Baccarat is a game of chance that most likely began during the middle ages in Italy at around 1490. It became popular in France, and today there are three variations. The most common one is punto banco meaning player and bank. It is called American baccarat, but it originated in England and spread to South America. The game that is mostly played in North America, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, Macau and Finland casinos came from Cuba.

Always considered a glamorous game because it was favored by the French nobility, when it was introduced in Nevada casinos, it was given a special room or area that was roped off, sometimes with guards because the stakes were often very high.

In punto banco, the player’s moves are determined by the cards they are dealt. The casino banks the game and deals the cards according to the fixed drawing rules called the tableau. There are three possible bets the player can make. They can bet the bank will win, the player will win, or there will be a tie.

The game is played with six or eight complete decks of cards that are put in a shoe. This is a device that allows more games to be played without stopping to shuffle a new deck. The dealer shuffles the cards and reshuffles them and puts them in the shoe. Each player has a turn to handle the shoe, and the caller will explain what to do. When the player is holding the shoe, he or she bets the bank. Players may decide not to hold the shoe and pass it to the next player.

With an eight deck shoe, the house edge on a player bet is 1.06 percent, on a banker bet is 1.24 percent and on a tie is 14.36 percent. The advantage is with the banker because they draw more cards. When a full shoe of cards is dealt, the odds are almost 50/50.

How to Play

The winner is the hand that adds up to the closest to nine. Numbered cards two through nine count as their face value, aces count as one, and ten as well as all face cards count as zero. Also, when the numbers add up to more than ten such as five and seven, the hand has the value of the ones-place digit, in this case two. A natural win means the first two cards that were dealt add up to eight or nine for either the player or banker. This means the game is over, and bets that have been placed are cashed out. If there is a tie, and both the bank and player are dealt the same cards, neither wins.

When the hands are dealt and the bets are placed, the player looks at his or her cards and gives them back to the player who is dealing. That player will turn over both hands, and one of the casino dealers will announce the winner. The players hand is the first to be played if no naturals are dealt. The fixed rules state that if the player has two cards that total five or less, they draw another card. If they total six or seven, they do not draw another card. Only three cards can be dealt to either the player or the bank, and when the play is completed, the hand that is closest to nine wins.

There are also fixed rules for the third card for the banker. The banker must draw with a hand of zero to five and must stand with a hand of six or seven. The other hands depend on the third card the player draws. If the player draws:

• A nine, 10, face-card or Ace, then the banker must draw if he has a zero to three and must stand if he has a four to seven
• An eight, then the banker must draw when he has under two and must stand with if he has a three to seven
• A six or seven, then the banker must draw if he has under six and must stand with a seven
• A four or five, then the banker must draw when he has under five and must stand with a six or seven
• A two or three, then the banker must draw if he has under four and must stand with a five to seven

The Table and Cards

A baccarat table will have 14 to 15 seats for players with numbered boxes opposite each seat and two dealers and a croupier. The croupier directs the play, and the dealers pay and collect bets and calculate tax and commission. There will not be a number 13 seat. The player bets by putting their chips in the selected box. Winning bets on the bank or player are paid off at even money. The other bet is tie, which is paid off at eight to one. The player may select the size of their bet and the place. After that, everything is done by the dealer.

Mini Baccarat

Mini baccarat is available in some casinos and is played by the same rules as the more formal version, but the minimum and maximum bets are smaller. The number of players is also smaller with seats for seven on a regular blackjack table. There is only one dealer, and the game is usually played very fast. This is considered a good place to learn how to play.