Baccarat is one of the most popular casino games to play. It is one of the three casino games, alongside Blackjack and Roulette, that have become a household name for online casino sites. Much like Blackjack, Baccarat has many variants of the original game. Continue reading to learn more about the various Baccarat variants and how they differ.
An Introduction to Baccarat
Baccarat is a popular casino game for retail destinations and online gambling sites. It is similar to Blackjack, as the rules are easy to pick up and the gameplay may vary. Much like Blackjack, there are many Baccarat variants in which slight alterations to the game create different scenarios for players. When browsing through the basic Blackjack rules, you will discover more about gameplay variations, such as the differences between European and Atlantic City Blackjack.
But for now, we focus on Baccarat variants. Continue reading to learn more about the different Baccarat variants that exist at brick-and-mortar casinos and online gambling sites.
The version of Baccarat that is played online has very few variants, so you will not need to worry about learning many different rules. Essentially there are just two versions of the same game, Commission Baccarat (which is usually just called Baccarat as it is the default version), and No Commission Baccarat.
In Commission Baccarat, the casino takes a 5% commission from winning Banker bets. This is because statistically the Banker bet is slightly more likely to win. It means that a successful Banker bet pays at 0.95:1, while a successful Player bet pays 1:1 and a successful Tie bet pays 8:1.
As the name suggests, in No Commission Baccarat, the casino doesn’t take any of the winning Banker bets. In this version of the game, successful Player and Banker bets both pay at 1:1, unless the Banker wins with a 6, in which case the Banker bet pays 0.5:1. A Tie bet still pays 8:1.
As mentioned, this is the most common form of the game found online and in most casinos. Most often, it is simply called Baccarat, or sometimes American Baccarat (as it is particularly popular in American land casinos). When playing online, it is safe to assume that this is the version of the game that you are playing and it follows the rules as described above.
Chemin de Fer
In a land casino you may come across a version called Chemin de Fer. In this version of Baccarat, players are competing against each other rather than against the casino. The game first appeared in France in the late 19th century and to this day, it is the most popular form of Baccarat in France.
The game is played with six decks of cards and between eight and twelve players will sit around an oval table. Players take turns at being the banker, usually beginning with the player to the immediate right of the dealer. The banker starts by betting the amount he wants to risk. The other players then take turns to declare whether they want to “go bank”, which means that they play against the entire current bank with a matching amount bet. Only one player may “go bank”, if none do then the players begin to make their wagers.
If the total amount bet by players does not match the amount bet by the bank, then observers are invited to place bets to match the bank. If the total amount bet is larger than the bank, then the banker may match the amount, or the extra bets are removed in reverse order of play.
A Round of Chemin de Fer
The banker then deals four cards face down, two to himself and two for the remaining players. The player who has placed the highest individual bet is chosen to represent the group. Next, the banker and the player will look at their cards. If either is holding an eight or a nine, it is announced immediately and the hands are compared. If there are no eights or nines, then the player has the choice to accept or refuse a third card. In case it is accepted, then the card is dealt face-up. Traditionally, the player will always accept a card if the hand is worth between 0 and 4 and refuse one if the hand is worth 6 or 7. After the player decides, it is the banker’s turn to accept or refuse a third card. The hands are then compared.
If the player’s hand beats the banker’s, then each player that placed a bet receives their bet back and a matching amount from the bank. The next player at the table then becomes the bank and the process starts again. If the banker’s hand is stronger, then the banker wins all the money bet and remains as banker for the next round. If it is a tie, then the bets stay on the table for the next round.
Baccarat Banque is another version of Baccarat that is popular in Europe. In casinos, the game is played at a special configuration of two tables that can seat between 10 and 16 players, and as such, it is sometimes known as Baccarat à Deux Tableaux or Baccarat on Two Tables.
