Baccarat Rules and Strategy
Baccarat (Punto Banco as it is also known) isn't a very complex game to understand. A person is basically betting on whether the player's or banker's hand will win.
Banker & Player
During the game two hands are dealt: The first hand is called the Banker's hand, the second the Player's hand. A person may bet on either hand to win. Depending on the casino, the player with the shoe (the "box" that holds the cards to be dealt) has to bet on the banker or pass on the shoe. The bank hand isn't the casino's hand, in fact, it is just a name given to the hand. The same applies to the player's hand.
The person holding the shoe takes out one card and passes it (face-down) to the casino's dealer at the table, who then in turn passes it to the person with the largest player bet. The next card dealt is placed next to the shoe. This is the first card of the banker hand.
The next card dealt is the "player's" second card, and the final card the banker's second card. These cards are all dealt face-down. The person who had the largest Player bet, gets to look at the Players hand first, and them hands them back to the dealer. The dealer then turns the cards face-up and gives the hand's point tally. The dealer then calls for the banker's hand. The person who is in control of the shoe looks at the banker's hand and gives them to the dealer.
If the Player's hand requires another card, the dealer will say "Card for the player", and the person in control of the shoe will draw another card from the shoe and then pass it to the dealer, who then passes it to the player-bettor, who then looks at it and then passes it back to the dealer. He then turns the card face-up with the other Player cards. The same process applies for the Banker's hand if another card is required, but here the shoe-holder looks at the card first.
This is the way that it is usually played at land based casinos, but can become very time consuming and tedious. For this reason the online casino (and many land based casinos now) operates the game slightly different. Instead of having basically three people (Shoe-holder, Dealer and Largest Player Bet Person), they have opted for just one person, the dealer. The dealer is then responsible for dealing the cards, as well as playing out both hands. This has converted Baccarat into a faster paced game with a lot more excitement.
How it Works
The whole game works on the idea of getting a two or three card hand as close to nine as possible (almost the same idea as Blackjack). All face value cards (2 up to 9) are worth their face value, an ace is worth one. Kings, queens, jacks and 10 are worth zero. The cards values are tallied, and if the value exceeds 10, the second digit of the tally is used (e.g. if a 8 and 4 are drawn which tallies to 12, then the hand's points are 2).
As said above, each hand is dealt two cards, and depending on the hand's point total, another card is dealt. If the initial player cards add up to 8 or 9, then it is called a "natural", and no more cards are dealt. Unless the banker's hand was dealt a tie for a natural 8 (i.e. also dealt a natural 8), or was dealt a natural 9, the player's hand wins.
Player hands stand on points of 6 and 7, but for point totals less than 6 and greater than 0, another card is dealt. If the Banker's hand is a natural, no more cards are dealt and the Banker's hand is the winner.
The determination for whether the Banker's hand is dealt another card can be a bit more confusing. The Banker also stands on 7, 8 and 9 and also draws a third card for totals of 0, 1 or 2, but here is when it can start getting confusing. For other points values, the Banker's hand third card draw becomes dependant on the Player's third card value. The Banker draws a third card if:
If the Banker's total is 7, then no third card is drawn. The winner is the hand closest to 9. Winning bets are paid out in even (e.g. if you bet 10, you get 10 plus the 10 you bet), and ties push (i.e. nobody wins anything extra). You may also bet that the hands will tie. Winning tie bets pay 8-1! BUT, the house has a massive 9.5% edge on these bets!