Baccarat is one of the most popular casino card games and is particularly popular with Asian cultures, favoured by high rollers. It is a house backed game where the player places their wager on either the Banker or Player hand. In addition to the standard bets there is also a third bet on the tie which pays out 8:1 but has a very large house advantage over the other two hands and is thus avoided by most serious players.
The modern version of baccarat is called Punto Banco and can now be played online in the five US states that have legalised the game. Unlike the older versions of the game that were played at private clubs and high-end casinos, this version is strictly a fixed rules game where the dealer makes all decisions and the player has no choice in the play of the hand. The game process is streamlined to the point that the only decision left for the player is whether they want to bet on the Banker or Player hand.
In a game of baccarat the dealer deals two cards to each hand and the winning hand is the one closest to nine. The Banker and Player hands are dealt from a standard 52-card deck and all cards have a value based on their pip count with 10-pip cards (tens, jacks, queens and kings) counting as zero and aces as one.
There are three main types of baccarat games offered in most casinos and online: Banker, Player and Tie. The Banker bet offers the best odds at around 8 to 1 over a tie, but carries a 5% commission which should be taken into account when calculating your bankroll for the night. The Player bet offers slightly lower odds but a much higher chance of winning and the Tie bet is far less profitable as it pays only 9 to 1.
When playing the game it is important to decide on a limit for your total spend before you begin. This will help you stay within your limits and prevent you from chasing losses after a bad run of luck. It is also a good idea to keep track of your previous wins and losses for both the Player and Banker to inform future bets. However, beware of betting and pattern spotting strategies that vary your bankroll according to the results of previous hands. These Martingale-based systems are fundamentally flawed and will only make your losses greater in the long run.
Baccarat has spawned a wide range of variations and additional ways to play, including side bets and Mini Baccarat. These additional bets can be placed prior to the deal and their odds vary by establishment and platform. A pair of side bets can be made where the player and the banker both receive a pair on the deal, paying 11:1 odds. Another option is to place a bet on the ‘player and banker pair’ which also pays at 5:1 odds.