Baccarat Banque is played with three decks of cards. At the start, the bank is put up for auction, which means that it is held by the player willing to bet the most money. They will then remain banker until all of the cards in the shoe have been dealt, they run out of money or they voluntarily retire.
The banker than sits midway down the side of the table with the croupier facing him/her. On either side of the banker are the players. Most of the time there will be seats for ten players and anyone else who wishes to take part remains standing and can only bet when the total of the seated players’ bets do not match the amount in the bank.
A Round of Baccarat Banque
The shoe of cards are then shuffled multiple times, by the croupier, by the players to the left and right of the croupier, and finally by the banker. The banker then decides who will cut the cards. Once the players have placed their bets, the banker deals three cards, the first to the player on his right, the second to the player on his left, and the third to himself. Then three more are dealt in the same order. The five players to the right of the banker play with the cards on that side, and vice versa.
At this point, the rules are the same as in Chemin de Fer, i.e. any eights or nines are revealed immediately, and if there are none, then the players and banker have the choice of accepting a third card or not. At first, it is the players to the immediate right and left of the banker who will be making decisions about the hands. They will continue to do so until they lose, and which point the next hand is dealt to the next player along the table.
Any player can “go bank” to challenge to become the banker. The first claim belongs to the player on the immediate right of the banker, the next on the immediate left, and it continues alternating along the table. If a player from each side wishes to “go bank” simultaneously then they go half shares. A player can go bank on a single hand during the game or on a cheval, which is two hands separately, with the bet split equally between each hand. A player may attempt to go bank three times, but no more.
Becoming the Banker
A player who wishes to become the banker must play one hand, but then may retire at any point. Upon retiring, the player must state the amount with which they are retiring.
Any of the other players, in order of rotation, may then continue the bank, starting with the same amount and dealing from the remainder of the shoe. The outgoing banker then takes the new banker’s place at the table. If the bank is broken then the banker may continue as long as they have enough money to replenish it up to the agreed minimum.
If the total of all the players’ bets is larger than the amount in the bank, the banker is not responsible for the amount in excess. Should the banker lose, the croupier will pay the players in order of rotation until the bank runs out of funds. If the money runs out, then the banker has the option to put up the funds to match them and then continue as banker.
Variations Found in Online Baccarat (Punto Banco)
As mentioned previously, while there are not any major rule variations found in online Baccarat, you will come across variations in how the cards are dealt, particularly when playing live dealer Baccarat. The changes are implemented to either speed up the action or slow it down and increase the tension.
In most regular live Baccarat games, the cards are dealt face down and the dealer then reveals them together.
You will likely come across a game called Baccarat Squeeze. If you have ever played Baccarat at a land casino, then you may have seen the ritual of the squeeze. The squeeze is a way of revealing a small part of a card without actually revealing its full identity to players. As such, it greatly increases the tension and excitement of each hand. The dealer will quickly reveal the cards for the hand that has the smaller total bet and will then squeeze the cards for the hand with the larger total bet. In all other ways, it is a standard game of Punto Banco, but many players find that the squeeze introduces an extra thrill. In some online casinos, you may come across a version of this called Control Squeeze. This simply makes uses of cameras and filters to allow you to carry out the squeeze for yourself.
In direct contrast to Baccarat Squeeze is Speed Baccarat. This game has been designed for those who want fast betting action and as small a gap as possible between rounds. The cards are immediately dealt face up, which results in each round being roughly 20 seconds faster than in regular Baccarat. Again, there is no change to the rules, but it offers a different type of excitement.
The Bottom Line
There are many similarities between Blackjack and Baccarat. As seen above, there are plenty of Baccarat variants, which is one common trait that is found in Blackjack. Another common trait is the availability of Baccarat games. If an online casino has a variety of Blackjack games, it is most likely also going to have a good portfolio of Baccarat titles as well. When browsing through the best online Blackjack casinos, you will find plenty of sites that offer a variety of Baccarat games, in addition to tons of Blackjack variants.