If you have never played baccarat in a casino, don’t worry, you are not alone, as baccarat is the most intimidating game on the casino floor!
Between the confusing reader board with strange symbols and colors that the players study like calculus, the hard to understand lingo, and the high limits, taking a seat at a baccarat table for the first time can take a lot of courage. But for those of you out there that have never given the game a shot, you are missing out, as baccarat offers one of the fairest gambles of any casino game, as the house advantage is significantly lower than most other offerings.
In this article, we are going to help you better understand the different baccarat variations that are available, so that when you do work up the courage to sit down at the table, you know what you are doing!
One of the things that tend to keep new players from trying baccarat is that there are several different variations of the game. Unlike other classic casino games like blackjack, roulette, or craps, where the table layout and play are essentially identical at every table, baccarat has versions that look nothing alike!
In some of these baccarat variations, the players deal the cards, whereas in others they are dealt by the dealer. You will find games where the table is massive, with multiple dealers and tons of players, and you will find games that are much smaller with only one dealer and a couple of players.
Before we get too deep into looking at the differences and similarities between these baccarat variations, we are going to first show you the various variations that you are going to encounter on the casino floor. Let’s get started by taking a look at the most common version of baccarat played today, mini baccarat!
Mini baccarat is going to be the bac game that you see most often. They call it mini because it is the small version of a more traditional big bac table (more to come on big bac here in a minute).
On a mini bac game:
The dealer will deal all cards out of the shoe. In most casinos, on a mini bac game, the players will never touch the cards at any point, as all of that is handled by the dealer. For those of you that play at a standard blackjack table, where the dealer deals all of the cards, this will feel very normal for you, as you aren’t used to touching the cards anyway.
Mini baccarat is popular because with the dealer dealing the cards, they can control the pace better, which speeds the game up significantly. Casinos are all about getting as many decisions per hour as possible on a game, and having the players just sit back and watch helps keep the game moving quickly.
If you say these first two game’s names out loud, they can sound very similar. There are even some fairly experienced baccarat players out there that don’t know that midi and mini bac aren’t the same game, as the names sound nearly identical, and the gameplay is the same.
With one small exception.
Unlike a mini bac game where the dealer does all of the dealing, on a midi bac game, the players are allowed to touch the cards. Baccarat cards are only used once and then immediately thrown away. This is done for game protection reasons and with the cards going into the trash can after just that one use, the casino doesn’t care if the players crease them, rip them up, or crumble them while they flip them over. Midi baccarat has the same look and feel of a mini bac game, but the added element of the players being able to slowly squeeze out a card, or tear it into little pieces, makes it a lot of fun!
You are going to find midi bac games exclusively in the high limit section of a casino, as the game can be very slow, and the casino needs players making bigger bets to make up for the fact that the game is so much slower.
Big Baccarat tables are going the way of the Dodo Bird in the last 30 or so years, as the game is tough on the casino logistically.
A big bac game is more than twice the size of a normal baccarat table, and more closely resembles a craps table than a normal baccarat table. The physical size of a big bac game means that in order to have one, the casino will have to remove at least 2, and possibly as many as 3 or 4, other tables.
Unless they get a ton of play on the game, it won’t come close to justifying all of that valuable floor space.
Throw in the fact that a big bac game requires a whopping 3 dealers, and you can start to understand why you aren’t going to find too many of these games.
But if you do stumble across a big bac game out in the wild, I strongly suggest that you sit down and give it a try. Big Bac is a much more social game than a mini or midi bac game and the energy can be outrageous. If you have ever seen a red-hot craps table screaming and high fiving, that is the same vibe you are going to find at a big bac table.
No Commission Baccarat
On each of the baccarat variations described above, you have to pay a commission when you win, depending on where you place your bets. This is typically a 5% commission, and it is how the casino makes most of their money off of the game, as, besides slightly different card drawing rules, the player and the banker bets are both close to coin flip wagers, with little house edge.
Having players pay commission slows down the game quite a bit, as many times the dealer will have to make change in order for the player to be able to pay up. Players don’t like this, and the casino certainly doesn’t either, but without charging a commission, there isn’t any way that the casino can make money.
That is where no commission baccarat comes into play, as in this baccarat variant, players don’t ever have to pay a commission. Not having to slow the game down for commission helps speed it up a lot, and most players prefer the quicker pace of play.
But buyer beware on this baccarat variant, as in order to make up for the lack of commission, the casino pushes all winning banker hands that add up to 6.
And while that exact scenario doesn’t happen all that often, it happens more than you would think, and is enough to make a no commission, commonly known as Nepal Baccarat, game a significantly worse game from a house advantage perspective.
Bac With Side Bets
This final version of baccarat is less of a variation and more of an add-on to existing games. For a long time, baccarat was the 1 casino game that didn’t offer any side bets. Yeah, there is the tie bet that is almost always available, but that was it.
Just like the rest of the games in the casino, we are finally starting to see some baccarat side bets emerge. Bac has a lot of style, but little substance, so the game itself can get a little boring as you aren’t making any meaningful decisions. Mixing in a couple of side bet wagers along with your standard bets is a great way to spice things up and you could potentially win a bunch of money!
Similar to the no commission baccarat game, the casino tends to make more money on bac games with side bets than games without them, so you want to make sure that you aren’t getting too crazy with your side bet action.
And you are always going to want to make sure to talk to the dealer, so you understand exactly what the bet is all about before ever making one.
But, assuming that you know how the side bet works, and you keep your side bet wagers in line with your main game bets, side bets can be a great addition to a baccarat game. There are too many versions of these side bets to name them all, but my personal favorites are side bets with progressive payouts, as you can win life-changing money in an instant!
Baccarat Variations: Differences and Similarities
When you take a look at each of these different types of baccarat, at its core, the game remains the same. There is a player bet, a banker bet, and the closest to 9 wins. That is baccarat in a nutshell. Sometimes it is at a big table with lots of players and multiple dealers. Sometimes the players get to touch the cards, sometimes they don’t, but the gameplay is identical.
Where we get to the differences, is on the how not the what
How are the cards revealed? What options do you have to bet on? Are you paying commission or not? Each little tweak makes these games unique and different from each other, but once you sit down at the table, you will quickly realize that bac is bac. The decision on which baccarat variation you play will come down to your personal preference. Are you looking for a faster paced game? Then try Nepal Baccarat. Are you looking for a slower moving and more social game? Then Big Bac is the game that you are going to want to try.
Do you want to personally control the action? Find yourself a Midi Bac table and control the shoe and the cards coming out. Some of these games are going to have a higher house advantage on them, but we gamble for entertainment, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pass up on the baccarat variation that you enjoy the most, to try and gain a tiny bit of expected value.
Now that you know the differences and similarities between the various baccarat variants, the time is perfect for you to give these games a try! That being said, if you are still a little timid about jumping right in and playing at your local casino, I suggest that you give the game a try online first!
While online bac won’t have the same quirks as brick-and-mortar bac, like being able to handle the cards or having a big bac table full of players, it will help you gain a solid understanding of how the game is actually played. And as we mentioned above, at the end of the day, bac is bac, so if you can learn the game online first, the transition to a live casino will be an easy one.
If you want to check out online bac, make sure that before you log on, you swing by TheSportsGeek’s online baccarat casino page, where we bring our readers exclusive offers at all of the top online casinos.
Sign-up bonuses, deposit matches, and so much more can be found on our online baccarat casino page, and you don’t want to miss out on the best deals in the business!
Thanks for reading and good luck playing baccarat, whether it is online or in a brick-and-mortar casino.
PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!