The game of baccarat isn’t just a staple in sticky-floor California card rooms or the tuxedo-laden casinos of Monaco, it is one of the most popular casino games in the world. As a result, baccarat tables are popping up in more and more American casinos. This is thanks to a growing number of Asian high rollers who are embracing the game, as well as the fact that it’s one of the few casino games where a skilled player can put a significant dent in a bank’s bottom line.
With a simple game layout and rules that are easily learned, baccarat is an easy game for anyone to play. Players place their bets on either the “Player’s Hand,” the “Banker’s Hand,” or a tie. Once the cards are dealt, a winning hand is determined by which one totals closest to nine. In the event of a tie, neither hand wins or loses and a commission may be paid out to players on the winning Banker Hand.
A good baccarat strategy starts with understanding the game’s rules and how to calculate a hand’s value. For example, picture cards (tens, jacks, and queens) count as zero points while aces count as one point. A seven and a six, for instance, would have a total of 13; however, the first digit is dropped and so the hand would be worth five points.
After all bets are placed, the dealer deals two cards to both the Banker’s and Player’s hands. If the total of the two cards is 8 or 9 on the first deal, a third card is drawn. Otherwise, the game ends and bets are paid out. Ties occur in 9.6% of rounds, so avoiding the tie bet is key to maximizing your winnings.
While many baccarat games feature different decks of cards, the basic game of baccarat is always played with eight standard cards. Whether you’re playing in a casino or at an online baccarat site, the number of decks used can have a significant impact on the house edge and odds of winning, so be sure to check the details of your game before betting any cash.
Baccarat is a simple game to play, but be careful not to let your excitement get ahead of you and overspend. Before you walk up to the table, decide how much you’re willing to spend and stick to it. You can even set a limit for yourself in advance by treating this like money you’d spend on a night out, not as real cash that you plan to take home.
Generally, a player’s hand will win about 45.8% of the time, while a banker’s hand will win about 44.6% of the time. Ties occur in 9% of the rounds and pay out at 1:1 odds. While the banker’s hand has a lower house edge, it also has a higher risk of losing, so be sure to consider your options before placing your bet.