Baccarat is typically played in special rooms apart from the main gaming floor, often in much nicer, elegant rooms. The game has historically attracted the highest of high rollers, which explains why it's given a place of privilege in many casinos. Played at its highest stakes, high roller players can win and lose millions of dollars in the span of an evening, and in the past casinos have had their bottom lines significantly impacted by hot (and cold) players playing very high stakes.
How to play baccarat
The goal is to have a higher point total than the other hand, which would be 9. One slightly unusual thing about the game is that the name refers to the worst possible hand, which is 0; unlike games like blackjack, baccarat is named after the worst possible hand that can be dealt, not the best.
Players may bet on either the "player" or the "banker" or on a tie. It's important to note that a player can bet on banker, and that the banker is simply the name for one of the two hands dealt, and isn’t necessarily the house or casino, nor does it refer to the dealer.
How the play goes
The cards are dealt face down, one to the player first, then to the banker; then a second card to the player, and a second card to the banker. Both cards in each hand are then turned over and added together and the croupier calls the total. At this point, pre-set rules for the game determine if more cards are to be dealt, based on the totals of both hands so far.
If either the Player or the Banker has a total of 8 or 9 on the initial deal, no further cards are drawn and the highest total wins. If neither player has an 8 or a 9, play proceeds as follows.
- If the player has an initial total of 0-5, the player draws a single card. If the player has an initial total of 6 or 7, he or she stands.
- The banker's play depends on the banker's hand, on whether the player drew a card, and on what card the Player drew:
- If the player did not draw a card, the banker draws if he has a total of 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.
- If the player drew a 2 or 3, the banker draws if he has a total of 0-4, and stands if he has 5-7.
- If the player drew a 4 or 5, the banker draws if he has a total of 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.
- If the player drew a 6 or 7, the banker draws if he has a total of 0-6, and stands if he has 7.
- If the player drew an 8, the banker draws if he has a total of 0-2, and stands if he has 3-7.
- If the player drew an ace, 9, 10, or face-card, the banker draws if he has a total of 0-3, and stands if he has 4-7.
In baccarat, cards 2-9 are worth their face value, while 10s and face cards (jacks, queens, and kings) are worth zero, and aces are worth 1 point. When the total value of cards in a hand equals or exceeds 10, the tens digit is dropped.
A hand consisting of 5 and 3 is worth 8 (5 + 3 = 8). A hand consisting of 7 and 8, though, is worth 5 (7 + 8 = 15 = 5) instead of 15, as the first digit is dropped because the total is higher than 10.
Learn baccarat strategy
Get your baccarat strategy right and it offers you some of the best odds in the casino, especially if you bet on banker, which has a house advantage of 1.06% even after the casino takes its commission cut. The player bet has a house advantage of 1.24%, which isn’t quite as good as betting on banker but still better than many other casino games. Avoid the tie bet, though, as its got terrible odds at over 14% house advantage.
How many decks are used?
Most casinos deal baccarat with eight decks of cards, but occasionally players can find games with four or six decks. Like blackjack, the fewer the decks that are used in the game the better the odds are for the player, as the house advantage shrinks slightly with a fewer number of decks used.