Baccarat is a classic card game popular the world over. It intimidates many players, but it’s well worth getting to understand this game – and playing for free is a great introduction to baccarat.
The history behind baccarat
Baccarat started taking over the casinos of Las Vegas early in the last century but the game actually dates back to medieval Italy. It was introduced into France in 1490 and seems to have become popular with the influential nobility. The films of the 19th century helped glamorise the card game and it’s now extremely popular across Asia and in other casinos worldwide.
Baccarat tends to be a regular feature of the James Bond books and films: despite its inclusion in this popular series of films, few people understand what the game is about. In fact, the first ever Bond book, Casino Royale, features a very long game of baccarat with extremely high stakes. Ian Fleming provides a guide to the game in the novel, but few people grasp the significance of the scenes when they watch the films.
Baccarat managed to keep an air of mystery as it tends to be played in separate areas of clubs and by high rollers. But don’t be deterred! It’s actually a game with a very simple betting structure, and it’s easy to play a free baccarat game online anytime you like, in order to get a feel for this classic game.
Although three variations of baccarat exist and are played around the world, the most common one is punto banco. This is the version of baccarat you’ll find in any free baccarat casino. You may also encounter baccarat chemin de fer (sometimes called ‘chemmy’), or baccarat banque (sometimes called ‘à deux tableaux’). These two involve greater skill than punto banco, which really is just a game of chance.
Basic rules of baccarat
We’ve put some links above that take you to some free baccarat games across the web. These are great examples of the free baccarat casino games available for you to have a go at without too much at stake. This guide will give you an introduction to the rules of baccarat, so you get an idea what’s involved before you start.
Baccarat is just a simple game of chance, as easy and straightforward to understand as a coin toss. Each time you make a play, you bet which of two card deals will add up to the greatest number. The object of the exercise is to get as close as possible to a score of 9 – the highest possible score in the available cards. Whoever gets closest to that score is the winner of each round of the game. It really is that simple. However, there are a few rules included to spice things up. For instance, in most games two cards are drawn, however there are some rules governing whether a third can be drawn. The three card rule adds interest and excitement to the game. Before you play you need to understand a) what each card is worth and b) when a third card is played. This is important, whether you play free baccarat or wager money on the game.
In a casino environment baccarat tends to be played with specific accessories. One of these is a specially designed box to hold cards, known as a ‘shoe’. The reason why this exists is that in a game of baccarat players will deal out cards themselves, rather than getting a professional casino dealer to do it. To ensure fair play and no suspicion, the shoe is used to make it impossible to fix the dealing. You may also see a wooden paddle being used by the professionals to move the cards and chips around. Neither of these are essential to the game, but they are commonly used in casinos where the game is played a lot.
How to play free baccarat
It’s a great idea to try out a free game of baccarat when you’re first starting to learn the game. It’s a fun way to help you understand the game and you can either use free play as an introduction to wagered gaming or just continue to enjoy free baccarat for the fun of it.
If you’re playing baccarat online then the most common free games tend to be automated ones. Most casinos won’t let you join a live game unless you plan to bet some money. The automated games use computer technology to deal out the cards, rather than a live person dealer. In an automated online game you’ll see an interface that looks very similar to a baccarat table.
Punto banco baccarat is generally played on a table that’s similar in size to a craps table and often features a horseshoe shaped marking on the cloth cover. In a live casino setting, several players can play at once, or it can be played between just one player and the professional dealer.
In a multiplayer live game, players generally take it in turns to play the role of card dealer. They won’t handle chips but they will deal out the initial two pairs of cards to each player. Baccarat betting is very simple. There are in fact only three bets you can make. Most people bet either ‘punto’ or ‘banco’ (punto is more common). Occasionally people will be ‘standoff’, which means a draw. Two sets of cards are drawn and each player places a bet on which set of cards will have the higher value.
The card score is easy to work out. The total of both card values is added up and the rightmost digit of the result determines who is the victor. So, for example, if the hand contains a 5 and a 6, the total is 11. Only the rightmost digit counts, so that is a 1. If the other set of cards is a 7 and a 6, then that counts as 3. This means the wining set is the 7 and 6 because this is a higher value. Whichever player has the highest count wins the game.
