The Basics of Baccarat
Although it’s often tucked away in high-limit gaming areas, baccarat is one of the most straightforward casino games. Players choose whether to bet on the “Player” or “Banker” hand, and then sit back as the dealer does the rest. The object is to get a hand that totals closer to nine than the opponent’s. All cards are worth their face value, with picture cards (tens, jacks, queens and kings) counting as zero points and aces counting as one. If a player’s or banker’s first two cards add up to nine or higher, the hand is considered a ‘natural’ and no third card is drawn. The other option is for the player or banker to draw a third card, but this decision is not up to the players, but rather covered by the rules of the game.
A full baccarat table will usually have from seven to 14 seats, and casinos will often set these tables off the main casino floor because they’re meant for high-rollers (banker bets typically run from $50 to $100,000). Despite its relative simplicity, baccarat has some tricky rules that must be followed, especially when it comes to dealing cards and deciding whether a third card should be drawn.
Traditionally, the cards were dealt face up and the game took place on a large, round table. These days, however, most baccarat games are played on smaller tables with a single space and the dealer handles all dealing and announcements. There’s also a new trend toward online baccarat, which eliminates the physical cards and requires players to use their computers to place their bets and follow the game play.
In live baccarat, after all bets are placed, the dealer deals one card to the ‘Player’ box and then another to the ‘Banker’ box. If your bet is on the player or banker, the winning hand is declared and payouts are made accordingly. There’s also a third bet, on a tie, which pays off eight-to-one but has a much larger house edge of over 14 percent. Most serious players stick to the player or banker bets.
The most popular form of baccarat in the US is called Punto Banco, which has evolved from the original Latin-America version of the game and is now the most common form of the game in Europe and America. It’s a simpler version than the ‘natural’ rule-based European variant of the game, and it’s the most commonly played in the world today.
When betting on the player or banker, it’s important to keep track of winning streaks. Pattern systems that predict when the banker will win and when the player will win tend to be more profitable than flat bets on either side, as they help keep players’ bankrolls from running dry while also making the most of the low house edge. Nevertheless, it’s still not a guaranteed strategy for winning big.