A Beginner’s Guide to Baccarat

min read
BetMGM Jun 20, 2022, 12:54 PM

Don’t think baccarat is out of your league just because it’s 007’s favorite game. Baccarat is an excellent live dealer casino game for beginners with some of the best odds in the house. It’s easy and slow-paced and you can get started with minimal strategy or skill. To prove it, we’ve put together a guide that will have you playing in minutes. We also threw in some baccarat jargon to help you sound like an old hand.  

Where did baccarat come from?

Baccarat is a type of casino game that originated in Italy as early as the 1400s. The game was then called “baccara,” which means zero in Italian. This is likely because all the face cards and 10s are worth zero points. The game later spread to France, where it got the French name we know today, baccarat.

How to play

One of the reasons baccarat might be the best casino game for newbies is because it requires no complex strategies. Baccarat is largely a game of chance.

Firstly, cards are dealt to each hand. These are known as the player hand and the banker hand. Then players guess which of the hands will get the most points. This means that players can bet on the banker hand, the player hand, or even predict that the game will finish with a tie.

Baccarat betting advice

When you’re getting started learning how to play casino card games like baccarat, it’s best to know which of your bet options are the smartest. A basic game of baccarat only has three and sometimes four betting options. 

A tie wager pays the most but has the lowest odds. A player wager beats the tie bet with a better return percentage and house edge. Banker bets are considered to be the best option. They boast the highest return percentage paired with the lowest house edge. If you’re getting started with baccarat, we suggest sticking to the banker wager. 

How points are calculated

In baccarat, all 10s and face cards are worth zero points. All the number cards are worth their face value, and the Ace card is worth one point. Remember, a point score below nine is the most desirable since a higher score has 10 subtracted from it.

If you correctly wager on the player hand, you win a 1:1 payout. A winning banker bet also pays 1:1, but a 5% commission must also be paid. A winning tie wager is the rare unicorn of the game. Successfully predicting a tie will win you an impressive 8:1 payout. 

Basic baccarat terminology

Now you know how simple it is to play the baccarat casino game. But wait, your dealer might throw around some baccarat terms that you aren’t familiar with. Here are a few simple phrases to get you started. 

Baccarat

The game’s namesake, this is the worst hand in baccarat. This means you or the bank have a total of zero points. 

Banco

In the game of baccarat, this Spanish word refers to the dealer. 

Banker bet

One of the three possible bets you can choose from in baccarat that pays 1:1 minus commission. 

Banque

This is a European version of the game that has three hands instead of two, one banker and two players. 

Caller

A casino staff member who is responsible for turning cards, calling out points and dealing out additional cards in baccarat. 

Carte

Carte is the French way of saying “hit me” or requesting another card from the dealer. 

Chemin De Fer

This is one of the most popular baccarat variations. In this variation, one of the players acts as the bank. This player deals cards and takes bets. 

Commission

Although baccarat is loved for its low house edge, winning bank bets are subject to a 5% commission fee.

Coup

A French word describing a round of the game where one bank and one player hand are dealt. 

Cut

Cutting refers to dividing the deck of cards in half once the cards have been shuffled. After that, the deck is combined again. In high-roller baccarat games, the player with the biggest bet can choose to cut the cards.  

Dealer

This is often a staff member who draws the cards. In some variations, players can act as the dealer.

Discard Tray

If you play casino table games often, you’ll already be familiar with a discard tray. This holds discarded and played cards in many table games. 

Down Card/Hole Card

A card turned face down.

Dragon Bonus

Casinos like BetMGM allow players to make an additional bet on the number of points that the winning hand will beat the other hand. You win a dragon bonus when the hand wins with eight or nine points, or if the margin is more than four points. 

Face cards

Face cards are cards that have portraits on them, like Queens and Jacks. 

Flat bet

A wager that stays the same, even if the hand is a winning or losing hand. 

Ladderman

One of the three dealers who run the game of baccarat.

La Grande

The best hand in baccarat, La Grande means The Big One in English. This is a natural baccarat totaling nine.

La Petite

La Petite means The Little One. This is a natural baccarat with a total of eight points.

Mini Baccarat

As the name suggests, this is a mini version of the game. This baccarat table can seat up to seven players and one dealer. This game is popular in larger groups as it offers faster gameplay and lower table limits. 

Monkey

A word used for a face card or a 10.

Natural

When the cards you have been dealt total either eight or nine.

Palette

A long wooden stick that dealers use to move cards during baccarat.

Player

This term does not necessarily refer to a player in the game but to the player bet.

Punto

A punter, the term for a player in baccarat.

Punto Banco

A popular variation of baccarat that was developed in Argentina. It translates to Player Banker. 

Push

A bet that isn’t a winning or losing bet is a push. The wager amount is held over for the next round. 

Run

A possible side bet option that lets players bet on a series of hands.

Shills

A member of the casino staff whose role is to attract players to the game of baccarat. 

Shoe

An automatic card-dealing machine that is used in baccarat to prevent error.  

Shooter

The bank.

Skill

People say “skill” jokingly when a player has a good run. 

Standoff

When both the bank and the player have the same value and are locked in a tie. 

Super Pan Nine

A variation of baccarat that’s popular in Los Angeles casinos. All players are dealt three cards and one player acts as the bank.

Tie

One of the three possible bets. If a hand ends in a tie, the player and the banker get their bets back. If you bet on a tie and win, you will be paid eight times your bet. 

Upcard

A card turned face up.

Play baccarat like a high roller with BetMGM

Sharpen your French and join a baccarat table. Playing baccarat in our online casino means you can place side bets on tie hands, and player/banker pairs. You can even double your bet. 

BetMGM’s app makes it easier than ever to play casino games. Register with the best online casino today and start playing different types of casino games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, Texas Hold’em and many more exciting online casino games

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.