EZ Baccarat is a popular version of the traditional game of baccarat with one significant change: the player-annoying 5% commission charged to players when they win a Bank Hand wager is eliminated.

In land-based casinos, the game is played on a table the size of a blackjack table with up to six or seven players with a casino dealer dealing the cards. EZ Baccarat can also be played in online casinos.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to play EZ Baccarat
  • How the 5% commission is eliminated
  • The third-card drawing rules
  • The house edge
  • The two optional side bets
  • Several advanced playing techniques for the side bets

Content

Objective of the Game

Regardless of the number of players, only two hands are dealt. One is known as the Bank Hand and the other the Player Hand. Before the cards are dealt, each player can place a wager on which hand comes closest to a total of 9. You can wager on:

  • The Bank Hand,
  • The Player Hand
  • The Tie (meaning both hands will have the same total)

The maximum number of cards per hand is three, and there are house rules that determine whether one or both hands require a third-card draw (more on this shortly).

Card Values

Every card has a numerical value and suits have no relevance.

  • 2s through 9s have a value equal to their face value
  • Tens and picture cards (Jack, Queen, King) have a value of 0
  • Aces have a value of 1

The highest total you can have for either hand is 9. If the numerical total of the cards in a hand exceeds a total of 9, then you can do either of the following to arrive at the adjusted total:

  • Drop the first digit of the sum
  • Subtract 10 from the total

Examples:

8+8 = 16 or 6

4+9 = 13 or 3

Note: Unlike blackjack, where you bust if your hand totals greater than 21, in EZ Baccarat you can never bust.

Baccarat

Payoffs

  • All winning wagers on the Player Hand are paid at even money. For example, if you wager $10, you receive $10 in winnings.
  • All winning bets on the Bank Hand are paid at even money with one important exception: A three-card winning Bank Hand with a total of 7 is a push (meaning, the Bank Hand neither wins nor losses).
  • All winning wagers on the Tie are usually paid at 8 to 1 (some casinos pay 9 for 1, which is the same as 8 to 1). 

In the traditional game of baccarat, a player is charged a 5% commission on all winning bets on the Bank Hand. Many players don’t understand the reason for the 5% commission and, therefore, paying the casino a part of their winnings irritates them.

EZ Baccarat eliminates this commission, without altering the third-card drawing rules, which is why it has become a popular table game.

Third Card Rules

In EZ Baccarat, and in traditional baccarat, either or both hands could draw a third card. Remember, the maximum number of cards per hand is three.

The dealer, not the players, determines if one or both hands require a third-card draw based on standard house rules. It is not necessary to memorize the third-card rules, but you will enjoy the game more if you have some familiarity with them.

For completeness, I’ve summarized the third-card draw rules for both hands in Appendix 1. Just keep in mind that it’s not necessary to memorize these rules.

Baccarat Player

House Edge

The following are the house advantages per hand played

  • Bank Hand: 1.02%
  • Player Hand: 1.24%
  • Tie: 14.36%

Note: The House Advantage on the Bank Hand is slightly lower than it is in a traditional, 5%- commission game (1.02% versus 1.06%). It is the same for the Player Hand and Ties.  Sometimes you’ll see the House Advantage for Bank and Player Hands quoted as 1.17% and 1.36% respectively. This is the case for “per resolved bets” rather than “per hand played.”

Side Bets

EZ Baccarat has two optional side bets, Dragon 7 and Panda 8

Dragon 7

This is promoted as an insurance bet in the event the three-card Bank Hand totals 7 and beats the Player Hand. If you remember, the reason EZ Baccarat eliminates the 5% commission on winning Bank Hand bets is because of this one rule change:

  • A three-card winning Bank Hand with a total of 7 is a push.

A winning Dragon 7 side bet is paid at 40-1 payout odds. Therefore, if you wager on the Bank Hand and the Dragon 7 side bet and the Bank Hand wins with a three-card total of 7, your wager on the Bank Hand pushes, and your wager on the Dragon 7 side bet is paid off at 40-1.  The house advantage is a hefty 7.61%.

Panda 8

This optional side bet wins when a three-card Player Hand totals 8. The payoff is 25 to 1, and the house advantage is 10.19%.

Card Counting the Baccarat Side Bets

For those that are interested in learning about card counting the above two side bets, I recommend you read my friend and fellow 888casino contributing writer Eliot Jacobson’s articles on this subject. One was published on the 888casino blog, and several others on the Wizard of Odds site.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing EZ Baccarat

Advantages

  • The 5% commission on Bank Hand wins is eliminated.
  • The House Advantage on the Bank Hand is slightly lower than it is in a traditional baccarat game.
  • The minimum betting requirements are usually lower than traditional baccarat.
  • There is a possibility to gain a slight advantage betting the side bets by using either card counting or known-carding playing techniques.

Disadvantages

The game plays faster than traditional baccarat, which can expose more of a player’s bankroll to the house edge.

Lastly, keep this in mind. Many betting systems have been proposed for baccarat. Some involve identifying trends and streaks of wins on either hand to determine which hand to bet on. Others use various progressive betting systems.

Unfortunately, none of them will change the odds or house edge against the player when playing EZ Baccarat.

Appendix 1

Player Hand Third-Card Rule

  • If the sum of the two cards is 0 to 5, a third card is drawn.
  • If the sum is 6, 7, 8, or 9, the hand automatically stands.

Note: The total of the Bank Hand does not affect whether the Player hand must draw or stand. In addition, a total of 8 or 9 is known as a “natural” and when either the Player or Bank Hands total 8 or 9, both hands must stand.

Bank Hand Third-Card Rule

The third-card draw rules for the Bank Hand are slightly more complicated than those for the Player Hand; however, as I mentioned earlier, it is not necessary to memorize these rules since the dealer will decide whether or not to draw a third.

  • Bank Hand always draws when the initial two cards total 0, 1, or 2.
  • Bank Hand always stands when the initial two cards total 7, 8, or 9.  (When it’s a natural 8 or 9, the Player Hand must also stand.)

When the Bank Hand totals 3, 4, 5, or 6, see the table below for the third-card rule for the Bank Hand.

Bank Hand Initial Two Cards Total: Bank Draws Only When Player Third Draw Card Is: Bank Stands Only When Player Third Draw Card Is:
3 0 to 7 and 9 8
4 2 to 7 0, 1 and 8, 9
5 4 to 7 0 to 3 and 8, 9
6 6 to 7 0 to 5, and 8, 9

 

About the Author
By

Henry Tamburin is one of world’s most respected blackjack experts and a world-class player. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, and Blackjack: Take The Money and Run. He edited the monthly Blackjack Insider Newsletter, and was a featured blackjack columnist for Casino Player magazine, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Gaming South magazine, Southern Gaming magazine, New England Gaming News, Jackpot, Bingo Bugle, and Casino City Times.