Often seen as the game of choice for high-rollers in lavish casinos (think James Bond in Casino Royale), baccarat is that elusive card game that exudes luxury and sophistication. But don’t let its mystique put you off, it’s actually a simple and fun casino game that requires no technical skill to play.
Essentially, it’s a game of guessing which hand out of two being dealt will come closest to nine. Each player and banker is given two cards, and a winner is determined by which hand has a total closer to 9. Aces are worth one point; all other cards are worth their pip value. The game is played using six or eight decks of cards, and the dealer handles the dealing and collecting of winning bets.
The first thing players must do is place their bets. Players can choose to bet on the Player, Banker or a Tie. The game is played out by the dealer who passes two cards face up to each gaming space at the table – the banker’s space and the player’s space. The banker isn’t a real person, but represents a virtual player against whom the actual players compete for the game.
After each hand, the player and banker must make certain decisions. If the player’s hand has a total of eight or nine, it’s a “natural” and is a winner. If the player’s hand has fewer than eight, it must draw another card.
If the banker’s hand has a total of four, five, six or seven, it must draw a third card. The player’s job is to call a ‘carte’ or a ‘non’, depending on the results of their two cards.
In addition to betting on the Player, Banker or a tie, there are other side bets available. These wagers, which can be placed before the game starts, pay out at different odds. Generally, these wagers are not as lucrative as placing bets on the Player or Banker.
The Player Pair side bet wagers that the player will receive identical cards on the deal, paying out at 11:1 odds. The Banker Pair wagers that the banker will receive identical cards on the deal, also offering odds of 11:1 – although these may vary by platform and establishment. The third bet, the Tie, pays out at 8:1 odds – although again, these may differ by establishment or platform. These side bets can be very lucrative if they are won, but should never be considered as a substitute for the Player and Banker bets. Moreover, these bets are only available on the ten-player version of the game. The mini-baccarat variants of the game don’t offer these bet options. This is largely because of the smaller number of cards that are used. This reduces the house edge, but makes the Player and Tie bets more expensive. This is a small price to pay for the opportunity to win big. This is why many players prefer to stick with the traditional ten-player version of the game.