However, there may still be a chance to draw another card. If either of the two sets of cards contained an 8 or 9 then a third card will not be drawn. But if no 8 or 9 was drawn, a third card may be taken. The rules can vary between casinos.
The value of cards in a baccarat game
In the game of baccarat all face cards and 10s have no value (they count as zero). Cards with face value under 10 are counted at face value, and aces are worth 1. If a card is a double digit card then the first digit value is ignored. This means that 15 or 25 both become 5.
The third card rules varies from casino to casino but almost everywhere the rule is that if an 8 or 9 card is drawn, no third card is used. But if the player’s total value of cards is under 5, then a third card is inevitably drawn. Players cannot choose whether to take a third card or not: this is determined by the house rules.
The three card rules also dictate whether the bank can take a third card. These are fairly complex rules and depend on what the player drew in the same game. If the bank’s cards add up to 3, the bank will take a third card. If the player drew an 8 or 9 however, they won’t take a third card. If the bank’s cards equal 4, the bank will take another card unless the player previously drew a 0, 1, 8 or 9. There are further rules about other specific card values that the bank draws. While you’re learning the game you may wish to keep a crib sheet of these next to your computer so it all makes sense and you can follow the game.
Baccarat punto banco doesn’t vary much around the world in different casino venues but it’s always worth checking the rules before you dive into any game online or offline, as they may contain surprises that are particular to that house. The normal house edge is 1.17% to banco, 1.36% to punto and the standoff bet that is less commonly played is 14.12%.
We’ve come up with a list of great venues where you can have a go at this historic card game with no cost by planning online free baccarat. You can use these free sessions to test your knowledge and gain confidence in the game. Once you’ve mastered free baccarat, you can join paid games and have the excitement of placing live bets. You can also beam into casino venues anywhere in the world and join a live game, either as part of a multiplayer game or one-to-one with a dealer.
Playing card games for free online is a good way to familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations. Because baccarat can move pretty fast, it’s a good way to test your knowledge of what each draw of the cards means. You might like to keep a table of the third card rules next to your computer as this will help you whether you play free baccarat or wager money on the game.
Other types of baccarat
Most casinos, online or offline, offer mostly punto banco baccarat, however you can sometimes find games of other version of baccarat which are available to play for free online. Chemin de Fer (‘chemmy’) is a popular French version of the game. Each player takes turns to be the banker (essentially acting as the house and funding the game with their own money). They can remain in the banker role as long as they are in a winning position, with the house taking 5% of their winnings. They hold on to the card shoe until they give up their role and pass it on to another player. Each player bets against whatever position the banker has taken until the value of the banker’s wager is covered by their combined wager. A single player can bet the full amount of the banker’s wager, if this is the case then they shout ‘banco!’ In this game, the rules about whether the player should take a third card are more flexible.
You’ll also find some free games of baccarat banque (sometimes called ‘à deux tableaux’ or ‘two tables’), another European version of the game. There are a few more opportunities for strategy when you play this version of the game. The banker role is usually taken by the highest roller in the game. There are two players, or ‘tables’, Player 1 and Player 2. Each player is dealt two cards and so is the banker. However, players can divide into groups so a team of three players can be Player 1 and another three players can act as Player 2. Players only bet on the player cards and never on the bank’s hand in this version of the game of baccarat.
The objective of the game is to challenge the bank whether your hand beats theirs. To do this, your bet must equal the bank’s. Apart from the different organization of the roles of banker and some different third card rules, essentially the game is still about betting which hand is larger than another.
You’ll also find that some casinos have taken to presenting a scaled-down version of the big baccarat table game, which they call mini baccarat. It’s a less intimidating way for new players to join the game. You can join many free versions of mini baccarat online and it’s a good way to get acquainted with the game before you join in a multiplayer one. As a rule this works by placing your bets on a virtual table and clicking to initiate a deal by the computer. Free games usually let you bet pretend money so you can make it seem more real. You might like to keep a score of your ‘wins and losses’ even if you’re playing for free.