Baccarat Rules and How to Play

Baccarat, sometimes called Punto Banco, is a simple casino card game with only three possible bets. In Baccarat, play only against the house - represented by a casino employee called ‘the banker’.

Players bet on which of two hands will have a score closer to 9, but have no control over the outcome of the hand which is played by formulaic rules.

Player and Banker hands

In a hand of Baccarat the banker will deal two hands called ‘Player’ and ‘Banker’; this is because in earlier versions of Baccarat players would take turns ‘playing bank’ (acting as the banker), and only the banker would bet on his own hand. In modern casino Baccarat, players can bet on either hand and also on a ‘Tie’, which wins if both hands have the same score.

Card values and hand valuation

In Baccarat numbered cards (2-9) are worth face value, 10s and picture cards (jacks, queens and kings) are worth 0 and aces are worth 1 point. Jokers and wild cards are not used in Baccarat.


Baccarat Card Values

To work out the value of a hand in Baccarat, simply add the value of each individual card. If the score of the hand exceeds 10 points it is simply worth the right digit of the score. For example, a hand of 9-8 (totalling 17 points) is worth 7.

Progression of play

At the start of a hand players make their bets. As described above players have three options, Player, Banker or Tie. Bets on a Tie pay out at 8:1 or sometimes 9:1, but still have a higher house edge than the other options.



Baccarat is generally played with four, six or eight decks of cards shuffled together and placed in a shoe. This shoe will be used for multiple hands before it is reshuffled.

After bets are made the banker will deal the two hands with the Banker hand generally dealt closer to the centre of the table for easy identification. Each hand consists of two cards dealt face up; no matter how many players are betting at the time only two hands are dealt.

If one or both of the hands have a score of 8 or 9 (a natural), then both hands stand and the result is declared automatically. If this is not the case then either hand may have to draw another card, according to fixed rules, with the Player hand drawing first.

The Player hand draws if its initial score is 5 or fewer, with a score of 6 or 7 he stands. If the player does not draw then the Banker plays to exactly the same rules.

If the Player did draw then the Banker’s reaction is slightly different, with the Banker’s decision depending on what card Player drew (not what his current score is).



Player Drew

Banker Draws With

Banker Stand With

 2 or 3



 4 or 5



 6 or 7






 9, 10 or face card 





After the drawing phase is completed the scores of the two hands are compared. The hand with score closest to 9 wins; if the scores are the same then bets on a Tie win with other bets are a push (players get their initial bet back).


House edge and payouts in Baccarat

Baccarat has become popular for its easy gameplay and low house edge. Whilst it used to be popular in Europe (especially Monaco and Monte Carlo) it has found a new lease of life in online casinos and in Asia where it is popular with high rollers.

Bets on Player pay out at evens (1:1) and have a house edge of just 1.24%, while bets on the Banker have a slightly lower house edge, at 1.06% but pay out at 19:20. This slightly lower payout is explained by a 5% commission on winning Banker bets.

Bets on a Tie are a slightly different proposition. Depending on where you play Tie bets pay out at either 8:1, creating a massive house edge of 14.4% or 9:1 which reduces the house edge to 4.8%.

History of Baccarat

Like all good casino games Baccarat has a long and disreputable history. It is first documented as being played in 15th century France and was a favourite of the French court at a time when gambling was heavily frowned upon.

The game was subsequently the centre of a high society scandal in Victorian England. In an incident known as the Tranby Croft Affair the Prince of Wales and future King of England was playing baccarat, which was illegal at the time. Unfortunately one of the guests, Sir William Gordon-Cumming, was accused of cheating, which he strongly denied.

The affair was meant to be settled privately, with Sir William promising in writing to not gamble again. Unfortunately the Prince’s mistress began to spread gossip, Sir William becoming an outcast in high society. Eventually he sued his accusers for slander, creating a scandal which damaged the Prince and compelled him to testify in court. Sir William lost his case and was dismissed from the army, retiring in shame to Scotland.

James Bond and Chemin de Fer

The recent James Bond Film Casino Royale shows 007 facing Le Chiffre over an intense game of Poker. Did you know that in the original novel the game of choice was Baccarat?

In an older version of Baccarat, called Chemin de Fer, players would bid to ‘go bank’, buying the right to play as the Banker for that hand. In the 1953 novel (the first Bond book), Bond faces his adversary over a high stakes game, daring his opponent into a rash bet which bankrupts him.

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