Baccarat is said to be James Bond’s favourite casino game, and he is often found playing it in his espionage escapades. The rules are very simple and the house edge is low, so its popularity with 007 and gamblers the world over is not hard to understand. There are quite a few different variations of online Baccarat available, but the simplest is Punto Banco. Once you know how this variation works, trying your luck with the others is easy. Find out exactly how Punto Banco works here.
There are always 2 hands dealt in Baccarat, called the Player and the Banker hands. The Italian translation of these words is Punto and Banco respectively, which is where Punto Banco gets its name, since Baccarat originates from that country.
Importantly, these names don’t describe who gets to control the hand. They’re simply what each hand is called. Online Baccarat is unique amongst card games in that you don’t get to make any moves to determine the outcome or a hand’s final value.
To start off with, each hand is dealt 2 cards. In some formats, the Player and Banker hands are alternately dealt their cards one by one, while in others the first 2 cards of both hands are put down at the same time. Then the hands are totalled, to determine what happens next.
Totalling Baccarat Hands
The number cards in Online Baccarat are worth their pip value, while Aces and face cards count as 1 and 0 respectively. The hand total is determined by adding the first 2 cards together, and then dropping the 10-unit placeholder. For instance, a hand with a 9 and a 4 counts as 3, and not as 13. The card values mean that the highest total possible is 9. If either the Player or the Banker hand is worth 8 or 9, it’s called a Natural and wins automatically.
When Are Third Cards Dealt?
If neither 2-card hand is a Natural, the round continues. The Player hand stands on totals of 6 and 7, and hits on anything lower. Banker hands stand and hit on totals of 7 and of 2 or less respectively. In the case of other hand values, the Player’s third card determines whether or not the Banker gets an additional card. The different rules that apply here give the card game an added sense of sophistication and intrigue:
- If the third Player card is a 2 or a 3, the Banker stands with 5-7 and hits with 0-4.
- If the third Player card is a 4 or a 5, the Banker stands with 6-7 and draws on 0-5.
- If the Player hand gets a 6 or a 7, the Banker hand stands on 7 and hits on 0-6.
- If the Player hand’s third card is an 8, the Banker stands with 3-7 and draws with 0-2.
- If the Player draws a face card, an Ace, a 9 or a 10, the Banker must stand on 4-7 and hit on 0-3.
Bets, Odds and Payouts
Here’s where Online Baccarat is really simple; you can only bet on what the outcome of the round will be. That means you’ll be putting money on a Punto win, a Banco win, or a tie. The house edges for Player and Banker wins are 1.24% and 1.06%. Winning these bets gets you a 1:1 return, less 5% commission in the case of a Banker bet to balance out the slightly better odds.
If you’re feeling really lucky, you can predict that the hands will tie and win an incredible 9:1 payout if you are right. Just be warned; the higher reward is matched by bigger risk and the house edge is over 14%!