From sticky-floor California card rooms to the tuxedo-laden casinos of Monaco, Baccarat has long been one of the world’s most popular casino games. This is particularly true in the US, where it is available to play online in the five states that have legalized it: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and Michigan. Unlike other table games like blackjack, Baccarat is a game of pure chance with a relatively low house edge and a simple betting process. However, players should beware of the banker’s side bet, which can drain your wallet quickly.
The game is played on a large table with green felt, and each seat has a number, from 1 to 12. A dealer (called a croupier in France) runs the game from a dealing box called a ‘shoe’ that releases cards one at a time, face down. Eight decks of cards are used for the shuffle and deal.
Players make their bets before the cards are dealt by placing chips on either the Player Hand, the Banker Hand or a tie. Bets are made in increments of £1,000 and £25. A winning bet pays out a 1:1 return on your original stake, plus the house’s commission of around 1.24%.
When a hand totals 8 or 9, it is known as a ‘natural’ and no third card is drawn. When a hand totals 2, 3 or 4, the Banker will draw a third card. If a hand totals 5 or 6, the banker will stand. In a tie, the banker and player hands will be pushed, and you receive your initial stake back. In addition to these two basic wagers, players can also bet on a Super Six and a Pair Bet.
The Super Six Bet pays out 12x the amount of your bet if the first two cards dealt to the Banker and Player are a pair. The Pair Bet pays out 11x the bet amount if the Banker and Player hands are a pair. Both of these side bets are a great way to add more excitement and variety to the game, but they should be avoided by players looking to maximize their profits.
Baccarat has been in business since 1816, and the company’s reputation grew after its strong showings at major exhibitions in Paris and London in the late 19th Century. These included the 1867 fair at which Baccarat displayed a glass fountain, and the 1878 show in which it displayed a huge ‘Temple of Mercury’.
The company’s glassmakers used advanced techniques to produce some of the finest lead crystal in Europe. They won many awards and medals at these events, and by the end of the 19th Century had become a key supplier for royal palaces and other dignitaries worldwide. In the 1860s, Baccarat began to adopt a trademark mark for its products, though items from this era with paper labels attached are now very rare. Today, Baccarat pieces carry a scripted laser-etched mark which reads ‘Baccarat’.