If you’ve ever stepped into one of the high-limit tables in a swanky Las Vegas casino and sat down, surrounded by players in tuxedos and cocktail dresses, chances are you’ve played baccarat. Despite its reputation as an exclusive, glamorous game reserved for the rich and discerning, the game is actually one of the easiest to play. With only three possible outcomes (a player win, a banker win, or a tie), the dealer does most of the work and the house edge is low – around 1.2 percent on the banker and player bets. There is a third bet, the Tie, but it’s generally avoided by serious players because of its higher house edge of over 14 percent.
In baccarat, each hand is dealt two cards, and the goal is to predict which hand will be closest to nine. If a player bets on the winning hand and correctly forecasts it, they’ll qualify for a 1 to 1 payout. Similarly, if a player bets on the winning banker hand and correctly forecasts it, they’ll be eligible for a 9 to 1 payout. A winning tie bet qualifies for a payout of 8 to 1. Score sheets are available at live baccarat tables to help players keep track of their hand’s total points, and note that when card totals exceed nine, the first digit is dropped.
The rules of baccarat vary slightly from one casino to the next, but all follow the same basic structure: two cards are dealt to both the Player and Banker hands, and whichever hand is closer to 9 wins. There are also a number of other betting options that are available at different baccarat tables, including Super Six and Pair Bets.
Baccarat is traditionally played with a dealing shoe, with eight decks the most common. All cards are ranked as follows: 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 0 points; all other face cards are worth their respective value; and the Ace is equal to one point.
After all bets are placed, the Caller will deal the Player and Banker hands, and two cards are given to each hand. If the Player hand totals 8, 9 or 10, this is a “natural” and no further cards are drawn. If the Player hand totals less than 9, a ninth-card rule applies, which can make a big difference to the outcome of a bet.
A runner will then announce the results of each hand and pay out winning wagers accordingly. In addition to the Player, Banker and Tie bets, players can place a Super Six bet, which pays out 12x your stake if the Banker hand has a total of 6 points. Another option is a Pair Bet, which pays out 11x your stake if you bet on either the Banker or the Player having a pair of matching cards. Both of these bets are made by placing a side-bet alongside your initial bet amount. The winnings for these bets are calculated as follows: