Baccarat may seem complicated, but it’s actually quite straightforward. The dealer does all the work; you don’t get any cards, and you don’t choose how the cards are played—all you do is decide what to bet on and how much to bet, then sit back and watch the action unfold.
In mini-baccarat, cards are dealt face up in front of the dealer in two hands, the “Player” hand and the “Banker” hand. Before she deals, you place a bet on which of two hands, the “Player” or the “Banker,” will end up with a point total closer to nine. Or, you can bet that the two hands will tie.
The highest possible point total for a hand is nine. Only the rightmost digit is used to determine a hand’s value. For instance, if the Player hand is dealt a 9 and a 3, the point total isn’t 12, it’s 2.
To calculate the point totals of the two hands:
- 10, jack, queen and king = 0
- Ace = 1
- 2 to 9 cards count as their face value.
If the first two cards of the Player hand total 0 to 5, the Player hand gets a third card. If the Player total is 6 or 7, it does not get a third card.
If the Player hand stood on two cards (i.e., it has a total of 6 or 7), the Banker hand follows the same rules as the Player hand in determining whether it will receive a third card. The Banker receives a card if its total is 0 to 5, and stands on 6 or 7.
If the Player hand takes a third card, these rules apply on the Banker hand:
|If the Banker’s first two cards total:||The Banker takes a third card if the Player’s third card is:|
|0, 1 or 2||Any card|
|3||Not an 8|
|4||2 through 7|
|5||4 through 7|
|6||6 or 7|
If you bet on the Player hand and it wins, you’re paid out at 1 to 1. If you bet $10, you win $10.
If you bet on the Banker hand and it wins, you’re paid out at 1 to 1, minus a 5 percent commission, which the dealer collects. If you bet $10, you net $9.50.
If you bet on a tie, and the hands are identical, you’re paid out at 8 to 1. If you bet $10, you’re paid $80.
House advantage of baccarat
Baccarat is a game of chance. There are no skills you can develop to improve your odds of winning. The house advantage is higher than blackjack, but lower than roulette and poker, as long as you play an optimal strategy. Betting on the Banker hand has the lowest house advantage.
House advantage in mini-baccarat
House advantage compared to other games
|Game||House advantage, with optimal play|
|Fortune pai gow poker||0.5 to 2.5%|
|Poker||2 to 3.5%|
|Slot machines||8% (average)|
The rules are the same as mini-baccarat, except there are no commissions on winning Banker wagers. EZ baccarat has a few side bets to know about:
- Dragon 7: If the Banker hand is a winning three-card hand totalling 7, it’s called a Dragon 7. Banker wagers on a Dragon 7 are a push (a tie). A Dragon 7 side bet pays out at 40 to 1.
- Panda 8: If the Player hand is a winning three-card hand totalling 8, the hand is called a Panda 8. Winning Player wagers on a Panda 8 pay 1 to 1. Winning Panda 8 side bets pay out at 25 to 1.
Midi-EZ baccarat is played with the same rules as EZ baccarat, except that players who make the highest Player and Banker wagers have the option to touch or hold the hand they wagered on. Players may squeeze or fold the cards, but are not permitted to crumple or rip the cards.
Midi-baccarat is played with the same rules as mini-baccarat, except players who make the highest Player and Banker wagers have the option to touch or hold the hand they wagered on. Players may squeeze or fold the cards, but are not permitted to crumple or rip the cards.
Pairs side bet
A midi-baccarat side bet on the possibility that the first two cards dealt to either the Player or Banker hands are a pair. If you win, the payout is 11 to 1.
Another variation of mini-baccarat. The difference is exactly what the name suggests: there’s no commission on winning Banker wagers. If the winning Banker hand totals 6, Banker wagers are paid at 1 to 2. If you bet $10, you’re paid $5.
How to play
Place your bet on the Player hand, the Banker hand, or a tie. Remember, you’re betting on which hand will end up closer to 9, after the cards are dealt.
The dealer deals two cards to the Player hand and two to the Banker hand.
The dealer announces the point totals for the two hands.
If the first two cards of the Player hand or the Banker hand total 8 or 9, it’s known as a natural. No more cards are dealt, and all bets are paid out, based on which hand is closer to 9. If the two hands are identical, it’s a tie.
If neither hand totals 8 or 9, additional cards are drawn, according to the third-card rule.