All Important Baccarat Facts You Should Know

Baccarat is a highly popular table card game that’s played in both offline and online casinos throughout Europe and all over the world. In fact, you can find an amazingly large number of baccarat games being played at online casinos like Bet365 and NetEnt casino at any given time. Furthermore, almost 91% of the total income earned by the Macau casinos in 2014 was due to Punto Banco, the most popular variant of the baccarat game!

You can play three different kinds of baccarat games – baccarat banque, baccarat chemin de fer or Punto Banco.
Among these, Punto Banco is the most popular throughout the world and is purely a game of chance, involving no strategy or skill at all. Every player’s move is determined by his/her respective cards.
On the other hand, in baccarat banque and baccarat chemin de fer, both the player and dealer are allowed to make some choices, bringing a certain degree of skill factor into the play. Although the odds of winning are normally in favour of the dealer or the bank, the house edge isn’t lower than 1% in any of these two baccarat variants.
At its core, baccarat can be termed as a comparing card game played between the banker and the player hands. Every game and baccarat can have three possible outcomes: a tie, banker or the player (having a higher score). The first traces of baccarat card game can be found in the 19th century France. However many have known similars kind of games like Gabo Japgi, Oicho Kabu and Macao played in the past too.

In all the baccarat variants, the dealt cards have a certain point or value.
- Tens and face cards (jacks, queens and kings) have zero value
- Aces are treated as one and
- Cards from 2 to 9 are worth their face value in terms of points.
- No jokers are used in the game.

The final points of the hands are calculated using the rightmost digit of the sum of the dealt cards. So, if you’re dealt a 3 and 4, your hand is worth 3+4 = 7 points. However, a hand consisting of 7 and 8 cards would be equal to 5 points (7+8 = 15) as we’ll take the rightmost digit of the sum total of 15. The idea is to get a sum total closest to 9.
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About Punto Banco
Almost all the major offline casinos in Macau, United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, United States, Sweden, Australia, Finland and others, as well as the popular online casinos like the NetEnt casino and Bet365 have Punto Banco as their regular baccarat game.

The casino is expected to bank the Punto Banco card games at all times. Two hands are dealt and both are played as per some fixed drawing rules referred to as tableau (the French term for ‘board’). This is in stark contrast to the baccarat games that used to be played in the past in which every player used to be dealt a hand and would then make the drawing choices.
The player and banker or the Punto and Banco are simply the designations given to the two dealt hands. The players at the table are free to back any hand of their choice. In addition, the betting players may not have any association with either the banker or the player. In fact, many countries still refer to this version of baccarat as tableau.
The Punto Banco cards are normally dealt from a shoe consisting of 8, 6 or 4 decks of cards that are shuffled well with each other. A cut card is usually placed next to the seventh last card. This cut card, employed for shuffling, is normally a yellow coloured plastic card that’s of the same size as the regular playing cards. The drawing of this card is considered an indicator of the last game of the shoe.
Every game involves dealing of two cards (to each hand) dealt face up on the table, starting from the player and then alternating between the two hands. The game is considered finished if either the banker or the player gets a hand total of 8 or 9. The croupier then announces the game result: tie, banker win or player win.
If neither hand gets a total of 8 or 9, the drawing rules become applicable to find out if the player is eligible to receive the third card or not. The banker may or may not receive the third card depending on the value of the third card drawn to the player. If the banker is eligible to receive the third card, the same is dealt and then the result of the game is announced. This announcement is followed by the payout of all the winning bets.

Drawing rules
The following drawing rules become applicable if neither the banker nor the player hands get a hand total of 8 and 9 after getting dealt the first two cards. (The event of either of them getting 8 or 9 total from the first two cards is referred to as a natural win):
Player’s drawing rules – The player stands if he/she gets an initial sum total of 6 or 7. An initial total of 0 to 5 leads to drawing of third card for the player.
Banker’s drawing rules – In case the player can’t get more than two cards and stands (i.e. if he/she gets 6 or 7), the banker refers to his/her cards and the same rules as the player’s become applicable. So, the banker stands if his/her total is 6 or 7, or gets a third card if the total is 0 to 5.

