The Basics of Baccarat


If you’ve ever walked into a casino in Las Vegas, chances are that you saw a table game called Baccarat. It is one of the most popular table games around, with a reputation for being both simple to learn and very exciting to play. While the rules of baccarat vary slightly depending on whether you are playing “punto banco,” the game in which wagers are predetermined, or chemin de fer, which allows players to make their own decisions, the basic concept remains the same. Players bet on either the Player hand, the Banker hand or a tie. The objective of the game is for whichever hand (or the banker’s) total closest to nine wins the round. Two cards are dealt to each hand, and a third card may be drawn under certain conditions.

A winning hand is determined by adding up the values of each card’s pips (the dots on the cards that represent clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades) to a number closer to nine than the other hand. The sum of the three numbers is divided by the tens and the units, with the remainder being the final score. If the hand’s total is higher than nine, the first digit is dropped; for example, an eight and a six would result in a score of seven.

After each player has placed a bet, the dealer deals two cards to the Player box and two to the Banker box. The Player and Banker hands are then compared. A “natural” is a hand in which the total is 8 or 9. This type of hand is always a winner, but if neither hand has a natural, additional cards may be dealt according to specific rules.

Baccarat is a game of choice for many high rollers, particularly Asians. Bill Zender, a former Nevada Gaming Control Agent and casino executive who literally wrote the book on managing casino games, says that over the past thirty years, he has seen baccarat grow in popularity. “The game is growing tremendously,” he said. “It’s a very exciting, fast-paced game. It fits in well with Asian culture.”

While baccarat has a relatively low house edge, the game does have its share of crooks and cheats, especially in Las Vegas where the minimum bet is $20-$25. Players should use proper money management strategies to ensure that they are not losing more than they can afford to lose. To help with this, a player should set a maximum amount of money to spend and then stick with it. Keeping track of your bets is also essential, and it is a good idea to use a baccarat table with a dedicated scoreboard. This will make it easier to keep tabs on your bankroll. You can find a wide variety of scoreboards online and at some casinos. Some even come with a built-in timer to help players keep track of the game’s progression. This feature can be especially helpful for new players, as it can serve as a guideline for how long they should play.