Lesson No. 1 is all about pronunciation. The correct way to say baccarat is with a silent “t” at the end of the word making it sound like “Bah-kah-rah”. Once the players have gotten this important aspect down, they are already part of a select cultured few who can consider themselves “smart cookies”.
The Object of the Game
In the North American version of the game the casino controls all the hands played and the player will make none of the hitting decisions, only the wagering decisions. The simple object of the game is to draw cards and get as close to the number 9 as possible. Number cards 2 through 9 each represent their actual value; tens and all face cards are a zero and aces count as a single point.
The gambler can make wagers on three different possible outcomes; that the dealer’s hand wins, the player’s hand wins or the hands will tie. It’s as simple as that. If you place a wager on the most likely outcome, that the broker’s or dealer’s hand will win, you must also include a 5% commission extra which the dealer will collect if you win. The payoff is always even money with a 1 to 1 rate.
If the banker is the player than the hand that is dealt is a tie, and no one wins. Nevertheless, before such a hand is dealt it is possible to place a bet on this very outcome. A tie bet pays 8 to 1. The house edge is considerably higher on the tie bet (14.36%) than compared to the player bet (1.24%) and the Banker bet (1.06%). These numbers describe the house edge on an 8-deck shoe, more about this later.
The Excitement of Baccarat and Mini-Bac
Most of the well-established casinos will have a “point” or tables section and the baccarat table is always a popular place. Sometimes you will find poker sized tables offering a smaller version of baccarat called mini-bac. This is basically the same game and features mini-bets, as opposed to the larger tables in more sophisticated rooms where betting minimums may be $100 or $1000,000.
Regardless of the game you decide, remember that commissions are an important part of the game. Keep track of the amount you owe by betting on the banker’s hand. The dealer will typically keep track of this number as well and you will be asked to “complete your commissions” before you leave the table, or sometimes you will be asked to complete when you have hit a certain amount (anywhere from $25 – $100).
How to Play Baccarat
Baccarat tables are one of the largest in the casino and can comfortably seat from 12 to 14 players. The seats will be numbered so the dealer can better keep track of those commissions. You will notice that there is no number 13 seat and you can imagine why. The game is played with the standard deck of 52 cards. 6, or sometimes 8, cards will be shuffled and placed in the “shoe”.
A card is cut from the deck and placed 16-cards distance from the shoe. Then all the player must make their wagers before being dealt the two-card hand. These are the only cards dealt in the game and the outcome of these hands will determine who wins and losses.
The cards are added and the specific drawing rules at play will decide if the player can be dealt a third card. Then after the values of new cards has been added, it is decided if the banker receives another card. The outcome of this round is decided by determining the total values of cards in a hand.
Winning the Game
The game is one by selecting the winning hand either the player’s or banker’s hand. In order to win, the hand must have a total value of “9”.
The player’s hand is the first to action. The wagers are placed before the hands are dealt, after the wagers are in place, the player’s hand is flipped over and the total value called out by the dealer. The dealer will then expose their cards as well. If the total value is between 6 and 9, the player stands and no additional cards are drawn. A “natural” hand is the automatic winner against the banker and must be a total value of 8 or 9.
If the totals of the banker’s hand and the player’s hand are equal, the game’s outcome is a “push” or a tie. If the player’s hand value is a 6,7,8 or 9, the cards stand. If they have a total value of less than 5, they are dealt another card, the new totals added and their play is finished.
The important thing to remember is that your hand winning or losing does not determine if you win or lose because you bet on the outcomes of the hands dealt. You can bet that you will win or the banker will win, but the important bet and odds surround the tie bet.
The 8 to 1 odds can seem very tempting, but don’t forget the house odds are also much higher (14%) and make this a steep risk. Then the odds that the banker’s hand will win are slightly in your favor as they are determined after the player’s cards are flipped. Meaning they get to decide if they want to deal themselves another card or not.
At the same time, players that bet on the banker’s hand are required to pay the 5% commission that offsets the advantage slightly. Nevertheless, even with this 5% commission added to betting on the banker’s hand the advantage is still better here than betting on your own hand.
The house edge on the banker’s hand is 1.17% and the house edge on your own hand is 1.36%. Making the only reason to bet on your own hand the simple thrill of betting on what’s in front of you. Understanding the way the house edge works and how it can be beaten is the biggest excitement in the casino world. Those that have been the “luckiest” at baccarat and gambling in general are those that are smart in the long term.