On Saturday February 10, 2024, billions of people around the world will celebrate Lunar New Year and usher in the Year of the Dragon. While many of those people will celebrate with food, drink, and festive gatherings, others will indulge in the iconic Lunar New Year pastime of gambling.
While in the past, people may have flocked to land-based casinos to join in the fun, technology has evolved, making gambling literally anywhere a reality. Now, playing online Baccarat, the card game that took Macau by storm in the 1960s, can be an entertaining and potentially rewarding way of getting into the spirit of things. Learn how to play this classic game on your computer or mobile device below.
A European Game Goes To China
Before getting to grips with playing Baccarat online, let’s take a quick look at the game’s fascinating history and its place in culture. The card game’s origins are shrouded in mystery, although some historians think that the game’s roots might go as far back as the 1400s. Possibly invented in Italy, the game was later introduced to France, where it became the game of choice among the upper classes in the 19th century.
In the 1960s, Hong Kong-Macau businessman and casino mogul introduced Baccarat to his gambling venues in Macau, where it became an instant success. By 1984, the game represented 65% of the former Portuguese colony’s gambling market. It was in the casinos of Macau that the famous Baccarat Roads (methods of recording game results), the slow reveal known as the Squeeze, and the bean-shaped gaming tables developed. There’s no denying that the card game has been fully adopted and given a distinct local flavor by Asian gamblers.
Basic Rules of Online Baccarat
The goal of online Baccarat is to win a round by getting a hand with a score that’s as close as possible to nine. However, unlike in card games such as Blackjack, you can bet on either hand to win. What’s more, you have no say over the moves that either hand makes. Those are all determined by hand scores and game rules. After placing a bet, all you can do is watch how the game unfolds.
In most online Baccarat games, the shoe contains six or eight decks of cards. Aces are worth one point, cards two through nine are worth their face value, and 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings are worth 0 points. Hand scores are calculated by adding the card values. If the score is higher than nine, the first digit is dropped. For example, if a hand consists of a nine of hearts and a five of diamonds, the score is 14. However, as this is higher than nine, we ignore the first digit, which gives the hand a score of four. The playing cards’ suits do not affect the score in any way.
Three Online Baccarat Bets
Most RNG and live dealer Baccarat games at leading digital gaming destinations such as Bella Vegas casino use the classic rules, which means you can choose from three different betting options. These include the Player Bet, the Banker Bet, and the Tie Bet. It’s important to understand the differences between the options, as each bet is unique.
If you place a Player Bet, you’re betting that the Player hand will win. This bet has odds of 45.86% and a house edge of 1.36%, and it pays out 1:1. When you place a Banker Bet, you’re betting that the Banker hand will win. This bet has odds of 44.62% and a house edge of 1.06%, and it pays out 1:1 less a 5% commission. If you place a Tie bet, you’re betting that the Player and Banker hands will tie. This bet has odds of 9.52% and a house edge of 14.4%, and it pays out 8:1 or 9:1.
Playing The Game
When it comes to playing Baccarat online, the first thing to do is find an edition that appeals to you. After launching it and adjusting the settings to suit your betting budget, you can click or tap the relevant area on the game table to place a bet, whether it’s the Player, the Banker, or Tie. Click or tap the play button after placing your bet.
The RNG and game software or the dealer will deal two cards to the Player’s side and two cards to the Banker’s side. If one of the hands has a score of eight or nine while the other has a lower score, that hand wins. If the hands have the same score after the initial deal, the hands tie.
However, if the Player hand’s initial score is between 0 and five, the hand automatically receives another card. The Player hand doesn’t receive another card if the initial score is six or seven. The rules regarding the Banker hand receiving more cards are more complicated, as this depends on what the Player hand does. After any additional cards have been dealt according to online Baccarat rules, the scores will be adjusted and compared to determine the winner. If the hand you bet on wins, you’ll be paid out according to the pay table.
The best live dealer Baccarat games online go to fantastic lengths to recreate the atmosphere of playing the game in Asia’s gambling capital. This starts with sitting at a bean-shaped table, just as you would in Macau.
If you enjoy trying to spot trends in game results when deciding which bet to place, you can use the traditional Baccarat Roads. Known as the Big Road, the Small Road, the Big Eye Boy, the Cockroach, and the Bead Plate, these charts record the trends in each rounds’ results.
Some live Baccarat tables online also offer the ritualistic reveal of cards. Known as the Squeeze, this sees the dealer or you, depending on the version of the game you’re playing, slowly reveal the value of a card to heighten anticipation and increase the excitement.
A Social Gaming Experience
Whether they play Baccarat, Mahjong, or other games, many Chinese people enjoy gambling during the Lunar New Year festivities because it’s a chance to have fun with family and friends. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Lunar New Year or at least enjoy exciting chances to win real money whenever it suits you, give live dealer online Baccarat a try.