Baccarat is the world’s most popular casino game. From sticky-floor California card rooms to tuxedo-laden casinos in Monaco, this classic game of chance is played by players of all stripes, and has earned the game the title of the “game of kings.” Baccarat is so popular that it has generated variations on the rules and side bets that add to its intrigue.
The game is played with eight or six decks of cards that are shuffled together and dealt by the croupier (dealer) from a dealing shoe. Each hand is a pair of cards, and the objective is to get the Player or Banker hand as close as possible to nine points. The winning hand is whichever one gets the closest to the number 9. The game of baccarat has no tie bets. The score of each hand is based on the total value of all the pips (the dots on a playing card that are clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades) added up. Cards numbered 2 through 9 have a numerical value equal to their face value, and the ace counts as one point.
The first two cards that are dealt to a Player or Banker hand determine the outcome of the hand. If the total is 8 or 9, the hand is a natural and no further cards are drawn. If the total is more than nine, the first digit is dropped to arrive at the actual total. If the total is 10 or higher, no further cards are drawn.
After the initial deal, the croupier takes the bets from each player and places them in their respective betting areas (Player, Banker or Tie). If the Player and Banker hands both have a total of 8, 9 or 10, it is called a ‘natural’ and the game is over. If neither of the hands have a natural, a third card may be drawn according to specific rules.
A ‘natural’ is considered to be the winner of the game and all bets are paid out. The ‘Player’ and ‘Banker’ hands are paid out at different odds, depending on the winning hand. A ‘Banker’ win is worth 9:1 to the bettors, while a ‘Player’ win pays out at 8:1.
Side bets are an excellent way for players to increase their chances of winning, but they can also decrease your bankroll. The most common side bets are Super Six and Pair Bets, which are made on the Player or Banker pair of cards. A ‘Super Six’ bet pays out 12x the original bet amount if the Banker Hand wins with 6 points, while a ‘Pair Bet’ pays out 11x the bet amount if the Player hand wins with a pair.