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In physical casinos, baccarat is something of a selective game, not as widely available as roulette or blackjack. However, online baccarat has seen the game become a modern pastime for punters, with various types of baccarat games on offer. Its meteoric rise in popularity has led to many baccarat casinos that have a wide selection of iterations and buy-ins. Follow our guide to find the best baccarat casino sites available to Irish players in 2019.

What is Baccarat?

Baccarat is a card game that can be dated as far back as 15th century Italy. The original version saw players bet their hands against each other, trying to achieve the highest score. More modern versions of the game, like Punto Banco, emerged in South America and later the US, where the player bets against the dealer instead. Here the game has three possible results – the player wins, the dealer wins, or it's a tie. Most online baccarat games follow Punto Banco, but other versions are available that harken back to the original European rules. In all versions, the aim is to have the hand with the highest score up to 9. If the sum of your hand puts you in double digits, then your score is the right-hand number. For example, having a pair of 7s would equal 14, so your score would be 4. The suit of the cards has no bearing on the game.

Finding the Best Baccarat Casino Sites Online

The best baccarat casinos in Ireland are those that offer a large variety of games and pay limits at their baccarat tables. Another important number players want to look at when comparing baccarat sites is the pay-out percentage or casino edge. Some of the most top-rated baccarat casino sites are listed above in our editor's picks for the Top Irish Sites For Baccarat!

Comparing Baccarat vs Blackjack

Blackjack and baccarat are both comparative card games with a low house edge where players compete directly with the dealer. However, baccarat is favoured by fictional MI5 agent James Bond, as well as his original author, Ian Fleming. In comparison to blackjack, baccarat can be seen as slightly more complex due to the constraints on the numbers.

Baccarat players are aiming for a score of 9, with all the face cards worth zero, whereas the highest score in blackjack is 21, with the face cards worth 10 points, making them quite valuable in a hand. In blackjack, exceeding 21 means that you've lost, but in baccarat, if you go past 9, you essentially start at zero again, so cards totalling 18 give the player a potentially winning score of 8.

Baccarat Strategy: Follow the Shoe

'Follow the shoe' is a term coined for a popular baccarat strategy. While baccarat is limited in terms of what a player can change to tilt the game in their favour, they can bet on the outcome of the next hand. It's designed to take advantage of a winning streak by betting on what happened in the previous hand, based on the assumption that wins come in groups and do not alternate from player to dealer each round. For example, if the player won the last game, bet on them in the next one. If the dealer wins going forward, switch to them.

Baccarat Rules: How to Play Online

Players are given two cards to begin with. If the total is 6 or more, then they must stand with their hand as it is and hope the dealer has a lower score. If it's 5 or less, players must draw one additional card. The banker rules are slightly different, as they must stand if their cards total 7 or more, or draw if they have cards valued less than 2. If it's between 3 and 6, then the banker only draws depending on whether or not the player also drew. Should the game result in a tie, no money is lost or won. However, spectating players can bet on who will win, or if the next hand will result in a tie, with casinos offering odds of 9/1.

History of Baccarat

The word baccarat can be traced back to the Italian word for zero, 'baccara'. It was so named because the face cards were valued at zero, although baccarat history has a more romanticised twist to the basis of the game. It is believed that baccarat was dreamt up by a man named Felix Falguierein who lived in Italy during the 15th century. He was possibly inspired by an ancient Italian fable about a young virgin who was forced to throw a nine-sided dice by nine gods.

The lower the number, the worse her fate. An 8 or 9 would see her named a priestess for the gods, while a 6 or 7 would see her outcast, but still alive. Anything below this and she would have been forced to walk into the sea. The game was then communicated across the border to France in the late 15th century, where it became popular with the aristocracy, taking on the name of baccarat, although it was better known in France as Chemin de Fer.

It was a few centuries later, when France, Spain and England were colonising the world, notably South America, that baccarat took the shape of the game we know and love today. In the original European versions, the players played against one another, but in South America, Cuba and, later, Las Vegas, gamblers bet against the house. Baccarat did not light up the strip like blackjack or poker, but the Vegas casinos kept it in play, marketing it as an exclusive card game for distinguished guests and high rollers.