Baccarat is a game with a glamorous past and an even more extravagant present. Once confined to high-roller rooms or the secluded tables of a private club, the game has exploded in popularity in the past thirty years. In fact, it now makes up the largest share of casino income in Macau, and the game has also grown in popularity on the Las Vegas Strip, where it is played for table minimums of $25 or more. It is a game of choice for Asian gamblers, but it has now become the number one casino game in many European and Latin American casinos as well.
The rules of baccarat are simple. Players place chips on a Player or Banker hand, and the winning hand is the one that comes closest to nine. Two cards are dealt to the bank and the player, and a third card may be drawn on either hand. The final digit of the total of all the pips (the dots on a card that are clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) determines the winner. Tens, jacks, and queens count as zero; aces equal one; all other cards are their face value.
A bet on the Banker hand is the best way to reduce the house edge. But remember, that doesn’t mean a 1:1 return on your investment. The house takes a 5% commission on all winning Banker bets. The commission is collected in a special box and recorded every time the dealer pays out winning bets.
Another way to reduce the house edge is to avoid making a Tie bet. This bet has a 14.1 percent edge in favor of the casino, and smart players don’t make it.
Baccarat’s popularity has spawned a variety of variations on the game and additional ways to bet. Side bets and Mini Baccarat are two of the most popular additions to the game.
While baccarat is often portrayed as an exclusive casino game, the rules are actually quite straightforward. Anyone can play the game, and there is no need to have a large bankroll or be an affluent high roller. The only requirements are that you be over 21 and know the basic rules of the game.
Baccarat is usually played on a big table in the high-roller room of a casino, and is generally sequestered away from the masses. It is a slow-moving game with ritualistic elements, and it’s often played for table minimums of $25 or more. This is in contrast to games like blackjack, which are usually played on smaller tables for a much lower minimum bet. If you want to try baccarat, be aware that it is considered rude to sit at the table while a session is in progress. Baccarat etiquette dictates that you can watch a game, but you must wait to join until the session is over.