Casino Baccarat

How to Play Baccarat

Baccarat (pronounced BAH-kah-rah) is a card game that's popular with Asian players. James Bond also played it in one of the movies. The house edge is just 1.06%, making it one of the best bets in the casino. It's also one of the simplest card games around, because there's not really any strategy. It's kind of like roulette: You choose what you want to bet on, then the cards are dealt, and then you see whether you won or lost. There's no deciding whether to hit, stand, raise, or any of that. Just pick your bet and wait to see the result. That's it. So it's a good game for those graduating from slots, who want a better chance of winning, and the ability to lose a lot slower than with slots.

Here's how it works: Two hands are dealt, and the higher hand wins. You can bet on either hand to win. One hand is called "Banker" and the other called "Player", but that's purely arbitrary, and you can bet on either hand. The "Banker" hand has nothing to do with the casino, and the "Player" hand has nothing to do with you. They might as well call the hands Hand 1 and Hand 2. Note also that there's only one "Player" hand dealt no matter how many players there are, because the "Player" hand isn't really the player's hand, it's just one of the choices you can bet on.

There's no such thing as busting in Baccarat. Only the last digit of the total is counted. For example, 9+5 is really 4 (not 14). And 6+5 is 1 (not 11).

Aces count as 1, and face cards have no value.

Initially two cards are dealt to each hand, and complicated rules determine whether a third card is dealt to either hand. You don't have to worry about this, because if a third card needs to be dealt, the dealer will deal it automatically. But for those who want to know, the third-card conditions are listed further down.

Betting on Player has a house edge of 1.24%, and betting on Banker has an edge of 1.06%, so betting on Banker is the best Baccarat play The low 1.06% edge includes the 5% commission you have to pay on winning Banker bets. (Binion's Horseshoe in Downtown Vegas took only a 4% commission on the Banker bet for years until they went out of business in 2003. They reopened with a new owner but didn't resurrect the 4% commission.) The dealer keeps track of the commission and you pay it when you at the end of your session. Even with this commission, betting on Banker still has a lower house edge, because the Banker hand is much more likely to win against the Player hand.

You can also bet that there will be a tie between Banker and Player, but this carries a whopping 14.4% house edge.

In the snooty Baccarat rooms with the high table limits, each player gets a turn to deal the cards. On the casino floor there's no such perk, but some casinos like the Orleans will deal the cards to a player so the player can turn them over.

Baccarat is appealing because there's no strategy to learn. Most games with a low edge require you to learn some strategy. But with Baccarat, you get the some low edge no matter what, because the only decisions you make are how much to bet and which of the two low-edge...

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