A Guide to Online Baccarat
Baccarat is one of the biggest casino games ever created, played in countless venues by millions of customers across the globe. The game has multiple variations and is a common choice for high-rollers, perhaps due to the aura of sophistication & elegance it exudes (like poker, blackjack, and a number of other casino games).
You’ll find baccarat available to play at brick-and-mortar casinos and online venues alike. With this freedom of choice, fans of the game can try their luck wherever they go – either by visiting a land-based casino with a buzzing atmosphere or on a computer / mobile device in the comfort of your own home. It’s a terrific time to be a fan of baccarat, as you can enjoy your favourite game and potentially win real money at any time, any place. Never played it before? Well, just grab your phone, find the best online casino, and dive in! The following guide will explore the roots of online baccarat, the variations between the traditional game and online versions, as well as a few expert tips to help you get started.
The Beginnings of Online Baccarat
While finding the origins of casino games is often easy, there remains some dispute over exactly how and when baccarat was created. It’s generally believed to date back as early as the 1400s, arriving in France after becoming popular in Italy (the name is apparently derived from an old Italian word for zero, due to the ten, jack, queen, and king card carrying no value).
Still, even though the game appears to go back to this period, centuries passed before it became noted as one of Europe’s leading casino games, becoming particularly popular with the French royals (though several variations were played by this point). King Charles VIII was believed to be a huge fan of the game, and Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond, of course) was inspired to make his iconic hero a keen player based on his own experiences.
Baccarat eventually caught on in the Caribbean and South America, though it was changed in a number of ways, such as with players taking on the house itself (rather than each other). It eventually ended up in Las Vegas in the late 1950s, having arrived at the city’s Sands casino courtesy of one Tommy Renzoni. The sense of elitism surrounding the game (due to its connections with royalty) enabled casinos to market baccarat to high-rollers, and it has remained popular ever since.
With the arrival of online casinos in the mid to late 1990s, baccarat soon became a staple. It’s hard (if not impossible) to pinpoint the first online venue to offer baccarat, but one thing’s for sure: it’s as popular now as ever. As with other card games, baccarat is translated to the screen with impressive results, and today’s online versions are incredibly accurate to the real game itself. It lends itself to mobile devices very well, and allows for a more relaxing experience than more fast-paced games.
Mobile gaming has come on leaps and bounds in the past decade, with today’s average handsets capable of running games as well as desktop computers, though VR is the next big step in online casinos. There are already places you can go to enjoy virtual-reality experiences, replicating your favourite game with unprecedented realism – and baccarat will continue to be part of this. You’ll be able to get the full thrill of sitting at a table, interacting with fellow players and the dealer, all without having to actually leave your living room!
How is Online Baccarat Different to Traditional Baccarat?
As with most casino games, playing online and in a brick-and-mortar venue is a different experience. There are usually some pros and cons associated with each, and baccarat is no different. For a start, you have the buzz of the casino itself in a land-based venue: there are dozens, if not hundreds, of fellow players around you, all having a good time. This can create something of an electric atmosphere, and this plays a large part in bringing fans back again and again. Of course, not everyone is such a social creature – you might find the presence of other players, whether at your table or further afield, a frustrating distraction. If this is the case, online baccarat is much better for you, in that you’ll be able to focus on your own experience much more as you sit at your computer or tap away at your mobile device.
Another benefit is that online baccarat moves faster than the real-world equivalent. You can expect faster dealers and fewer delays from other players, helping the game to flow in a more fluid, exciting way. If you’re afraid that you’ll miss the presence of a dealer completely, or if you’d like some sense of interaction as you play, most online casinos today offer you a live baccarat game. These are hosted by glamorous dealers and feature the same sense of sophistication as their offline counterparts. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking to ease yourself into the online world of baccarat after playing it in brick-and-mortar casinos for years. Online baccarat also runs on a Random Number Generator (RNG), ensuring the game remains fair again and again.
Online baccarat tends to offer lower minimum bets too, enabling you to take part even if you’re on a modest budget. Another key difference between playing online and offline? The free-play modes. The best online casinos often give you the chance to play games for free before you commit any money, and it’s incredibly helpful: you can try a game you’ve never played before ahead of wagering any cash, reducing your risk. This is an ideal option if you want to try baccarat but have no idea how to play it.
