Baccarat is James Bond’s casino game of choice, and if it’s good enough for the suave British spy, it’s an excellent game for all Canadians to enjoy. Baccarat is also one of the easiest table games to play, with just three betting options in most game variants. So, in this guide, we explain everything you need to know about playing baccarat for real money. We run through the game’s history, the rules, the variants, and the odds and payouts available. By the end of our guide, you will know how to play baccarat at online and brick-and-mortar casinos in Canada and understand several strategies that can boost your winning chances.
Introduction to Baccarat
Baccarat is not an easy game to pinpoint as far as its history is concerned. Some people trace it back to medieval Italy, while other sources claim that it didn’t appear until the 19th century in France. What is certain is that the game was popular with the French nobility throughout the 19th century, specifically during the Napoleonic era. The earliest baccarat game played in France at this time was Baccarat Banque, typically played in private rooms among the French elite. Chemin de Fer followed a two-person adaptation of the original game, with only two possible winners – the Banker or the Player. With the establishment of casinos in the early twentieth century in Europe, North America, and Asia, baccarat spread around the world.
Today, it is one of the most popular table games played in Las Vegas and Macau and can be found at practically every online casino as a table game and live dealer experience. Every major online casino in Canada today offers at least one baccarat game, and there are several exciting variations for you to try. You can play Baccarat Banque, Chemin de Fer, and Punto Banco, while there are games like Bac Bo and Lightning Baccarat available within live dealer lobbies that crank things up a notch. Let’s focus on the game itself and look at the rules attached to baccarat and how to play this popular game at casinos in Canada.
Basic Rules and Gameplay
Baccarat is one of the most accessible casino games to play in Canada. The objective is to decide which hand – the Banker or the Player – will be closest to nine. You can also bet on the tie. Here are the basic baccarat rules that you need to be aware of before playing:
- Baccarat is played with six, seven, or eight standard decks of 52 cards.
- Both the Banker and the Player receive two cards in the initial deal.
- Cards from 2-9 retain their face value. Ace is worth one, while 10, J, Q, and K are worth zero.
- Depending on the total of the cards in the Player’s and Banker’s hand, a third card may be issued (details on this below).
- Before the cards are dealt, you simply decide which hand will win – the Player’s or the Banker’s. You can also bet on the tie. The hand closest to nine at the end of the round wins.
Baccarat hand example
The key thing to realize about baccarat is that the right-most digit of each card value is taken, and the outcome depends on the total of the cards dealt. Let’s look at an example deal to illustrate this point:
- Player’s hand = 6 + 2 = 8
- Banker’s hand = 10 + 7 = 0 + 7 = 7
In this example, the Player’s hand equals eight. The Banker, on the other hand, has a hand of 7. This is because ten is worth zero in baccarat. As a result, the player would win the hand.
The Baccarat Table
The baccarat table is easy to navigate. If you play baccarat at a brick-and-mortar casino in Canada, you will find that up to 14 players can play at once. If you play online, you don’t need to worry about how many players are in the game lobby.
In front of you, there are three segments – Player, Banker, and Tie. Simply place your chips on the segment that corresponds with the bet that you would like to place. If you make a winning bet, you will be paid out accordingly.
How to Play Baccarat
Baccarat is a disarmingly simple game, and it’s for this reason that it’s such a hit at online casinos in Canada. If you’re new to the baccarat table, here are the simple steps that you can take to place your bets:
Types of Baccarat
The beauty of playing online baccarat in Canada is that you can play multiple variations of the game at leading online casinos. Below are the most popular types of baccarat available right now at Canadian casinos:
Punto Banco is so popular at Canadian casinos that most online baccarat games are played in this format, and if the game doesn’t tell you which variant you’re playing, just assume that it’s Punto Banco.
The game is played with six standard decks of 52 cards, and the objective is to predict whether the Player or Banker will win the hand. You can also bet on the tie. The dealer remains fixed in Punto Banco for each betting round.
Baccarat Banque is the earliest form of the game played in 19th century France, and this classic variant is still popular at online casinos today. Sometimes known as Deux Tableaux, the key distinction of the game is that a new dealer is selected at the beginning of every round. Typically, the selected dealer is the first person to join the table or the player who places the highest bet. The betting options in Baccarat Banque are the same as they are in Punto Banco.
Chemin de Fer
Another baccarat game popularised in 19th century France, Chemin de Fer, means “railway,” it got its name because it is quicker than most of the other game variants. Again, players take turns to be the banker and compete against one another, rather than the casino. Another unique aspect of Chemin de Fer is that the banker can set aside a specific amount of money they wish to wager each round. Chemin de Fer is the most popular version of baccarat currently played in France, and it’s also much-loved by players in Quebec for this reason.
One of the most enjoyable live casino variants of baccarat is Bac Bo by Evolution Gaming. It’s a fusion of baccarat and sic bo hosted by a real-life dealer and available to play at live casinos in Canada. Instead of using cards, the game uses dice, but the betting options are the same, and you need to predict whether the dealer or banker will win the hand. You can also bet on the tie, which pays out 88:1.
