Many Canadian gamblers aren’t as familiar with baccarat as they are games like blackjack and craps, and thus avoid the game completely. In this guide, we’ll explain the rules of baccarat and its variants so that the next time you gamble in a live or an online Canadian casino, you will be able to enjoy this fun and exciting game. When you’re ready to play, feel free to jump right in with one of our preferred casinos below!
How to Play Baccarat Online
Glamour casino game: Baccarat, also known as Punto Banco, is an age-old casino game often associated with glamour, wealth and status (think James Bond). While many brick-and-mortar Canadian online casinos offer the game to patrons, it doesn’t enjoy nearly as much popularity in the West as it does in Asia. There, the game is popular with high rollers who regularly bet astronomical sums on individual hands. With its relatively low house edge, such large wagers can lead to massive swings for both the player and the casino. In some cases, a lone player on a hot streak can single-handedly affect the quarterly profits of an entire casino!
Online Baccarat Rules
Online advantages: In live casinos, baccarat tables often require high minimum bets and are tucked away in a VIP area in order to preserve the privacy of the big-spenders who commonly enjoy the game. In contrast, when playing online, players have complete privacy, and have the added advantage of choosing tables with significantly lower minimums.
Choosing the Player or Banker: In both settings, the rules are largely the same and only vary slightly in minor details. Baccarat is a card casino game played with a 6 to 8-deck shoe from which two hands are dealt, a Player hand and a Banker hand. Despite their naming convention, players can bet on either hand, but must pay a 5% commission on winning Dealer wagers. The hand which finishes with a point total closest to 9 wins.
After bets are placed: the dealer deals out two cards to both Player and Banker hands. At this point, the player’s decision-making is finished, and the game is played out according to a fixed set of rules. While it’s not necessary to understand them to play the game, being able to follow the action makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
The First Two Cards:
Hand values: In baccarat, aces are equal to 1 point, while cards 2-9 are equal to their face value. Tens and face cards are equal to 0, and suits are irrelevant. If a hand total goes over nine points, then the rightmost digit is used as the hand’s point value. For example, if the Player hand contained a 7 and 8 for a total of 15 points, the 1 would be dropped, giving the hand a value of 5.
Natural hand:If either the Player or the Banker is dealt a hand with an 8 or 9 total (known as a “natural”), they both must stand pat and the results are announced. There are three possible outcomes in the game: the Player hand wins, the Banker hand wins, or there is a tie. Player wins pay 1 to 1, while Banker wins pay 19 to 20, due to the 5% commission owed to the house. Winning bets on ties usually pay 8 to 1, and in the event of a tie, Player and Banker bets push.
If neither hand totals 8 or 9, a third card is dealt. The value of the card determines the resulting course of action for the hand.
When neither hand contains a “natural”, the following rules are put into play:
- The Banker always draws a card on a Banker total of 2 or less.
- If the Banker total is 3, the Banker draws a third card, unless the Player total is an 8
- A Banker total of 4 forces the Banker to draw a third card unless the player’s third card was a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- If the Banker total is 5 the Banker draws a third card, if the Player’s third card was a 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- When the Banker total is a 6 the Banker draws a third card, if the Player’s third card was a 6 or 7.
- Banker stands on a total of 7.
Your best bets: In baccarat, the Banker hand will beat the Player hand a little more than half the time (50.68%). This makes betting on the bank an easy decision, right? Well, unfortunately, casinos are well aware of that statistic, and negate it by charging a 5% commission on all Banker wins. With the commission in mind, the Banker house edge comes to 1.17%, while the Player bet gives the casino a 1.36% edge. A winning bet on a Tie pays out around 8 to 1, but gives the casino a massive 14.4% advantage.
Chemin de fer: Chemin de fer is based on baccarat’s original rules and is the standard baccarat variation in French casinos today. In Chemin de fer, a player serves as the Banker, rather than the casino. The Banker position rotates around the table, with the Banker always playing the Banker hand. The person in the Banker position starts by declaring how much he is willing to risk, then each player at the table decides how much they want to bet against the bank. A player may go all-in against the bank by announcing Banco! or bet as much as they please up to the bank maximum. If the Banker cannot cover the player’s bets, table spectators can step in and cover the total. The rules for point scoring in Chemin de fer are the same as in standard baccarat.
Adding decisions: Baccarat en Banque is another variation which can be found in some brick-and-mortar casinos around the world. Unlike in Chemin de fer, the Banker position is held by one person until the entire shoe has been played out, or until he decides to quit the game. The Banque table is divided into two halves on which three hands are dealt: two Player hands and one Banker hand. The Banker must bet on the Banker’s cards, while the players can bet on either of the two Player hands. This version of the game differs from others in that it gives players the choice to accept or reject a third card.
New betting options: Canadian online gamblers have their choice of several baccarat variations at tables with a wide range of betting limits. EZ Baccarat is a Punto Banco variation which was created just over a decade ago. The game pays even money on winning Banker bets, unless the bank wins with a total of 7 when a third card is drawn. Players also have the choice of making two extra bets: the Dragon 7, which pays out 40 to 1 and the Panda 8, which pays 25 to 1.
Top 5 Tips for Winning Baccarat
- Avoid long shot wagers like the Tie bet, which affords the casino a big edge.
- Practice online for free at one of our recommended casinos to hone your skills before betting for real money.
- Track your wins using a scorecard, or through the casino’s provided display. If you see a losing pattern developing, it might be wise to decrease your bet size.
- If you don’t feel like learning the rules whatsoever, your best course of action is usually to bet on the Banker, which normally gives the casino the lowest edge.
- Keep in mind that the house always has the advantage – albeit a small one – so never risk more than you can afford to lose.
Baccarat is wildly popular in Asia, and for good reason. The house edge in the game is small, and gives players close to a 50/50 shot of winning. While not as popular in Canada, learning to play baccarat can be a nice change of pace and add even more enjoyment to your online gambling session. Whether you’re ready to play for real money, or would just like to practice for free, check out one of our preferred casinos above to get started today!