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Last Updated: February 23, 2017

Baccarat

Introduction

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.

Format

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.

Rules



Following are the rules of baccarat. The terminology can be a little confusing. To try to minimize this, when referring to a particular bet or hand, I will use capital letters. In particular Player and Banker refer to bets as well as particular sets of two or three cards each.

  1. Usually eight decks of cards are used.
  2. Cards are given point values as follows: Ace = 1, 2-9 = pip value, 10 and face cards = 0.
  3. Play begins by all players betting either on the Player or Banker. There is also a side bet on a Tie. At some tables there are also side bets on a Player Pair and/or Banker Pair. There are lots of other newer side bets, which I go into in my baccarat appendix 5.
  4. After all bets are down, the dealer gives two cards each to the Player and Banker hands.
  5. The maximum number of points in both the Player and Banker hands is 9. The way to arrive at the points per hand is to take the total points of each individual card in the hand. If the sum is more than 9, then drop the first digit. For example, if either hand had a 9 and 7, then you would drop the 1 from the total of 16, for a 6-point hand.
  6. A third card may or may not be dealt to either the Player or Banker hands, depending on the following rules.
  7. If either the Player or Banker have 8 or 9 points, it is referred to as a "natural." If there is at least one natural, then both hands will stand.
  8. Otherwise, if the Player's total is 5 or less, then the Player hand will draw one more card, otherwise, with 6 or 7 points, the Player hand stands.
  9. If the Player hand stands with 6 or 7 points, then the Banker hand will draw a third card on a total of 5 or less. Otherwise, with 6 or 7 points, the Banker will stand.
  10. If the Player does draw a third card, then use the Banker will use his positional advantage to decide whether to take a third card according to his total and the third card drawn to the Player, according to the following table.

    Banker Drawing Rules

    Banker's
    Score
    Player's Third Card
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    7 S S S S S S S S S S
    6 S S S S S S D D S S
    5 S S S S D D D D S S
    4 S S D D D D D D S S
    3 D D D D D D D D S D
    2 D D D D D D D D D D
    1 D D D D D D D D D D
    0 D D D D D D D D D D
    D = Draw third card
    S = Stand on two cards
  11. The score of the Player and Banker hands are compared; the winner is the one that is greater. In an event of a tie, the Player and Banker bets push.
  12. The Tie bet wins if the Player and Banker hands tie. All other outcomes lose.
  13. The Player Pair bet wins if the first two cards in the Player hand are of the same rank. All other outcomes lose.
  14. The Banker Pair bet wins if the first two cards in the Banker hand are of the same rank. All other outcomes lose.
  15. Following is how to pay each bet:

    • Player: Wins pay even money.
    • Banker: Wins pay 19 to 20, which is equivalent to even money less a 5% commission.
    • Tie: Almost all casinos pay 8 to 1 on a tie, which is often expressed as the equivalent to 9 for 1.
    • Player Pair and Banker pairs: Wins pay 10 to 1.



The reason the Banker gets paid less than the Player is the Banker enjoys a positional advantage, with more information available to make the decision on drawing a third card.

Following are some rules on dealing procedures. The beginner can skip this part.

  • At the start of a new shoe, the dealer will turn over one card. This will determine how many cards the dealer will burn, according to the baccarat value, except a 10 or face card will result in 10 cards burned.
  • The cut card will be placed 16 cards from the bottom of the shoe. When the cut card appears, the dealer will finish that hand, play one more hand, and then start a new shoe. If the cut card comes out instead of the first card, the dealer will finish that hand, and then start a new shoe.
  • To speed up the game, the dealer will keep track of commissions owed on winning Banker bets using small laminated markers. He will collect all commissions owed at the end of the shoe.


Eight-Deck Analysis



The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the Player, Banker, 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.