Another brilliant live casino version of baccarat is Lightning Baccarat by Evolution Gaming. The base game is the same as standard baccarat, but the inclusion of lightning cards increases the amount that you can win. At the start of each game, up to five cards are randomly selected as lightning cards, and if they appear and contribute to a winning hand, a multiplier of up to 8x the bet can be added to the payout.
Mini Baccarat is pretty much the same as standard Punto Banco. The only difference is that it is played at a smaller table and can usually only accommodate up to seven players rather than fourteen.
Betting and Odds
The fact that only three possible bets in baccarat makes it an easy game to understand. But you need to be aware of the odds and potential payouts attached to each bet that you can place.
You should also be mindful of the fact that the odds and payouts vary slightly from game to game, so only use the table below as a guide:
Note that the Banker’s hand pays less than the player’s hand in most baccarat games. This is because of the 5% commission due. Some baccarat games are commission-free, which increases the payout of the Banker’s hand to 1:1. The best bet in baccarat tends to be on the Banker’s hand, as it has the lowest house edge in the game. This is because the Banker has more third-card options when the Player’s hand is known. Though it offers the highest payout, the tie bet is the longest standard bet you can place in baccarat and isn’t necessarily a great option, given its house edge of 14.36% in most variants.
Baccarat Side Bets
If you want to spice things up while playing baccarat, you can place side bets in some variants. Side bets tend to be available in live casino baccarat games at online casinos. Some of the side bets that you might be able to place include:
- Perfect Pair: A bet that pays out 25:1 when the banker or the player receives a pair of the same suit. Pairs of different suits payout 5:1.
- All Red / All Black: A bet that the player’s hand will be solely red or black. All red pays out 22:1, while all black plays out 24:1.
- Bellagio Match: A bet on whether the player or banker will get a hand containing three of a kind that pays out 75:1 for the player or 68:1 for the banker.
- Royal Match: A bet on the player or banker being dealt a king and queen in their opening hand. The payout is 30:1 for different suits and 75:1 if they’re of the same suit.
- Combined Value: Some casinos allow you to bet on the total combined value of the player’s and banker’s hands. This is often a bet on whether the hand will be over/under 9.5, with a payout of 1.66:1.
- Double 8: A bet on the player and banker having hands that equal eight, with a payout of 15:1.
You can check the game’s rules and betting options to see if these side bets are available in the online variation of baccarat that you’re playing. You should always consider your available bankroll and check the potential payouts attached to side bets before deciding if they’re a good option for you.
Strategies for Winning
Baccarat is a game of chance, but there are several strategies that you can employ to increase your enjoyment of the game and potentially boost your winning chances. These strategies are viable for even-money bets and are easy to learn and adapt to your gameplay. We recommend trying each of these strategies in a free-to-play baccarat game before playing for real money.
The Martingale Strategy
Most gamblers know the Martingale as a viable roulette strategy, but you can also apply its premise to baccarat betting. Each time you lose a bet at the baccarat table, the Martingale strategy requires you to double the size of your wager for the next betting round. If you win the next hand, you then reset the bet amount to your initial stake. So, for instance, if you start with a $1 bet, you increase the bet to $2 if you lose the next hand. You would then increase to $4, $8, and so on each time you lose before bringing it back to $1 when you win. The idea is that by progressively increasing the value of your bets, you cover your losses. The main challenge with the Martingale strategy is that it requires a fairly sizeable bankroll, and it’s not suitable for low-budget players. Make sure you leave enough money aside to cover a losing streak if you plan to employ the Martingale strategy while playing baccarat online.
The Paroli Strategy
The Paroli approach to baccarat is essentially the Martingale strategy in reverse. When you win a baccarat hand, you double your stake for the next round and continue until you lose. When you lose, you reset the stake back to the initial amount. When using the Paroli strategy, we recommend setting a limit to the number of times that you double your bets. While it can be tempting to continue with a winning streak when the momentum is with you, it’s unlikely to last forever, so it’s a good idea to cash in when you’re ahead.
The D’Alembert Strategy
Another approach to baccarat betting is the D’Alembert strategy. Though it’s a little more complex than the Martingale and Paroli approaches, it’s not as damaging when you incur losses. First, you must establish a betting unit, which should be 1% of your available balance. So, let’s assume that you have $100, and each betting unit is $1. The initial bet in the D’Alembert strategy should be equal to five units, so $5. For every loss, you increase your stake by one unit and decrease the bet amount by one unit with every win. As the banker bet has a lower house edge, it’s best to employ the D’Alembert approach when betting on the banker to win.
