Best Live Baccarat Sites for US Players
When choosing which casinos to list on our site we consider several factors such as licensing and safety, the variety of tables and dealers, the quality of the video stream, and what (if any) bonuses each casino has available for live dealer baccarat players.
Because many players now choose to play using their smartphones, we also investigate each casino’s performance using a range of different devices before adding them to our recommended list.
As a final important consideration, we verify that all of the banking options offered by each casino are genuinely available and function as advertised. We believe that players deserve instant deposits and quick withdrawals with minimal transaction fees, and insist that all of our casino partners meet those basic requirements.
How to Play Live Dealer Baccarat
When the vast majority of online casinos list baccarat amongst their available games, they are invariably referring to the Punto Banco version of the game. This isn’t surprising, as the terms baccarat and punto banco have become near-enough interchangeable over the last decade or two. Almost all of the games labeled as “baccarat” in US casinos are also punto banco baccarat, as are those in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Macau.
In punto banco, the player only has to decide whether they wish to bet on the player’s hand, the banker’s hand, or the tie. The names of the hands are somewhat confusing, as in punto banco these terms are simply used to refer to the two different hands. The player hand has no particular association with the player, nor does the banker hand with the dealer.
The game is dealt from a shoe containing either six or eight decks, and the cards are dealt with according to fixed drawing rules. You won’t be given an opportunity to decide whether you wish to hit or stand once the cards have begun being dealt. This aside, the rules of the game remain the same as regular baccarat or mini-baccarat.
The lack of player decisions makes punto banco an exceptionally easy game for a live dealer casino to host, and players have the peace of mind of knowing that even if their internet connection becomes disconnected, the hand will play out just as it would have if they had remained connected.
Betting Instructions & User Interface
At the start of each hand (or “coup”, in baccarat parlance), the dealer will invite players to place their bets. Players then select from a row of virtual chip denominations, usually located somewhere along the bottom of the window, as a timer counts down to the beginning of the next coup. To play, you are required to place a wager on one or more of either the player hand, banker hand, or a tie.
Once the timer has expired, the dealer will deal two cards from the shoe face up to each of the player and banker positions on the table. This is the point where, in regular baccarat, you would be asked to make a decision as to if you wish to take another card or not. In punto banco, the dealer will first look to check if either hand has a total of 8 or 9. If they do, the coup will finish immediately with that hand being declared the winner. If both hands are of equal value, the coup will complete with a tie.
Next, the dealer will look to see if the players total equals 0-5. If it does, that hand will receive another card automatically. Totals of 6-7 will be left as-is. When the player does not receive a third card, the dealer hand is played according to these same rules. A more complicated strategy is used if the player hand does receive a third card whereby the dealer hand will receive an additional card if it is mathematically advantageous to do so.
Bets will be settled automatically at the conclusion of each coup, according to the payout schedule detailed below.
Live Baccarat Bet Types, Side Bets & Payouts
There are three main bets you can choose to make when playing punto banco:
- Player Bets always pay even money, in all forms of online live dealer baccarat. The house edge on player bets is 1.24%
- Banker Bets usually pay even money minus a 5% commission, which results in a house edge of 1.06%. There are sometimes slight variations to this – For example, Visionary iGaming’s live dealer baccarat uses the “Super 6” pay-out schedule, whereby banker bets also pay even money except when the hand wins with a 6. In this situation, the player will be paid at 1 to 2 instead which increases the house edge on banker bets to 1.46%
- Tie Bets return 8 to 1. Bets which have been made on the player or banker will sometimes be returned if the outcome of the coup is a tie, whereas other casinos will opt to let those bets ride (stay on the table for the next coup) instead.
Visionary iGaming has two side bets available, which are:
- Perfect Pairs – Similar to other card games, the perfect pairs side bet pays out when both of the cards in a single hand have the same face value. In baccarat, you can choose to bet specifically on either the player or banker hand receiving a perfect pair, or either of them. The house edge is very high on all these bets, and the relatively low payoff of 11 to 1 for a single hand or 5 to 1 for either of them means it really isn’t worth it.
