Baccarat For Beginners

December 6, 2008

Most people probably don’t know that the highest stake game out there is baccarat. In fact, stakes in the game are so high that most casinos actually list baccarat earnings separately on Income Statements. Tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars change hands based on the outcome of the cards. Most casinos in North America play punto banco baccarat, which is really more a game of luck than anything else.

The rules are simple. They’re kind of like blackjack, but unique enough to be it’s own game. A bet is placed on “player”, “banker” or “tie”. This doesn’t refer to the player winning or losing, just whether the hand is better than the other.

Two cards are then dealt. The cards are added like in blackjack, but the tens digit is ignored. Therefore, face cards and tens have no value, aces are worth 1 and other number cards are worth the number on the card (2-9). The best possible hand you can have is a 9.

On a hand, if a total of 8 or 9 is attained by either the player or the banker, the hand is called a “natural” and no more cards are dealt. Otherwise, a player generally will take a card if the value is 0-5, and stand if the player has a 6 or a 7 as his starting hand. Some versions allow a player to choose to draw, but this is usually the best percentage play anyways.

How the dealer will play depends on whether the player took a card at all, and if the player did, what card came up.

If a player does not draw or draws a 4 or a 5, the banker will stand if he has a 6 or higher, and draws on 5 or lower  (also called hit on 5 and stand on 6)

If the player draws a 2-3, a dealer will hit on 4 and stand on 5.
If the player draws a 6-7, a dealer will hit on 6 and stand on 7.
If the player draws an 8, a dealer will hit on 2 and stand on 3.

If the player draws a 9, 10, face or ace, the dealer will hit on 3 and stand on 4.

If the cards end up in a tie, the croupier will call “Egalité” which means tie bets pay 8 to 1. Player bets are paid at even money and banker bets are paid at 95% of the wager, with the other 5% going to the house. This is called “Commission baccarat” and actually provides low casino odds. On a tie, the wagers for “player” and “banker” are considered a push and left on the table for the next hand.

Baccarat is a fun, high-stakes game with very low odds for the house (1.24% for the house on “player” and 1.06% for the house on “dealer”, but 14.44% on the tie bet), and can either make or lose a lot of money for the casinos. James Bond plays baccarat, why shouldn’t you?

Comments are closed