Baccarat is a casino game that doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as some other table games like blackjack or Caribbean Stud, for example. However, there is still a fairly large base of players who enjoy an occasional hand of this classic game, especially from the ranks of high rollers.
Like so many games, baccarat has started its life in brick and mortar casinos but found its way online with the rise of internet casinos. These days, New Zealand players can find a host of online casinos featuring different types of baccarat tables, from electronic ones to those hosted by live dealers.
Baccarat is one of the simplest games to play and there isn’t much strategy involved. In fact, players’ decisions are limited to choosing on where to place their bets before the cards are dealt. Everything that happens after that is pretty much automatic.
At the start of a baccarat hand, all players at the table have an opportunity to bet on one of tree available fields: the player, the banker, and the tie. Although the first two fields are called the way they are called, none of the hands really belongs to the house in a traditional sense as players are free to pick whichever side they like best.
Once all the players have placed their bets, the cards are dealt out. Four cards are dealt out, two for the player bet and two for the dealer bet. At this point, the dealer will look into both hands and, based on what they are, they’ll decide what happens next according to strict rules of the game.
How To Play Baccarat
In baccarat, the goal is to have the hand of the value as close as possible to the total of 9. The way cards are counted is the following:
- 10s and face cards are valued 0 points
- Other cards have their face values
- If the total of the hand exceeds 10, the hand has the value of the second digit of the total score (i.e., 8 and 4 would have the value of 2)
Once the first four cards are dealt, the dealer will first look into the player’s hand. The following happens:
- If the hand total is 8 or 9, no more cards are dealt (this is called Natural)
- If the hand total is 6 or 7, no more cards are dealt
- On all other totals, the player’s hand will receive another card
Then, the dealer will look into their cards and, once again, act according rules of the game in deciding whether to take another card. These rules are a bit more complicated because they aren’t based just on the dealer’s hand but also on the player’s hand total.
All the rules applied to the player’s hand also apply for the dealer. However, there are additional rules:
- If the dealer’s total is 6, the dealer draws when the player’s hand is 6 or 7, otherwise they stand
- If the total is 5, they draw on the players total 4 through 7, otherwise stand
- If the dealer’s total is 4, they draw on the player’s total 2 through 7
- If the dealer’s total is 3, they will only stand if the player’s total is 8
While these rules may seem a bit complicated, the good thing about online baccarat is that you don’t actually even need to know them. Dealers know the rules (or the computer software) and they will always act according to them. So, you’ll never get cheated in that sense.
It is also important to note that no hand can ever contain more than three cards. Once the third card is out, that’s it, and whatever the total is, that number will be used to determine the winner.
In baccarat games spread on casinos catering to New Zealand, standard game rules apply when it comes to player payouts. There is a difference between betting on the player hand and the banker hand in terms of payouts:
- Bets on the player’s hand are paid at 1:1
- Bets on the banker’s hand are usually paid at 0.95 to 1
- Tie bets are paid at 8:1 or 9:1, depending on the house rules
As you can see, baccarat is a simple game as far as players’ decisions are concerned as there is almost no interaction with the cards or the bets after initial wagers are placed. This limits possibilities for any real strategies. Although counting cards in live baccarat games could potentially yield a small edge, it is so miniscule that it’s not worth pursuing.
Banker bets are more favorable for the player, which is why they pay slightly less. Betting on ties is not advisable in online baccarat as this bet actually offers the worst odds. Other than this, if you consistently bet on the banker, the house edge will be around 1.17, which is definitely not too bad. That said, there is virtually nothing you can do to actually cut this edge, so proper bankroll management and walking away after a lucky streak is the only strategy that can keep you in the game longer.