likes Bovada:
No-hassle practice games
Most online casinos spend more effort trying to separate you from your money than they do trying to give you a good experience. They have all kinds of popup windows, they usually make you download their software, and if they do offer play-in-browser games then you have to register an account before you can play. And if you register they start sending you emails trying to get you to deposit real money.
But Bovada is different. They have no popup windows at all, and their practice games play right in your browser, with no download, and no registration required. You don’t even have to give up your email address. It couldn’t be simpler: just one click and you’re playing the game.
I wish all online casinos showed this much respect for their players. Other casinos practically ask for your first born child to play for free. Meanwhile Bovada is patient and does not twist anybody’s arm to play for real money. You can play as long as you like for free with no obligation. The real-money games are available if that’s your preference, but if not, you can play the free practice games for as long as you like without hassle.