How to play Baccarat

Everything You Need to Know About Baccarat

A lot of people are intimidated by baccarat when they first see a table. Or they are under the impression that baccarat is a game for high rollers only. But once the rules are properly explained, most people realize that baccarat is actually quite a simple game. The rules become easy to identify and explain to just about anyone.

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The Cards

Understanding what the value of each card is helps to begin the process of truly comprehending the game of baccarat.

Starting out, aces have a value of one. Most people are used to having aces either being “high” or “low.” In this case, they would be considered low. It is important to remember that aces have a value of one, as they may come in handy or they may hinder your chances of success. More will be explained about that later.

However, all other face cards have a value of zero. This can be confusing to some, as they are used to face cards having much higher values. But remember that “baccara” means zero in Italian and that game is the origin of this one. So any face card counts as a zero.

Any ten card also has a value of zero. Remember that the game is based around whether or not the player or the bank gets closer to a sum of nine. So the cards that count as more than zero are any card nine and lower. Otherwise, there would be cards that automatically bring the total above nine, making for a much harder game.

All other cards, the numbered cards, have a value of their face value. So, a two card counts as two, an eight card counts as eight, etcetera.

The Goal

Here’s where things seem to get complicated. However, with a proper explanation, the game of baccarat is simple and straightforward.

So, the goal of the game is to bet on whether the “player” or the “bank” will come out with a total sum closer to nine. You can also bet on the tie, meaning the player and the bank come out with same total sum number. Betting on the tie has lower odds and therefore a higher payout.

The Player and the Bank

Understanding the player and the bank and their roles in the game of baccarat is essential.

  • The Player – The player is exactly what it sounds like. Someone who is playing the game of baccarat at the table. However, not everyone at the table will be a player. Everyone else at the table will simply be betting on the game. The player is in charge of the cards.
  • The Bank – The bank is simply an alternate way to say the dealer. In this case, however, the dealer does not deal the cards. The player does. The bank receives cards just as the player does, and everyone at the table bets whether the player or the bank will end up with a total closer to nine.

The Betting Process

Bets are placed before the cards are dealt. Anyone at the table can place their chips on the table to make a wager. This wager will determine whether or not the person wins or loses money. There are different payouts depending on what each person bets on. They will be explained below.

  • Betting on the Player – A winning wager on the player pays out at a one to one ratio. This means if you were to bet twenty dollars on the player and the player had a total closer to nine than the bank, you would win twenty dollars in winnings, putting your total at forty dollars.
  • Betting on the Bank – A winning wager on the bank pays out exactly the same as a winning wager on the player. So a winning bet on the bank pays out at a one to one ratio as well.
  • Betting on the Tie – Betting on the tie has the lowest odds of winning. Therefore betting on the tie also has the highest payout. The payout for a winning wager betting on the tie is usually at a ratio of eight to one. This means that if the bet is one hundred dollars, the winnings would be eight hundred dollars! That’s a big jump in cash! However, betting on the tie is risky, as the odds of both the player and the bank coming out with the same number are very small.

What Happens When the Total is More Than Nine?

The highest hand that can be had in the game of baccarat is nine. If the hand exceeds a grand total of nine, it must be adjusted. When the total of either the player or the bank’s cards exceeds a total sum of nine, there are two options which can be chosen by each player.

The first option is to subtract ten from the total. So, if the grand total of the hand of the player, just for an example, comes out to be sixteen, then subtracting ten from the total would leave you with a grand total of six. The same can be done for any number above nine, so if the total is twelve, the new adjusted total would be two.

The second option is to drop the first digit of the grand total number. In this instance, if the grand total of the bank’s hand, as an example, reaches seventeen, you can drop the one from the total number, leaving you with a grand total of seven.

Either option is fine. But it’s important to remain consistent in choice in this matter, to keep everything consistent in betting and adding numbers.

What is the Third Card, and What are the Associated Rules?

Occasionally in the game of baccarat, one of the hands (either the player or the bank) will require a third card. This seemingly simple rule can often scare some people away from the baccarat table. Some people assume that the third card rule makes baccarat just like blackjack, where an understanding of popular “hit” or “stand” options is necessary for proper play.

Baccarat is a different game!

In baccarat, the players have absolutely no control over whether or not the third card is entered into the game. Nor does the “dealer.” The only person who controls whether or not there is a third card entered into the game, as well as who the third card goes to, is the caller. The caller’s one and only job is to “call” when either the player or the bank needs a third card to continue playing.

So it’s not necessary to understand a bunch of different rules for the third card play. However, it is important to have some comprehension of what is happening when the caller does call for a third card. Here are the general rules:

  • The Player Third Card Rules – There is one easiest way to remember the third card rules for the player. If the grand total of the cards dealt to the player equals between zero and five, the player can be dealt a third card. If the grand total of the cards dealt to the player equals between six and nine, the player’s hand will “stand.” In other words, when the total is between six and nine, the player will not be dealt a third card.
  • The Bank Third Card Rules – The rules for the bank getting a third card are a bit more complicated than the rules for the player getting a third card. But remember that it is not necessary to memorize all of the following rules in order to play baccarat. These are simply written here as an informative guide.The rule on whether or not the bank draws a third card depends on three different things:
    -Total of the initial two cards the bank is dealt
    -Whether or not the player hand came out to need to draw a third card
    -The value of the player hand’s third card, if the player hand did draw a third cardHere is a list of some of the official rules of the bank hand drawing a third card or not, simply for reference:
    -1. The bank draws a third card if the initial two cards only total zero, one or two.
    -2. The bank does not draw if the initial cards (for either the bank or even the player) equal eight or nine. This is called “natural” in baccarat and all but guarantees a win for either the bank or the player.
    -3. The bank does not draw if the initial two cards have a grand total of seven.
    -4. The bank does not draw if the initial two cards total six and the player did not draw a third card.

The History of Baccarat

Baccarat (pronounced bah-cah-rah) is based on an Italian game called “baccara” that has been played for over 600 years! The word baccara simply means “zero” in Italian. The reason this word is used to describe this game is that everything from the 10 card to the King card has a value of zero in baccarat.

In the 16 and 17 hundreds, baccarat was one of the most popular games amongst French royalty. Even when gambling became illegal in France, in 1837, baccarat continued to be played in the homes of just about every class in the country.

The game lived on this way until it finally reached the Riviera in the late 1800s. After some time, it became the leading game in most European casinos. And it remains popular to this day.

Much of baccarat’s popularity in modern times can be attributed to the international fictional spy James Bond, and his books and movies. Many people can remember seeing James Bond playing baccarat with a definitive look on his face. This is certainly a big reason why baccarat is so popular in the United States, which has their own version of baccarat. More will be explained about that later on.


  • Baccarat has been around in many forms for centuries.
  • The goal is to bet on whether the player or the bank will have a total closer to nine, but not exceeding nine.
  • Aces are low (value of one) and the face cards and ten cards have a value of zero
  • Winning bets on either the player or the bank pay out the same ratio, one to one, while betting on the tie pays out at a ratio of eight to one.
  • If the total is more than nine, either subtract ten or remove the first digit of the number to get to the adjusted proper total.
  • A third card can be dealt to either the player or the bank if the caller calls for it, under certain circumstances.