A Game Guide to Baccarat
Baccarat is a card game played at both real and online casinos with three known variations. One of them, Chemin-de-fer, is favoured by James Bond, the popular secret agent.
Known as the game for aristocrats, but since the launch of online casinos, everyone has been playing it. Before we take a look at the different variations of baccarat, however, it’s important to understand where it comes from.
The origins of baccarat reportedly date back to 15th century Italy, where a man name named Felix Falguiere, sometimes spelt as Falguierein, created the game. Back then, however, the game was called “baccara”, the Italian word for zero, because all the tens and face cards were worth zero.
According to myths, baccara was based on the old Etruscan legend of a virgin who had to throw a nine-sided dice to determine her fate. If she threw an eight or nine, she was elevated to the glory of being a priestess. However, if she threw a six or seven, she would be allowed to live but couldn’t take part in any future religious events. If she rolled lower than a six, she would be banished to the sea to drown. Today, if a baccarat player rolls a number lower than six, they lose the game.
From Italy, the game moved to France under the name “Chemin-de-fer” where the game was played by King Charles VIII and the noblemen around him. The game grew increasingly popular and quickly spread across Europe before the Americas where the game was named “American baccarat” and, in Cuba, “Punto Banco”. As real casinos became more and more popular, baccarat failed to hit off as it was marketed as upper-class gamblers.
Since the creation of online casinos, however, more and more people have begun playing baccarat. The modern-day version of the game, which adopted the French spelling “baccarat”, is played slightly differently.
How to Play Baccarat
Learning to play baccarat is easy and, unlike many other casino games such as poker, it doesn’t involve any strategy or particular skills. The objective of the game is to beat the banker or dealer to get as close to a total of nine points as possible. Throughout the game, most decisions and actions will be determined by the dealer and all players actually have to do is bet on who will most likely win.
First, players start the game by betting on either the player’s hand, the banker’s hand or a tie. Two cards are then dealt to the player and banker and are turned face-up. The cards are added together and the total value is announced.
An ace is valued at one, cards two to nine are counted at face value but the king, queen, jack and 10 cards are all valued at 10. However, it’s important to remember that the card total will always have to be nine or under. So, if you are dealt a 5 and a jack, worth 10, your total value will be 15. Since card totals need to remain under nine, the first digit is always removed, dropping the card total down to 5.
The Third Card & Bets
Now, we’ve got to talk all about the bets players can make, the hand values and the third card rule which may confuse some new players.
When betting, the player must either place a chip at the relevant box to bet on the player, banker or a tie. When calculating the card value, there are several values the player and banker must look out for. If either one has an eight or a nine, they have a “natural hand”. If nobody has a natural or tie, one of two things can happen depending on the player’s hand.
If the player has a seven or six, they stand. However, if they have a hand worth anything between zero and five, they’ll draw a third card which gets added to the total value. This finishes the player’s hand.
The banker can also draw a third card, but the rules here are somewhat different:
- If the banker has seven, eight or nine, they stand.
- If the banker has a six, and the player’s third card is a six or seven, they take another card.
- If the banker has a five, and the player’s third card is either a four, five, six or seven, they take another card.
- If the banker has a four, and the player’s third card is a two, three, four, five, six or seven, they take another card.
- If the banker has a three, and the player’s third card is anything but an eight, they take another card.
- If the banker has a zero to two hand, they take another card.
After the player or banker takes another card, the final total is calculated and the winnings are based on who the player had bet on.
Punto Banco became a hit after reaching Cuba around the 1950s and can feature up to 14 players. This is the most popular variation of baccarat.
In this version of the game, players are called Punto and the banker is called Banco. Six to eight decks of cards are used and the dealer does the shuffling, distributes the cards and announces the winner. Players are unable to decide whether they draw a third card.
Chemin-de-fer is the French version of the game which differs slightly from other variations. This version is played with six decks of cards instead of the ordinary seven and the dealer is only responsible for shuffling cards.
In addition to this, the game cards are dealt face-down rather than face-up and the decision to draw a third card depends entirely on the player.
In this version of baccarat, the role of the banker is determined at the beginning of each round. During this game, players are dealt two cards while bankers receive only one card. However, the rules for drawing a third card aren’t properly defined, meaning the banker may follow traditional baccarat rules or make up their own in order to help themselves win.