Baccarat is a popular card game often available among other casino table games. Such is true in Florida, where you can easily find a baccarat game in most casinos in the state. There are even some online baccarat options, although not for cash, as online gambling for real money is not legal in Florida
Baccarat has a reputation as a “sophisticated” game, perhaps because of its portrayal in movies. James Bond plays baccarat in the original “Casino Royale” novel (although the 2006 adaptation changes the game to Texas Hold’em). He also plays baccarat in “Dr. No,” the first Bond movie. Baccarat is relatively easy to learn and can provide a great deal of fun and entertainment.
Read on for information about where you can play baccarat in Florida and how to play the popular card game.
Is online baccarat legal in Florida?
Online gambling for real money is illegal in Florida. Unlike in, say, New Jersey or Michigan or other states where online gambling is legal, you won’t find any real money online casinos in Florida.
However, Florida players do have a couple of options for playing baccarat online. One is to look for baccarat at social and sweepstakes casinos that offer online casino games that you play using virtual currencies.
One such site is Pulsz, which has a large selection of slots titles and a few table games. Among the table games at Pulsz is one baccarat option — Baccarat 777.
Another option for Floridians wanting to play baccarat online is to do so via one of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s social casinos. There are two of them:
- Seminole Social Casino
- Hard Rock Blackjack & Casino
These social casinos are similar and have the same variety of slots and table games, including online baccarat games. You can play baccarat online for free, as well as the other games, either on your computer or via apps for Android or iOS.
While you can’t win cash playing these games, you can link to your Seminole Wild Card account and accrue casino rewards when you play.
Florida casinos that offer baccarat
Baccarat is a “banked card game” that, along with blackjack and some others, the Seminole Tribe of Florida can offer at its casinos under its gambling compact with the state.
The compact actually excludes one Seminole property from offering baccarat, Seminole Casino Brighton. When the compact went into effect in 2010, it also disallowed the tribe from offering baccarat at its Big Cypress casino, but that property has since closed.
That means you can find baccarat among the available table games at each of the other five Seminole casinos in Florida:
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
- Seminole Casino Immokalee
- Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
- Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
These casinos offer a few types of baccarat games, including some that alter the bacarrat rules a little from the traditional game. Let’s go over how to play baccarat first, though. It might look intimidating, but it is in fact quite simple to learn.
How to play baccarat
Baccarat is the single most popular casino game in Macao and other parts of the world. The game is also a big draw in many US casinos, although it isn’t necessarily a game that many know how to play. Even those who enjoy playing blackjack, poker, and other card games sometimes don’t have much familiarity with baccarat. To that end, here’s a quick tutorial:
Placing bets in baccarat
In blackjack, you might have a table full of people all playing against the dealer at once. Baccarat works a little differently as there are only two hands — one for the player and one for the banker. In traditional baccarat, those sitting around the table take turns filling the banker role. However, many popular variations of baccarat in Florida casinos have a dealer who acts as the banker.
Before the deal, players seated around the table place their bets. There are three primary ways to bet:
- Bet on the player to win — a winning bet doubles the wager.
- Bet on the banker to win — a winning bet doubles the wager minus a 5% commission for the casino.
- Bet on the two hands to tie — a winning bet typically pays 8 to 1 (or something similar, since the odds of a tie are slim).
Note you can also sometimes place a pairs bet on either the player or the banker, which is a side bet that one or the other’s first two cards will be the same (i.e., a player pair bet or a banker pair bet). Winning pair bets generally pay 11 to 1, since they are also a bit of a long shot.
Dealing hands and calculating their point totals in baccarat
The deal begins with four cards face up. The first and third cards go to the player, and the second and fourth cards go to the banker. The game usually uses a multi-deck shoe.
Suits are irrelevant in baccarat. The hands will add up to a certain number of points:
- Aces count as one point.
- Cards 2 through 9 count as points equal to their value.
- Tens, jacks, queens and kings are worth zero points.
When you add up the point value of a baccarat hand, if the total is 10 or higher, simply drop the “1” and use only the second digit. For example, if the hand has a 6 and a 9, that adds up to 15. Drop the “1,” and the hand’s point value is five. No one “busts” in baccarat like you do in blackjack if a hand goes over 21.
The game’s object is to get as close to nine points as possible. As you can see, the way the game calculates points means no one ever goes over nine. The winning hand is the one with the most points, and if the player and banker end up with the same total, the hand is a tie.
Drawing a third card in baccarat
For both the player and banker, there is the possibility to draw one more card. This must happen according to particular rules, though, and not because the player or banker decides to do so. As you know, in blackjack you can choose whether to hit or stand. In baccarat, the rules dictate that choice for both the player and banker:
- If either the player or banker has a hand totaling eight or nine, that’s called a “natural win” and the hand is over (no third cards).
- If there is no natural win, the player stands on six or seven and draws a third card if the hand totals zero through five.
