Baccarat is one of those casino games that has a certain mystique surrounding it. It conjures images of men in tuxedos and women in posh evening dresses, laying down chips as the dealer distributes cards. But the baccarat mystique doesn’t have to hold you back from enjoying this exciting game. Baccarat is easy to learn and play, especially when you know the rules.
The game dates back to the 15th century, when it was devised by a man named Felix Falguiere in Italy. He drew on games including Macao, which is still played today as a Baccarat variant, and Le Her, in which players would roll dice to see who had the highest score and win a prize. Falguiere named the game Baccarat (Italian for zero) because most of the cards were worth zero, although some were worth ten points.
Traditionally, baccarat has been tucked away in high-limit areas of casinos. However, it’s become more popular in recent years. In fact, according to Bill Zender, a former Nevada Gaming Control Agent, casino dealer, executive and consultant who literally wrote the book on managing casino games, Asian high rollers have made baccarat their game of choice because it fits their cultural preferences.
In a round of baccarat, players make bets on either the Player hand, the Banker hand or a Tie. Then, the dealer deals two cards to each hand. The goal is for the player and banker hands to total closest to nine. All cards are dealt from a six or eight-deck shoe, and the value of each card is determined by its rank: 9 equals nine, 10 equals zero, picture or face cards equal their face values, and aces equal one point.
If the banker or player hands total eight or nine on the deal, they are considered “naturals” and don’t have to take any additional cards. On the other hand, if the Banker or Player hands receive a score of seven or lower on the deal, they must take an extra card. If the Banker or Player receives an eight or nine on their next cards, they are a natural again and don’t have to take another card.
The most common bets are the Banker and Player bets, with the Banker bet winning more often than the Player bet. The Tie bet, on the other hand, is more risky for the casino and has a higher house edge. This is why intelligent baccarat players avoid making the tie bet altogether and instead place their money on either the Banker or the Player bet.