Baccarat, also known as chemin de fer or punto banco is a casino game with a long and famous history. Back in the 1950s, when Ian Fleming wrote Casino Royale, this was the game that featured in the showdown between James Bond and Le Chiffre. When the story was retold in the 2005 movie starring Daniel Craig, the game was changed to poker, as baccarat was not so well known and was considered outdated.
15 years on, and all that has changed. As well as enjoying a resurgence in land-based casinos, baccarat is an increasingly popular game to play online or using a mobile casino app from your smartphone. There are also stand-alone mobile apps at Google Play or the Apple app store that will let you play baccarat just for fun. These are ideal for getting to grips with the game before you try to beat the house!
We are all acquainted with blackjack, and the rules for baccarat work on similar principles. The game is usually played using multiple decks, suits are irrelevant and cards have their face value. The difference is that only last number of your total is counted – so face cards are effectively worth zero, a nine and a five gives a total of 4, eight and seven is 5 and so on.
Two cards are dealt for the dealer and the two for the player. The winning hand is the one that is closest to nine. Unlike blackjack, there are no decisions to make about whether to take another card. The rules for hitting or standing are already laid down, and are quite complex. The beauty of baccarat, though, is that you don’t need to know them. The dealer takes care of all that, so all you have to do is bet on whether the player will win, the banker will win or the game will result in a tie.
Those complex rules on whether or not the player and banker draw another card leave the banker with a slight advantage. Statistically, the probabilities of each result are as follows:
- Banker win – 46 percent
- Player win – 45 percent
- Tie – nine percent
The above apply when you play baccarat with a single deck of cards, but they illustrate the point. At first glance, you might think the obvious strategy is to back the banker, but the casino offers slightly adjusted payouts to allow for the banker’s advantage. Despite this, however, statisticians have worked out that backing the banker means you are up against a marginally reduced house edge (1.1 percent compared to 1.2 percent). One thing is certain, you should avoid the 8/1 offered on the tie, as that entails a house edge of more than 14 percent!
Of course, just backing the banker every time gets boring, and baccarat is a game that lends itself to progressive betting strategies like the Martingale or Oscar’s Grind. While they won’t guarantee a win, they tend to help your bankroll last, and will often mean you even end the session with a modest profit. Why not give it a try for yourself? Good luck!