All About Mini-Baccarat
While no-one seems to be entirely sure when and where the game of Baccarat was originally created, it's widely assumed to have originated somewhere in Italy in the nineteenth century and having been inspired by blackjack; which originated in France and was called called vingt-et-un (twenty-one.)
Though the games are quite different for a number of reasons, they share a similar goal in that the objective is to get as close to a particular hand total as possible.
- In baccarat, the ideal hand total is 9. This is the highest value a hand can have.
- When a hand is dealt more than a total of 9, 10 is subtracted from the hand total. This is known as 'modulo 10' (not a baccarat specific phrase) - and ensures with each card dealt the players hand total is somewhere between 0 and 9. For example, if a player receives a 5 and a 6 for a total of 11, 10 is automatically subtracted making the hand total 1.
- For this reason, 10's, Jacks, Queens and Kings are all essentially valued at 0 (10 minus 10.)
- Aces are valued at 1.
If you're a visual learner, a quick way to introduce yourself to the game is to watch the following video:
While each player does receive their own hand - they don't have to bet on their own hand if they'd rather not. Before each deal commences players have three different betting options, bet on their own hand to win, bet for the dealers hand to win, or bet on a tie outcome. When more than one player is at the table other peoples hands have no significance to yours (other than possibly noting what cards have been removed from the deck,) your bet reflects only your hand versus the dealers.
- Winning bets on a players own hand pay even money (100%.)
- Winning bets on the dealers hand normally pay even money minus a 5% commission (95%.) Some tables (rarely) may have a 4% or 6% commission alternatively.
- Tie bets normally pay 8 to 1 (800%) - though very rarely tables may offer lower or higher payouts.
- At the beginning of the deal each player and the banker are both dealt 2 cards. These cards are dealt face up in online baccarat games.
- If either the player or the dealer has a hand total of 8 or 9, it is called a 'natural'. Neither takes any further cards and whoever has the highest total wins, or the hand is declared a tie if they have the same total. (while both a 'Natural', a total of 9 still beats a total of 8.)
- If neither the player or the banker has been dealt a natural with their initial 2 cards, the players hand goes first based on set rules. With a total of 6 or 7 they will 'stand' and not take a further card, with a 5 or less they will take one (and only one) more.
- If the player does not take a third card, the banker will take a third card if their hand total is between 0 and 5, otherwise they will stand as well.
If the player does take a third card, there are additional rules to determine whether the banker will as well:
- If it's a 2 or 3, then the banker takes a third card if they have a total between 0 and 4, and stand otherwise.
- If it's a 4 or 5, then the banker takes a third card if they have a total between 0 and 5, and stand otherwise.
- If it's a 6 or 7, then the banker takes a third card if they have a total between 0 and 6, and stand otherwise.
- If it's an 8, then the banker takes a third card if they have a total between 0 and 2, and stand otherwise.
- If it's a 9, 10 or Ace, then the banker takes a third card if they have a total between 0 and 3, and stand otherwise.
Once all the cards have been dealt according to the aforementioned rules, the hand totals are compared between the player and banker, and whoever has the highest wins the hand (or it's a tie when they're the same total.)
Remember, anytime the a hand total is 10 or higher 10 is subtracted from the total, making 9 the best possible outcome.
Unlike blackjack, in which the player makes decisions as to when they would like to take more cards to their hand - most versions of baccarat in online casinos (and the majority of tables in land based casinos as well) deal out cards based on a fixed set of rules with no input required from the player other than their initial bet.
Technically the best odds of winning are for the banker/dealers hand, but this betting advantage is small and all but nullified by the commission the player pays on winning banker bets (which is usually 5%.) In the event that a smaller commission is charged (4% tables exist but are rare,) it's definitely your best bet to wager on the banker statistically. On the flip side, a table with higher than 5% commissions (again rare) on banker bets favor betting for the players own hand.
Tie bets may seem a lot more exciting with an 8 to 1 payoff, but there's only about a 9.5% chance of a tie being the outcome on any deal which in fact makes this the worst bet on the table odds-wise.
Basically, at most modern baccarat tables there's not much strategy to consider. Avoid tie bets and stick with banker bets for slightly better odds on 5% commission tables.