Playing online baccarat
Baccarat has always been seen as a game for the nobility, an elegant and sophisticated card game between a player and a banker.
Online baccarat is no different.
There are two versions of online baccarat available to players at online casinos: the digital version where the player plays against a software dealer, and the Live Dealer version where the players plays against a real, in-the-flesh dealer using web cam technology.
For details around the Live Dealer version, visit the Guru’s Live Dealer Baccarat page here.
For the digital version, the Guru will break down the basics of online baccarat at online casinos below.
What is online baccarat?
Online baccarat is a digital version of the popular casino card game baccarat. Baccarat has been around since at least the 19th century (some say the 17th century but evidence is hard to come by) and was a game that was primarily enjoyed by the upper classes. In popular fiction, James Bond, the super-spy of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels, was an ardent fan of baccarat – even though they changed the game to poker for the Daniel Craig Casino Royale version.
Baccarat is a comparing card game where the player and the dealer each get dealt a number of card. The total on the cards adds up to a winning, losing or tie score.
There are three main versions of baccarat: punto banco, baccarat chemin de fer and baccarat banque. Most modern online casinos offer punto banco baccarat as this is the most popular form, although some high end and specialised online casinos do feature chemin de fer.
Within baccarat there can also be a number of themed versions, for example, some online casinos offer Dragon Baccarat which is an Asian dragon-themed version of punto banco that uses the same rules but with a dragon twist.
How do I play online baccarat?
Online baccarat is all about playing against a dealer (the ‘bank’) to get closest to the magical total of 9 points using a two- or three-card hand.
While games like blackjack use the value of the cards plus a ten value for K, Q, and J, baccarat operates a little differently.
- Tens and face cards (K, Q, J) are worth zero points.
- All other cards are worth their face value (ace is worth one).
- If the total is more than ten, the second digit of the ten is the value of the hand, e.g.: an 8 and a 4 add up to 12, which is worth 2; or a 7 and a 9 make 16 which is worth 6.
Two cards are dealt for each hand. One hand is the ‘player’ hand, one hand is the ‘dealer’ or ‘banker’ hand. The total of these cards decides whether or not any other cards are drawn.
The player hand is always completed first.
If the player total is 0 – 5, a third card is drawn.
The banker has a slightly different set of rules which we will illustrate below.
Baccarat players will be confronted with what is known as a ‘natural’. Like a natural 21 in blackjack, a ‘natural’ in baccarat is when the player or dealer gets a total of 8 or 9 with the first two cards. This automatically counts as a win to whoever draws the ‘natural’ and no other cards are drawn.
If the player AND the banker have a natural, it is a tie.
How the hands play out:
Player when first two cards total:
|1-2-3-4-5-10||Draws a card|
|8-9||Natural — Stands|
|First two cards total:||Draws when player’s third card is:||Stands when player’s third card is:|
|8-0||Natural — Stands|
The hand that totals closest to 9 wins.
Ties are drawn so neither hand wins nor loses.
While these rules may seem complicated to a new online baccarat player, once you get a feel for the game it becomes almost second nature to do fast calculations and see how the hands are playing out.
Where can I play online baccarat?
Most online casinos offer a variety of online baccarat games, but the Guru would recommend these online casinos for South African players:
We would also recommend that you read the rules of the baccarat game before you start playing or try a few rounds in demo mode before you play for real money, just to get a feel or any slight rule variations or customised playing options.