Banker Bet — 8 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins 0.95 2,292,252,566,437,888 0.458597 0.435668
Player wins -1 2,230,518,282,592,256 0.446247 -0.446247
Tie 0 475,627,426,473,216 0.095156 0
Total 4,998,398,275,503,360 1 -0.010579

Player Bet — 8 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins -1 2,292,252,566,437,888 0.458597 -0.458597
Player wins 1 2,230,518,282,592,256 0.446247 0.446247
Tie 0 475,627,426,473,216 0.095156 0
Total 4,998,398,275,503,360 1 -0.012351

Tie Bet — 8 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins -1 2,292,252,566,437,888 0.458597 -0.458597
Player wins -1 2,230,518,282,592,256 0.446247 -0.446247
Tie 8 475,627,426,473,216 0.095156 0.761248
Total 4,998,398,275,503,360 1 -0.143596

Pair Bets — 8 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Pair 11 6448 0.074699 0.821687
No pair -1 79872 0.925301 -0.925301
Total 86320 1 -0.103614

Six-Deck Analysis



The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the Player, Banker, 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.

Banker Bet — 6 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins 0.95 403095751234560 0.458653 0.43572
Player wins -1 392220492728832 0.446279 -0.446279
Tie 0 83552962932288 0.095069 0
Total 878869206895680 1 -0.010558

Player Bet — 6 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins -1 403095751234560 0.458653 -0.458653
Player wins 1 392220492728832 0.446279 0.446279
Tie 0 83552962932288 0.095069 0
Total 878869206895680 1 -0.012374

Tie Bet — 6 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins -1 403095751234560 0.458653 -0.458653
Player wins -1 392220492728832 0.446279 -0.446279
Tie 8 83552962932288 0.095069 0.76055
Total 878869206895680 1 -0.144382

Pair Bets — 6 Decks

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Pair 11 3588 0.073955 0.813505
No pair -1 44928 0.926045 -0.926045
Total 48516 1 -0.11254

One-Deck Analysis



The following return tables show the possible outcomes of the Player, Banker, 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.

Banker Bet — 1 Deck

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins 0.95 6737232640 0.459624 0.436643
Player wins -1 6548674432 0.44676 -0.44676
Tie 0 1372227328 0.093615 0
Total 14658134400 1 -0.010117

Player Bet — 1 Deck

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins -1 6737232640 0.459624 -0.459624
Player wins 1 6548674432 0.44676 0.44676
Tie 0 1372227328 0.093615 0
Total 14658134400 1 -0.012864

Tie Bet — 1 Deck

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Banker wins -1 6737232640 0.459624 -0.459624
Player wins -1 6548674432 0.44676 -0.44676
Tie 8 1372227328 0.093615 0.748923
Total 14658134400 1 -0.157461

Pair Bets — 1 Deck

Event Pays Combinations Probability Return
Pair 11 78 0.058824 0.647059
No pair -1 1248 0.941176 -0.941176
Total 1326 1 -0.294118

Liberal Banker Rules


Sign formerly seen at the D casino.

A less than 5% commission on winning banker Bets has been known to happen. As the image above shows, the D casino used to have a 4% commission Banker bet, but no longer do. 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.

Reduced Commission Baccarat

Commission 1 Deck 6 Decks 8 Decks
5.00% -1.012% -1.056% -1.058%
4.00% -0.552% -0.597% -0.599%
3.00% -0.092% -0.139% -0.141%
2.75% 0.022% -0.024% -0.026%
0.00% 1.286% 1.237% 1.235%

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 example, Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas used to, and the online casino pays 9 to 1. Here is the house edge on the tie bet if it pays 9 to 1.

  • 8 decks: 4.844%
  • 6 decks: 4.931%
  • 1 deck: 6.385%

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%.

Liberal Pair Rules



I have an unconfirmed report that the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls pays 12 to 1 on either a Player pair or Banker pair. Based on an eight deck game, that would reduce the house edge to 2.89%. In a six-deck game the house edge would be 3.86%.

Egalite Bets



Egalities are side bets on specific ties in baccarat. These bets are often seen England and seldom elsewhere. Information about them has been moved off to my page on Egalite bets.

Riding Trends



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.

Calculator



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 Game



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.

Simulations

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.

Written by: Michael Shackleford