- Dragon Bonus – This bet is made on either the player or banker hand separately, and only pays out if that hand also happens to win the main game. The payout is determined according to what total that hand wins with, with the largest pay out of 30 to 1 awarded for a 9. Because of the more complicated rules concerning whether the banker hand will draw a third card, there are significantly fewer possible winning combinations for the dragon bet on the banker hand. This causes the house edge on the player bet to be roughly 2.7%, compared with 9.4% for the banker bet. Clearly, you should steer clear of the dragon bet on the banker!
Arrow’s Edge and Fresh Deck Studios have a different set of side bets on their baccarat tables. These are:
- Big/Small – These are popular side bets at land-based casinos, but somewhat uncommon online. You are betting on the total number of cards that will be drawn during the next coup, with “small” bets paying out 3 to 2 for four cards and “big” bets returning a win of 0.54 to 1 for five or six cards. The house edge on the small bet is 8.07% whereas the big bet is much better at 4.35%, but both are still awful choices when the main game has such a low house advantage.
- Pairs – This is identical to Visionary iGaming’s perfect pairs bet, with an additional option to bet on a suited pair as well for a higher return of 25 to 1.
- Bonus – This is the same as Visionary iGaming’s Dragon Bonus, just under a different name. The odds and pay outs remain the same, with a house edge of 9.4% for the banker bonus bet and 2.7% for the player bonus.
Available Live Baccarat Providers in the USA
There are a couple of dozen gaming companies currently offering online live dealer baccarat, but unfortunately many of them do not allow their games to be offered to players located in the United States. At the moment, there are three main companies that stand out for their high quality, US-facing live dealer baccarat games:
- Visionary iGaming is played using six decks and includes the Perfect Pairs and Dragon Bonus side bets. The table is viewed from a similar perspective to their live roulette games, with the camera angle changing once the cards start to be dealt to give a close-up of the cards drawn to the banker and player hands. There are three choices of table stakes, and the company also offers the Super 6 variant as well.
- Arrow’s Edge uses an eight-deck shoe and has the largest choice of side bets, though all of them have a higher house edge than the main game. There are regular and VIP table stakes, and the video stream is very high resolution and great quality. There is only the one Punto banco style variant, but the action is fast and friendly and the game has an overall more premium feel than Visionary iGaming’s effort.
- Fresh Deck Studios do not advertise the size of their shoe but the company often seems to imitate Arrow’s Edge who were the market leader when they launched, so it’s a good bet they too use an eight-deck shoe. They offer punto banco only with two choices of table stakes. The video stream uses a fixed viewpoint and seemed to be much lower quality than their other games when we tried this game out. There is some suggestion on the net that the company currently hires this in from a different live dealer gaming company, which would explain this.
There are Casino Bonus Codes for Live Baccarat Online?
Because Baccarat has such a low house edge – close to just 1% if you stick to betting on the banker only, which is the optimal play – it has been another common target of advantage players and bonus abusers over the years. As a result of this, it has become increasingly difficult over the years to find good bonuses that allow you to play baccarat of any kind, including live dealer games such as those discussed on this page.
There are still a few decent bonuses out there though, and the slower pace of live dealer games means that casinos tend to be a little more generous with their wagering requirements for these versions of baccarat compared to their virtual counterparts. It’s still probably not a good idea to accept a bonus if you only intend to play live dealer baccarat, however, as the wagering requirements will make this an unprofitable proposition. If you are only looking for a little extra playtime then it might be worth considering, perhaps.
A popular strategy that some players use when playing live dealer games with a bonus is to switch to playing other games when they have built up a large bankroll playing baccarat. You could try playing some slots, for example, which have a much lower wagering requirement, only switching back to baccarat if your balance drops to an unacceptably low level. This strategy gives you the best possible chance of clearing the bonus wagering requirement with a profit.
Live Dealer Baccarat Table Limits
The various different live baccarat providers all offer different minimum and maximum bets for their baccarat games. There are several reasons for this – high rollers might not be entertained watching other patrons playing for micro stakes, for example. The casinos will always want to ensure that anybody who wants to place a big bet is able to find a seat to do so, too.
