Alongside blackjack and poker, baccarat is one of the most played card games in both land-based and online casinos. The game is very simple to learn, although you actually don’t even need to know the rules of baccarat in order to play. All the player needs to do is place bets, and the dealer will do everything else.
All casino games can be categorized in two ways – games that require skill to be played and luck-based games. Baccarat is the latter, although some baccarat experts would beg to differ.
In this article, we will try to answer the question of whether baccarat is entirely based on luck or it does require some skill in the long run. But first, the rules.
The Basic Rules of Baccarat
Baccarat can be played with up to eight decks of cards, although some versions only use a single deck. Baccarat table can consist of up to 14 players, but mini-baccarat tables which are more common usually have six or eight spots. Nevertheless, the game of baccarat can be played by a single player as well.
Players in the basic version of baccarat have three betting options. They can take the player bet, the banker bet, or the tie bet. The object of the game is to guess which of the two hands gets closest to the value of nine.
Cards 2 through 9 have their face value, while the Ace is worth one point. All other cards are worth zero points.
At the beginning of the round, the dealer will place four cards face-up – two on the player’s side and two on the banker’s side. The hand which has the closest value to nine wins, but there can also be a tie. In some cases, the third card can be drawn, and there are specific third card rules that determine when this happens.
The value of a hand is counted by adding the values of the two cards together. In a case where the total value is more than 9, the first digit gets dropped. For example, a hand consisting of a 6 and a 5 will total 11, but since the first digit always gets erased, the result will be 1.
Player bet is awarded 1 to 1. Banker bets are awarded 1 to 1 as well, but the casino takes a 5% commission for these. Tie bets are usually paid 9 to 1. When the tie is drawn, players who placed other bets don’t win, but they don’t lose either, and those bets are considered a push.
Luck vs Skill in Baccarat
Players in baccarat don’t have to do anything but bet. They don’t even touch the cards as the dealer is the one who puts them in their designated spots. Players don’t even need to know the rules and are only required to be familiar with where to put their chips and so they can win a hand if they’re lucky. In that sense, it’s easy to assume that baccarat is a game that relies solely on luck, which is true, to a degree.
However, over the years, people have come up with different techniques on how to play baccarat more effectively and lower your risks to a minimum. One such technique is called card counting, which is usually associated with blackjack, but it can work in baccarat as well.
Shortly put, players in baccarat are advised to bet on the banker’s hand, but only at the beginning of the game when the new decks are used and only to a certain point. Expert players count cards by a system and add the numbers together until the new decks are in play. This works best for baccarat games that are played with six decks or more. You start counting at zero and add or subtract each card that has its own value in this system that can be -2, -1, 0, +1, or +2. The total count later gets divided by the number of decks which are left in the shoe.
Remember, you should bet on the banker’s hand, but if the total count exceeds 15, you should switch to betting on the player’s hand.
Here is a great baccarat card counting sheet by Play Casino Online that you should study.
Tie bets are not included in this system because tie bets are usually bad for the player. While they do carry to the best payout (9 to 1), the house edge is over 14%, so they’re almost never profitable in the long run.
Remember that this card counting technique does not guarantee that you will always win in the game of baccarat. The house edge will still exist, but it will be significantly lower than if you would make blind guesses.
Why You Should Play Baccarat Online
Whether you use the card counting system or just make your guesses randomly, baccarat is an entertaining casino game that can win you a lot of money. While it doesn’t require a lot of skill like Texas Hold’em Poker, for example, neither do games like roulette or video slots, yet we play those because they are really fun.
Baccarat can be found in many online casinos all over the web. The game is almost always included in the game library of an online operator. Apart from the standard version, which is also referred to as Punto Banco, you also may find other variations of baccarat played online, like the EZ Baccarat, Chemin de Fer, and Baccarat Banque.