Everything I Learned from My First Game of Baccarat

By Beverly Greer
Published on June 01, 2018
Baccarat and Hand Holding Money Coin

As a beginner gambler, I played several other casino games before learning baccarat because I was worried that it was too complicated. Now that I know how to play, I wish I had started playing punto banco (the most common version of baccarat) as soon as I began to gamble.

Baccarat has been an easy game for me to learn, but I also love the classy feel of the game. I feel like a high-roller when I play, even though I am usually playing a low-bid game.

One of the reasons that I shied away from baccarat at the beginning was that I had honestly never even heard of it. Before I started gambling, I had heard of craps, roulette, poker, and blackjack.

I had a basic background knowledge of each of the other games. But I had no clue that baccarat existed before a few months ago when a friend dragged me to the baccarat table while we were at a casino.

If you are anything like me, you want to have a basic understanding of the game before you start playing. So, before I jump into the things I learned from playing baccarat, here is a little background information for you.

Baccarat is a classic casino game that is easy to learn and fun to play. It is believed to be the game that James Bond prefers, especially in the book Casino Royale.

Interestingly enough, the movie version of Casino Royale differs and has Bond playing Texas Hold ‘Em, but baccarat appears in other Bond movies such as GoldenEye and Dr. No. The game gained popularity after Bond made it famous, but it has been played since the 19th century.

As with most casino games, there are several versions of baccarat. However, the version played in most casinos is called punto banco.

That is the only version that I have played, and the single version played in most American casinos. So, this article will focus exclusively on this format, but many of the lessons I learned will apply to other forms of baccarat as well.

If you have never heard of baccarat before or if you are just unclear on the way the game is played, I have included a quick guide to the basics of the game below. However, if you want to understand the game well enough to play, you should check out our beginner’s guide to baccarat.

A Quick Guide to Baccarat

The only move you have to make in baccarat is your bet because everything else happens automatically. You can bet on the player or the banker, or you can bet on a tie. Once bets have been placed, the cards will be dealt: two for the player and two for the banker.

After the initial hand is dealt, the dealer will give one more card to the player, depending on that hand. The banker’s hand and the players’ hands will determine whether or not the banker gets another card.

Third-card dealing is done automatically by the dealer or software, so you don’t have to know the rules for who gets another card. After that, the hand that got closest to nine will be the winning hand.

How to calculate the value of your hand is the most challenging part of the game to learn.

Part of the reason that it was so hard for me to learn was that I had been playing blackjack for a while, so I was accustomed to calculating up to twenty-one instead of nine. If you haven’t played blackjack, it might be a lot easier for you to figure out the baccarat system.

Whether you have played blackjack or not, once you have figured out the baccarat system, you will have basically mastered the game.

Each card is worth its numerical value (aces are worth 1), but tens and face cards are worth 0.

If the value of your cards adds up to double digits, the left number gets dropped, so the amount of the hand is the same as the digit in the one’s place. So, if the player’s hand adds up to 14, the value of the hand is only four.

It’s important to realize that you are not necessarily the player. Everyone who sits at the table and places a bet does so on the same hand. So, if you and your friend both place stakes on the player, you will both win or both lose. You will not be dealt your own individual hand of cards.

However, in some versions of baccarat, like Chemin de Fer, you and another player can take the spot of player or banker and play against each other.

Lesson #1: Baccarat Is for Everybody, Including Beginners

Before I started playing baccarat, there were about the game. Now that I have experienced it, I have discovered that many of the things people said were just misconceptions.

The truth is that baccarat is for everybody, but one of the biggest fallacies is that baccarat is only for certain types of players.

Baccarat has a reputation for being . Usually, it is played in a separate room of the casino, with a high-class ambiance. Many baccarat players are in tuxedos, sipping expensive champagne, and they are high rollers.

High rollers are drawn to baccarat because of the elegant ambiance, the simplicity of the game, and the fact that their bets can’t be affected by other players.

But they also love baccarat because the maximum bets are extremely high, or they are completely unlimited.

It is not uncommon to see high rollers risking $100,000 or more on one hand of baccarat. These high-level stakes are one reason that the game can account for about 30% of a casino’s overall revenue.

But the average player can’t afford to take such high risks. Don’t let the elitist atmosphere scare you away from the game. They may have a $100,000 maximum bet, but the minimum might be $25. There are even some tables that have a $5 minimum.

So as long as you find a table with the right minimums, you can find a baccarat game that matches your lifestyle and your bankroll.

When I first started playing baccarat, one of my friends that went to the casino with us was Susan. Susan is a single elementary teacher, so her income is pretty tight.

She only had an extra $100 that she was willing to risk on gambling, so there was no way she was going to play a game with high minimums. But we didn’t want to abandon her to the penny slots while the rest of us went to play an expensive table game.

A baccarat table with a $5 minimum ended up being the perfect compromise. She could play with us, and with a few wins, she was able to keep playing for a pretty considerable amount of time. And we got to play the fancy table game that we wanted to.

Another misconception about baccarat is that it is complicated and difficult to learn.

I think that this idea is spread just because it is not as popular as games like Texas Hold ‘Em or blackjack and because people don’t have a lot of knowledge about the game. If only a small percentage of players plays it, misinformation spreads easily.

As I said, when I first started playing, I had never even heard of baccarat. But the game is becoming increasingly popular, so hopefully, players will start spreading the truth that it is a straightforward game.

