The Simple Guide to Baccarat Variants
Among the many games that are considered casino classics, baccarat is a widely-loved and highly entertaining game that certainly has the power to steal the show. No matter whether you play online or at a physical casino, baccarat appeals to a lot of people because its rules are easy to understand. Experienced players and rookies alike can enjoy the game, and take advantage of the lower house edge that baccarat offers when compared to other games. Putting it simply, baccarat is one of those casino games that truly does have it all.
First created in Italy and played in the middle ages, baccarat’s name means “zero.” This is actually the worst hand that you can get in the game – the values of the tens and face cards in baccarat equal zero. Variations began to show up in different places, as the game gained popularity across the world. Although some weren’t thrilling enough to survive the years, many still exist and are played today.
Gamblers may be familiar with Mini Baccarat, Punto Banco, European Baccarat, Chemin de Fer, and Baccarat Banque. Here, we’ll explain the basics of baccarat as well as explore some of the variations that are popular and well worth playing – if you can find them that is.
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Basic Baccarat Rules
While baccarat is one of the easiest games to learn, some misconceptions have been spread over the years, which makes players reluctant to jump in and play this popular casino game. For example, many people think that the game is only for high-budget or high-rolling players, probably because of the fact that baccarat tables are in a specific area on the casino floor. In addition, baccarat has an unfounded reputation for rules that are too sophisticated for the average gambler. Others have heard that the minimum bet for baccarat is very high. It doesn’t help that the game is played by a certain Mr. James Bond, which only adds some extra pomp and circumstance to the game.
In reality, baccarat is great for any player of any level of experience, you don’t need to have a Hollywood blockbuster budget in order to enjoy it. There are no hard decisions to make, no moves to memorize, and the rules of the game are easy to follow and easy to remember. The objective of baccarat is simple – get as close to a score of 9 as you can. Unlike blackjack, you can’t “break” in baccarat, as the total of your cards can’t go over 9. If the total of the cards in your hand were to exceed 9, you’d just have to drop the first digit, and your new total is the remaining number. For example, if you’re dealt a 5 and a 6, you’d have a total of 11. Then you’d drop the first digit, meaning your score would be 1.
Most of the time, baccarat games use eight standard card decks. An important thing to keep in mind is that the number of players at the table doesn’t matter – two hands will be dealt no matter what. After dealing, the game begins. Most casinos will deal only with two cards, but some deal three. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with the rules of the specific baccarat game before you step up to the table.
Gamblers only have to make decisions in baccarat when it comes to placing their bets – on “Bank,” “Player,” or “Tie” – and the amount that they wish to wager on the game. Most baccarat tables are laid out the same everywhere, but it’s always possible that there are small differences from casino to casino, so keep an eye out.
If you’re new to gambling in general, the term “house edge” may be unfamiliar to you. The house edge is what gamblers and casino-goers call the advantage that the house has over every player in every casino game. In baccarat, the house edge is lower when compared to other games in casinos, which is why it’s a favorite of so many players. You’ve probably heard the phrase “the house always wins”, well the reality is that this isn’t strictly true, anybody can beat the house when they play baccarat.
You’ll notice above that we mentioned players can decide on one out of three possible bets in Baccarat. When the bet is placed on Player, the house edge is at 1.36%, but if the bet is placed on Bank, the edge is only 1.06%. Many baccarat players will agree that placing a wager on a Tie is the worst move you can make while playing baccarat, as the house edge jumps to a whopping 14.4%. That said, players do take that bet, because the payoff on such long odds are very lucrative.
Again, for the beginners reading this article, “odds” in gambling games are the chances you have of winning or losing. In baccarat, the odds of the player’s hand winning over the dealer is 44.61%, while the odds of the player’s hand losing to the dealer are 45.85%. The odds for the banker to win remain at 45.83%. The long-shot odds for the game to end in a tie are only 9.54% – definitely against you as the player.
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Most Popular Online Baccarat Variations
You know the rules, the odds, and a little bit of history, now it’s time to dive into this super-popular online casino game. Like many of its fellow casino games, baccarat has acquired variations over the years, as people have taken to switching up the rules and adding extra elements. These variations were created in order to make the game as appealing and exciting as possible. Some variants were developed many years ago, and have held on to their popularity through remaining fun and intriguing.
