Baccarat Basics

Baccarat is a card game, played with eight decks of cards. The game is considered one of the most elegant and luxurious of casino games, and is usually played in an isolated alcove, away from the hustle and bustle of other tables. The game is primarily played for high stakes, and winning bets are paid out in large denomination chips. The croupier (the person who collects, pays and assists at the gaming table) announces the totals of the Player’s Hand and the Banker’s Hand, with the hand closest to 9 being declared the winner. Optional bets are placed on a tie, which is paid out at 8:1 and has no commission. The game is often played for very high stakes, with the gaming table surrounded by an elevated “box” to prevent other players from seeing the bets and putting in their own wagers. Baccarat is a popular choice for private parties, with the game playing in many luxury casinos and hotels in the United States and abroad.

The game of baccarat has several variations, including Punto Banco, which is the version most commonly played in casinos in the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Finland. In this variant, the casino banks the game at all times and commits to following fixed drawing rules for both the player and banker hands, unlike more historic baccarat games where each hand was associated with an individual who made drawing choices.

Before play begins, a player is designated as the banker; this is generally given to the player who agrees to risk the largest amount of money on that round. The other players are known as the punters, and may wager up to a maximum of the current banker’s stake. Observing players are not allowed to place bets directly against the banker, but may make bets on the player or the banker in reverse order of their wagers.

Once the bets are placed, the dealer deals two cards to the Player and two to the Banker. A point count is determined by adding the values of each hand’s cards: Aces are worth 1 point, cards numbered 2-9 have their face value, and Picture or Face Cards (Kings, Queens, Jacks) are worth zero points. If the Player or Banker hands have a total of 8 or 9, they are known as Naturals and no additional cards are drawn. If either of the hands are a 3, 5, 6 or 7, they will draw a third card.

If neither the Player nor Banker hands achieve a total of 8 or 9, the result is announced: a player win, a banker win, or a tie. The resulting payouts are paid out in accordance with the betting odds, which are shown next to each bet type. In addition, some casinos offer Super Six and Pair Bets, which are optional bets that pay out if the Banker or Player hands have a total of 6 points. The payout on a winning Super Six bet is 12x the bet amount.