The favorite game of James Bond, Baccarat is also known as Punto Banco. Its land-based version is very popular among high-rollers, which is why many brick-mortar casinos in the United States host Baccarat in private rooms, away from the main floor.
Online, real money Baccarat is significantly more accessible, and its relatively simple rules and low house edge make it a favorite among beginner and serious gamblers. Consequently, we recommend Baccarat to all players interested in picking up a new high-RTP table game that’s easy to learn and fun to play.
Read on to learn how to choose the best online Baccarat casino and for strategies to maximize your returns and bankroll play time.
How to select an online Baccarat casino
Bets in land-based Baccarat in the US are frequently measured in the millions of dollars, so the game can have a significant impact on many casinos’ bottom line and is sometimes included in the quarterly reports of publicly traded gambling companies. Online, the situation is entirely different. The maximum bets are significantly lower, and Baccarat receives the same treatment as other table games with a similar house edge, such as craps, blackjack, or roulette.
The following steps will help you choose an ideal casino for Baccarat play.
Check game availability
Some casinos don’t even offer Baccarat, which is why you should always begin your search by checking if your provider spreads the game. If available, you’ll probably find it under the “Table games” category.
Verify the casino’s trustworthiness
Once you find a few sites that offer Baccarat, your next step is to verify their trustworthiness. You can do that by checking for a proper license and random number generator (RNG) certification. Most reputable international sites operate under licenses issued in Isle of Man, Malta, and Gibraltar because gambling taxes are very low there.
If iGaming regulations in your area of residence are strict and you are required to play on platforms operating in a fenced local market, check for a local license. For example, if you live in Nevada, your casino should be approved by the Nevada Gambling Control Board. Its counterpart in New Jersey is the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, and in Delaware it’s the Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Playing on offshore platforms that take advantage of legal loopholes to offer their services in your area is riskier because you won’t have any legal recourse if they refuse to pay you. If you’re forced to sign up with an offshore operator, always pick a reputable casino with an excellent track record, such as Bovada or BetOnline.
Compare available bonuses
Online casino bonuses are very generous, but most platforms have rules that make it hard to cash them out. Rather than only comparing the maximum amount of money you can get, read the terms and conditions and focus on wagering requirements.
Here’s an example of a proper bonus assessment:
Bonus A is a 100% match on your deposit, up to $500. This means that you get one bonus dollar for every dollar you transfer to the casino on your initial deposit.
Bonus B is also a 100% match on your deposit, up to $800.
Both bonuses have a 20x playthrough requirement. However, in order to complete the playthrough for Bonus A, you must wager 20x your initial deposit, while in the case of Bonus B, you need to wager 20x your deposit and bonus combined. This means that in order to clear Bonus A with a $100 deposit, you have to wager $2,000, while in the case of Bonus B, you’d need to wager double that, or $4,000.
As you can see, a single phrase of fine print can have a massive impact on the value of a welcome offer. In this example, you should always pick Bonus A if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck.
Baccarat players should also pay close attention to game contributions towards bonus clearing. In modern casinos, only high-house edge games such as slots or Keno contribute 100%. Table games like blackjack, roulette, and Baccarat usually contribute between 10% and 25%.
Let’s return to our hypothetical scenario and assume that Baccarat contributes only 10% towards clearing Bonus A and 25% towards clearing Bonus B. Since you need to wager $20,000 to clear Bonus A and $16,000 to clear Bonus B, you should now pick Bonus B, even though Bonus A is still better for slots.
How Baccarat works
Baccarat is played in accordance with fixed drawing rules, which are sometimes referred to as tableau (French for board). Historical casino Baccarat was played between the player (punto) and the banker (banco), and each side was allowed to make individual drawing choices. Nowadays, the casino plays out both hands, and both “player” and “banker” are designations for the hands dealt out in each round, also known as coup.
The gambler isn’t required to wager on the “player” hand. In fact, betting on the banker is a better choice in all popular variants of the game. The gambler can also bet on a tie, but the expected value of this bet is very low even when it pays 9 to 1. Usually, a tie pays 8 to 1, a player bet pays 1 to 1, and a banker bet pays 0.95 to 1. The most common version of Baccarat is played using eight decks, but some casinos also host six and even one-deck games.
