The Basics of Baccarat
Baccarat is one of the most glamorous casino games, often played in high-roller rooms for table minimums of $25, $50, $100 or more. It’s slow-moving, ritualistic and involves a lot of betting with real cash — $100 bills in American casinos — or oblong baccarat chips that can be worth hundreds of dollars stacked on the tableau in front of a winning player. The game’s trappings have attracted a number of big players from the sticky-floor card salons of California to the tuxedo-laden tables of Monaco.
The rules of baccarat vary somewhat by locale but are essentially the same worldwide. Players place bets on either the Banker, the Player, or a Tie hand. Cards are dealt face up to both the Banker and the Player, and whoever has a hand totalling the closest to nine wins. The rules are designed to avoid ties, and the croupier (dealer) enforces them by following fixed drawing and other rules.
A large baccarat table has 12 seats, six on each side of the dealer. A green felt covers the table, with numbered areas indicating where players keep their money or chips. A croupier or caller deals the cards from a dealing box or shoe, which usually holds eight 52-card packs. The croupier also keeps track of the resulting score with a table layout, with Player and Banker being the two hands tracked for the highest winner.
After all the bets are placed, the croupier deals the first two cards to the Player and Banker. If a player makes a bet on the Player hand, he or she will look at the cards and announce their total to the table (e.g., “Player shows 6”). Note that the digits of the total are important; any number above 9 requires dropping the first digit to arrive at the true value.
Unlike blackjack and poker, where suit values have a significant impact on the player’s hand, the digits of the baccarat total are what count. The ace is the most valuable, followed by 9, then 7, 8, and finally 6. The player’s job is to bet on a hand that will come in close to 9.
While the rules of baccarat are fairly simple, it is possible to lose if you don’t follow some basic principles. First, always set a budget before you start gambling and stick to it. Gambling is an entertainment and should not be taken seriously, but it can also be addictive if you play for too long and don’t control your spending.
The best strategy for baccarat is to stick with the bets that pay even money, such as Player and Banker. The Banker bet pays a 9-to-1 payout, while the tie pays 8-to-1 (but the casino will keep your original 1 chip wagered). It’s also helpful to learn the game rules, especially how to deal a hand and what to do if you win. And don’t forget to set a bankroll and spend limit, especially when playing live baccarat online.