Bankroll Management and Responsible Gambling
Whether you play baccarat off the cuff or use the Martingale, Paroli, or D’Alembert strategy, you must manage your available bankroll. When you create an account at an online casino in Canada, you need to decide how much money you would like to bet with, be it $10, $100, or $1,000. This money becomes your bankroll, and you should manage it accordingly. Don’t be tempted to chase losses, and always stick to your limits. You can make use of responsible gambling tools at online casinos, like deposit and time limits, to help you stay in control. If you think that you have a problem with gambling, you should reach out to a responsible gambling helpline in Canada, such as the Responsible Gambling Helpline.
Card Values and Third Card Rule
Understanding the value of each card in baccarat is important, as the total of the cards determines each hand dealt. The table below indicates the value of every card in baccarat:
The maximum score for any hand in baccarat is nine. If you receive a nine plus another number card in baccarat, the one is removed from the total to determine your hand. So, for instance, a hand of 9 + 3 = 12 would deliver a score of 2.
All picture cards are worth zero in baccarat, while an ace is worth 1. The winner is the hand that is equal to or closest to nine.
While the dealer and the player both receive two cards, a third card can be introduced in certain circumstances, as we explain below.
The Third Card Rule Explained
The third card rule in baccarat comes into play when specific totals are reached in the dealer or the player’s hand, as follows (but don’t worry, the dealer takes care of all this for you):
- 5 or less = a third card is dealt
- 6 or 7 = no third card is dealt
- Player stands + banker 5 or less = a third card is dealt
- 0, 1, or 2 = a third card is dealt
- Banker 3 and the player has any third card other than 8 = a third card is dealt
- Banker 4 and the player’s third card is 2-7 = a third card is dealt
- Banker 5 and the player’s third card is 4-7 = a third card is dealt
- Banker 6 and the player’s third card is 6-7 = a third card is dealt
It can take a little while to come to terms with the third card rule as it’s undoubtedly the most complex aspect of baccarat. But the more that you play, the more familiar you will get with the issuance of the third card.
Tips for Playing Baccarat
Baccarat is one of the most popular table games available at online casinos in Canada, and it’s simple to play. To help you enjoy the game to its max, here are some handy tips to bear in mind as you place your bets:
- House edge is key: When looking for value in your baccarat betting strategy, house edge is key. As you can see, the banker’s bet comes with the lowest house edge, representing the best value for money.
- Play for free: The best way to boost your experience levels and educate yourself at the baccarat table is to play for free. You can enjoy many baccarat variants for free before placing a real money bet, so it’s worth trying out as you learn the ropes.
- Use casino bonuses: When you’re ready to play for real money, make sure you have unlocked the promotions and bonuses available to you. You can then use these bonuses to fund your baccarat bets.
- Consider side bets: If you’re looking for the biggest potential payouts in baccarat, look for games that offer side bets. Though these bets have long odds, they deliver much bigger payouts than are available in standard baccarat if the bets come off.
- Employ a baccarat strategy: Depending on your available bankroll, you can test out the Martingale, Paroli, or D’Alembert strategy while playing baccarat. As mentioned, it makes sense to test these strategies as you play for free before playing for real money.
- Gamble responsibly: The key to enjoying online baccarat is betting within your means. Make sure you set your limits and always gamble within your means.
Etiquette and Casino Tips
While baccarat is widely available at online casinos in Canada, you can also play baccarat at iconic casino locations across the country. If you’re planning to join a real money baccarat game at a brick-and-mortar casino in Canada, here are some etiquette tips to bear in mind before taking your seat at the table:
- Check the table betting limits: The most important thing to consider when choosing a baccarat table is how much you must bet each round. Some baccarat tables are reserved for high rollers, so pick a table to suit your available budget.
- Wait for a game to end before joining: If a baccarat game is underway, wait until the game finishes and the bets are settled before joining the table. You can stand behind the chair until the next game begins.
- Don’t fiddle with your chips: As soon as you place a bet and lay your chips on the table, don’t fiddle with them. Doing so could be viewed as an attempt to cheat and may result in you being asked to leave the table.
- No drinks on the felt: If beverages are permitted at the baccarat table in your chosen casino, you should never place them on the felt. There will be a drinks rail beneath the table where you can safely keep your drink between your hands.
- Listen to the dealer: The dealer is there to guide the game along and may issue instructions or ask questions. Make sure you’re courteous and always listen to what the dealer has to say. If you have any questions, ask the dealer for help.
- Pay attention: While it can be tempting to converse with other players at the table, doing so can cause delays and frustrate other players. Make sure you’re paying attention to the betting windows and the deal to keep the game moving along at a good pace.
Learning how to play baccarat before joining a game at an online or brick-and-mortar casino is essential. Understanding the rules and knowing the different bets that you can place will ensure that you have a good chance of winning and will add to the enjoyment of the game.
Remember to check which baccarat variant you’re playing and regard the betting limits before playing. You should always bet responsibly and within your means and consider the odds and payouts attached before placing your bets.
If you follow this advice and the tips laid out in this guide, you will have lots of fun while playing baccarat at casinos in Canada and have a fair chance of winning.