Baccarat is an all time casino classic. This popular card game draws people in with its simplicity and dependence on luck. Read on to find out more about this thriller of a game.
The game of Baccarat goes all the way back to France in the 1400s, which arrived there from Italy at some time in the Middle Ages. The game was played mostly by French royalty, and until today it is known as a game for high rollers. The word Baccarat is derived from the Italian word for zero, named so because in the game of Baccarat, the kings, queens, jacks and tens are all worth zero. The zero of Baccarat also refers to any hand in which the player's dealt cards equal zero; meaning, if a player is holding a seven and three, a total of ten, the hand is worth zero because all tens have a value of zero.
Baccarat eventually made its way to the United States through the hands of British colonists, and it became very popular in the USA in the 1900s, especially among high rollers. (In fact, almost any European card game that has survived until today has done so largely due to American popularity.)
There are three versions of Baccarat: Punto Banco, Baccarat Chemin de Fer, andBaccarat Banque. Chemin de Fer was the game preferred by French Royalty, but it was actually Punto Banco that was brought by British colonists to South America, which then made its way to North America.
Today, the main version played in casinos in the United States is either Punto Bancoor Mini Baccarat. Mini Baccarat is a modern adaptation of Baccarat and is popular because the bets are lower than the larger Baccarat tables, making it more accessible to the masses and not just the high rollers. Online casinos all over the world offer at the very least a version of Mini Baccarat. Mini Baccarat follows the American rules as played in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The main difference today between the three versions of Baccarat is the way the cards are dealt.
Because of Baccarat's origins in Europe and popularity in America, many of the terms in the game are either derived from Italian or French, and today have their English vernacular. Here are some of the terms that all Baccarat players should be familiar with:
Baccarat: As we said, this means zero. Since the goal of the game is to get nine points, or the closest to it, having a total point value of zero is not a good thing!
Banker: The banker is sometimes the dealer, but not always. One of the three standard Baccarat moves is betting on the Banker's hand (the other moves are betting on the player or a tie).
Coup: One round of the game, which means that the banker and the player receive two or three dealt cards.
Croupier/Dealer: The person dealing the cards to the players.
Natural: When the player's first two cards in a hand equal eight or nine. In Punto Banco, when the player has a natural, he is not allowed to receive a third card.
Mini Baccarat: The most popular version of Baccarat today, due to its lower betting standards. In Mini Baccarat, the dealer deals all the cards.
Player: The person playing against the banker, either in an actual casino or online. The payout odds are 1:1 with a slight House advantage.
Run: A side bet you can make on whether the player or banker will have successive winning hands, or if there will be successive ties.
Standoff: When the player's cards and the banker's cards have the same value.
Tie: A bet you can place on a standoff. This bet is rarely placed because ties themselves are rare and the House has a sizable advantage.
Baccarat is played with six to eight decks of cards at a time, with twelve to fourteen players at a table. At the start of the hand, players choose to bet either on the banker (banco) or the player (punto). They bet on who they think will get the higher hand. They can also choose a third option, which is to bet that the banker and player will tie – but this is an option that is rarely used.
All the number cards are worth their given amount of points; tens, jacks, queens and kings are worth zero, and aces are worth one point. The total value of the cards is what counts at the end, not the individual numbers. For example, a two and eight is worth 10, which equals zero. A seven and eight is worth 15, but only the second digit of the number is counted, which means your 15 is really a 5. Each hand consists of two to three cards. If a player has a total of eight or nine, he cannot receive any more cards. Nine is the highest hand a player can get.
While there is a banker is the game of Baccarat, the actual dealer rotates around the table, using a dealer “shoe.” In each version of Baccarat the rotation occurs at different points in the game (for example, when the banker loses, or when all the cards have been dealt).
Mini Baccarat is the same game but the betting amounts are lower and the dealing methods are slightly different than regular Baccarat. In Mini Baccarat, the dealer (not the banker) deals from a six deck “shoe” and flips over all the cards.
Punto Banco is a game of total chance, governed by pre-determined rules. For example, if a player’s first hand is worth 0-5 points, the rules dictate he must draw a third card. In Chemin de Fer and Banque, the player can decide for himself what he would like to do, using thought and common sense (still, the outcome is largely determined by luck). Most players enjoy Punto Banco, since the whole draw of the game is its simple rules.
If you are playing Punto Banco (which you probably are if you are playing in the United States or online), there are still some things to keep in mind that can help you with your strategy.
First, remember that ties are rare, so unless you have money to spend, don’t bet on them. Second, the odds in the beginning of the game are 1:1, but the banker deducts a 5% commission. This means that if you are starting out playing with six decks of cards, the banker has a 48.9% chance of winning the player will have a 44.6% chance, and a tie will have a 9.1% chance. The game of Baccarat has one of the lowest House advantages out of all casino games, which means that players have the advantage.
The third thing to keep in mind is that when you are playing Baccarat in a real casino, the less decks of cards you use, the better your chances are of winning. However, when you are playing online, it doesn’t matter how many decks are being used because the computer reshuffles automatically.
And the final thing to keep in mind when playing Baccarat: Baccarat is a game of luck, and most players play for the fun of it. So before you start, make sure you know how much of a budget you have, and stick to it. This way, you can keep track of what you are winning and losing without getting a shock once the game is over.
And then, you can let the good times roll!
You can make the most of your game by following these useful tips:
- Make sure you pronounce it correctly: bah-kuh-rah!
- If you're a beginner, start with Mini Baccarat. This is a good introduction since there are less players and there are lower table limits.
- Don't bet on a draw. A better bet is to bet on the banker.
- Baccarat is a game of chance. The House Advantage will always stay the same no matter what the casino. However, some casinos offer better deals than others. A casino with better baccarat promotions gives you a better chance to win more money.
- Keep practicing! If you're new to the game, it's a good idea to keep playing so you get the hang of it.
- Set your limits and bet responsibly. Words to keep in mind for all your online gaming!