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How to play Baccarat

July 16, 2019

How to play Baccarat

Yes Sir, I can boogie!

Remember the Baccarat band? Chances are you don’t – unless you were in your teens during the roaring seventies, when the European pop super power duo was absolutely hot. Their smash hit was “Yes Sir, I can boogie” (go on, Google it!), a very catchy tune with the legendary lyrics “I can boogie all night long!”.

Adrenaline shot

And this is actually, the essence of baccarat, not the band, but the card game. Full of adrenaline, a game that you can, indeed, play all night long! Baccarat is mostly a game of chance (and in its basic version, Punto Banco is strictly a game of chance). No particular skill nor special strategy are needed since once the wheels of the game get going, you are at the mercy of the deck of cards and Lady Luck.

However, the speed of the game which can have a breathtaking tempo, along with the inevitability of the result, is for many, an adrenaline shot up the arm. Here is a game where you don’t need to hide your face behind black glasses. You don’t have to bluff and you don’t have to calculate the odds!

Baccarat and James Bond

Some moments define writers’ careers. One such moment was the inspiration by the great Ian Fleming in his original novel “Casino Royale” of 1953 to stage a game of baccarat between the most famous and beloved spy of all times, James Bond and his archetypal opponent, operative Le Chiffre of the criminal organization SMERSH.

Actually, not only did the writer stage the card game between the two protagonists, but he also built the plot around it. To help readers unaware of the game to better understand the novel, there was even a guide describing analytically the rules of the baccarat game in the unabridged version of the novel.

So, it feels even more like “treason” when in the 2006 movie adaptation of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig is NOT playing baccarat but Texas Holdem, due to the rising popularity of the five cards game. But, lo and behold, baccarat is still alive and kicking, with devoted fans around the world, playing both baccarat online and in the brick and mortar world.

Let’s learn how to play!

In the times of Ian Fleming, it was perhaps difficult to find instructions about how the game of baccarat is played, hence the instructions in the book. However, baccarat is one of the simplest games of cards ever to have existed, with rules absolutely easy to understand, not even in minutes, but in a matter of seconds.

Just the two of us

Baccarat may have its idiosyncrasies, but is a very exciting game, where the suspense can skyrocket in seconds. Regardless of how many people are playing, only two hands are dealt, with 2 cards each. So, at any given moment, there are only 4 cards (or 6 with the additional cards the Player and the Banker may draw) on the table. Baccarat is a game both simple to learn and play, with only 3 possible outcomes:

  • The Player wins
  • The Banker wins
  • A tie

The Banker is NOT the house

Note that in the game of baccarat, the “Banker” is NOT the house and that participants in the game have the option to place their bets either on the Banker’s hand or on the Player’s hand. Bets must be placed on either the Player’s or the Banker’s hands before cards are dealt.

How cards are dealt

Easy, as “one – two”! Two cards are dealt to both the Player and the Banker. A third person, who can be another player or a casino operator holding the shoe, takes one card out and places it face up in the Player’s box. Then another card is taken out and placed on the Banker’s box. Rinse, repeat.

Who wins?

So, the end of the first round finds the Player and Banker with two cards each. The point total of both of the sets of cards is announced. Tens and face cards are all worth zero points. Aces are worth one point. All other cards are worth their face value. If the total of the two cards is more than 10, the second digit is the value of the hand. For example, a 7 and 9 which total 16, make up a hand of 6. In order to win, your bet must be on the hand that totals closer to the magical number of 9.

The natural win

James Bond was, of course, a “natural” in the game of baccarat. But, there is, actually, a “natural” win in the game. If in the first two cards dealt, the point total is 8 or 9, for either the Player or the Banker, this is called a “natural win” and the game is immediately over. All bets that have been already placed are cashed out.

When does a player get a third card?

A total of 8 or 9 for the Player will get no additional card. A total of 6 or 7 means that the Player stands. On any other total, from 0 to 5, the Player draws another card (except, of course when the Banker has an 8 or 9, in which case the Banker wins and no further draw is needed).

The third card for the Banker

The Banker may draw with a hand total of 0-5 and stays with a hand total of 6 or 7. Drawing or staying depends on the third card the Player draws:

  • If the Player’s third card is 9, 10, face-card or Ace, the Banker draws when he has a 0-3, and stays with a 4-7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 8, the Banker draws when he has a 0-2, and stays with a 3-7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 6 or 7, the Banker draws when he has a 0-6, and stays with a 7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 4 or 5, the Banker draws when he has a 0-5, and stays with a 6-7.
  • If the Player’s third card is 2 or 3, the Banker draws when he has a 0-4, and stays with a 5-7.

Let’s illustrate all of the above in 2 tables:

Player Hand: When first two cards total

1-2-3-4-5-10 Draws a card
6-7 Stands
8-9 Stands (Natural)

Banker Hand:

First two cards total Draws when Player’s 3rd card is Stands when Player’s 3rd card is
3 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-9-10 8
4 2-3-4-5-6-7 1-8-9-10
5 4-5-6-7 1-2-3-8-9-10
6 6-7 1-2-3-4-5-8-9-10
7 Stands
8-9 Stands (Natural)
0-1-2 Always draws

The end of the game

Once all cards have been dealt, the winning hand is calculated. The winning hand is the one which totals closer to a 9. In the event of a tie, neither hand wins or loses.


So, now that you know the baccarat rules, how do you proceed about winning in this super suspenseful game? Mathematicians tell us that baccarat is a pure guessing game. The Banker hand, will, indeed, win slightly more often, at a 50.68% of all decisions, not including ties. However, the correct baccarat strategy is a combination of Lady Luck and Money Management.

Get some practice!

First of all, you must get a feel for the game. Jumping into large bets, from Day 1, may not prove to be the optimal strategy. At King Billy Casino, we have a huge amount of baccarat tables, where you can practice for fun, or watch a Live Baccarat game unfold with our fantastic Evolution Gaming games.

Apart from this, you should follow some very simple rules, when you play baccarat. Do not get carried away, you are not James Bond, with his (mysteriously) unending source of wealth! Do not make bets which are too large for your bankroll, and avoid the player’s “kiss of death”: increasing bets when losing.

The larger the bets you make when you chase your losses, the easier your path to go broke fast will be – and you DON’T want this! However, if you do decide to vary on your bet size (which after all can be a strategy) it would be better to increase it while winning and bring it down when losing.

Set your limits

Finally, act as all the pros do: Set limits. If you are going to play baccarat online, set your losing limit. If, for example, you set it at 50 Canadian dollars, then when a cold streak comes, no matter what, when you hit that limit, leave the table and do something else (reading our blog is a good idea!).

On the other hand, learn to walk away with winnings too. If you set a winning limit, and a good run comes, show the world that steel personality of yours and walk away from the table.

This is all folks, from us, regarding the fantastic game of baccarat. Thank you for reading our article, and always do what you know you can:

Play long and prosper!


Place your bets!

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