From sticky-floor California card rooms to the tuxedo-laden casinos of Monaco, Baccarat is one of the world’s most beloved casino games. With its low house edge and high payout odds, it’s easy to see why. But what is it exactly, and how do you play it?
In baccarat, players bet on either the Banker or Player hand, or on a tie. Once the bets are placed, cards are dealt to both hands and the winner is whoever has a total closest to nine. The game is played from a standard six or eight-deck shoe, and all cards are valued at their face value. Unlike other table games, the cards are not turned over to reveal their values, but remain face up on the table.
After the bets are placed, the dealer will deal two cards to the Banker and Player hands, and a third card (if necessary) to either or both. The Player and Banker hands are then compared to determine the winner. The Banker will win if the sum of the two cards is closer to nine than the Player’s. If the Banker wins, he or she will receive an additional winning bet equal to the amount of the initial Player bet, and this is also known as a ‘back-up’ bet.
The Player and Banker bets are the only bets in the game which pay out actual money. The remaining bets are side bets and the outcome of these is completely dependent on chance. Typically, these side bets have higher house edges than the main bets, and it is best to avoid them.
Baccarat’s rules are relatively simple, and the game can be enjoyed by all ages. However, there are a few things that every player should know before they play the game.
One of the most important things to remember is that, unlike blackjack, baccarat does not allow players to make their own decisions during the course of a round. Before the cards are dealt, you must place your wager on either the Player, the Banker or a Tie. You may bet as much as you like on each of these options, but your wager must fall within the minimum and maximum permitted table stakes displayed on the Baccarat table.
Once the bets are placed, the dealer deals a single card to the Player box, and then a second card to the Banker box. If the Player’s cards total ten or more, the first digit is dropped. For example, a seven and a six would result in a hand of 13, but this is dropped to a three.
The Banker will draw a third card if the Player’s hand totals 0 to 5, or equals 10. If the Player’s hand is a natural, they won’t need a third card, as this would be a victory. The Banker will also stand when the Player’s total is 8 or 9. This rule prevents pattern recognition, which ties in with the gambler’s fallacy, and is therefore strictly against the rules of baccarat.