Baccarat is one of the most popular games in casino gambling, from sticky-floor California card rooms to tuxedo-laden Monaco casinos. Despite this, the game can be intimidating for the first-time player. Fortunately, there are several ways to learn how to play baccarat.
Baccarat is played with a deck of cards, which are shuffled and placed in a dealing machine, known as a shoe. Unlike most other card games, where players rely on reading the hand and making decisions accordingly, Baccarat relies on simple card combinations. The objective of the game is to get as close to nine as possible, and wagers are paid out based on that result.
A player places a wager on either the Player or Banker hand, and the croupier (the casino staff who collects and pays bets) takes care of the rest. Once all bets have been placed, the dealer calls “no more bets.” Then two cards are dealt to each hand, with the Player box getting the first card and the Banker box receiving the second.
The objective of each hand is to have its final digit (added up across the dots of the cards—clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) closer to nine than the other. The tens and face cards count as zero, while the aces count as one point. In the event that a hand’s total is over nine, the player must subtract ten from the number or drop the first numeral (for example, a seven and an eight would become 15).
When all the cards have been dealt, the croupier announces which hand was the winner and collects all losing bets. Winning bets are paid even money, and a side bet can be placed on the Banker or Player. The Tie bet, which wins if both hands equal the same number, offers higher payouts but also a much bigger house edge—over 14 percent.
Most serious baccarat players stick to the Player or Banker bets, which have a house edge of only 1.2 percent. The other bet—the tie—has a much larger house edge and is more volatile, so most players avoid it.
Besides the Banker and Player bets, players can place a number of other side bets, including the Tie, Banker Pair, and Player Pair. While these bets have lower odds than the Banker and Player bets, they can provide a nice change of pace to the game. Just remember that side bets are not reversible, and you will lose any money placed on them. For this reason, it is important to understand the rules of baccarat before placing these bets. Also, be aware that some states and countries have tax laws governing gambling, so you should consult with a tax specialist before betting.