Each Baccarat round starts with the dealer drawing two cards for the player and the banker. The cards have a point value corresponding to their face value in points. Tens, jacks, queens and kings are worth zero points, and aces are worth one point. The game is played without jokers. Only the rightmost digit counts when establishing the final point value of a hand. For example, a hand consisting of 3 and 4 is worth 7 points, but a hand consisting of 4 and 8 is worth only 2 points because 4+8 = 12, and 2 is the rightmost digit.
If either side draws an 8 or a 9, the round ends and the result is announced. If neither side has an 8 or a 9, a third card is drawn in accordance with the following rules:
– If the player has an initial total of 5 or less, he draws a third card.
– If the player total is 6 or 7, the player stands.
– If the banker total is 2 or less, the banker draws a card regardless of the player’s third card.
– If the banker total is 3, the banker draws a third card unless the player’s third card was an 8.
– If the banker total is 4, the banker draws a third card if the player’s third card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.
– If the banker total is 5, the banker draws a third card if the player’s third card was 4, 5, 6, or 7.
– If the banker total is 6, the banker draws a third card if the player’s third card was a 6 or 7.
– If the banker total is 7, the banker always stands.
Is land-based Baccarat different from online Baccarat?
In terms of rules and odds, land-based Baccarat is identical to internet Baccarat. In online games, the software performs all functions of the dealer, and the outcome of the game is generated using the casino’s random numbers generator (RNG). In legitimate online casinos, the RNG software is rigorously tested to ensure that the probabilities of hitting specific combinations are the same as in a standard card draw.
Since online play is automated to such a large extend, internet Baccarat is significantly faster. This allows the gambler to play significantly more hands per hour than in the case of a live game. Moreover, betting limits for online games are significantly lower. As a result, online players must be more careful about the impact even the lowest house edge will have on their bankroll over prolonged gambling sessions.
Free play and practice
Most casinos give you the option to try their games for free. While playing Baccarat properly doesn’t require a lot of knowledge, we still recommend learning the game in play-money mode first. This will allow you to memorize the drawing rules and to learn the interface before putting your hard-earned cash on the line.
Glossary of Baccarat terms
- Betting system: a way of placing wagers which is supposed to give the player an advantage over the house. Betting systems don’t change the odds, which renders them completely ineffective.
- Expected Value: the average expected value of a long series of bets, abbreviated as EV. Bets that benefit the player are often referred to as EV positive (EV+). Conversely, bets that benefit that casino are referred to as EV negative (EV-). In Baccarat, all bets are EV-negative.
- Coup: another name for a round in Baccarat.
- Gambler’s fallacy: the false belief that unrelated random events are actually related and influence one another. Leads to all sorts of illogical betting behavior and forms the foundation of many betting systems.
- The grind: the effect of the house edge whittling down the gambler’s bankroll during long gaming sessions.
- House Edge: the ratio of mathematically expected player loss to any given wager.
- Punto Banco: another name for Baccarat. Punto stands for “player”, while Banco stands for “banker”.
- RTP (return-to-player): an abstract value representing the average percentage of wagered money expected to be paid back to the gambler over the long term.
How to beat online Baccarat
Baccarat is a casino game and as such can’t be played for profit. All Baccarat bets have negative expected value. In a standard eight-deck game in which a tie pays 8 to 1, the house edge on each bet is as follows:
- Banker: 1.06% house edge (45.8597% probability)
- Player: 1.24% house edge (44.6247% probability)
- Tie: 14.36% house edge (9.5156% probability)
As you can see, betting on a tie is objectively the worst decision you can make. The probability of such an outcome occurring is very low and the payout isn’t worth the risk. Even in a game that pays 9 to 1 on a tie, the house edge is still 4.844%.
If you’re playing for profit, always bet on the banker. The 0.95x payout is lower than the 1x payout that you get if you bet on the player, but the probability of the banker winning makes placing this bet slightly more advantageous.