- If the player stands, the banker also stands on six or seven but draws a third card if the hand totals zero through five.
- If the player draws a third card, what the banker does depends on the value of the banker’s hand and potentially also the value of the player’s third card.
Got that? OK … here’s what the banker does if the player has drawn a third card. If the banker’s hand is worth …
- Zero, one or two: The banker always draws a third card.
- Three: The banker draws a third card unless the player’s third card is an 8.
- Four: The banker draws a third card if the player’s third card is a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- Five: The banker draws a third card if the player’s third card is a 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- Six: The banker draws a third card if the player’s third card is a 6 or 7.
- Seven: The banker always stands.
Once all of that is settled and the third cards are dealt (if necessary), that’s the end of the hand. Either the player or banker wins, or the hand ends in a tie. Bets then settle up, including any pairs bets or other side bets in certain baccarat variants.
The good news is you don’t have to remember all of this when you play baccarat. There’s usually a dealer there who knows whether the player and/or banker needs a third card. The dealer will also help calculate the hands’ values, determine the winner and settle the bets.
Other baccarat games in Florida
As noted, there are different varieties of baccarat you can play. When you find baccarat at a Florida casino, more often than not it will be one of the following two types:
- Mini Baccarat
- Midi Baccarat
Both of these games play a lot like traditional baccarat. In fact the “Mini” and “Midi” designation has more to do with the size of the table than anything else.
A Mini Baccarat table typically has seven spots for players, as opposed to full baccarat tables that can have 14. Midi Baccarat, meanwhile, is an “in-between solution” with nine spots at the table. Having fewer spots at the table helps the game move along more quickly.
There’s one other difference to note that also affects the pace of the game. In traditional baccarat, players actually take turns acting as the banker by passing the shoe of cards around the table. In Mini Baccarat and Midi Baccarat, however, the dealer always acts as the banker and the players don’t have to handle the cards.
The stakes are usually lower at Mini Baccarat and Midi Baccarat tables versus what you find at regular baccarat, although that can vary. Much like with blackjack and other table games, you’ll see minimum and maximum bet limits at every baccarat table so you know before you sit down what the stakes of the game are.
One Florida casino, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, offers other baccarat variations in its Jubao Palace table games room:
- EZ Baccarat
- Super 6 Baccarat
- 21 Baccarat
EZ Baccarat has just a couple of differences from regular baccarat. If you win on the banker hand, you don’t have to pay a commission. However, if the banker wins with a three-card 7, bets on the banker hand push (i.e., there’s no winner). The game also adds a couple of new side bets. One is the Dragon 7, which is a bet on the banker to win with a three-card 7 (pays 40 to 1). Another is the Panda 8, which is a bet on the player to win with a three-card 8 (pays 25 to 1).
Super 6 Baccarat is also like traditional baccarat but with a few changes. Like EZ Baccarat, there is no commission on winning banker bets. Also, if the banker’s hand wins with a point count of six, winning bets pay only 50%. You can also make a Super 6 side bet on the banker’s hand to win with exactly six, in which case a winning bet pays off at 12 to 1.
Finally, 21 Baccarat is yet another variation that actually uses the blackjack counting system rather than the traditional baccarat system. Essentially, the game plays like blackjack (with a few small differences), except you can also place a bonus wager on the player or banker hand, much as you do in baccarat. You can also bet on the hands to tie.
Baccarat strategy and tips
Truth be told, baccarat is a bit like roulette or other “pure” gambling options in which there really isn’t any strategy. You can keep a few tips in mind, though, some of which may even help save you some money.
One is that the banker has a slight advantage over the player because of those drawing rules that govern if anyone receives a third card. That is to say, it is just a little more likely the banker will end up with the winning hand. That’s why baccarat casino tables will take a 5% commission from a winning bet on the banker, but no commission from a winning bet on the player. However, even with that commission, the “house edge” in the game is a tiny bit less when you bet on the banker versus when you bet on the player.
In fact, the house edge in baccarat is quite small no matter which way you go — 1.06% on banker bets and 1.24% on player bets. That compares favorably to other casino games, which is one reason for baccarat’s popularity.
The house edge is much greater when you take a chance and bet on ties, about 14.36% when the payout is 8 to 1. That’s a huge difference, and unless you enjoy taking big risks, it means that betting on ties (or pairs or other long shot side bets) isn’t really a great choice in baccarat.
Beyond that, our general advice to baccarat players is not to be intimidated by the game. Also, manage your bankroll carefully and only gamble with money you can afford to lose.
As mentioned, a lot of baccarat involves simply placing your bets and sitting back to see if you’ve won, making baccarat not unlike playing roulette, keno or other casino games. That makes it easier than you might realize to try it out for the first time. Baccarat can also be a very social game like blackjack or craps, as you gamble alongside fellow players.
That said, always practice responsible gambling and set limits on your time and money. Have fun, but be smart, too. That’s the best strategy to keep in mind when playing any casino game.