Baccarat is a card game with a reputation for generating a good chunk of a casino’s table-gaming revenue. But for a game that draws in high rollers and celebrities, it isn’t particularly complex or sophisticated. Unlike poker, it doesn’t force players to apply logic or creative thinking. Its rules are a set and fixed, so the only decision for players is whether to bet on the player hand, the banker’s hand, or both.
Whether playing online or in-person, baccarat is a straightforward game. The aim is to get your hand’s score as close as possible to nine. To do this, the cards are dealt and then scored. The final digit of the sum of all the pip cards (the dots on each card representing clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) is the score. The first digit of any number that goes above nine is dropped. For example, an eight and a six would result in 15; the eighth is dropped to 3. Face cards and 10-pip cards count as zero, while aces count as one.
The Banker and Player hands are dealt from a standard 52-card deck. A shuffle is performed before the game starts, and then the cards are dealt in pairs to two groups of players. The players sit around the table, some on the left and some on the right, facing each other but not the banker. If the player’s total is lower than the banker’s, the player wins. If the player’s total is higher than the banker’s, it is a tie. If the banker’s total is lower than the player’s, they draw a third card.
If the player’s total is higher than or equal to 9, they win a 1:1 payout on their bet. A winning banker hand, however, pays out 8-to-1 – but that includes a 5% commission that the bank must pay to the croupier.
Baccarat is an interesting choice for high rollers, says Bill Zender, who literally wrote the book on managing casino games and is a consultant on Asian gaming. He says that Asian high rollers have made baccarat their game of choice, and the reason is simple: It’s a more culturally appropriate game than blackjack or poker.
The game is also popular in the five states that have legalized online gambling, and can be found at sites such as PlayMGM Baccarat. The game is even featured in a few movies, including the 2007 Rush Hour 3 and the 1956 French heist film Bob le Flambeur. But despite its popularity, the game is still not as well known among non-Asian casinosgoers in the United States. This may change as the industry becomes more diverse and international visitors from countries like Australia and Brazil start to visit Nevada. The game’s relatively low house edge and the fact that it offers no opportunity to make decisions about strategy means that it will continue to grow in popularity. That’s why it is important to learn the rules of Baccarat before you play for real money.