Mini Baccarat is a variation of the regular Baccarat rules in which the player tries to have their total hand as close to 9 as possible. If the player goes over 9, either by drawing a face card, or having a sum of numbered cards greater than 10, then their score is set to 0.
Mini-Baccarat is known as a banking game, like Blackjack. A banking game is where numerous players, or “punters” are against a Dealer opponent or the “banker”.
How to Play Mini Baccarat?
The rules of Mini Baccarat are simple. Understanding how to deal in Mini-Baccarat is important. As the name “banking game” suggests, the banker is a very important role. It will be the Dealer’s job to face each of the other players.
The dealer will take multiple sets of the Anglo-American 52-card deck. The dealer will then shuffle all decks together. This creates a shoe, or a deck made of multiple different decks.
The dealer will then deal out two cards to each player. This is known as the individual Player’s “hand.”
To deal in Baccarat, the shoe will depend on the number of players in a game. More players require more decks in the shoe to allow multiple copies of the same card to be drawn by each player.
Rather than playing against each other, each player will take turns in a 1-on-1 game with the dealer. The other players, when it is not their turn to play against the dealer, will bet on the outcome of the current game.
There are three possible outcomes: Tie, Banker, Player.
In order to win, the player must correctly guess the outcome of a particular hand.
An interesting feature of Baccarat to keep in mind while playing is that when adding together the hand for the total value, imagine that you are adding on a single-digit analog counter.
- Player 1 and the Dealer both draw two cards.
- Player 1 draws a face card, and a 7
- Dealer draws 4 and 4.
- Card suits (♥♦♣♠) are irrelevant in Mini-Baccarat
- Aces are always low, meaning that they are worth one point.
The player loses this hand, as a face card is valued at 10. As 10 does not exist on the imaginary Mini-Baccarat analog counter, face cards are treated as 0. 0+7=7.
The dealer drew 4 and 4, adding their hand together produces 8. Since the Dealer/Banker’s hand is closer to 9 than the player, the dealer wins.
Either the Player’s hand will be closer to 9, the Banker’s hand will be closer to 9, or both players will have the same value of cards, causing a tie.
A correct guess receives a payout, or the rewarded amount of money based on the amount originally bet and multiplied by the odds set by the house. This system of payouts and betting will be explained in a later section.
The Dragon Bonus
Essential to understanding how to play Mini-Baccarat is the Dragon Bonus:
The Dragon Bonus is a side wager that a player can make with the Dealer on their turn. The Dragon Bonus is essentially a bet on the Player or the Banker receiving a “natural.”
A natural occurs when either the Banker or Player receives a 9 in their first two drawn cards. A natural ends the hand automatically, and no more cards can be drawn.
The Dragon Bonus will be successful if the winning hand is a natural, or if the point total is 4 or greater than the opposing hand.
- Player 1 bets on Player 2’s game with the dealer. Player 1 bets that the Dealer will win, and wagers an additional Dragon Bonus.
- Player 2 draws 5 and 3
- Dealer draws 9 and K
- Dealer wins, Player 1 wins the Dragon Bonus because of the natural 9 drawn by the Dealer.
Betting and Payouts
Betting is done in three ways, with the Dragon Bonus acting as an additional wager based on two of these three.
- Firstly, the players who are not dealt cards can bet on the Player.
- Secondly, they may bet on the Dealer.
Both of these bets will offer an “even” bet. This means that the “payout” will equal the amount of money bet. The payout is simply the amount of money won from a single bet in Mini-Baccarat.
- Player 1 bets $15
- Player 1 wins.
- Player 1 wins $30
Player 1’s $15 is doubled because of the even, or 1-to-1 odds. The odds of Mini-Baccarat are 1-to-1 in both Player and Banker betting.
Thirdly, Players can bet on a tie. At most casinos, ties will come with a much better payout. Normally, an 8x payout can be expected, or 8-to-1 odds. This means you will receive eight times the payment put in.
- Player 1 bets $20
- Player 1 wins
- Player 1 wins $160
However, ties are very rare. The odds in Mini-Baccarat of getting a tie in one hand is about 10%.
