Baccarat is the simple but elegant casino game beloved of high rollers and James Bond wannabes everywhere. But how can you get started with baccarat, punto banco, or chemin de fer? Read on to discover how you can get your 007 on with the best online baccarat games for free.
Brief history of baccarat
Baccarat has a history stretching back to the 15th century. Felix Falguiere generally receives credit as the father of modern baccarat after he devised a game based around the number zero (“baccara”).
Early versions of the game moved through France and later the US, where it became popular in casinos. You can now play versions of baccarat at brick-and-mortar casinos across the US and online in New Jersey.
How to play baccarat
Baccarat is a deceptively simple game that you play with six to eight decks of cards in the shoe. You bet on which hand — the player or the banker — will have a total closest to nine. You can also bet on a tie.
Order of play
There is a strict order of play in a hand of baccarat. After a shuffle, two hands are dealt face down on the table. You can place chips on the hand that you think will win.
Once all bets are in, the dealer will turn over the hands to reveal the winner. In physical casino settings, players will take turns being “the banker” and will be allowed to turn over cards themselves. At online casinos, however, this process falls to the computer or a dealer (in live dealer games).
Comparing hand totals
You compare baccarat hands at the end of the betting. Aces are worth one point, cards 2 through 9 are each worth their number value in points, and the 10, jack, queen, and king are each worth zero points. If the two cards total more than nine, you subtract 10 points from that hand’s total. Here’s an example hand:
- Banker: A-7 (total of eight)
- Player: K-7 (total of seven)
The banker wins this hand. Note that the king is worth zero, not 10.
Depending on the total of the first two cards, each hand may receive a third card. The aim is still to get as close as possible to a total of nine. If the three cards exceed nine points, you again subtract 10 points from the total.
The player’s hand receives a third card if it has a total of zero to five.
The banker’s hand will receive a third card if it totals zero to five and the player hasn’t yet received a third card. However, the banker will also receive a third card in some scenarios if the player has ALSO received a third card:
- Banker’s hand totals zero, one, or two: Banker gets a third card.
- Banker’s hand totals three: Banker gets a third card unless the player’s third card is an 8.
- Banker’s hand totals four: Banker gets a third card if the player’s third card is a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- Banker’s hand totals five: Banker gets a third card if the player’s third card is a 4, 5, 6, or 7.
- Banker’s hand totals six: Banker gets a third card if the player’s third card is a 6 or 7.
Popular baccarat bets and payouts
Baccarat is a simple game to play. There are no complicated decisions to make unlike how some feel about online poker, as the rules are pretty much set in stone. All you need to do is place your bet, and the dealer or computer does the rest.
- Payout: 1:1
- House edge: 24%
Betting on the player’s hand to win pays even money, or 1:1, but has a house edge nudging 1.25%. You can hit a “natural” with a hand of eight or nine right away. However, the banker will still have the chance to draw a third card if the player has eight or nine.
- Payout: 19:20
- House edge: 06%
The banker always has an advantage over the player. Why? Because the banker may get to draw a third card based on the player’s cards. That’s why the house edge for a banker win drops to 1.06% and why smart bettors always back the banker.
Remember that the payout for a banker hand is 19:20. That equates to 1:1 minus a 5% commission to the house. However, some online casinos offer “no commission baccarat,” which operates without this rule.
- Payout: 8:1 to 9:1
- House edge: 5%
You can also bet on the player and banker hands being equal — a tie. Winning a tie bet pays 8:1 or 9:1, depending on the casino. Many online baccarat games pay 9:1 on the tie. However, the third-card rule means that very few scenarios will actually result in a tie. It’s no surprise that the house edge is a massive 14.5%.
Understanding the baccarat house edge
Like all online casino games, baccarat has a built-in house edge. The house edge is the statistical advantage that the casino has over players. To get a better idea of the house edge, start by looking at how many decks the baccarat shoe contains. Most baccarat games use an eight-deck shoe. However, some variants use six decks, and this can affect the chances of a player or banker win slightly. We’ll also include a one-deck shoe as a comparison.
|Number of Decks||Players Odds of Winning||Dealer Odds of Winning|
The more decks there are, the lower the odds of winning. But let’s not forget that the tie bet slightly skews the odds away from both the banker and player. That’s where the house edge comes in.
Baccarat side bets
Some baccarat games make things interesting with the addition of side bets. These are extra wagers purely based on the cards in one or both hands.
- Player pair/banker pair: Win 8:1 your stake if the player or banker hand receives a pair.
- Either pair: This bet is on any two cards from either hand forming a pair. Either pair bet pays 5:1.
- Perfect pair: This online baccarat side bet pays 25:1 if the player’s or banker’s first two cards make a suited pair.
- Dragon bonus baccarat: This is a variant packed with side bets. You can make wagers on the player or banker winning by four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine, or hitting a natural win (being dealt eight or nine total). Win up to 30:1 if the banker or player wins by nine.
- Big/small: The small bet pays 3:2 if either hand totals four. The big bet wins if either hand totals five or six.
Understanding the baccarat roadmap
At land-based or online casinos, you can track previous results. Of course, every hand is distinct, and casinos use shufflers to guarantee a fair deal. However, that doesn’t stop superstitious players from finding patterns in the previous results.
