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While both the Italians and French claim Baccarat has originated in their respective countries, most believe it was invented in the middle ages by an Italian gambler called Felix Falguierein. From there, apparently, it travelled to France towards the end of the 15th century, where it has remained an exclusive pastime of the French nobility for quite some time. While no longer limited to certain classes or nationalities, Baccarat still maintains an image of a high-rollers’ game. Fortunately, online casinos and software developers have made it accessible to just about anybody, no matter the size of their bankrolls.

One of the reasons this game is quite popular among online players is that it comes with one of the lowest house edges, meaning your money will last longer. It’s super-simple to play and you can participate (and win!) knowing virtually only the very basics. So have a read of the facts and advice below, and you’ll be good to go!

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The Basics of Baccarat

This is a game played between two hands, the Player and the Banker. What you need to understand is that in Baccarat, the Player is not you, and Banker is not the dealer; they are simply two hands to bet on. The aim of the game is to correctly predict which hand will win, giving you three possible outcomes: Player has higher score, Banker scores higher, or they tie.

Hand Ranking

Baccarat features a unique way of calculating the hand value. To start with, cards 2 through 9 have face value, 10's and face cards contribute 0 points, while Aces count as 1. Let’s say your hand consists of a 9, 5 and a King, which would translate into 9 +5 + 0 = 14. However, the value of this combination is actually 4, as in Baccarat the digit in the tens position is dropped. Following this logic makes it clear that the highest total you can theoretically achieve is 9. In this game, in fact, both 8 and 9- point hands are considered “a natural” and will automatically win. If the opponents both reveal a natural, the higher total wins, and if their hands are of equal value, it’s a push.

How to Play

You’ll start off by picking chip denomination and placing a certain number of them on the Player, the Banker or Tie fields. Both the Player and the Banker will be dealt 2 cards, and if one of the hands has a natural, it wins. Otherwise, Player draws a third card, and Banker follows. There are pre-set rules as to how the third cards are drawn, for example, the Player will draw if his total is between 0 and 5, will stand if the total is 6 or 7, and do the same if the hand is a natural. According to specific conditions, the Banker hand gets a third card (or not), and finally the two hands are compared to determine which one wins.

The Payouts

If you were betting on the Player hand and it wins, you’ll collect even money (1:1). Placing your bet on the Banker hand, and seeing it subsequently win, pays even money minus 5% commission. If either of the two wins while you’re betting on a Tie, it’s a push, meaning you neither win nor lose. And if the hands tie while you’ve placed the corresponding bet, you’ll get paid 9:1.

A Few Words of Advice

  1. Be wary of the “famous” betting systems, there’s no real proof they work, and following them might result in your bankroll being exhausted much sooner than expected. One of the more popular examples include the Martingale system which instructs you to double your bet after each loss, and then return to the initial bet once you win.
  2. Quit while ahead. Before you start playing, work out what kind of win you’d be happy with. Whatever the number might be, once you reach it, stop. Wouldn’t it be disappointing to collect a win in line with your expectations, only to lose it all in the following few hands? You’ll probably be better off getting up and walking away. After all, there’s always another day to come back and enjoy the game once again.
  3. Alternatively, decide on the number of hands you want to play. When you reach the pre-determined number of, let’s say 100 or 200 hands, exit the game. This will protect you from trying to recover your losses and potentially digging yourself into an even deeper hole.
  4. Manage your bankroll. It’s completely natural to experience losing sessions, the same as you will winning ones. What’s important is to ensure you’ve got enough cash to see you through the losses. So once you’ve decided on the overall budget, adapt your bets accordingly.
  5. If you’re new to the game, start betting low. It’s good advice for whichever of the table games you opt to join, as it gives you time to learn the functionality. Additionally, Baccarat is a game of luck, so if yours should be having a bad day, smaller bets will prevent you to lose your money too quickly.