Want to Bet Like Bond? Baccarat’s Your Game
For all its glamour, baccarat is a simple game, with super-simple math. Here’s how to play the classic table game at your favorite online casino.
Of all the table games on the casino floor, baccarat may carry the most mystique.
For one thing, it’s been immortalized in numerous James Bond movies (picture a tuxedo-clad 007 at the tables in Monte Carlo, usually accompanied by a gorgeous woman, who may or may not be an enemy agent). Baccarat is also the preferred game of high rollers in exotic realms like Singapore and Macau.
But baccarat is a simple game, with simple math. It’s been compared to an elaborate coin toss: heads or tails, player or banker, win or lose. Even beginners can play with ease. And the online game isn’t essentially different from the casino version.
Here are the baccarat basics:
To win in baccarat, the goal is to draw two or three cards that add up to nine, or as close to nine as possible. The king, queen, jack and 10 count as zero. An ace counts as one. Cards two through nine maintain their face value.
But—and it’s a big but—only the final digit of the total counts. Let’s say you draw the maximum of three cards: a queen, a 6, and a 9. That adds up to 15, but in baccarat, it counts as 5. If you draw a king, an 8 and another 8, it adds up to 16, but counts as 6. Got it?
Now, back to the game.
You start out by choosing one of three bets:
The Player and Banker each draw two cards to start. If your two-card total is 5 or less, it’s time to hit (draw a third card). Over 5, you stand. If either side hits an 8 or nine, the action stops. After both hands are completed, the higher hand wins. Only three cards can be dealt in any hand. And that’s all there is to it—almost.
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A few things to remember:
- If you bet Banker and win, you get an even-money payout, minus a 5 percent commission to the house.
- If you bet Player and win, you get an even-money payout, sans the commission.
- If you bet Tie and the game ties, you get an 8-to-1 or 9-to-1 payout.
- If the games tie and you bet Player or Banker, you don’t win or lose, your bet is returned to you, and the game starts all over again.
There are no-commission versions of the game that dispense with the 5 percent payback. In this case, we say take the Player bet, as the Banker bet comes with a higher house edge.
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Finally, it’s traditional in baccarat to fixate on the scoreboard to try to predict the next hand. But as in all games of chance, every hand is based on pure luck, and you really can’t predict the draw—even if you’re Bond, James Bond.
Which is a good excuse to conjure up our favorite Bond, Sean Connery, in a classic scene at the table from Dr. No.