The same holds true for six-deck games:
- Banker: 1.06% house edge
- Player: 1.24% house edge
- Tie (pays 8 to 1): 14.44% house edge
- Tie (pays 9 to 1): 4.931% house edge
One-deck games follow a similar same pattern:
- Banker: 1.01% house edge
- Player: 1.29% house edge
- Tie (pays 8 to 1): 15.75% house edge
- Tie (pays 9 to 1): 6.385% house edge
The grind in Baccarat
The only way to win money at Baccarat is to place as few bets as possible, get lucky, and quit the game. Since the house has an edge, in an infinitely long gaming session your bankroll will always be reduced to zero. The longer you play, the more your overall results will reflect this expected outcome. This phenomenon, known as the grind, is the bane of all online casino enthusiasts regardless of the games they play.
Consequently, it is always better to place a single $100 bet than to place ten $10 bets, even though this conclusion might seem counter-intuitive at first. The more you hedge your bets, the more likely you are to lose money. Winning at any casino game requires the gambler to be bold and decisive. Movies tend to depict real-money gambling in a warped way, but in the case of Baccarat, emulating James Bond’s approach will improve your odds of coming out ahead.
Baccarat betting systems
If there’s one thing you should know about betting systems, it’s that they don’t influence the house edge or the odds. In layman’s terms, they can change how your bankroll is reduced to zero, but they can’t stop this from occurring. The paid betting systems pushed on dishonest gambling websites are blatant scam attempts designed to trick the less mathematically inclined casino enthusiasts. If any of those systems worked, the casinos would need to stop offering the affected games or go bankrupt. And yet, internet casinos are still open for business and none of the popular games have been removed.
Many betting systems are based on gambler’s fallacy, which is the belief that random events can influence the outcome of other, unrelated random events. For example, a Baccarat player who believes in gambler’s fallacy might believe that a series of banker wins means that it’s time for the player to win. In reality, the probability of the banker winning in an 8-deck game is always 45.8597%. A long series of banker wins may be improbable, but that doesn’t matter when you’re inside such a series and you’re betting on the outcome of the next coup. The worst thing you can do in Baccarat is to bet the tie after a long series of banker and player wins.
The Martingale technique is an excellent example of a betting system that can change how you lose your money without impacting the overall return-to-player rate. It boils down to doubling your bet whenever you lose, so that you always cover for your previous defeat and still turn a profit if you win.
Thus, assuming no betting limits, every series of Martingale bets can have one of two outcomes:
- You win a small amount of money (high probability);
- You lose your entire bankroll (low probability).
Here’s an example that should drive this point further home:
Initial bet: $1
Second bet: 2 x $1 = $2
Third bet: 2x $2 = $4
Fourth bet: 2 x $4 = $8
Your next bet should be 2 x $8 = $16, but so far you’ve already wagered $1 + $2 + $4 +$8 = $15. Thus, you have only $16 – $15 = $1 to gain, and $16 to lose.
Since the house has an edge and your bankroll isn’t infinite, at some point you’re guaranteed to reach your limit and go bankrupt. The betting limits make your situation even worse. Computer simulations based on millions of randomly generated coups prove that Martingale doesn’t have any impact on the RTP.
Tips for playing online Baccarat
Baccarat is an EV-negative game, so our tips won’t turn you into a consistently winning player. They will, however, help you maximize your enjoyment of the game.
Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose
The house always has an edge, so don’t deposit more than you can afford to lose. If you notice that you’re spending too much money on Baccarat, you can always ask your casino to set a weekly or monthly deposit limit for you.
Play for fun
Don’t be angry if you lose. All casino enthusiasts lose at some point – it’s the natural consequence of playing EV-negative games. Treat your online casino adventures as a paid form of entertainment. Assuming this mindset will allow you to avoid the frustration that sometimes comes with casino losses while simultaneously rendering your victories more enjoyable.
Don’t be afraid to place large bets
In order to win at Baccarat, you have to exploit the volatility of the game. The more bets you place, the bigger the influence the house edge will have on your results. If you want to maximize your chances of turning a profit, always bet the banker and go for the maximum possible wagers. Don’t be afraid to put your entire bankroll on the line. Play like a movie hero. Just make sure to quit when you get ahead.
Avoid this advice if your goal is to have fun and extend your bankroll play time – in that case, go for the smallest bets possible while remaining aware of the inevitable consequences of the grind.
Don’t waste your money on betting systems
You can’t play Baccarat for long-term profit and no betting system can change this fundamental truth. The people behind “surefire” betting systems want to part you with your money while offering you nothing but empty promises and frustration in return. To get the most bang for your buck, dedicate your Baccarat budget to actually playing the game and try to minimize the grind by placing large bets.
