Baccarat is one of the most popular casino table games in the world, particularly in Asia. Due to the combination of fast-paced action, simple rules and low house edge, it’s no surprise that this casino game is so well-liked.
But did you know that a variation exists called mini baccarat? In this article, you can get a look at the game’s rules and history, then dive into some playing strategies and tips to give you the best chance of winning at mini baccarat online.
The Origins of Baccarat
Although nobody knows for sure where its exact origins lie, there are all kinds of fanciful theories. One even suggests that the earliest form of baccarat emerged from a ritual known as “Nine Deities.” This involved a blonde-haired person tossing a nine-sided die to determine their fate.
What is known, however, is that the game of baccarat is hundreds of years old. It most likely originated in Italy during the 15th century and was popularized by the French royal family and aristocracy around that time. By the 19th century, as casinos were beginning to appear, this intriguing card game became a staple.
Different Forms of Baccarat
Throughout the history of baccarat, the game has undergone many rule changes. The first notable variation was the introduction of “Chemin de Fer,” giving players the opportunity to act as banker.
In this form of the game, players do the work; the casino simply charges a commission from winning bets. This became the most prominent version in England, which perhaps explains why James Bond has become one of the most famous baccarat players.
Early in the 20th century, as baccarat found its way into the USA, the “Punto Banco” variant emerged. This simplified the game, removing the need for players to act as a banker and giving dealing duties to the casino. Today, whenever people talk about baccarat, they are usually referring to Punto Banco.
What Is Mini Baccarat?
The basic mini baccarat rules are actually no different from Punto Banco. Its name comes from the fact that, in a land-based casino, the table is usually smaller. In some land-based casinos, you’ll find baccarat tables that seat as many as 14 players. But with mini baccarat, you’ll never see more than seven.
The other major difference is that the betting limits are lower in mini baccarat. This makes it more attractive for casual players or complete beginners, as it’s possible to wager small amounts just for fun. You’re also less likely to run into intimidating high rollers. Perhaps this helps to explain why mini baccarat is among the more popular online casino games today.
Finally, dealing in mini baccarat works just like Punto Banco. Unlike the old-fashioned Chemin de Fer baccarat games, mini baccarat players do not get to act as the banker. Only the casino has this opportunity.
After bets are placed, the dealer will distribute cards to two different areas of the table, called “Banker” and “Player.” These names do not represent specific people but are purely used to indicate which hand is which.
Your aim is to predict which hand finishes with the highest score. Thus, there are three main baccarat bets to choose from: Banker, Player and Tie. Guess correctly and you’ll earn the following payouts:
- Banker – 0.95:1.
- Player – 1:1.
- Tie – 8:1.
The reason for the 0.95:1 payout is due to a 5% commission built into the banker bet. It’s also worth pointing out that some variations of baccarat pay higher or lower returns on the tie bet.
When betting time expires, the dealer gives two cards to both the player and the banker. Every card is worth its face value except for aces, which count for 1. The 10s, jacks, queens and kings are all worth 10.
If a score reaches double digits, only the final number plays. For example, if the banker receives a king and a 6, that’s a score of 16, which becomes 6. If the player is dealt an ace and a 9, that’s a total of 10, which actually means 0.
In certain situations, a third card may be given to either player. You don’t need to worry about this, as the dealer takes care of everything. But in short, the player hand draws a third card on a score of 1–5 unless the banker has 8 or 9. The banker draws on 0, 1 or 2 unless the player has 8 or 9.
Some baccarat games offer optional side bets, such as Super 6. With this wager, you receive a payout on a separate ante whenever the banker wins with a score of exactly 6. However, mini baccarat is a simplified version of the game, which doesn’t usually offer side bets.
Baccarat Playing Strategies
Unlike blackjack, baccarat cannot be beaten in the long term with techniques like card counting. However, that’s not to say you can’t employ tactics that minimize the risk of losing, giving yourself the best chance of success.
Here are some interesting playing strategies you can try.
Stick to Player Bets
A standard baccarat table charges a 5% commission on banker bets. This wager has one of the lowest house edges of any game in the casino, at just 1.06%. But the commission eats into your profits. As such, choosing the player bet, with a similarly low edge of 1.24% but no commission, is a better option. What’s more, it’s the most common result, coming 45.85% of the time.
Avoid Betting on Ties
The sizable odds offered by the tie bet seem attractive. But in reality, this is one of the worst possible wagers, with a house edge of greater than 14%, depending on the specific odds offered. Avoiding it will help preserve your bankroll.
Following Trends and Streaks
Many baccarat players try to jump on streaks. For instance, if there have been two player wins in a row, they’ll bet on player again and hope for a third. Of course, in reality, every outcome is independent, so this playing strategy will not yield long-term benefits. (But it’s certainly fun to try.)
Here are a few more top tips for winning at the baccarat tables.
Always check the payouts for winning hands before sitting down to play. Some forms of baccarat pay more or less than 8:1 for ties, while others remove the 5% commission from banker bets. Be sure to get the best value.
Managing your money is important when playing any casino game, but especially a rapid-fire one like baccarat. Only gamble with cash that you can afford to lose and take frequent breaks to give yourself thinking time. Do not chase losses and always bet a small percentage of your bankroll. Units of 1% are fine.
While it’s okay to adopt a playing strategy, be wary of so-called “systems” for winning. Foolproof baccarat betting systems simply do not exist. If you pay for such a wagering method, you are wasting your money.
Where To Play Mini Baccarat
If this article has whet your appetite to play for the first time, head on over to BetMGM and register an account.
Alongside mini baccarat, you’ll find multiple forms of the game, including Punto Banco and live casino baccarat. Get access to hundreds of slots, roulette games and online blackjack live dealer tables at BetMGM.