As we just said, variations of baccarat can change rules or add rules, or even allow players to place more bets than just what’s available on regular baccarat. Not to mention, everyone likes to shake things up sometimes. Variety is the spice of life, after all, so give one of these baccarat variations below a try, odds are you won’t be left feeling disappointed.
One very popular variation that can be spotted in casinos all over the world is Baccarat Banque. As possibly the oldest variation of baccarat, this version was played primarily in France, and as a result, many gamblers may not know exactly how it works. Despite its popularity, there are many players outside of Europe who aren’t familiar with this game, but may be familiar with another French variation, Chemin de Fer. We’ll be discussing Chemin de Fer later on, but for now, let’s look at Baccarat Banque, as this game certainly deserves a little more of the spotlight.
Also known by the name “a deau tableau,” the main difference between regular baccarat and Baccarat Banque is that the dealer is set at the beginning of every single round. This is the difference between the Baccarat Banque variation and the Chemin de Fer variation too. What this means is that the dealer can occasionally become a player in the game, whether one of the first at the table or one with the biggest stake in bets.
Another thing that sets Baccarat Banque apart from baccarat and many other variations is that this version is played with three decks. You’ll notice this is quite a few less than other variations of baccarat, which all seem to number above six standard decks of 52 cards. Adding additional decks to any card game certainly works to ramp up the excitement, and that’s certainly no different here.
To begin, gamblers join the game, place their bets, and the dealer re-shuffles the cards in play. Then, when the dealer starts, the differences really start to show – cards are dealt as one on the right of the player, one on the left, and then one to the bank. What this eventually turns into is three hands, built out of two cards.
Gamblers who play Baccarat Banque should then decide whether to place their wagers on the hand closest to them, on the hand closest to the other end of the baccarat table, or on both. Both of these hands are the player’s hands. The only hand that players cannot bet on is the banco or the bank hand. The banco hand can only be wagered on by the dealer of the cards, whether that is the official casino dealer or one of the players in the game.
Baccarat Banque certainly airs more on the classic side of baccarat variants, but don’t be in a rush to look past this game because of that. Chemin de Fur might be similar (and more popular), but this variant certainly has plenty in the tank with its decreased number of decks, so make sure you check it out.
Another favorite of baccarat variation aficionados is Punto Banco. This is the version that actually seems to be the closest to Classic Baccarat in terms of rules and setup, so there will be plenty familiar here to old school baccarat players. This variation is six decks, with the standard 52 cards, and the same possible bets that Classic players are used to – Banker, Player, or Tie. After the player decides, the game begins with the cards being dealt. One thing to keep in mind is that bet can’t be changed once they’re placed, so players should give their choice a lot of thought before finalizing.
Punto Banco has the banker dealing the first card to the player, and the next to the bank. Then it’s repeated again. Once there are both hands on the table, it can be determined if a third card is a good choice for either. This is something to think about – baccarat, after all, can be decided on a couple of cards and drop your total score right back down if you draw just the wrong card.
As mentioned earlier, a bet placed on the Bank is slightly more favorable due to the house’s lower advantage. And, again, placing a bet on a Tie is the least favorable thanks to the house’s advantage spiking upwards. Tie bets are hard to win, but the payoff is always a lure, drawing gamblers in. They’re just such rare occurrences in the game that tie bets aren’t reliable as a winning bet.
Look, we’re being honest here, Punto Banco is so close to the original version of baccarat it’s hard to differentiate between the two at times. But, it’s the perfect variant for anyone that wants to switch from standard baccarat, but doesn’t want to risk facing a whole new set of rules and still play something familiar.
Live Mini Baccarat
Mini Baccarat has a huge following among players, but will this game might have “mini” in the name, it’s huge in stature. Played along the same lines as Punto Banco, Mini Baccarat is essentially a version of the Classic Online Casino Baccarat game, but at lower stakes. This is music to the ears of players who have lower budgets or like to place bets that are smaller so they can open themselves up for more wins. Mini Baccarat is a favorite for a variety of reasons, but ultimately because it’s more accessible to casual and time-pressed gamblers. Think standard baccarat, but the game is more focused on low stakes and faster play.
Another thing that is distinctive to Mini Baccarat is the smaller table – hence, the “Mini” part – in addition to the game being played faster, which appeals to players who don’t have a lot of time.
Eight decks are used in this variation, and betting options are unchanged from the Classic version. So, players can bet on Player, Bank, or the always elusive Tie.
