Baccarat is a card game with only two hands, irrespective of the number of participants. Two main bets are made – either on the player (Punto) or on the banker (Banco). If the banker and the player have been given out identical hands, the result is a “stand-off” or tie. Under such situations, neither of them wins. Participants are referred to as ‘bettors’ or ‘customers’.
The value of the cards in Baccarat is different from that of many other card games. Cards from 2 to 9 have their face value. The value of Ace is 1 and those of Knaves, Queens and Kings are 0. 9 is thus the highest value and any score more than 9 is calculated based on the digit on the right hand side of the score. So a score of 26 becomes 6, 40 becomes 0, etc.
The baccarat table has a square each for three sections, where the bets are placed- the player, the banker and ‘standoff’. As a bettor, you can place your bet in the square for the player or the banker, according to your choice. But the card dealer has to place his bet on the banker. The game is won by the hand that comes closest to the score 9. Eight or six decks of cards are typically used for the game.
A different version of Baccarat played on a blackjack sized table is known as Mini Baccarat. The rules of this version remain the same, except that the players do not touch the cards.
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Rules for the player and the banker
The game begins with the first two cards of the player turned over, followed by the cards of the banker. The second card usually determines the course of action of the game.
The player and the banker hands have different rules when it comes to drawing a third card. The rules for the player are simple and those for the banker are slightly intricate.
The player hand: If the total comes up to 6 or 7, the player has to ‘stand’ and not make further moves. In case the total is anywhere between 0 and 5, the player gets a third card.
If the player has a score of 8 or 9 with the first two cards, the player receives a ‘natural’ and thereby an immediate win. But it comes to a tie if the banker has the same score or a ‘natural’. In case there is no ‘natural’, the wager continues, based on the rules.
The banker hand: In case the first two cards in the banker’s hand total 7, 8, or 9, he has to stand and not draw a card. The banker has to draw a third card, if the first two cards bring the total to 0, 1 or 2. With a hand value of 3, 4, 5 or 6, the banker draws only if the player drew.
For instance, the banker should draw the third card, if the first two cards total up to 3 and the players’ total score is between 0 and 7 or 9, after the third card is drawn by the player.
Usually the banker has a slight edge over the player because of the rules involving the third card. Chances of the banker hand winning are slightly higher when they stand on a 7, 8 or 9. But when the player hand stands on 6, 7, 8 and 9, the banker can draw on a 6 where the player cannot. The casinos have come up with a solution for this, which is to the bankers’ advantage. They charge the players hand a 5% commission each time they bet on the banker hand and win.
When you play Baccarat, you must remember that no hand is too good or too bad for an initial win. This is because the count changes with the third card, if it has to be drawn. It is also important to note that the ‘tie bet’ should be avoided as far as possible as it has a 14% casino advantage.
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