Baccarat, the casino game portrayed as elegant and James Bond-like in Hollywood movies, is actually a simple, slow-paced game of chance that is easy for anyone to learn. Its low house edge and minimal strategy makes it an excellent choice for first-time Las Vegas gamblers.
In a game of Baccarat, there are from seven to 14 seats for players and a dealer’s area. Two hands of cards are dealt, referred to as the Player’s hand and the Banker’s hand. Each hand has its own betting area. The object of the game is to correctly predict which hand will have a total closest to nine points. Players bet on either the Banker hand, the Player hand, or a tie.
The rules of baccarat differ from one casino to the next, but in general the game involves six standard decks of cards and a group of players at a table. Typically, the table is set up so that there are spaces for seven to fourteen players and the dealer, with the Player’s box and the Banker’s box at opposite ends of the table. Generally, the first player to announce “go bank” sets an initial betting amount for the other players to play against. Once the banker has established a betting amount, all other players can add bets to the original banker wager in counterclockwise order.
Once all bets are placed, the dealer deals the cards. Each hand is given a score, with the player’s hand being awarded two points, and the banker’s hand receiving three points. Picture cards and tens are worth zero points, cards numbered from 2 to 9 have their face value, and the ace is worth one point. If the total of a hand goes over 9, it will revert to its second digit after adding a 10.
After the initial scoring, the Player and Banker hands are analyzed for the likelihood of winning. Depending on the rules of the venue, the Banker hand will win in 45.8% of rounds, the Player hand will win in 44.6% of rounds, and ties occur in 9.6% of rounds. The best bet is on the Banker hand – it pays out around 1.18 times the bet amount, and the banker side has a lower house edge than the player’s side.
In addition to the bet on the Banker and Player hands, players can also make a Super Six Bet and a Pair Bet. The payout on a Super Six bet is 12x the bet amount, while the Pair Bet will pay out if either the Banker or Player hand has a pair of cards. These optional bets are available for a small additional fee. The minimum bet is $20-$25, depending on the casino where you are playing. Baccarat is a very popular game for Asian high rollers, and has become a fixture of casino floors worldwide. But the game’s popularity among non-Asian high rollers has been slow to catch on.