You can track a full “roadmap” of results online when you open a baccarat table. The bead plate displays recent winners (Player = P; Banker = B). You can also gauge a bigger range of results on the big road and small road. Results are grouped together to show trends. A new column starts whenever the winner changes.
Free and real money baccarat at NJ online casinos
You can try online baccarat at all good New Jersey casinos. Play baccarat online for free in demo mode and get a feel for the rules. Then, if you feel comfortable with the gameplay, you can bet using some real money if you wish.
- Step 1: Choose a baccarat game from the casino lobby.
- Step 2: Select demo play or real money to load the game in a browser window.
- Step 3: Place your bets by selecting a chip size and clicking on the betting areas. You can also clear your bets, undo the previous bet or repeat your last bet. You’ll also have a statistics/history area where you can view previous results.
- Step 4: Hit the “Deal” button to receive cards. The computer will deal out third cards if necessary. The online casino will pay any winnings at the end of the hand.
Online baccarat variants
Most NJ online casinos contain at least one baccarat variant. Choose classic baccarat or punto banco, or try out a variation featuring side bets. You can also compete against a human dealer playing live casino baccarat online.
In baccarat squeeze, you get to slowly peel your cards up to increase the drama. Baccarat squeeze replicates the popular baccarat games you’ll find in Macau where players can peek at their cards before revealing them to the table.
No commission baccarat
The downside to regular baccarat is the 5% commission the casino takes on a winning banker bet. No commission baccarat, however, removes that commission from the game.
Some baccarat online casinos now offer speed baccarat, too. Increase your game volume and play hands that take less than a minute to complete. It’s the perfect way to squeeze in more games and clear a deposit bonus faster.
Live dealer casino baccarat
Online casinos in New Jersey offer a wealth of live dealer baccarat games that let you take on a human croupier via webcam. The trained dealer will handle all the action and use automatic shufflers to ensure a fair deal. You place bets in the usual way via your keyboard, but special cameras will pick up the card values and display them on the screen.
Developers such as Evolution Gaming provide a range of exciting live baccarat games to play. Lightning Baccarat is a slick online casino game that combines traditional gameplay and HD graphics. At the start of the game, certain cards receive a unique prize value. If that card appears during a hand, you’ll receive a payout boost.
You can also play live baccarat squeeze at many New Jersey casinos. The game uses multiple camera angles to give you a view of the cards. The suspense factor increases as you “squeeze” the cards and reveal them slowly one by one.
Benefits of playing baccarat online
Baccarat or punto banco is available at all good brick-and-mortar casinos in New Jersey and Las Vegas. However, you can also test baccarat games online. Here are some of the pluses of playing online baccarat.
Demo games for free
Demo play is a point in favor of online casinos. Unlike physical casinos, you often can try games with play-money credits and learn the rules. Get accustomed to the betting structures and try out some strategies.
Play for real money at small stakes
Online casinos in New Jersey offer a variety of baccarat games for real stakes. You don’t need to break the bank playing baccarat online for real money, either. Play games from just $0.50 to $1 a hand or jump onto the VIP tables for $500 a game. Often, the minimum baccarat stakes will be a lot lower than those at your nearest Atlantic City casino.
Claim a welcome bonus
You can often claim a welcome bonus as a new casino customer. You may need to provide a casino bonus code or just opt in. Baccarat may be eligible to help you meet any playthrough requirements. It has a low house edge, though, so even if they count, baccarat bets often contribute less than 100% toward meeting the requirement.
Best baccarat strategy and tips
Baccarat is an easy game to play, but a few tips could help your bankroll go further:
- Bet on the banker hand: It’s simple baccarat strategy to avoid the tie bet. However, you should also shy away from betting on the player’s hand. While the banker bet may carry a 5% commission, it has a lower house edge than the player and wins more in the long term.
- Avoid the side bets: Side bets make online baccarat very appealing. However, the house edge on a banker pair or perfect pair makes the bet a poor long-term prospect.
- Sign up at multiple casinos: Most NJ casinos offer some sort of baccarat. However, not all baccarat games are the same. It can be a good idea to join multiple baccarat casinos online so you can try different variations and benefit from multiple welcome bonuses and promotions.
Baccarat at online casinos
Baccarat isn’t just for James Bond. In 2023, you can try baccarat online at many New Jersey casinos. It’s easy to play, and you can choose your own stakes. Plus, you can opt for a promotion like a reload bonus or a rewards program. You may also be able to try baccarat for free in demo mode and see if you can channel your inner 007.
What is the best bet to make in baccarat?
The best baccarat bet is on the banker hand. It offers the lowest house edge and is statistically most likely to win in the long term.
What is the house edge in baccarat?
The baccarat house edge varies slightly from game to game. In general, the banker bet has a house edge of 1.06%, one of the lowest of all casino games.
Can I play baccarat for free at NJ online casinos?
You often can, yes. Many online casinos let you try out baccarat for free. Just select the demo play option in the casino lobby.
Can I clear a welcome bonus by playing baccarat?
It depends on the online casino. Some will allow baccarat games to contribute toward meeting a playthrough requirement. Check with the casino beforehand, and also check at what rate your baccarat wagers will contribute, as it’s often less than 100%.