Rules of Mini-Baccarat
Here are some important rules of Mini-Baccarat:
- Remember that the suit of a card (♥♦♣♠) is irrelevant.
- When betting on the Dealer/Banker’s hand, remember that there is a 5% commission. This means that for every successful bet on the Dealer, the player must pay 5% of their winnings to the dealer.
- Face cards do not add to your score. Imagine taking away the tens place when adding up your card totals. 15 becomes 5, 12 becomes 2, etc.
Rules in the casino
Casinos will often have specific rules that must be followed when playing Mini-Baccarat:
- If a Player’s opening draw is valued from 0-5, then they are forced to draw a third card.
- If a Player’s opening draw is valued from 6-7, they are forced to NOT draw a third card.
- If a Player opening draw is valued from 8-9, they have drawn a natural.
Bankers also have specific rules that they must follow, designed to mathematically advantage the casino in a very small, statistical way.
It is this slight advantage for the casino, or “house advantage” that justifies the 5% commission on Dealer/Banker bets. The Dealer is more likely to win, therefore 5% of your earnings must be paid out for the increased odds of victory.
Score in Baccarat is not kept. Each individual hand is essentially a new game, with either the Dealer/Banker or the Player winning each individual hand.
However, while score is not kept within the confines of the game, score is kept outside of the game through cash value.
Basic Strategy Tips
Here are some tips on how to win Mini-Baccarat:
- While Dragon Bonus has the best possible payout on the board, at 25-to-1, there is only about a 0.077% chance of drawing a natural. It seems like a tantalizing bet, but the likelihood of winning a Dragon Bonus is low.
- The Dealer always has a slightly higher chance of winning than the Player. This advantage is why commission must be paid to the Dealer for successful Dealer/Banker bets. However, the optimal strategy is to always bet on the Dealer because the Dealer has a very slight statistically increased chance of winning each hand. Would you rather bet on something with 40% chance, or 41%? That 1% may seem minimal, but it is an extra percent in your favor when you bet on the Dealer.
- The occasional tie bet may be worth it. Although it has a much smaller payout compared to the Dragon Bonus, the 8-to-1 odds payout of a tie is still a substantial amount greater than the generic 1-to-1 of Player or Dealer bets. It also is much more likely to happen than the Dragon Bonus, as ties can account for roughly 10% of all Mini-Baccarat hands.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Baccarat and Mini-Baccarat?
In regular Baccarat, the role of Banker travels around the board, much like it does in Poker. However, in Mini-Baccarat, the Dealer of the casino is always the Banker, and never relinquishes the cards to another player.
How can you get the Dragon Bonus in Mini-Baccarat?
The Dragon Bonus is only paid out when it has been wagered on before the cards have been revealed.
In order to receive a payout for it, the Player’s bet must have been correct, and must have occurred from either a natural, or a 4-point total difference in score between the Player and the Dealer/Banker.
What does Free Hand mean in Mini-Baccarat?
Sometimes, Dealers will offer a free hand to a player that has bought a large number of drinks, or otherwise spent money at the casino. It is the card game equivalent to a free spin on a slot machine.
It is usually a free hand, or game, played on the minimum allowed bet at a particular table. If the table’s minimum bet is $20, expect your payout (if you win) to be based on a $20 bet.
What are the table limits in Mini-Baccarat?
A table limit or table limits are the minimum and maximum bets allowed at a Mini-Baccarat table. A minimum might be $10, $20, or even $50, while a maximum could be $100-$400 dollars per bet.
Every casino is different. There will be a sign on the table of your choice, expressly announcing the table limits of that particular establishment.
How are bets paid out in Mini-Baccarat?
Player and Dealer/Banker bets are made on even odds, or 1-to-1 odds. You will be paid the exact amount that you bet. $10 wins $10, therefore resulting in $20 with a $10 profit.
Remember, Dealer/Banker bets are required to pay commission, resulting in slightly less but more frequent winnings. Ties pay out 8-to-1, or 8x the amount bet. $10 wins $80. Dragon Bonus pays 25-to-1 odds. $10 wins $250.