How to Play Baccarat

If you have never learned how to play baccarat, then now is the time. If you didn't know any better, you might see the card game played and think it some variation of blackjack, but in fact, it has its own storied history. For hundreds of years, baccarat has been played and traveled to all corners of the globe. Along the way, three distinct baccarat variations have been born, and while they are similar in how they are played, some important distinctions should also be made.

Among the differences, let's think of the similarities. Two cards are dealt, one at a time to the Player and then the Banker. The total of the cards is counted by taking the total and then dropping the "tens" digit. All cards are worth the face value and Jack, Queen and King are worth 10 points and the Ace is 11 points. If you have an 8+4 on your first two cards, then your total is 2 (12 drop the 1). The worst hand is a 0, also called baccarat, and the best hand is a 9.

If the Player or the Banker draws an 8 or 9 total on their first two cards, it is called a "natural" and the winner is declared. If there is no natural on the first two cards, then the play continues based on a prescribed tableau. The Player's Rule states that if their first two cards total 6 or 7, the Player stands pat. A total of 0 to 5, the Player draws a third card to try and beat the Banker.

The Banker's Rule is the set of prescribed rules that the Banker must obey when deciding if they will draw a third card. If the Player does not draw a card, then the Banker follows the same tableau set up for the Player's Rule. However, if the Player did take a third card, then the Banker must act on a more complex set of rules.

If the Player's third card is a 9, 10, face-card or Ace, the Banker draws when he has a 0 - 3, but stays with a 4 - 7.

If the Player's third card is an 8, the Banker draws when he has a 0 - 2, but stays with a 3 - 7.

If the Player's third card is a 6 or 7, the Banker draws when he has a 0 - 6, but stays with a 7.

If the Player's third card is a 4 or 5, the Banker draws when he has a 0 - 5, but stays with a 6 - 7.

If the Player's third card is a 2 or 3, the Banker draws when he has a 0 - 4, but stays with a 5 - 7.

As mentioned, there are several variations of baccarat: Chemin de Fer, Baccarat Banque and Punto Banco (commonly referred to as North American baccarat). While there are several differences that are important to note, the first big one is to define the roles of the Player and the Banker.

Chemin de Fer has been the favorite in France since it was first introduced there hundreds of years ago. In this version, the role of the Banker rotates around the table to every person in the game. The role of the Banker includes that this person will actually bank the game. This means that the Banker will wager the amount of money they are willing to risk and the Players may wager up to that same amount against the Banker. The Banker retains his responsibilities until losing the hand and then the duty of the Banker rotates around the table counterclockwise.

Baccarat Banque is often called "A Deux Tableau" and requires the Banker make more of a long-term commitment. The player with the most to bank may be made the Banker first, or the casino may have rules for determining Banker's order. In Baccarat Banque, the Banker will remain in their role until they have sat through an entire deal of the deck (which ranges from 2 to 4 decks) or have spent their bankroll.

Punto Banco, or North American Baccarat, is a decidedly different experience since the roles of Player and Banker become more ceremonial. In Punto Banco, the casino always banks the game. All players at the table may choose to bet on either the Player or the Banker's cards.

These small differences of the Banker's role dramatically change the odds of the game and make it so vital to know your options at the casino.