Most people get their first exposure to baccarat through the older James Bond movies where the game was played for nosebleed stakes at posh casinos between the super spy and arch villain. That is a land casino baccarat variant called Chemin de Fer in which the casino takes a rake from the pot. Unfortunately, online baccarat is not based on this variant. It is based on a land casino baccarat variant called Punto Banco in which the player takes on the house just as in blackjack. Punto stands for punter or Player and Banco stands for Banker.
Online baccarat is a unique game in which the hands of the Player and Banker are automatically played out according to set rules with no decision making involved. You simply wager on one of these hands.
Variations of baccarat available at online casinos
There are hardly any variations to online baccarat. There are some software providers that add additional side bets and some that add exotic history charts. But at most US online casinos you will get the standard game with three betting options.
The first bet is the Player Bet. You back the Player hand to win the automatically played out game. If the Player hand wins, you get paid, but if the Banker hand wins then you lose the bet. The Banker Bet is exactly the converse. You back the Banker hand to win the automatically played out game. If the Banker hand wins, you get paid, but if the Player hand wins then you lose the bet. The third bet that you can place is the Tie Bet. This bet will win only if both the Player hand and the Banker hand are of the same value.
How online baccarat is played
Hand valuation in online baccarat is different from other card based gambling games. Even the cards are valued differently. Cards from ace to nine are valued at their pip count, with ace being one point. Tens and the picture cards are valued at 0 points. In order to arrive at the hand value, the values of the cards are added up and the tens digit is discarded. The highest hand value possible is 9, which is referred to as a natural.
After the bets are placed two cards are dealt to the Player hand and two cards to the Banker hand. These are dealt one at a time. If the rules of baccarat require then a third card is dealt to each hand. You need not know these rules because they are built into the software. The hand that has the higher hand value wins. If both hands have the same hand value then the outcome is a tie.
Strategy that can enhance your win potential playing online baccarat
In order to understand online baccarat strategy you must first know the payouts and the average return for each of the bets. If you bet on the Banker’s hand and win you will be paid even money less a 5% house commission. In effect your payout is 1 to 0.95. The average return for this bet with 8 decks is 98.94%. If you bet on the Player’s hand and win you will be paid even money. The average return for this bet with 8 decks is 98.77%. The Tie Bet usually pays 8 to 1 and offers an average return of 85%.
The online baccarat strategy for enhancing your win potential is simple. Bet on the Banker’s hand deal after deal after deal. Do not even look at the Tie Bet. As the number of decks in the shoe decreases, the average return for the Banker Bet increases marginally.
Advantages of playing baccarat online
- Online baccarat offers the highest average returns for online casino games based only on luck in which no skill is required except for choosing the right bet.
- It is a good online game for conservative casino players who do not like volatility and are averse to taking big risks.
- Baccarat has complex dealing rules, but in online baccarat players need not know these because they are built into the software.
- Playing baccarat online will help build your confidence for playing the game at land casinos with other players at the table should the occasion arise.
Disadvantages of playing baccarat online
- The payout for the best bet in online baccarat, which is the Banker Bet, is effectively less than even money because of the house commission, which is a huge disincentive.
- The Tie Bet seems to be attractive to new players because of its 8 to 1 payout, but it is a sucker bet meant to lure unsuspecting players with an average return of only 85%.
- Online baccarat is one of the most boring games with no skill to challenge the mind and visually bland as well.
- US online casinos offer only one variant of online baccarat that has been in the portfolio for decades with any innovation.