In the event that the player needs to draw a third card, the banker may/may not draw the third card depending on certain rules:
– If the banker total is 0 to 2, the banker mandatorily draws the third card, no matter what the player’s third card may be.
– If the banker total is 7, the banker stands, and no third card is dealt to the banker.
– If the banker total is 3, a third card is dealt to the banker provided that the player’s third card was not 8. The banker stands if the player’s third card was 8.
– If the banker total is 4, a third card is dealt to the banker provided that the player’s third card was not 0, 1, 8 or 9. The banker stands if the player’s third card was 0, 1, 8 or 9.
– If the banker total is 5, a third card is dealt to the banker provided that the player’s third card was not 0, 1, 2, 3, 8 or 9. The banker stands if the player’s third card was 0, 1, 2, 3, 8 or 9.
– If the banker total is 6, a third card is dealt to the banker provided that the player’s third card was not 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 or 9. The banker stands if the player’s third card was 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 or 9.

The croupier goes about dealing the cards depending upon the rules detailed above and announces the winning hand accordingly. The winning bets are paid and the losing bets are collected based on the houses rules. In most off-line and online casinos, for instance Bet365, and the likes of NetEnt casino, 1-1 or even money is paid on the player bets and 95% is paid on the banker bets (after deducting a 5% house commission).
In case both the player and the banker have the same hand values at the end of the dealings, the croupier makes the announcement of a tie or ‘egalite’ in French. All the tied bets are usually paid at 8-1 odds. If it’s a tie indeed, the tied bets are paid out and the banker and player bets remain the same for the next round of baccarat. The player may or may not be allowed to withdraw these bets depending on the specific rules followed by the casino.

Punto Banco odds and house edge
The Punto Banco variant of baccarat has some of the lowest house edges, compared to the other popular casino table games. On the other hand, it has some of the highest house edges too.
The player bets have a relatively lower house edge of around 1.24%, while the banker bets are even lower at an impressive 1.06% (after taking the 5% house commission into account).
The bets placed on ties have the highest house edge at 14.4%. Majority of UK based casinos payout the Punto Banco ties at 9-1.

It’s extremely difficult to guess which hand will win in Punto Banco. Even though mathematicians have for long suspected the game of baccarat to be vulnerable to card counting as in case of blackjack, the game is considered the best system to have been developed so far when it comes to the players’ edge (of getting one hand in every 8-deck shoe). Hence, the player would need to count hand after hand without playing until all the cards have been dealt, in order to arrive at the point of benefiting from that advantage. As a result, he/she may lose more times than gaining from the edge.

The etiquette
As in case of other popular casino table games, you must buy chips by placing your cash amount on the table layout and request the dealer for change. Please keep in mind that it’s uncourteous to hand money directly to the dealer.
If you are the player who has placed the largest bet amount on the player and are dealt the player cards, avoid looking at them until both the player and banker hands have been dealt completely. Similarly, if you’ve wagered on the banker hand, avoid looking at the banker cards until the dealer has flipped the player cards.
The players at the baccarat table are usually also handed scoring sheets to help them keep track of the results of every hand.

Final word
On the whole, the game of baccarat is both about money management and luck. It is advisable to not make the bets too large for the available bankroll, and to avoid increasing the bets when you’ve been losing consistently. The quickest way to go broke in baccarat is by making larger bets, just to recover the losses. If at all you need to increase your bets, do it while you’re winning.
So, if you’ve sat at a baccarat table with £ 100 in your hand, remind yourself constantly that you’re not going to get up with less than £ 50 in your pocket. In case you do go on a cold streak, walk away as soon as you hit the £ 50 mark. You can never survive casino play unless you’re disciplined enough and can persuade yourself to leave the table while you’ve still got some money.