All three providers have several different sets of table limits for each of their games as well, so keep an eye out for this information when you are selecting a table to be sure you pick the stakes that best suit you. We have summarized each of the available limits below:
- Visionary iGaming offers three different limits for both their regular punto banco and Super 6 baccarat variants, for a total of six different table types. Their low-stakes tables have limits of $1-$5, the medium stake tables raise this to $5-$200, and the high limit tables max out at $25-$500. This is relatively low by online casino standards but is probably still sufficient to satisfy the majority of players.
- Arrow’s Edge offers only punto banco, with two sets of table stakes available catering to both low and high rollers. The low-stakes tables have a minimum bet of just $1, which is very reasonable for a live dealer game. The maximum at these tables is quite high too at $500, which is a nice range. They also have the highest table stakes of any of the US-facing live dealer gaming providers, with stakes of between $25 up to a maximum of $2,000 on their high limit tables.
- Fresh Deck Studios have two sets of table stakes on offer for their single punto banco baccarat variant. Low rollers will be pleased to find lower-stakes tables available with limits of $1-$200. Those who enjoy placing larger bets are equally well catered for by their high stakes tables, which have a minimum bet of $10 and a very high maximum of $1,500 per hand. There is a free play option too, allowing you to try the tables out with play money before you make a deposit.
Most Important Questions Answered
When I have seen baccarat played on TV the game looks very different – the dealer was using a paddle and the players seem to be much more involved with the game. What is going on here?
It sounds like you have been watching another version of the game such as Chemin de fer or Baccarat Banque, rather than the punto banco variant that is played online almost exclusively. The overwhelming majority of land-based casinos in the United States, United Kingdom and Macau all tend to offer punto banco on more than 90% of their tables nowadays, too.
The rules of those games vary from punto banco in a few ways. The most obvious change is that players are permitted to choose if they wish to take a third card rather than this being decided by the totals that are dealt. Also, in Chemin de fer the players will often take turns dealing the cards as well. The paddle is used to pick cards up from the table, in an attempt to remove opportunities for anybody to cheat.
These alternative variants are not well suited to being played online but have fallen out of favor even in land-based casinos too. If you are interested in finding out more about Chemin de fer and Baccarat Banque, Wikipedia has a good description of both on their main Baccarat page.
What are the differences between playing punto banco/baccarat in a land-based casino and playing online? Also, how do the live dealer games differ from the regular online casino versions?
Players are never permitted to touch the cards when playing punto banco and are not required to make any decisions other than choosing which outcome they would like to bet on. As a result, playing live dealer baccarat is very similar to playing the game at a real table in a land-based casino. A real table may limit the number of players who can participate in each hand due to physical space constraints, but this is obviously not a problem in an online live dealer game.
Regular online casino baccarat uses a random number generator to determine the order of cards that are dealt, instead of a real person using a physical deck of cards. Much like virtual versions of roulette and blackjack, these games are almost always played one-on-one against the dealer, with cards shuffled digitally after every hand.
Virtual casino games are always very fast compared to other versions of the same game. Live dealer baccarat is a little faster than playing at a land-based casino because the dealer doesn’t have to resolve the bets at the end of each hand, but the two otherwise play at roughly the same speed.
Is live dealer baccarat fair? My friends tell me that online casinos cannot be trusted.
The live dealer games described on this page from Visionary iGaming, Arrow’s Edge, and Fresh Deck Studios are all independently audited and regulated, so you can be sure of getting a fair game with these providers. Live dealer games have a much higher barrier to entry than simply setting up a crooked online casino, so you are much less likely to find any dodgy behavior going on at the actual live dealer tables.
One potential weakness is that live dealer gaming providers can occasionally end up licensing their software to rogue online casinos. If you are careful to only deposit and play at online casinos that have obtained a license from a trustworthy authority, then you should be able to play with confidence. If you fail to do this, you could end up winning a large amount of money and having it confiscated or not being allowed to withdraw it. If you do have a problem getting paid from an online casino, there are several independent arbitration websites online that may be able to help you get paid.
