If you haven’t tried baccarat or Punto Banco, I can guess why: You think that because you’re not a millionaire, royalty, a movie star, or a spy, you don’t deserve entree into the glamorous game. The tuxedoed dealers, the chandeliers, and the thick, red-velvet ropes that seem to warn “Commoners, keep out” can intimidate many a player.
Don’t be cowed, though. The formality is just for show, and behind its elegant veneer, the game itself is surprisingly easy to play — and offers some of the best odds in the casino. Baccarat isn’t so much a game of skill as a game of luck. Playing baccarat is sort of like betting the red or the black on a roulette wheel or hitting the spin button on a slot machine — except that if you bet evenly and consistently, your bankroll lasts much, much longer.
its not only forhighrollers
Counting down the Baccarat Basics
Baccarat is a simple card game: In the regular version of baccarat (also called forma!, traditional, or big baccarat), the croupier, or dealer, deals only two hands, no matter how many players are seated at the table — and as many as 14 can play. One hand is the player’s hand, and the other is the banker’s hand. The object of the game is to bet on which of the two hands will come closest to a total of 9 points, also called a natura! (a total of 8 points is also a natural, but it loses to 9). Players make all bets bef ore the croupier deals the cards, and unlike blackjack, you can’t make additional bets, such as doubling down, splitting, and so on. You have only three bets to choose from in baccarat. You can bet on:
* The player’s hand: A winning bet on the player’s hand pays even money (1 to 1). So a winning bet of $10 would receive another $10.
* The banker’s hand: A win on the banker’s hand also pays even money, minus a 5 percent commission (the casino charges a commission on this bet because the banker’s hand has a better mathematical chance of win¬ning, so the 5 percent commission helps even up the odds between the two bets, although even with the added commission, the banker’s hand is still the best of the two bets). The dealer keeps track of these commis¬sions (they aren’t actually taken from each bet) and settles up either at the end of the shoe or when you’re ready to leave. So a winning bet of $10 would actually end up netting only $9.50. However the croupier only charges this 5 percent commission on winning bets.
* A tie: A winning wager on the tie bet pays 8 to 1.
The tie bet isn’t a smart bet because the house has more than a 14 per-cent advantage (meaning the casino wins approximately $14 for every $100 you bet), and one that sober people shouldn’t even think about making. However, at some clubs the house pays 9 to 1 on tie bets, which reduces the edge to less than 5 percent, but it’s still not a wise bet.
Both hands start with just two cards, and depending on the starting total, the banker or player hand sometimes draws one more card. Whichever hand comes closest to nine wins. Because 9 is the highest score, any amount of 10 or more automatically subtracts ten points; ten is actually worth 0, 11 is 1, 12 is 2, and so on. After the total reaches 10 or more, simply drop the first digit, and that’s the score of the hand. That’s actually a pretty cool feature — ensuring that you can’t bust out like in blackjack.
Remembering the following pointers about baccarat basics can improve your chances of winning:
* Two hands are dealt — the player’s hand and the banker’s hand.
* Each hand starts with two cards.
* Whichever hand has the closest to a total of 9 wins.
* Each pip card (cards 2 through 9) is worth its face value; the 2 equals two points, the 5 equals five points, and so forth.
* Aces count as one point.
* Tens and royals (kings, queens, and jacks) are worth nothing. In fact, the
name of the game is similar to the Italian word baccara, meaning zero.
* Suits (clubs, spades, diamonds, and hearts) are meaningless.
With the exception of blackjack and certain bets in craps, baccarat is one of the best table games to play in a online casino. The house edge on the player’s hand is 1.24 percent and 1.06 percent on the banker’s hand!
Of course, more nuances distinguish the novice players from the pros in bac-carat. When you step foot in a casino and decide to try baccarat, you need to know that you can play two types of baccarat in most casinos in the United States: formal baccarat, also referred to as traditional or classic baccarat, and minibaccarat. Although both games follow the same set of rules, each has its notable distinctions. The following sections explain the main differences.