One casino game that has become synonymous over the years with elegance and class is the French card game, baccarat. The game itself has nothing about it that promotes such a reputation, since it’s simple to play. Yet many casinos rope off a special area for high rollers and VIP customers to play baccarat for the highest stakes offered in the casino.
Baccarat, famously, ranks number one in the fictional character, James Bond’s favorite games, and many Bond films have featured the game. Perhaps the sight of Sean Connery in a tuxedo has helped to increase the reputation of this oh-so-classy casino game.
One huge advantage of an online casino versus its physical counterpart is the anonymity it affords players so that anyone can be a VIP when they play online casino baccarat. If you still feel the need to put on that tuxedo and play James Bond, the advantage of online casino baccarat is you retain the ability to do so privately.
How to Play Baccarat
Baccarat is a two player card game between a “player” and a “banker.” In the physical casino, multiple people can place wagers on the player winning or on the banker winning. Whoever places the highest bet on the player becomes that player for the purposes of playing that specific hand. The banker position rotates clockwise.
The online version remains between the player alone against the dealer when it is an electronic game versus a random number generator, but this can change to more resemble physical casino play in the case of live dealer online casinos.
Two cards are dealt out to the player first and then the dealer. The cards are totaled up for each hand to give it a value and the hand with the highest value wins. Aces count for 1 point and all face cards and tens count for zero points. The rest of the numerically ranked cards, 2-9, count according to their rank. The value of the hand is the final digit of the points totaled together.
For example, the player gets dealt a 7 and an 8, and the dealer gets dealt an ace and a 4. In this case, the player’s hand totals to 15 for a value of 5 (since this is the last digit). The dealer’s hand also adds to a value of five (ace = 1, + 4), so that at this point the two hands are tied.
Whenever a player’s hand totals to five or less he or she can hit and take another card. The dealer can also take another card, although the rules for whether the dealer can take a third card vary. To continue our example, the player draws a third card and gets a 6. This gives the player a hand valued at 1 (7 + 8 + 6 = 21 and the final digit is 1). The dealer gets a 5, which gives the dealer a hand valued at zero. In this case the player wins.
If either the player or dealer’s initial two cards add up to a value of eight or nine, than both dealer and player have to stay and cannot take another card. If the player has a hand valued at 6 or better, than the player stays, and the dealer’s hand follows the same rules, if it is valued at 6 or better it stays, and at five or less it hits.
If the player has hit, the dealer has the option to hit based according to a series of complicated rules based on the hand complexion of both player and dealer. One advantage of online casino baccarat is that you do not have to keep track of this complicated hitting or staying scheme, since the computerized dealer or, in some cases, the live dealer takes care of that for you.
Live Dealer Online Baccarat
One recent innovation in the online casino world is the addition of live dealers at many popular table games, including online casino baccarat. Live dealers are living people who play in a studio in front of cameras and interact with players through a one-way video feed.
Casinos such as Vegas Palms, Platinum Play, 7 Sultans, and Royal Vegas have begun offering live dealer baccarat in addition to their computerized dealer version.
One of the few viable strategies for achieving an edge over the dealer is counting cards so that you know the probability of certain cards showing up for either the dealer of for you. This is a thin advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.
Computerized dealers play cards using a random number generator so that it’s as if the deck is shuffled between every hand. This eliminates the viability of counting cards to gain an advantage. Although live dealers use multiple decks, usually 5 to 7 decks, players can still gain a marginal advantage through counting cards.
This works similar to blackjack where you are attempting to determine if the remaining deck is rich in hands ranked at 10 or poor in these. Of course the effect in baccarat is the complete opposite, since cards ranked at 10 have a value of zero in baccarat. Another difference is that in baccarat you do not have a choice to hit or stay. You get dealt a third card based entirely on how the cards lie. Consequently, knowledge about the makeup of the remaining deck in the dealer’s shoe will not affect your choices on whether to hit or stay, but will affect your betting decisions.
Chemin de Fer
This is the version of baccarat favored by James Bond. In this version the hands remain hidden from the opposing player or banker’s view. Players and bankers also have the choice whether to hit or stay, and while they make this choice based upon the cards, they are not compelled by the cards to make a certain decision. Once both dealer and player have made their choices, then both hands are turned up and compared. Chemin de Fer is not a common version of baccarat that you will find online regularly, so if you do find an online casino that offers it, break out that tuxedo.
Whichever version of baccarat you choose to play, go for the online play and you can enjoy this elegant game regardless of your status.