The Different Baccarat Variations You Can Play and How to Play Them
Some casino table games have multiple variations, which gives gamblers a chance to try fun alternatives.
Blackjack is especially known for different variations, such as 21, blackjack surrender, blackjack switch, perfect pairs, pontoon, red dog, single deck, Spanish 21, and live dealer blackjack.
Roulette is another table game that features multiple variants, including American, European, French, multi-wheel, and mini roulette.
Baccarat, on the other hand, isn’t known for offering different versions. Instead, gamblers are used to playing the same mini-baccarat game everywhere.
You may be surprised to know, though, that this game actually features several variations, which I’ll cover throughout this post.
But first, I’m going to look at standard baccarat rules along with a quick comparison between the big and mini versions.
What Are the Rules of a Standard Baccarat Game?
Every baccarat game offers three staple bets, including the banker hand, player hand, and tie.
When placing a banker or player bet, you’re gambling on one of these hands beating the other. Here’s an example.
- You wager on the banker hand
- The banker gets a score of 8
- The player gets a score of 7
- The banker hand wins, and you win your bet
A tie wager is based on the banker and player ending up with the same score. Rather than pushing in this situation, you win a large payout when both hands tie.
The banker’s hand has a 1.06% house edge, the player hand has a 1.24% house advantage, and the tie bet normally has a 14.36% house edge (varies based on payouts).
You can see that the banker bet offers the best chance to win. Even with the casino taking a 5% commission from winning banker wagers, it still maintains the lowest house advantage.
The player bet isn’t far behind in terms of house edge. Some gamblers enjoy making this wager when they feel that recent trends suggest doing so.
The tie bet should be avoided at all costs. With a 14.36% house advantage, this is one of the worst wagers in all of gambling.
As long as you understand the baccarat bets, then you’re all set to play. You don’t have to make any important decisions beyond choosing the outcome and how many chips you’ll lay down.
But you may want to learn the scoring system to develop a deeper mastery of baccarat.
First off, the hand that has a score closest to nine wins. The first digit of a score is dropped if it’s 10 or higher.
Here’s how baccarat scoring works.
- Ace = 1
- 2-9 = Face value (i.e., 5 is worth 5)
- King, queen, jack = 0
The banker and player both receive two cards to start each round. The score of each hand determines whether the player and banker receive another card.
Here are the rules on drawing for cards.
- If the banker or player draws an 8 or 9 on their first two cards (a.k.a. natural), they win as long as there’s no tie
- The player receives a third card if they have less than 5. They stand on a score of 6 or 7
- The banker draws when they have less than 6 and the player has 6 or 7. They stand if their total is 6 or 7
Whenever the player receives a third card, the banker also draws for another card based on what the player has.
Big Baccarat vs. Mini Baccarat
This post’s purpose is to discuss variations of mini-baccarat, which is the most common baccarat version available. But I’d like to quickly cover the differences between big and mini-baccarat before getting into the variations.
Baccarat was first introduced in North America on a big table (a.k.a. big baccarat) that features 12-14 spots. These games are still available in certain Las Vegas high-roller areas.
Big baccarat players can choose to act as the banker, and the shoe is passed around the table so that everybody gets a turn. This fun aspect makes one feel like they’re the house, but it also slows the game down.
Big baccarat also requires a dress code, which involves men wearing tuxedos or suits and women donning evening wear. The dress code suits this game when considering that the minimum wage is usually $100 per hand.
Mini baccarat is played on a table with only seven seats. The croupier handles all of the dealing/banking, meaning that players don’t get to act as the banker.
Mini baccarat tables are fast-paced due to the smaller setup and dealer handling everything. This makes the mini version perfect for table game players who like lots of action.
The minimum wager ranges from $5 to $25 per hand, and there’s no dress code either. These factors make mini baccarat more popular than the big version among many gamblers.
Seven Different Baccarat Variations
Baccarat variations don’t differ wildly from mini-baccarat. Contrast this to blackjack, where its variants can include totally unique rules from the main game (e.g., Spanish 21 removes 10s from deck).
But baccarat variants do have slight nuances from the standard mini version. Here’s a look at seven different baccarat games, including the rules and house edge of each.
No Commission Baccarat
Casinos take a 5% commission out of winning banker bets to retain their edge over players. No commission baccarat differs, though, by not taking any commission.
This gives you a long-term edge over casinos in theory, which is why so many players are attracted to the no commission variant. But the rules are slightly modified to ensure that the house keeps their advantage.
If your banker hand bet wins on six points, then you only win 50% on your original wager (as opposed to 100%, or 1:1). This scenario has a 5.39% probability, which pushes the house edge to 1.46%.
The player hand is your best option when considering that you have a worse chance of winning the banker bet in no commission baccarat. Ideally, though, you’ll avoid this game altogether.
EZ Baccarat is similar to no commission baccarat in that it doesn’t take 5% commissions from banker’s hand wins. It also features modified rules to ensure that the casino retains their edge.
A banker bet that wins with a three-card 7 is a push, rather than a 1:1 payout. But this scenario only has a 2.25% probability of happening.
EZ baccarat features a 1.02% house edge on the banker’s hand when combining the three-card 7 push with no commissions.
It’s definitely worth playing EZ baccarat due to its low house advantage. You can find this variation at a number of Vegas casinos, such as Encore and The Orleans.
4% Commission Baccarat
This game’s name describes everything because it only takes a 4% commission from winning banker wagers.
The reduced commission drops the banker hand house edge from 1.06% to 0.60%. You nearly double your chances of winning with 4% commission baccarat as opposed to standard games.
You obviously want to play the 4% commission variation whenever possible. The only catch, though, is that there’s only one American casino that offers it.
