Baccarat is one of the most simple of all the casino games to play, chiefly because apart from choosing one of only three possible bets to place, you don’t have to do anything else at all – the dealer does the rest of the work for you.
And as for high stakes – not so when you play online. At online platforms in the UK like STS Casino, you can place wagers for pennies. At the live dealer section of the site, minimum bets might only be 50p or £1, depending on the time of day (more for busy periods).
In brick-and-mortar casinos, the betting limits will be higher simply because fewer tables are available, so the casino will look to maximise its takings.
So, now we have established that baccarat is simple to play (you can always look at more casino help guides), let’s look at your betting options.
How to place baccarat bets
When you sit down at a baccarat table, you are presented with three main betting options. You can select to bet on the Player, the Banker or a Tie. The dealer then deals two cards to the Player and Banker boxes. The idea is to make a total (ace counts as one) as close to nine as possible. Any total over nine has ten removed. So, if the Player is dealt 8-7, the total is 15 but with 10 removed, making 5.
There are then some different house rules as to whether the dealer can give the Player or the Banker hand another card.
The winning hand is declared once the dealing is done (and remember, you have done nothing aside from place a bet). If you chose the right one, Player or Banker, you win 1:1 on your bet. If both hands were the same total, you lose – unless you had chosen the Tie betting box, in which case you can expect a payout of about 9:1. But beware, although those 9:1 odds look attractive, ties rarely happen, and it’s a losing proposition, in the long run, to bet on this option.
Note that while you might assume the Player hand and the Banker hand have the same chances of winning, there is a paper-thin advantage to the Banker winning because of the rules about drawing a third card for the Banker hand. Because of this, technically it makes sense for you to bet on the Banker every hand of baccarat that you play.
The house edge is decent if you do back Banker, at 1.17%, which is excellent by casino standards. Incidentally, it’s 1.36% if you elect to bet on Player.
To make up for the better probability of Banker winning, players must pay a small commission each time they win with this bet. Despite the commission, it’s still the best bet to make.
Side bets in baccarat
While betting on Banker time and again is all well and good, you can see this might get a little tiresome after a while. Some players like to place their baccarat bets based on the most recent results at the table. For example, if the Banker has won the last three hands, they will back Player, and so on.
Other casino players like to mix things up by betting on the available baccarat side bets at the table. These will vary depending on the casino – online and live casinos like the Hippodrome Casino in London - but are likely to include the pair bet, where you gamble that the first two cards for either the Player or the Banker are the same. If they are, you will get around 11:1 back on your bet, which is not to be sneezed at. In some cases, you can cover off both the Banker and the Player option with one bet, and that will give you a return of around 5:1.
Look out, too, for an option to bet on the dragon bonus – here, you are wagering that either the Player or the Banker will win the hand by four points or more. While this sounds likely, it isn’t – and the 30:1 payout reflects this.
While these side bets are fun and mix up a long session of baccarat, the miserable fact is that they are not profitable in the long run. Yes, it might be nice to scoop a 30:1 payout for a dragon bonus but it isn’t going to happen very often.
Have fun at the baccarat tables
Now that you know your betting options at baccarat and understand it isn’t just a game for James Bond and high rollers, you should be confident about giving it a go yourself.