Brick-and-mortar casinos don’t offer free-play baccarat, of course, so joining a table for the first time can be very intimidating. With online baccarat, you don’t need to start wagering real money until you’re ready. There are many different online baccarat games available, in multiple variations and styles, created by a number of leading software brands. Top names like Evolution Gaming, NetEnt, BetSoft, and Microgaming all produce baccarat for online casinos, with smooth performance, immersive sound effects, and overall high-quality presentation. You can generally find baccarat at all of the most popular venues, though not every casino will work with the same games developers.
How Do You Play Online Baccarat?
Cards have a specific points value in baccarat. Between two and nine (across all suits) are allocated their numerical value; tens, jacks, kings, and queens lack any point value whatsoever, and have zero worth; aces are allocated a single point, and the jokers are left out of the deck altogether. One confusing area we should touch on is that hands are granted a total value based on the rightmost number when all cards’ values are added together. For example, if you had a hand of 4 and 4, your hand would be valued at 8 in all, yet if your cards added up to anything over 9, their worth would differ. A hand of 7 and 4, for example, would have an overall value of just 1, as that’s the rightmost digit in 11. As a result of this complex rule, baccarat’s highest hand is fixed at a 9.
As mentioned earlier, there are three different types of baccarat, but the most popular is inarguably Punto Banco. In many casinos (offline and online alike) this will be titled as simply ‘baccarat’, so it’s worth knowing the rules for this before you start playing. The dealer will take cards from a large stack of made of between six and eight decks (the latter tends to be the most common). Players are asked to bet either on the Player or the Banker, while a side bet can be placed on a Tie outcome.
The dealer deals two cards for the Player and the Banker, both face up, and the hand nearest to 9 in total is declared the winner. Anyone placing a bet on the Player will have winnings double their bet if the Player’s hand is the closest to 9, while wins on Banker-winning hands generate just 95% of the bet. If any cards dealt are over 9, the two must be added together to ascertain its value; as we explained earlier, the first number is dropped and the rightmost is the remaining value. This may take a little bit of getting used to, but becomes second nature after a while.
If the Player or the Banker get an overall 8 or 9, a win or tie is announced. However, if neither the Player or Banker manages to secure these figures, a third card may need to be drawn. A Player with between 0 and 5 will be allowed to draw a third card, but if they have between 6 and 7, they will need to stand. Should the Player do so, the Banker has to follow the same path.
While Punto Banco is generally the standard game of baccarat at UK online casinos, you’ll often have a choice between this and other forms. Chemin de fer differs from the American-influenced game in that players are invited to do the dealing (rather than the dealer), and the role of Banker is passed around the table. Players also have the choice to stand or take another card if their hand totals five.
Baccarat en Banque is another variation, mostly found in Europe, and is typically played with three decks of cards. The Banker role will also be auctioned off to the player most willing to take a major risk. Super Pan 9 is mainly played in the USA, and has a deck of just 36 cards. These are only the face cards, aces, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The Banker and Player are dealt three cards each at first, but have a chance to draw an extra card to get as close to 9 as possible.
With three card baccarat, you’ll have one deck of cards only and Banker and Player receive three cards each. The highest hand you can possibly get is three face cards, but other standard rankings still apply beyond this. Mini baccarat is the same game, but you play at a smaller table and for smaller stakes. As you can see, playing baccarat takes some getting used to, but it’s incredibly exciting and rewarding when you get to grips with it.
Online Baccarat Strategies
Looking to learn some helpful online baccarat strategies? Let’s look at a few to help you get off to a solid start.
– Never bet on a tie, as you’ll rarely win; online casinos typically provide major payouts on these, but it’s not really worth going for.
– Consider playing variations of baccarat with fewer decks – the fewer cards there are, the better your odds of winning become. Take a look around the best online casinos to find those forms of baccarat featuring fewer decks, and give them a try. As you become more comfortable and confident, you can upgrade to those variations with more decks at play.
– Stay on top of your bankroll! This is just as important in baccarat as in other online casino games. Set a limit before you start playing and stick to this throughout. Keep your bets low when you begin experimenting with baccarat in all its forms, and then up your stake amounts as you get a feel for it.
– Try not to focus too much on spotting patterns or taking note of previous hands. Online baccarat is designed to be random each time, with no relation from one game to the next. Concentrate on doing the best you can with each pair of cards you’re dealt, and have fun. Don’t look for patterns or clues that may not be there.
– The Banker generally has a house advantage, so bet on them often. You may not want to do this every time, but it can work out in your favour if you try it on a regular basis.
We hope this guide helps you discover your passion for baccarat. Start slow and steady, and acclimate yourself to the rules of each variation; try playing for free and you’ll soon develop a taste (and flair) for the game.