Isleta Resort and Casino, which is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the lone US casino that features 4% commission baccarat.
Albuquerque isn’t near any major cities, with Denver and Phoenix being the closest at approximately 350 miles away each. Few gamblers will travel to Albuquerque just for a great baccarat game.
Most baccarat games use eight decks, but there are certain casinos that feature tables with six decks. 6-deck baccarat lowers the banker hand house edge from 1.06% to 1.056%.
This won’t make much of a difference to the average player. However, it does aid gamblers who play lots of baccarat and/or bet big.
Here’s an example of how much the reduced house advantage can help you.
- You wager $100,000 on both standard (8-deck) and 6-deck baccarat
- You’d theoretically lose $1,060 (100,000 x 0.0106) with the 8-deck game
- You’d theoretically lose $1,056 (100,000 x 0.01056) with the 6-deck version
6-deck baccarat can be found at online casinos that feature either NetEnt or Playtech software.
The Playtech version also offers interesting side bets in addition to only featuring six decks. Here are the available side bets in Playtech baccarat.
- Small – Betting on the total number of the banker’s and player’s combined score being 4
- Big – Wagering on the total number of banker’s and player’s cards being 5 or 6
- Either pair – Betting on the banker’s or player’s first two cards forming a pair
- Perfect pair – Wagering on the banker’s or player’s first two cards forming a suited pair
While it’s always fun to take a chance on side wagers, the problem is that these particular bets all feature high house edges. Here are the house advantages for each of the side bets.
- Small = 5.27% house edge
- Big = 4.35%
- Either Pair = 14.54%
- Perfect Pair = 17.07%
Either Pair and Perfect Pair each have bigger house edges than the tie wager, which makes them reprehensible in the overall scope of gambling.
Big and Small both have reasonable house edges in comparison to side bets in other games. But you’re still better off simply wagering on the banker hand every time.
Baccarat with Higher-Paying Tie Bets
The majority of baccarat games offer an 8:1 payout for winning tie bets. But some games offer a more generous 9:1 payout.
The 9:1 prize lowers the tie bet house advantage from 14.36% to 4.84%. Although still not a great house edge, 14.84% at least makes the tie wager worth considering if you like large payouts.
But again, your best odds of beating baccarat lie with the banker wager.
Baccarat Games with Side Bets
Considering that baccarat doesn’t offer much in the way of betting variety, some casinos add side bets to the equation. Here are common side wagers that you’ll find in land-based and online casinos.
- Big bet
- Wager on if the player and banker will combine for 5 or 6 cards. It pays 0.54:1 on your bet, and the house edge is 4.35%.
- Small bet
- Wager on if the player and banker will combine for 4 cards. It pays 1.5:1 on your bet, and the house edge is 5.27%.
- Dragon 7
- This EZ baccarat bet is based on whether the banker will win with a three-card 7 total. The payout is 40:1, and the house advantage is 7.60%.
- Dragon Bonus (player side)
- Bet on the player side winning with a natural (8 or 9) or by 4+ points. The house edge is 2.70%.
- Lucky Bonus
- Wager on the banker winning with a score of 6. The house advantage is 2.66%, and you must risk up to 10% of your banker bet.
- Panda 8
- This EZ baccarat side wager is based on the banker winning with a three-card 8. The payout is 25:1, and the house edge is 10.19%.
- Royal Match
- Wager on the banker or player being dealt a suited or unsuited king-queen combo with their first two cards. The suited king-queen pays 75:1, and the unsuited combo pays 30:1. The house edge is 2.13%.
These bets are nice for those who want to chase big payouts. You can especially win big with the Royal Match, Dragon 7, and Panda 8 wagers.
Royal Match and Lucky Bonus also give you good chances to win because they feature a 2.13% and 2.66% house edge, respectively.
Earlier, I mentioned that regular mini baccarat games see the dealer handle everything. Gamblers, on the other hand, aren’t supposed to touch their cards based on casino rules.
Macau baccarat differs, though, by allowing players to pick up their cards and even perform good luck rituals.
An example of the latter is when Macau players will slowly bend back card corners to reveal the value. This superstition is based on the belief that slowly looking at your card value will improve your chances of winning.
Practical players don’t put any stock into superstitions like these. Nevertheless, it’s still nice to play a baccarat game where you can actually touch cards without getting scolded by the dealer.
Baccarat variations don’t differ greatly from the original versions. But you can still find enough variety to make trying different games worth your while.
Perhaps the best baccarat game from an experience perspective is the version offered in Macau casinos.
The rules aren’t any different at Macau tables than they are in any other mini baccarat game. But the superstitions, player passions, and ability to touch your cards makes this a baccarat experience to remember.
The top baccarat variations from a winning perspective include any game that combines reduced/no commission with favorable rules.
EZ Baccarat and the 4% commission variant offer a 1.02% and 0.60% house edge, respectively. Odds are that you won’t travel to Albuquerque just to play 4% commission baccarat, making the EZ version the most logical for improving your odds.
Be on guard when you see a no commission baccarat game. Despite not taking any commission from successful banker wagers, no commission baccarat has unfavorable rules that push the banker house edge to 1.46%.
Finally, you can try baccarat games with interesting side bets. The best thing about side wagers is that they give you an opportunity to win big payouts for a small wager.
The only problem is that some of these bets feature ridiculous house edges. If you want to err on the side of caution, then avoid side wagers altogether.
In summary, if you love playing baccarat hands and are looking for something new, check out the variations featured here. Most of these games merely have subtle rule changes, but they’re still worth trying for variety’s sake.
Blog Source: Gamblingsites.com | The Different Baccarat Variations You Can Play and How to Play Them