When you see the original James Bond sit down in a casino and play a card game where the dealer handles the cards with a long, flat board with a handle, that’s Baccarat. Baccarat is an ancient game, with the original French version of the game introduced around the end of the 1400s, adapted from an even older Italian game called Baccara.
There are three well-known modern versions of Baccarat:
- Punto Banco
- Chemin de Fer
- Baccarat Banque
Almost all Baccarat games offered by online casinos are played by punto banco rules, including free Baccarat games. Punto banco is sometimes called North American Baccarat, mostly because chemin de fer and Baccarat Banque are older versions that were popular in France at one time.
Translated into English, the words punto banco refer to the punter and the banker. In this form of Baccarat, the dealer is always the house, or banker, and the gambler is always the Punter. The dealer always deals out all the cards, and the punter can bet on either hand, so it’s unlike other card games where one hand belongs to the player and the other one belongs to the house.
In some ways, the game resembles blackjack, but it has an unusual scoring system for the cards, and smart wagering is the only way to have an effect on your success, as the cards are dealt with no element of strategy involved.
Baccarat Hand Valuation
In Baccarat, including most versions of free Baccarat online, two cards are dealt to the banker and the punter. The cards are summed, and if called for, an additional card is dealt to one or both hands. A standard deck is used, with no jokers. Unlike most other betting games, all face cards and tens are counted as zeroes. Aces are counted as one. All cards from 2 through 9 are counted as their face value.
When summing your cards, any combination that exceeds 9 ignores the first digit of the number. For instance, if you draw a 5 and a 9, your cards sum 14, the number 1 is ignored, and your sum is considered 4. In this way, the sum of both hands always ends up between 0 and 9, and unlike games such as blackjack, it’s impossible to bust by going over a maximum score.
When scoring, the hand with the higher total wins, but there can also be a tie. No judgment is used on whether a third card will be drawn. If the first two cards add up to a 6 or a 7, you stand pat, and you draw if the value is from 0 to 5. If the player does not draw a third card, the rules for the banker are the same. The banker’s rules for drawing an additional card are more complex if the punter is dealt a third card, and the value of the third card:
- If the punter’s third card was a 2 or 3, the banker draws on a hand between 0 and 4, and stands on 5, 6, or 7
- If the third card was a 4 or 5, the banker draws on a hand between 0 and 5 and stands on 6 or 7
- If the third card was a 6 or 7, tbe banker draws on a hand from 0 to 6, and stands on 7
- If the third card was an eight, the banker draws only on 0, 1, or 2, and stands from 3 through 7
- If the punter’s third card was a nine, ten, face card, or ace, the banker draws between 0 and 3 and stands from 4 to 7
Like blackjack, there are some hands that are called are called naturals, If either the punter or the banker has a hand worth 8 or 9 points on the first two cards, it’s a winner and all bets are immediately settled with no further cards drawn.
How to Bet on Baccarat
Baccarat doesn’t involve any skill or judgment in deciding when to draw, and wagering is more of an exercise in luck, so the game lends itself more to streaks than strategy. Unlike other casino card games, you can bet on either your own hand or the banker’s hand. You can also bet that there will be a tie. Each of these wagers offers advantages
- Betting on the punter’s hand – This wager pays out at even money odds
- Betting on the banker’s hand – This also pays out at even money, but there’s a 5 percent commission, so the odds are actually 0.95 to 1
- Tie – A tie results in a payoff of 8:1
While it appears at first that a bet on a punter’s hand pays better than a bet on the banker’s hand, because of the intricacy of the rules surrounding the banker’s third card draws, your chances are actually slightly better in the long run if you bet on the banker and pay the commission. The difference is slight, though.
Baccarat and Free Baccarat Online
Baccarat is an exciting game, whether played for high stakes or played as free Baccarat. Because the odds are so close for the punter and the banker, you can play for a very long time on a small stake without worrying about losing it quickly in high stakes games if you like. That doesn’t mean that Baccarat is always played for low stakes. Quite the contrary is true. Some of the highest rollers in the world play Baccarat, and it’s common for the most prestigious casinos to offer private rooms for intense, high-stakes Baccarat. Baccarat games can be played for such high stakes that one game that goes heavily toward the punter can affect a casino’s bottom line directly, and some casinos actually report wins and losses on Baccarat as a separate line item on their financial statements.
Free Baccarat is offered at many online casinos as a fun and easy way to introduce players to the quality of the games offered on the site. Free Baccarat online is especially fun if you pretend you’re a high-stakes player, like James Bond wagering big money against a determined opponent. Free Baccarat is also a great way to learn the game, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can sign up and play the game for real stakes.