North American baccarat is a 2-3 card game based on bets made to either the player’s hand or the banker’s hand. The term player and banker are just that, terms. Basically the way the hands are dealt is one side is designated to be the player’s hand and the other side is the banker’s hand. The customer that represents each is the one who bets the most on either which side.
The point of the game is to get as close to 9 as possible while beating the other hand. Bets can be made three ways, either to the player winning, the banker winning or a tie. When the player’s hand wins, the House pays 1:1 and on banker wins the House takes a 5% commission and pays only .95:1. Ties are paid out differently and vary from casino to casino. Some casinos may pay out tie bets at 9:1 while others will pay 8:1. If there is a tie, player’s bets and banker’s bets will be returned. If the banker wins with a 6 then the payout is 50% the original bet.
Baccarat is played on an oval table usually in a private lounge to maintain privacy for the high rollers that usually bet on these games. The game has a croupier and two dealers which are the only ones allowed to deal and shuffle the shoe based out of a 6 to 8 deck of cards.
The hands are dealt card by card, first to the player then to the banker, then another card to the player and the last to the banker. The way the cards are counted is as follows: cards that are between 1 and 9 hold their face value. 10’s, Jack’s, Queen’s and King’s count as 0 and Aces are 1. If any hand happens to go over 10 then the first digit is taken off to ensure that the hand is always 9 or less (i.e. 6+7=13=3 because the first digit was taken away).
The initial hands that are dealt must be turned over after they being dealt and it is then determined what should be done. If either hand is an 8 or a 9 right from the start then it is considered a natural and the game is over and bets are paid. If the player’s hand is 6 or more, the player must stay. If the players hand is 5 or less the player must take another card. Whether or not the banker takes a third card is determined by the player’s value and draw. The following list helps understand when to draw and when to stay with a banker’s hand:
- If the Player didn’t draw a card, the Banker draws if he has a total of 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.
- If the Player drew a 2 or 3, the Banker draws if he has a total of 0-4, and stands if he has 5-7.
- If the Player drew a 4 or 5, the Banker draws if he has a total of 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.
- If the Player drew a 6 or 7, the Banker draws if he has a total of 0-6, and stands if he has 7.
- If the Player drew an 8, the Banker draws if he has a total of 0-2, and stands if he has 3-7.
- If the Player drew an ace, 9, 10, or face-card, the Banker draws if he has a total of 0-3, and stands if he has 4-7.
Out of all casino games baccarat is probably one that holds the least House advantage and therefore draws high bets. In fact, the minimum bet required is $25 and the maximum can vary from table to table but it is not odd to see $10,000 bets. Although the house advantage isn’t that good holding a mere 1.24% for player bets, 1.06% for banker bets and 14.44% for ties, the House still holds the upper hand, always.