An Overview Of Baccarat

Baccarat is a game of French origin as the name would suggest, where the original spelling was ‘Baccara.’ The ‘t’ that you find on the end of baccarat was added to the end of the spelling for no reason whatsoever. One possibility is that French words were often Anglicised to separate the word from their French counterpart. As you might read elsewhere, baccarat is a relatively new addition to the world of casino gaming. This occurred, as we believe, in the 1800s, becoming a very popular game towards the end of the nineteenth century in France. Being founded in the centre of the arbitrary term ‘class,’ the game still has the air of a high stakes game, which lingers in Casinos around all parts of the globe.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to when Baccarat was actually invented. From what we can gather baccarat arose out of a family of card games such as blackjack, vingt-et-un, trente-et-un and pontoon. These games from what we can tell were direct ancestors of earlier games such as basset and faro.

The classic baccarat paddle which has graced the tables for centuries

Games have a habit of changing over time; whether they become more streamlined, or more complex. Baccarat though, doesn’t exactly follow this rule, and has remained the same ever since its conception. Without the gambling element of the game, it would be a rather tedious experience. This could be said about similar games such as roulette, blackjack and even slot games, which without the risk element would be rather dull.

The first mention of Baccarat in an English speaking country (USA, Australia, Britain etc.) was in a British newspaper – in the January 1886 edition of the Daily Telegraph. From Britain the game, like many other table games of European origin, quickly became popular in the USA. Baccarat maintained its stable position as the premium table game long after its conception. Baccarat is now played both online and in bricks and mortar casinos. With the air of sophistication that surrounds Baccarat, it often brings in a lot of money via high rollers. Being one of the easier games to play, it has become one of the most accessible games on the internet.

The Potential Origins Of Baccarat

Websites and other various pieces of literature suggest that Baccara travelled from Italy to France in the fifteenth century. This, we believe, is somewhat wrong though, as it is reasonable to assert that they meant basset, as the game also came from Italy in the fifteenth century. Basset was a banking game and was played in a similar way:

  1. Each player is first dealt thirteen cards face up
  2. Players can place a bet on each face up card
  3. The banker then deals one card and any that have the same value
  4. The banker then  deals cards in pairs and any that match the first card lose
  5. Any that match the second card in the pair win
  6. This continues until all cards have gone

If the player then decides to leave a winning stake on the card and wins, the player is awarded seven times their stake. This can be repeated with potential returns increasing after every turn. The potential to win huge money was appealing, but as Richard Seymour said in his book Compleat Gamester, ‘the dimmest eye may easily see, without a pair of spectacles, how much and considerable design of this court game is in the favour of the banker.’

Baccarat has come a long way since its conception in the 1500s

This game was eventually replaced by a more complex version called faro. This game was similar but contained some new features. You now had the opportunity to bet on a particular suit appearing and also half the stake returning to the bank whenever a pair was dealt. This soon became the most popular casino game, but was replaced by blackjack and baccarat in the 1900s.

The Basic Rules Of Baccarat

In a regular game of baccarat, each person is dealt a total of 2 cards. Face cards – ace, king, queen and jack – are worth nothing, and everything else is worth its number value. Whenever the total of a hand goes above 9, it is returned to 0. For example, if a player is dealt a 2 and 5, their hand would be 7. If the player then opts for another card and receives a 3, their new total would be 1, which is 1 over 9, or 10.

That is everything you need to know about baccarat – it’s honestly that simple. Some would say that playing blackjack is more complex, as there is little to no strategy involved in baccarat. This is one potential reason it has become so popular with the rich, as they can spend less time concentrating on playing and more time socialising. There is, of course, the etiquette that comes along with playing baccarat that can seem complicated. The order of play, and the actual rules for betting are rather complex and the variations of the game – baccarat banque and punto banco – can throw people off playing baccarat. Yet, once you have played baccarat a few times, you will soon develop a taste for the game.

Baccarat Banque – Baccarat Variation #1

Known in English speaking countries as ‘Baccarat Banque’ and in France as ‘Baccarat a deux tableaux’, it is one of the most popular games in Europe and Australia, but not often played in the USA. Richard Seymour’s rules that he reported in 1897 were the definitive rules of the time, although modern rules may have changed a bit.

The table was split into two sections – hence the name – with banking players on one side and non-banking players on the other. During each game someone is chosen to play as the banker, which is originally decided by who is to the left and right of the croupier. Once the banker has lost, the role will be passed on to the players left, although this can be refused.

All the players generally bid to decide who will provide the bank, and this is held until all the cards in the shoe are used, or until the banker decides to pass the role on. The banker then places as much as it requires to be on the table, and players then have the opportunity to call ‘banco’, challenging the banker to play one on one.

If nobody calls ‘banco’, each side of the table contributes an equal share of the sum of the banker’s stake. The banker then deals two cards, and two to everybody else. If anybody has an 8 or 9 they must show their hands at once, and paid accordingly. The players who did not get 8 or 9 then have the option to take another card, ending with the banker. If the banker beats the players it takes the winnings, otherwise, the if the player wins they receive a portion of the banker’s stake.

Chermin de Fer – Baccarat Variation #2

This variety of baccarat takes place on one table, and that for each deal, the only player the banker plays against is the person to the right – unless somebody declares ‘banco’. The banker position changes quite often in Chermin de Fer, and passes on to the player’s left once the banker loses.

Ian Fleming – author of the James Bond novels – popularised Baccarat in the 50s with Casino Royale

Punto Banco – Baccarat Variation #3

This variety of Baccarat originated in Latin-America, where it spread to English speaking countries via Cuba. This variety of the game is most popular in the USA and Australia. Americans, as they generally do, confuse everybody else by referring to this game as Baccarat-Chemin de Fer.

This variety has a house banker, who deals both the player’s hand and the banker’s hand. All the player must do is decide who is going to win. It’s as simple as that, and follows the same rules as above. This variety of baccarat has become extremely popular on online casinos, due to the simplicity of the game. You can find this variety of baccarat on our instant play or downloadable software.

Baccarat Strategy

Unfortunately with Baccarat there is no clear cut strategy. Some would suggest that you follow a specific pattern of play, but the truth is, especially with Punto Banco baccarat, it is all mainly down to luck. Take, for example, the odds of winning if betting on the banker, the player and a stand-off.

Banker wins:45.9%
Player wins:44.6%
Stand-off: 0.095%

Stand-offs generally pay out quite well – they can be called ‘draws’ in a variety of casinos from around the world – and seem to be a lucrative bet. Unfortunately, the stand-off bet is most definitely the worst kind of bet one can place when playing baccarat. It is more likely to pick out 1 ball from a collection of 100 then to land a stand-off bet. In fact! It the odds are even shorter than that, which just shows you how low the probability of landing a stand-off bet is.  If you would like to play these kinds of odds then keno or the lottery is more your kind of game.

Experts in the baccarat community believe that placing a bet on the banker is your best chance of winning. Although, some casinos do levy a commission fee for winning on the banker bet, which is around 1-3%. Essentially, this is how they maintain their house advantage. With this in mind, it might not seem placing a bet on the banker for that small percentage increase chance of winning. Other than that baccarat is truly a game of chance and requires no skill whatsoever; for those who are looking for a skill based game then might we suggest the most popular table game in the world – blackjack.

Taking into account the amount of decks being used can often help with the odds. If the table is using 8 decks – which is the generic amount for a baccarat game – then this game throw odds into the house’s favour more than if the game was to be using 6 decks. So, the next time you are at the casino check how many decks they are using.

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about baccarat. Think we’ve missed anything out, then let us know in the comments section below. Good luck at le tables!

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