Mini Baccarat is one variant that has really spawned an army of its own fans. This game stands on its own in many ways and is the perfect choice for anybody that wants to play baccarat at an electric pace, with plenty of fast and furious – albeit slightly smaller – wins in the mix.
Chemin de Fer
There’s a common misconception that Chemin de Fer is the ancestor of the baccarat that’s found in casinos today. While the rules of Chemin de Fer are also used in the Classic game, the main difference between the two is that players are not playing against the table’s dealer. Instead, they’re playing against other players. A second difference is that the banker can bet in the game, this really does add an extra wrinkle to an already super fun game.
Like Baccarat Banque, Chemin de Fer is French in origin and comes from the French word for “railway” – if the name didn’t already give that away. This variation is played with six standard card decks, and players take turns as the banker, who can then set aside money to wager. Each player in the game can then say, “Banco,” meaning that they are willing to place a stake to match the banker. If a gambler should bet more than what the banker has staked, the banker can refuse the bet. The cards are then dealt with. The dealer and the banker both take a look at their cards and if the total is 8 or 9, the cards need to be turned.
Who doesn’t love a bit of Chemin de Fer? This popular baccarat variant is much-loved for a reason. Not veering too far from the classic baccarat game means that players are going to feel right at home when giving this a try.
There’s only one key difference between European Baccarat and the many other baccarat variations. When the total of the player’s hand is 5, they can decide if they want to stand or to draw. The banker gets to decide whether to draw or not. This is it, this is the only major difference of note, even if there are a few small tweaks found elsewhere within this game.
One important note in European Baccarat is that the banker’s hand is completely backed by casino funds. So, let’s say the banker has a fund of $1,000, and there are three players at the table. The first player may place a bet at $700, and the next may only bet $300. However, that equals the bankers’ $1000, and so the third player can’t place a bet at all.
What this means is that if there’s one player at the table who is both willing and able to cover the banker’s bet, then the rest of the table’s occupants won’t be able to place wagers during that round of the game. Effectively, this can allow one player to freeze other players out of the game.
Every casino game in the world seems has a European variant it seems, we’re not sure why, but we’re glad there is. European Baccarat doesn’t break away from the original game too much, with it all about the subtle changes that ramp up the fun. Cash and cards will not be in short supply whenever you play European Baccarat.
Want to pick up the pace? All you have to do is take a look at Speed Baccarat. This is basically the same as the standard version of blackjack, but with one big difference. Players only have 20 seconds to make a decision in game rounds. Snap decisions are crucial, as players can certainly feel the pressure as the clock ticks down.
Again, not a huge rule change or anything like that will be found here, just faster-paced play and more electric action. Speed Baccarat is almost exclusively available online, so keep an eye out for it at your favorite online casinos.
Another fresh take on the classic game of baccarat, Baccarat Squeeze has a fun name and is just as fun when playing the tables. The dealer makes the difference in this particular variation of the game. This is because the placed wagers actually impact how the dealer reveals each hand as the game unfolds. The hand that is backed the least will be revealed in standard fashion, with the most backed hand being squeezed by the dealer.
What do we mean by squeeze? Well, what it means is that the dealer will slowly turn up the edge of each card, giving players at the table a sneak peak at what’s in-store. It’s safe to say that this adds a huge amount of drama to the game and makes for the perfect game session if you can spare the extra time. As a side note, if the wagers are equal for both hands, the dealer will squeeze both of them, creating an even more tense game.
If you like your baccarat to come with high drama and high stakes, look no further than Baccarat Squeeze, as this game has all that and then some if you ask us.
There is More!
Glitz, glamor, and a good time is pretty much guaranteed whenever you start playing baccarat. This game has all the Italian fancy you could ask for, which is probably why it’s so popular around the world. Now, we’re not going to say that this game is the most easy-going in the world, there is a reason James Bond plays it after all, but don’t worry, understanding baccarat isn’t tough to get to grips with. The rules are simple, with the games Italian roots shining through.
Making baccarat much more than just a “standard casino game” is the huge number of variants around that spice up the game. No matter whether you want to go for something that throws the rule book out of the window or just something that tweaks the original rules slightly, in the above list you’ll find a baccarat variant that’ll deliver exactly what you’re looking for.
An amazing house edge, countless different ways to play, and plenty of cash to be won, are you ready to experience the best of baccarat today? Check out these game variants today!
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