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While baccarat has a lot of complicated rules the good news is that you don't need to know them to play. Contrary to the James Bond movies, American baccarat does not involve any decision making after your initial bet is placed. Another good thing about baccarat is that it pays well, with a casino advantage of only 1.17% if you bet on the "bank." I must confess, however, I find baccarat rather mindless and boring since it does not involve any player participation, other than making the initial bet.


Baccarat vs. Mini-Baccarat

The difference between baccarat and mini-baccarat is mostly the atmosphere, not the rules. The casinos usually have a roped off area for baccarat, complete with dealers in tuxedos and lots of chandeliers. The minimums are high and the procedure of the game is different from mini-baccarat. Personally I'm too poor to play in the baccarat room. Mini-baccarat is played at a table that is about the size of a blackjack table. The rules are the same but the dealer controls everything and it doesn't have the glamour of regular baccarat. Mini-baccarat is also faster, getting in more hands per hour.


The Rules

Baccarat is begun by placing a wager on either the Banker's or Player'shand. Two cards are dealt from a shoe to each hand. The first hand represents those betting on the Player, the second on the Banker. A third card may be dealt to either hand in accordance with the rules shown in the table below. The winning hand is the one with the point total closest to 9. Tens, cards totaling ten and picture cards count as zero. An ace is counted as one. All numbered cards 1 through 9 count at face value. If the cards total a two digit number, only the last number counts (example 4+9=13; 13 counts as 3). Bets are paid even money but a 5% commission is charged on winning Banker bets. A bet on a tie hand may be made which pays 8 to 1.

I am going to summarize the table of rules that stipulate when a third card(s) is/are dealt as follows:


  • If either the player or the banker have a total of an 8 or a 9 they both stand. This rule overrides all other rules.


  • If the player's total is less than or equal to 5 the player draws a card, otherwise the player stands.


  • If the player does not draw a third card, then the Banker's hand stands on a total of 6 or more and takes a third card on a total of 5 or less. If the player does draw a third card follow the rules below to determine if the banker draws a third card.


  • If the banker's total is less than or equal to 2 then banker draws a card, regardless of what the player's third card is.


  • If the banker's total is a 3 then banker draws another card unless the player's third card is an 8.


  • If the banker's total is a 4 then banker draws another card unless the player's third card is a 0,1,8, or 9.


  • If the banker's total is a 5 then banker draws another card if the player's third card is a 4,5,6, or 7.


  • If the banker's total is a 6 then banker draws another card if the player's third card is a 6 or 7.


  • If the banker's total is a 7 then banker stands.


If two of the above rules seem to contradict each other go with the rule listed first.

Do not confuse the term "player" with yourself or "banker" with the casino. They may as well be labeled "a" and "b". It is important to know that since all of the rules of taking a third card are predetermined you don't need to know them.

Baccarat Strategy

The odds of winning

The bank will win 45.84% of the time.
The player will win 44.61% of the time.
There will be a tie 9.54% of the time.

Taking into consideration these percentages and the 5% commission the following are the house advantages by bet made:

Bank: 1.17%
Player: 1.36%
Tie: 4.57%

Sometimes when you bet on the bank or player there will be a tie and no money will change hands. The above figures ignore these situations. If you factor in the ties it is like mixing in an even money game and the house advantage reduces to 1.06% on the bank and 1.23% on the player.

Note: The statistics above were calculated by considering all 4,826,809 possible combinations of 6 cards, ignoring the suit. I wrote a computer program to play all possible combinations, consider when and when not the third card(s) should be taken, calculate the winner in every situation, and keep a running total. Of the 4,826,809 variations the bank won 2,212,744; the player won 2,153,464; and there was a tie the other 460,601.


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