Baccarat (pronounced Bah-Ka-rah) is the French spelling for the Italian word Baccara, meaning zero. It’s been around since the 15th century when French nobility played it exclusively.

The game is still played today in the high limit rooms at most major casinos. Three tuxedo-clad croupiers (dealers) monitor each fourteen-seat table where thousands, sometimes millions, can be won or lost in a matter of hours.

How to Play

The objective of the game is for the player to come as close to the number nine as possible. Aces count as one, two’s through nines are face value, and Tens through Kings count as zero. Regardless of the number of players, the dealer only deals two hands from a 6 or 8 deck shoe. Prior to the deal, players must place one bet on either the Bank hand, player hand, or tie. Croupiers pass the shoe so players have the option in turn to deal the cards.

When a hand is totaled, it cannot exceed nine. If the two cards total more than nine, the first digit (number one) is dropped. The second digit becomes the total. A few examples are:

7, 8 = 15 (drop 1) total = 5

4, 3 = 7 (two cards, face value)

10, 6 = 6 (10 is zero, 6 is face value)

K, 9 = 9 (King is zero, 9 is called a natural)

Baccarat requires no skill on the part of the player. All s/he needs to do is decide where to place one bet before the deal. The dealer examines both hands and then decides if a third and final card should be drawn for either hand. The determination is made according to a fixed set of game rules.

 A bet on the player’s hand returns even money if won. A bet on the Banker’s hand returns even money minus a 5% commission to the house if won. A tie bet returns 8 to 1 if won, otherwise it is a push when not bet. The reason for the 5% commission on the Bank’s win is that the drawing advantage is with the Bank, according the game rules.


The player position always draws on a 0, 1, and 2,3,4,5 unless the Banker has a natural 8 or 9. The player always stands on 6, 7, 8, and 9. When a player has a natural 8 or 9, the game is over.


The Banker position always draws on a 0, 1, 2 unless the player has a natural 8 or 9.

The Banker always stands on 7, 8, and 9. When a Banker has a natural 8 or 9, the game is over.


A simple strategy for this game is to always bet the Bank which has the lowest house edge at 1.06%.A Player bet has an edge of 1.24%, while the Tie bet that pays 8/1 nets the house a whopping 14%!

Mini Baccarat

Eventually a mini version was developed to make the game more popular with average players. The rules for this pit game are the same except one dealer controls the game for up to seven players. Table minimums are as low as $5.00 and players may dress as casually as they like. Unlike the high limit room, Tank tops, shorts and flip-flops are welcome. You will also find some Baccarat side bets at the mini tables but be forewarned they carry a huge house edge.

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