Leave the game if you’re satisfied with your winnings
If you feel like you’ve won enough, don’t be afraid to leave the game and cash out. Don’t waste your lucky streak on pointless grind. This doesn’t mean you have to stop playing as soon as you turn a profit, but never forget that the house has an edge.
Learn the game in free-play mode first
As mentioned above, you can play Baccarat without understanding the drawing rules, but if you take the time to learn the game you’re going to enjoy it even more. The best way to memorize the rules is to spend some time trying out the game in free-play mode. This will also allow you to get a good feel for the user interface.
Online Baccarat FAQ
Q: Can you really win money playing Baccarat online?
A: Yes. If you bet the banker, the house edge is only 1.06%, so a lucky series of high bets can allow you to walk away with a wide grin on your face. Just keep in mind that that placing timid bets will drastically reduce your odds of turning a large profit. In Baccarat or any other casino bet for that matter, a single $100 bet is always better than ten $10 bets. Fortune favors the brave.
Q: What’s your opinion of non-standard Baccarat variants, such as Super 6?
A: All non-standard variants of Baccarat give the house a higher edge. In Super 6, the banker bet pays 1:1 on most winning combinations and 0.50:1 if the banker wins with six points. This increases the house edge on the banker bet from 1.06% to 1.46%.
Fortunately, online casinos tend to stick to the traditional version of the game.
Q: How do I deposit money with an online slots casino?
A: All legitimate internet casinos support multiple deposit methods. Typically, available options include some e-wallet solutions, credit/debit card payments, and local payment processing services.
Caution: if you live in United States, avoid credit card payments because US financial institutions often block gambling-related payments. Unfortunately, this also applies to legal sites licensed in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. As of May 2018, the rejection rates range from 25% to 45%, depending on the jurisdiction and the institutions handling payments.
Q: If I win at Baccarat, how will the online casino pay me?
A: In most cases, withdrawal methods are fairly similar to deposit methods. Keep in mind that their availability may depend on your banking history. For example, many casinos allow their customers to cash out using Neteller or Skrill only if that same e-wallet service was used to make a deposit.
Furthermore, many casinos have monthly or weekly cash-out limits, which can become an issue for high-rollers. If your transaction size exceeds those limits, your money will be divided across multiple payments. In some cases you might be able to overcome this problem by requesting a withdrawal via check by courier, which usually come with significantly higher withdrawal limits.
Q: What happens if I get disconnected in the middle of a round?
A: Most casinos generate the outcome of a coup as soon as you hit the draw button. If you get disconnected, one of two things can happen:
- The request to start the round doesn’t go through. In this case your bet isn’t subtracted from your bankroll.
- The request to start the round does go through and the casino processes the entire round. In this scenario, your bankroll will reflect the outcome of the round, but you won’t be able to watch the action unfold on your screen.
Q: Are there any casino welcome bonuses available exclusively to Baccarat players?
A: No. Baccarat may be a VIP game in land-based casinos, but online operators treat it as a niche table game. In fact, Baccarat contributions towards bonus clearing tend to be low because of the low house edge on banker and player bets.
Q: What about cryptocurrencies? Can I use Bitcoin to fund my betting account?
A: Bitcoin deposits aren’t available in most legitimate online casinos, so your options will be very limited. If you’re a US-based player, you can try playing on Bovada or BetOnline. If you live in Europe, your safest bet is Bodog.
A brief history of Baccarat
The origins of Baccarat are disputed. Some experts maintain that it evolved from the Macao board game in the 19th century. Other historians believe that its origins date back to 15th century Italy and that it was popularized by Charles VIII’s soldiers during the Franco-Italian war.
Baccarat gained widespread notoriety after the so-called British royal Baccarat scandal, which involved a Scots Guards lieutenant-colonel, who was accused by several members of British high society – including the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII of cheating at a Baccarat table.
This probably inspired Ian Fleming to make Baccarat the favorite game of James Bond, who plays it in multiple novels, including Casino Royale. Baccarat is also featured in several Bond movies, including Dr. No, Thunderball, the 1967 version of Casino Royale, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, and Goldeneye.