Casino Strategy

Baccarat Basics

Baccarat has become a bit of an oddity in a lot of casinos because it's a bit complicated in its later stages and, frankly, it’s a bit old-fashioned. Why offer a game that not very many people understand when you can just put another Blackjack table or bank of Video Poker games in the same spot? However, it's got a steady following that is growing thanks to online casinos offering it up to a new generation of players who know the game mostly from James Bond novels and movies.

It's easier to learn than you might imagine and we're going to break down how to play Baccarat and help you get a firm footing from which you can construct a strategy that will help make the game more profitable for you.

Baccarat is played with six decks of cards and, like Blackjack, there are only two sides involved in the game: you and the banker. Again, like Blackjack, both sides are dealt 2-card hands and the winner is the side that picks the hand with the highest value. You then determine the point value of your cards. Keep in mind that tens and face cards are worth 0 points and if the total of your two cards adds up to 10 or more, then you use the second digit. If you have a 5 and a 6, for example, then you've got an 11 total and so your point value is 1. In order to win, you must bet on the hand that's closer to 9. If an 8 or 9 is the point total for yourself or the banker, then it's a natural win.

You get to complete your hand first. If you've got 8 or 9, you don't have the option of any additional cards. You'll stand on 6 or 7 and if you are between 0 and 5, you draw a third card unless the banker has the 8 or 9. The banker is given the chance to draw if the player stands or draws no new cards and follows the same rules; they draw on 0-5, stand on 6 or 7.

So far so good, right? Now this is where it gets complex and loses a lot of players.

  • If your third card is a 9, 10, ace or face card, the banker will draw when they have a 0-3 and will stay with a 4-7.
  • If your third card is an 8, the banker draws when they have a 0-2 and will stay with a 3-7.
  • If your third card is either a 6 or 7, the banker draws when they have a 0-6 and will stay with a 7.
  • If your third card is either a 4 or 5, the banker draws when they have a 0-5, and will stay with a 6-7.
  • If your third card is 2 or 3, the banker draws when he has a 0-4, will stay with a 5-7.

After all the cards are dealt, the winning hand is calculated and if you've bet correctly, you get to collect your winnings. Since the banker draws more cards, the odds are slightly better for their hands winning, so keep that in mind.

This article is intended to help you build your strategy for the free play games found on