For many years Baccarat was the game that was played only by the “whales” or the gaming elite as most casinos only offered baccarat at high stakes. Now virtually anyone can sit down at a table and play for as little as five dollars a bet.
A baccarat table can hold as many as 14 players at one time and is played in a similar fashion to blackjack. Betting in baccarat is as simple as it gets: you can bet on the hand of the banker (the house), the hand of the player, or a tie. Think of a coin toss; heads or tails, player or banker. Because the banker has a slight edge in betting most casinos take a 5% commission when paying out winning wagers and player and banker bets pay a ratio of 1:1. Ties are uncommon and though they pay 8:1, odds are generally not a good place to put your money.
Choosing which side to bet on is as easy as looking at the table and putting your chips down. Two cards are dealt to both sides and the hand begins. To understand how the game is played from here it is important to know how a hand is calculated: cards from 2-9 are worth their face value, 10-King are worth zero, and Aces are worth one. In addition, any hand with a point value exceeding 10 simply drops the first digit. For example, a hand that totals to 12 is only worth two points.
If an 8 or a 9 is dealt this is called a “natural” and is treated just like blackjack. If the point value of the hands are lower than this then a third card is usually dealt to decide who the winner is. The rules for the dealing of the third card are complicated but not necessary to know as they are always handled by the dealer.
Playing baccarat is easier than playing blackjack in many ways as there is only one decision for you to make: where to bet. After that if you know the basic rules you can play for as long as your money, or your luck, lasts at the table.