If you asked people to name a popular casino card game, you may well find that poker and blackjack are the games that spring most readily to mind. However, the game of Baccarat likely pre-dates both these games and it is one of the most fun and accessible casino card games you can play.
Casinos like PlaySugarHouse Casino offer a number of different versions of the game, including a Live play version using a human host via live stream. However, unlike poker, which can have many different iterations, Baccarat is generally played the same way whatever version of the game you play.
In this article, we are going to learn a little more about this often-overlooked game, its history and of course, how to play it. We’ll then explore what the betting options are in the game and what are the best (and worst!) bets to make when playing.
Although some sources claim that Baccarat was first developed around the 15th century, it is perhaps more likely that the game developed in the 19th century in France and was very popular with the nobility at that time.
The modern version of the game is based on a version developed at the start of the 20th century called Baccarat Punto Banco and it is the structure of this that almost all versions of modern Baccarat played in casinos are based upon.
Baccarat also has a place in modern culture too. In the modern remake of Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig playing James Bond, he is seen playing Texas Hold’em Poker against his great rival and villain, Le Chiffre. However, in the original book by Ian Fleming, the card game Bond was a master at was Baccarat.
How Is Baccarat Played?
The first thing to note in Baccarat is that it is a comparison game where you have two hands in play; the player and the banker. You can bet on either the player to win, the banker to win or the outcome to be a draw.
In modern forms of Baccarat, each card has a point value which for the cards from the 2 through to the 9 are their face value in points, so a 2 is worth 2 points, a 3 is worth 3 points and so on.
For the cards 10, Jack, Queen and King, these cards have no point value and aces are worth a single point. The reason for these cards having a zero point value will become clearer as the game progresses.
To start the game, the player and banker are dealt two cards face up. The players and banker then add up the point value of their hand.
If either the player or banker (or both) achieve 8 or 9 points at this stage, then the result of the game is decided with whoever has the higher amount of points being declared the winner (or a tie if both share the same 8 or 9 point total).
However, things get interesting if neither the banker or player has a hand of eight or nine points. What happens then is that additional cards are drawn from the pack based on the rules of the tableau. These rules determine whether a player receives a third card, or the banker receives a third card or whether both receive a third card.
Baccarat Drawing Rules
The key tableau drawing rules to remember in Baccarat are as follows:
- Player’s Rule – If a player has a total of 6 or 7, they stand (and do not draw a card). If their points total is 0-5, then they draw a third card.
- Banker’s Rule – The rule system for the banker’s hand is more complicated and depends on the hand that the player holds and how many cards the player’s hand has drawn.
- If the player has been dealt two cards – Then the banker acts according to the same rules as the player.
- If the player has been dealt three cards – Then the rules for the banker become more complicated and are decided as outlined below.
Bankers Rule Third Card
- If the banker’s total points are 2 or fewer, then the banker draws a card.
- If the banker’s total points are 3, then the banker draws a third card unless the players third card was an 8.
- If the banker’s total points are 4, then the banker draws a third card if the players third card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- If the banker’s total points are 5, then the banker draws a third card if the players third card was 4, 5, 6 or 7.
- If the banker’s total points are 6, then the banker draws a third card if the players third card was 6 or 7.
- If the banker has seven points, then they stand.
Once all the cards have been dealt to the player or banker, the points total of the hands are added up and the player with the highest points total wins.
However, the key rule to note in Baccarat is that when totalling points up, if a player has a total points total greater than nine, then only the unit value of their sum total is the amount used for the game.
So for example, if a player is dealt a three and two. He has five points after two cards. They will then draw a third card. If this card is an eight, then this makes their points total 13. However, in Baccarat, you discard the 10 and so, the player’s total points value is three.
The same rule applies to the banker’s hand.
The rules to Baccarat can seem to be somewhat complicated, but once you actually play the game, the Croupier (or software in an online game) controls the action and every decision is based on the cards drawn, rather than a player decision. So in truth, Baccarat is a very easy game to play.
Is Baccarat An Important Game For Casinos?
Absolutely. In Nevada for example, the amount of table gaming revenue generated from Baccarat was 18.3% in May 2012, however a year later that had risen to 33.1% and in May 2014, it rose further to 45.2%.
The game is also massively popular in the Far East where a staggering 91% of the total income taken by casinos in Macau came from Baccarat play. The game is also very popular as an online casino game in the Far East too.
With its low house edge, simple gameplay and easy to count points system, Baccarat is a very enjoyable card game to play and a nice change of pace from Blackjack and Poker. If you enjoy casino card games, then this is a game well worth a try.