Can I try live dealer baccarat for free before playing with real money? I don’t want to risk making a deposit until I can be sure I can trust the games.
Just a few years ago the answer would have been no. Fortunately, Arrow’s Edge begun offering the ability to try their live dealer baccarat and roulette in free play mode a couple of years back, and fresh deck studios have recently followed suit.
This makes sense for these games, as one dealer is able to serve an unlimited number of players at a single table with no extra cost to the casino. When you do play in free play mode you are sharing a table with other players who are betting real money, so you can be sure that the cards you are seeing are legitimate.
Why does the banker bet have a lower house edge than the player bet?
The player hand is analyzed first, and the action taken by the banker hand depends on the total of the player hand. This gives the banker hand a slightly better chance of beating the player total, although the difference is actually quite small. The player hand wins 44.62% of the time, whereas the banker will win 45.86% of games with the remaining 9.52% of wagers resulting in a tie. You can split the tie percentage as they result in a push, giving overall odds of 50.62% for the banker and 49.38%.
If you’re wondering which part of the decision process exactly causes this, see the next question.
What are the drawing rules for the banker hand?
If neither the player nor the banker receives a total of eight or nine after the first two cards, the banker’s hand is analyzed as follows:
- The banker will stand if he has a seven, eight or nine, otherwise, his decision depends on the value of the player hand.
- If the player handstands, the banker will take another card if his total is five or below. If the player draws a third card, the following rules are used:
- If the banker has a zero, one or two, he will always take another card.
- If the banker has a three, he will take another card as long as the players third card is not an eight.
- If the banker has a four, he will take another card if the players third card is a two through seven.
- If the banker has a five, he will take another card if the players third card is valued at four through seven.
- If the banker has a six, he will take another card if the players third card is a six or a seven.
You don’t need to worry about memorizing these rules unless you really want to, as the dealer handles all such decisions without any player input.
I’m a little bored of the main game and want to try some of the side bets, but you say that all of these are poor bets. Why is this, and if I am going to try some of them, which would be best?
The bonus/dragon bonus bet on the player only has the lowest house edge of any of the common baccarat side bets with a house edge of 2.7%, but this is still poor compared with the main game’s house edge of 1.06%.
The reason the side bets are a poor wager is simply a result of casinos choosing to offer poor bets when players wager on them – they could improve these odds if they wanted to, but they see them as an easy way of milking extra cash from players.
If you are dissatisfied simply betting on the banker then by all means try the bonus bet for a little extra excitement, but a better option would be to try playing live dealer blackjack instead. Blackjack has an even lower house edge than baccarat and gives the player many more options which results in a much more exciting game.
Can you count cards playing baccarat, or does that only apply to blackjack?
You can try counting cards if you want to, although the advantage you will gain from doing so is lower than that which can be gained from counting cards in blackjack. The technique is simpler than with blackjack too, however, so it’s all swings and roundabouts really.
When the count is at its most extreme level you could potentially gain an edge of roughly 0.5%, but you are extremely unlikely to encounter such a scenario. A more average improvement to the house edge from counting would be in the region of around 0.2%, and you can do this playing online too.
Which live dealer game has the lowest house edge – blackjack, baccarat or roulette?
Blackjack varies from around 0.17% up to around 1% for the very worst rule variations, but the average house edge will usually be in the region of 0.5%. This is around half the house edge of betting on the banker in baccarat, and one-fifth the house edge of European roulette.
It’s no coincidence that the amount of skill required to play each game with perfect strategy correlates directly with the house edge. The casinos exploit the fact that the majority of players will not play with perfect strategy.
I heard that Phil Ivey was able to beat the casinos for millions playing punto banco. How was this done?
Phil was using a technique known as edge-sorting, which while not illegal, is frowned upon by the casinos. He was able to get away with this by manipulating the dealer and claiming to be performing these actions because of superstition rather than advantage play. He was also taking advantage of the fact that the cards the casino was using were cut imperfectly. This technique is unlikely to be usable today, as the case was publicized very heavily and several casinos lost millions as a result of it. It sure was a great story, though!