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Rules - How to Play Baccarat -
Baccarat is a casino card game which is normally dealt from a shoe
containing 8 decks of cards (although in rare cases a casino may
use a 6-deck shoe).
There are two main versions of regular baccarat. The term "Big
Bac" is often used to describe the game which is often found
in lavish surroundings in a part of the casino that is separate
from the noisy hub bub of regular casino games and activity. Up
to 14 players can be seated around the huge Big Bac table. Three
dealers preside over the game. One supervises play making sure
the cards are drawn and played properly and announces the winning
side while the two other dealers are mainly responsible for settling
the bets. Minimum bets in Big Bac are generally higher and the
game often attracts high rollers.
Big Bac is dealt from a shoe which is passed around the table
from player to player. Each player has the option of accepting
the shoe and acting as the dealer or Bank or he may pass the shoe
to the next player. Even though a player is acting as the Bank,
he still has the option of betting on Player or Banker.
The term "Mini Bac" is applied to another popular version
of the game which moves along at a faster pace and is played at
a smaller table usually consisting of positions for about 8 players.
In Mini Bac, the players never touch the cards. The game is controlled
by only one dealer who deals the cards, announces the winning
side (either Player, Bank or Tie) and settles the bets. Minimum
bets at the Mini Bac table are usually much lower than regular
Big Bac and can be as little as $5 while the standard minimum
in most casinos is $10.
Of all casino games baccarat is probably the easiest to play
since there are only 3 possible bets that can be made. One can
either bet on Banker or Player, or you can bet that Banker and
Player will tie. The winning side is the side that completes its
hand with a total closest to 9. A winning bet placed on Player
pays even money but a winning bet placed on Banker pays even money
less a 5% commission for the house. The reason for the house receiving
the extra vigorish on Banker wins is the fact that because of
the designated hitting rules that govern play, the Banker has
a slight advantage over the Player side and if there were not
a tax on Banker wins, one could simply bet Banker every time and
come out a long term winner. Actually, even with the 5% commission
charged, the house edge is still slightly less when you bet on
Banker (1.17%) than when you bet on Player (1.36%). Most people
approach the game as if the Player and Banker have an equal chance
As I said, a bet can also be made on the circle marked "Tie".
If this bet wins it pays 8 to 1 but it is considered a very poor
bet because you are giving the house an approximate 11% advantage.
A player does not need to know the rules which govern the way
the hands are actually played out in order to participate in the
game. He has only to bet on Banker, Player or Tie. The dealer
will supervise play (as in Big Bac) or will actually deal all
the cards and announce the winning or losing side (as in Mini
When the cards are dealt, one card is dealt for the Player, then
one card for the Banker. That is followed by a second card being
dealt to the Player then a second card for the Banker. All four
cards are then turned face up and the totals for each hand are
computed. Each card is counted at face value except for tens and
face cards which are assigned a value of zero. Aces, of course,
have a value of 1. Therefore a hand consisting of the 6 of Diamonds
and the Jack of Spades would be valued at 6. But a hand containing
the 4 of Clubs and the 5 of Hearts would be a total of 9. If a
hand exceeds a total of 10, then 10 is subtracted. For instance
a 7 and a 6 which would normally total 13 is read as 3 or a hand
consisting of a pair of nines would be read as a total of 8.
Once the cards are dealt and the value of each hand is established,
play continues according to a defined set of hitting rules.
When play of a hand begins, after the dealer has dealt the two
cards for Player and 2 for Bank, if either side has a natural
(a 2 card total of 8 or 9) then play stops right there and the
side which has the natural wins. If both sides are dealt a natural,
the side with the highest natural wins or else it is a tie hand.
Now, assuming neither Player nor Bank is dealt a natural 8 or
9 with the first 2 cards, play continues in this fashion. The
Player's hand is always addressed first and whether the Bank hits
or stands is in most cases determined by the outcome of the Player
hand. If the Bank does not have a natural and the first 2 Player
cards total 0 through 5, then the player must take a third card.
When the first 2 Player cards total 6 through 9, then the Player
always stands. Neither Player nor Banker will ever receive more
than 3 cards.
If the Player does not have a natural, but stands on 6 or 7,
the Bank draws a third card if it has a total of 0 through 5 and
stands on a total of 6 through 9. Bank always draws a third card
when holding a total of 0 through 2 unless Player has a natural.
When the Bank has a 2-card total of 3, it always draws a third
card unless the Player drew a third card of 8. In that case the
When the Bank has a 2-card total of 4, it draws a third card
if the Player drew a third card of 2 through 7. Otherwise the
When the Bank has a 2-card total of 5, it draws a third card
if the Player drew a third card of 4 through 7. Otherwise the
When the Bank has a 2-card total of 6, it draws a third card
only if the Player drew a third card of 6 or 7. Otherwise the
The Bank always stands on totals of 7, 8, or 9.
That's it. It may look a little complicated at first, but after
you play through a couple of shoes it becomes fairly easy. It's
actually pretty logical. The main reason I like to be familiar
with the hitting and standing rules is that sometimes the dealer
will make a mistake that goes against you. I want to make sure
that I catch it and get it corrected.
- How to Play Baccarat
The house edge for baccarat is the lowest of all casino games
with the possible exception of blackjack. Under special circumstances
in a casino offering very favorable rules, blackjack might be
the better game. But otherwise, I would opt for baccarat every
With baccarat, the house has an overall 1.23% edge on the even
money Player and Banker bets. But the tie bet, even though it
pays 8 to 1, carries a whopping 11% edge so it should be avoided.
It should probably be noted that because of the rules that govern
how each hand is played, the Banker has a slight advantage over
Player. In fact, even with the 5% commission that is generally
charged on winning Banker hands, the house edge on Banker is still
only 1.17% while bets on Player are at a 1.36% disadvantage. For
this reason, some strategies have been developed that bet solely