Baccarat is one of those casino table games that oozes sophistication and conjures images of men in tuxedos and women in posh evening gowns, laying down chips in a slow-paced ritual. But this is not a game that should intimidate players; it’s actually very easy to learn, and if you know some simple strategies you can master it in no time.
The goal of baccarat is to predict which hand, the Player’s or the Banker’s, will have the highest value. A winning bet on either pays out even money (no commission) and has a house edge of just under 1 percent. The third option, the Tie bet, pays out 8 to 1 but has a much higher house edge of over 14 percent. Because of this, intelligent players avoid the Tie bet altogether and stick with the Player and Banker bets.
There are from seven to 14 seats around a table for players and a dealer’s area. Each player is dealt two cards in a private betting area. The winner is whoever has the hand with a score closest to nine. The total value is based on the pips, or dots, on each card that indicate the club, diamond, spade, and heart symbols. Picture cards and the number 10 are worth zero points, while the ace counts as one point. The game is played with a deck of cards until the player’s or the banker’s total hits a double digit, at which point they stop dealing cards.
To help you understand this scoring system, a chart is shown on the table to illustrate the rules of baccarat. There are some differences between the different charts, but they all provide the same information to the players. For example, it is important to note that a banker must draw a third card if the player’s hand has a total of six or seven and must stand on a 0-5 score.
Unlike other table games, baccarat is a fixed-rules game, meaning the dealers follow a set of rules to determine whether a third card is drawn. This is especially helpful for beginners, because it means there are no complicated decisions to make and the rules are easily understood.
Baccarat made a name for itself during the Great Exhibitions of the 19th Century, where it showed off pieces like its 1867 ‘Jusivy’ table service, designed for the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and furnishings for the Dolmbahce Palace in Istanbul. These showings earned it admirers in places like Portugal, Japan and India.
Bill Zender, a former Nevada Gaming Control Agent and the author of “Managing Casino Games”, says that baccarat is growing in popularity among Asian high rollers because it is a culturally appropriate game for their gambling culture. He also notes that the game has one of the lowest hold percentages in the casino, at just under 1 percent for banker and player bets. But perhaps the biggest reason for its popularity is that it’s just a lot of fun to play.