The Ultimate Guide to Baccarat: Rules, Variations, Strategies (part 1)

Baccarat is a great game. While it can seem intimidating at first, the game is quite easy to understand with some practice. That said, it pays to be prepared! That is what we are here for. We will cover every detail of baccarat over the next couple of articles. Today, we look at the very basics of baccarat: its rules!

The Bets

Upon starting, you will see a table with three betting options. Player, Tie and Banker. Player and Banker wagers are quite simple. You place a bet hoping that hand will win the round. Tie bets allow you to wager on the rare chance that the two hands will have the same number of points. Take your coins, and place them on the fields you want to wager on. Depending on the table, you may also have additional side bets to spice things up.

Hands and Points

After placing your bets, the cards will be drawn. The game uses a 52-card deck, with no jokers. The cards in that deck are taken from eight full decks. Some roulette tables may use fewer decks. As we covered in our seven best baccarat tips, fewer decks are always better for your winning odds.

The goal of baccarat is to get as close to nine as possible without going over. All cards in the deck grant a certain number of points. Cards 2-9 grant the same number of points as their face value. The ace is worth one point, while ten, jack, queen and king are all worth ten points.

If your hand’s two cards are worth more than ten points, the first digit is discarded. That way, a fifteen-point total becomes five. This means there is no busting, as we see in blackjack. If you immediately draw an eight or nine with your first two cards, those are considered natural eights and nines, respectively.

Dealing Cards

Once all bets are placed, the dealer will draw two cards for both sides. The total points for each side are decided. If there is a need for it, a third card might be drawn on one or both sides! If either side draws a natural eight or nine, both banker and player hands automatically stand.

Player hands only draw a third card if their point total is five or less. Banker hands drawing a third card is more complicated, and depends on the player hand. The banker will draw a third card if the player is standing, and they have a value of five or less. If the player hand gets a third card, the banker will check what card was drawn. Whether or not they draw a third card can be determined using the table.


Banker hand value Draw if the player’s third card is this number Do not draw if the player’s third card is this number
0, 1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, K, Q, J 8
4 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 1, 8, 9, 10, K, Q, J
5 4, 5, 6, 7 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, K, Q, J
6 6, 7 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, K, Q, J
7, 8, 9 Banker always stands Banker always stands


Return to Player and Payouts

Assuming standard baccarat rules are in play, you will be paid as follows for winning the three available wagers.

  • Banker bet pays 0.95:1
  • Player bet pays 1:1
  • Tie bet pays 8:1

The reason for the odd banker bet payout is that it has a 5% commission applied to it. Due to the way the rules are structured, banker bets win more frequently. This is reflected in the return to player for our three baccarat bets.

  • Banker bet RTP is 98.94%
  • Player bet RTP is 98.76%
  • Tie bet RTP is 85.64%