Baccarat (pronounced “baa-ca-rah”) is a fun and easy-to-follow casino game. It doesn’t pit players against the house because players only need to wager to enjoy the game. If you are looking to try out this casino game for the first time, below is a quick guide on its mechanics.
Before touching gameplay and mechanics, it is imperative that you learn about baccarat’s humble beginnings. Not known to many, the history of the game dates back to the medieval period in Italy. Baccarat was created by a man named Felix Falguierein, who initially called the game “baccara,” which means “zero” in Italian. The name was inspired by the nil value of the tens and face cards in the game.
Baccarat was originally a game played only by aristocrats. But when it was adopted worldwide, people from all walks of life began patronizing it. It was also during this newfound popularity that the game’s name was changed to the French spelling “baccarat.” Also worth noting was the fact that the original game had four different dealers and that each and every player had the option to be the banker in the game.
Baccarat’s popularity inevitably soared ever since the game was introduced in France. It is said that King Charles VIII and his noblemen liked playing the game. When it reached other countries, it quickly gathered a lot of attention. Even English author Ian Fleming was obsessed with the game that he mad his famous fictional character, James Bond, play it. Today, almost anyone can play baccarat thanks to the existence and prevalence of online casinos.
Baccarat is played on a large gaming table that can accommodate 12 to 14 players. The seats are numbered, so it’s easy to monitor buy-ins and commissions. However, there is no number 13 due to the common belief that the number is unlucky and brings bad luck. The game uses standard English decks of 52 cards, typically, six or eight are shuffled and placed in a shoe.
There are three possible outcomes when you play baccarat. You can either win the game, or the banker does. It’s also very possible for the two of you to have a tie. This is because the banker is not a role assumed by the casino. Players have the choice if they are going to bet on the player or on the banker’s hand. They can only bet on either hand, and they must do so before cards are dealt by the lone operator of the table.
At the official start of the game, two cards are dealt to both the player and the banker. A player or the operator of the table would then slide one card out of the shoe and place it face up in the player’s box on the table. The same step is done again, but the card would now end up on the banker’s box. The dealer repeats the process and hands out two cards, one each for the player and the banker.
The next step would require players to determine the total value of their two cards on the box they’ve chosen to wager on. Again, tens and face cards are worth zero points. On the other hand, ace cards are worth one point. As for the rest of the cards, they are worth their face value. In order to win, a player must have the point total of 8 or 9. Having any of the two would mean a natural win for the player, so the placed bets are cashed out because the game is over.
Now comes the tricky part. Should the sum of the two cards be a two-digit number, then the value of the hand is the second digit. For instance, obtaining a total value of 15 from a 9 card and a 6 card would automatically mean that the hand only has 5 points. So yeah, getting a total of 10 out of your two cards is the worst thing that could happen.
Fortunately, the player’s hand has the option to draw a third card. If you placed your bet on the player’s box, be sure to determine quickly if a third card would be necessary. If your total is 0-5, draw a third card in hopes that it could turn your hand’s value to either 8 or 9. Meanwhile, the player’s hand would stand on a total of 6 or 7. Take note that the player’s hand could only draw a third card if the banker’s hand doesn’t have a total of 8 or 9. Should the banker’s cards have a total value of 8 or 9, the banker wins without the need of further draws.
If the totals of both hands are the same, the result is a tie, which is also called a push. If the player has a total of 8 and the banker has a 9, the banker’s hand wins. If the player has a total of 9 and the banker has an 8, then the player wins. Basically, the ultimate goal is to have a total of 9 or the closest digit to it.
There are rules for the banker’s hand that you need to be familiar with:
- The banker always stands on a two-card total of 7, 8 and 9
- The banker always hits on a two-card total of zero, 1, 2 and 3 with the exception that the banker would hit a total of 3 against a player total of 8
- The banker would hit some 4, 5 and 6 card totals, depending on the player’s total:
- Hit with a 4 against a player total of 2 through 7
- Hit with a 5 against a player total of 4 through 7
- Hit with a 6 against a player total of 6 and a 7
What’s good about baccarat is you don’t necessarily need to memorize all of the rules that apply to the hands. That’s the job of the dealer/operator. He will announce and take care of all the hitting. Thus, all you simply have to do is to place a bet and hope that you would win.
Many veteran players claim that one should always bet on the player’s hand because it pays better. There are casinos that pay equal money for winning player bets. However, casinos always deduct a small commission, usually 5%, from your winnings.
There are also others who assert that betting on the banker would be a wiser decision. For one, the banker acts last and has a slight edge at all times over the player. Overall, the banker’s house edge is more favorable. But then again, the player’s hand pays better.
So which hand is the most ideal and the better pick out of the two? Well, very technical players have figured out that the odds of winning are always increased when you bet on the player’s hand. On the contrary, switching between player and banker constantly reduces the chance of winning.
Why Play Baccarat
The main reason why you should try playing baccarat if you haven’t yet is its simple mechanics. You only need to wager on the hand which you think is most likely to win the round. You don’t need to worry about the rules, because the casino operator would be there to announce them along with the result of the round. Finally, baccarat, apart from being a fun game, is quite suspenseful and intense. It’s always exciting to see the result of a third draw.