You don’t really even have to know every detail about how the game is played. As long as you can place your bet, the dealer will do the rest for you.

It might be a complicated game for dealers to learn because there are specific rules that they have to follow depending on the cards in play. But even those rules are pretty simple for both players and dealers to learn.

Don’t let these misconceptions stop you from playing such a great game! Baccarat truly is for everyone, especially when you can find a low-limit table. You don’t have to understand every detail in order to play, and you certainly don’t have to be a high roller.

In fact, the simplicity of the game makes it a great starter game for anyone who is just beginning to try gambling. It gives you an opportunity to learn betting strategy and bankroll management without having to focus on your next move.

Lesson #2: Ignore the Scoreboard

Baccarat tables have towers above them that list the results of the most recent hands. These towers are called the scoreboard. Many scoreboards have several formats, so you can choose the one that you like best when trying to find patterns.

Some tables also offer players a pencil and paper so that they can keep track of the score on their own.

Here’s the problem with these scoreboards and trying to read their patterns – baccarat is a game of chance.

There are no patterns, and the player winning one hand has nothing to do with whether or not the player will win the next one. Whether the banker or player has a higher hand depends strictly on the luck of the draw for that bet in particular, and nothing else can change that fact.

If you have ever played roulette, you will recognize the similar scoreboard tower. Casinos use these towers to make you believe that there is some predictability to the game.

The truth is that if you are LOOKING for a pattern, you will probably be able to find something, but in reality, the information is worthless and misleading.

Each hand in baccarat is random, and so is the number that the ball lands on in roulette.

Don’t let the casinos fool you into making more bets because you think you can see a pattern that isn’t really there.

During my first round of baccarat, I became obsessed with the scoreboard. I was convinced that I saw patterns and that if I placed the bet based on the pattern, I would be able to make sure that I won.

After watching the scoreboards and betting based on what I saw five times, I had only won one round. So I suggest that you do yourself a favor and learn to ignore the scoreboard, no matter what.

Lesson #3: Betting the Banker Is Better in the Long Run

Even though baccarat is a game of chance, the odds are not exactly 50-50, so you should take these odds into account when you place your bets. First of all, do not be tempted by the tie bet (or some of the other side bets depending on the variation you are playing).

There is less than a 9% chance that the round will end in a tie. The reason the casino offers higher payouts on these hands is that they know they probably won’t have to pay for it often.

When it comes to betting on the banker or player, there is one bet that is slightly better than the other. Here’s a hint: it’s also the bet that the casino takes a commission off of because they know it will be the one to win most often. The banker has a very slight edge because of the third-card rules.

The third-card rules dictate whether a banker will hit or stand, but the player always hits or stands first. The dealer has precise rules about whether the banker will get another card depending on their total and the player’s total.

To put it simply, the rules of the game make it so that the banker wins 45.85% of the time, while the player hand wins 44.62% of the time.

It may seem like that 1% difference is no big deal, but it depends on how many hands you are playing.

Sure, if you are only playing a few hands, you probably won’t notice the difference between how often the banker wins and how often the player wins. But once you begin to tally this up throughout the whole game, it makes a pretty big difference.

Some players prefer to mix things up for entertainment value, so they enjoy betting on both the banker and the player. However, if you want to add up the most wins throughout the entirety of the game, the banker bet is always better.

It doesn’t guarantee that you will win every hand, but it does mean that you will be more likely to win more often.

My friend, Susan, had done her research before we started playing baccarat. She knew that the banker has a slightly better edge, so she bet on the banker for every hand. She bet the same minimum bet for each hand.

By the time we had played through the shoe, she had won about $75 more than she initially started with.

On the other hand, I had tried betting based on the scoreboard for about five rounds. I quickly learned that this wasn’t working for me, but the excitement of the game kept enticing me to bet randomly.

I tried to stick with just banker bets, but as soon as it looked like the player was on a winning streak, I would bet on the player instead.

I ended up with an overall loss of about $85 at the end of the game.

Once Susan and I compared our total payouts after the game, I realized that Susan’s strategy had worked way better than mine. This may have been a small sample size, but I learned my lesson nonetheless. I have bet on the banker for every hand since.

Don’t waste your time chase betting or looking for patterns like I did. Just take my word for it and bet on the banker every time. I know that it feels like you are missing out on some of the excitement of the game, but you will be even more excited when you make more money overall.


Baccarat is now among my favorite casino games, and I am sure that you will enjoy it if you give it a chance. It truly is a simple game that ANYONE can play.

As long as you ignore the scoreboard and bet the banker, you can have fun and have a higher chance of earning some extra cash while you do it.

Good luck on your first game of baccarat! And remember, if you’re planning to play online, then make sure you stick with the casino sites we recommend.

You’ll enjoy baccarat a lot more at these casinos because they all use the latest software to power their games. They’re all reputable and trustworthy, too, which means the games won’t be rigged, and you’ll get your money if you’re lucky enough to win.

Everything I Learned from My First Game of Baccarat
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Everything I Learned from My First Game of Baccarat
Baccarat is a classy, popular game that's fast-paced and easy to learn. If you're a beginner baccarat player, check out this blog to read about everything I learned from my first few games.
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Clay Erickson | 3 Jul 2018
I mostly stick to poker, blackjack, and the occasional slots. I had no idea that baccarat was so complicated!
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