Baccarat can be found alongside blackjack and roulette in Canadian casinos. You can also enjoy this casino table game online, in both software-based and live dealer format. It has a low house edge for the key bets – with bets on the ‘banker’ side giving the casino just 1.06%.
Unless you play in exclusive high-limit betting areas, you will be playing a simplified baccarat variation in casinos in Canada. This is known as Mini-Baccarat, or sometimes Punto Banco. You will see ‘Squeeze Baccarat’ mentioned. This is a Mini-Bac game, with the cards turned over slowly to increase the drama.
This page has everything you need to enjoy a game of baccarat, both online and on the main casino floor in brick-and-mortar venues. Below is the run-though of a hand with the side bets, strategy, and online formats covered after that.
How to play baccarat
When you read the complex rules on when the dealer takes another card, and how the winning hand is calculated — baccarat could seem confusing.
The good news is that the game played on the main casino floor is easy to follow. The dealers will know the system for drawing cards, so all you need to do is place your bet(s) and wait for the result.
There are three bets to choose from in the main game. Every player at the table will bet on the same outcomes from the cards the dealers will handle. You do not get your hand or make any choices of whether to raise or fold in this game.
- Banker Win: 1.06%
- Player Win: 1.24%
- Tie: 14.36%
The ‘player’ and ‘banker’ names on the felt are simply the names of two hands. Each hand starts with 2 cards, whether a 3rd card is drawn will depend on the totals. These are calculated by adding up the value of cards, with any score over 10 getting 10 removed. For example, a 9 and a 4 would make 13, take the 10 away, and that hand is scored at 3.
Here are the rules for when the hands stay at 2 cards, and when a 3rd card is drawn:
- If either hand has a total of 8 or 9, then no further cards are drawn
- Player hand will stand on a total of 6 or 7
- When the player’s hand stands, the dealer’s hand hits on 5 or under
- If the player hand has a score of 5 or less, then the player hits
- Things get more complex when the player takes a 3rd card. Here the banker will hit or stand depending on the total of the banker’s hand, plus the value of the 3rd card on the player’s hand.
Side bets in baccarat games
As well as the main bets, Canadian casinos offer a choice of side bets on their Punto Banco games. These add a little excitement to a game where the main results are wins in single units. As with side bets in many games, you should keep in mind that the house edge is high. The contrast between the good odds of the main game and the terrible odds of the side bets is magnified by the small house edge for the banker and player bets.
Popular baccarat side bets
- Three Card Wins: You get a bigger win if your chosen bet (player or banker) wins the hand with 3 cards
- Big 6: Win when the banker has a total of 6
- 4-5-6: Here you are betting on the total for the banker being 4, 5 or 6
The tie bet in the main game is considered a side bet by experienced players. The huge 14.36% house edge is even bigger than many side bets in blackjack or casino poker games.
Baccarat strategy guide
There are no decision points in this table game, so no strategy to learn. The golden rule that all experienced players will stick to is to always avoid the ‘Tie’ bet. Compared to the player and banker bets, this has a super-high house edge of up to 14.36%. That kind of odds will eat through your bankroll very quickly.
Baccarat has steady single unit wins and losses, which makes it popular for players experimenting with staking strategies. These include progressive betting (Martingale) and pattern betting systems.
Keep in mind that these strategies will not overcome the house edge over time. They have a role to play in reducing swings/volatility.
Casino baccarat games are played with 6 to 8 decks. They are shuffled regularly partway through each shoe – making card counting impossible.
Playing baccarat online
You will find baccarat at online casinos in Canada, including via some of the provincial gambling portals. Mini baccarat rules are used for these games.
Software-based games let you play for low stakes, trying out different strategies and learning the flow of the game before you play in a live casino. Live dealer games let you bet on baccarat card games as they happen at a remote studio. These live dealer baccarat games have a social element, with (text) chat available between all the players and the dealer. Stakes are higher in this format, and the timer function means that if you do not bet in time, the hand will be dealt without you.
You will find a mix of new and traditional casino table games at online casinos in Canada in addition to the baccarat tables. They include multiple variations of roulette, blackjack, and casino poker. Look out for entertaining variations of the favourites, including 100/1 Roulette, Super Fun 21 Extreme, and Mississippi Stud Poker.
Bonuses at Canadian baccarat casinos online
You can boost your returns from baccarat at both live and online casinos by taking advantage of their rewards programs. Live casinos track your play via a card — you can hand this to the dealer or insert it into a slot machine. This will give you free play, resort credits, and discounts — and let you access draws, seasonal promotions, and tournaments.
Online casinos offer a range of welcome bonuses and ongoing rewards. Baccarat is not the best choice for clearing casino bonuses. The low house edge works against it — you will need to bet a lot more on baccarat than you would on slots to clear a bonus.
You can still enjoy loyalty rewards, reload bonuses, and a wide variety of promotions while you enjoy the online baccarat games.
Wrapping up: Getting the best from baccarat casinos in Canada
Baccarat has a long history and is still a favourite among ‘Whales’ in high-limit casino rooms. You will find games with lower minimums on the main casino floor. Punto Banco (also known as Mini Baccarat) is a simplified game that lets you bet on the player, banker, tie, or on big money side bets.
The main bets have a low house edge – though the ‘tie’ wager and side bets are expensive compared to bets on other casino games. Combining good bankroll management, casino comps and bonuses and a run of good cards can see your money go further in this format than in more volatile casino games. You can learn the rules and experiment with betting strategies in baccarat at Canadian online casinos.