How to Play Baccarat


Baccarat, the glamorous card game played in high-roller gaming areas, is an elegantly paced and ritualized affair. It’s a game that can seem intimidating for novices, but it is actually one of the easiest casino games to play. Here’s how it works:

The objective of baccarat is to have the hand you bet on (either the player or the banker) come closest to nine. The game is played with up to 14 players seated in rows around a table, and each place a chip on either the player or banker box. The cards are dealt by the dealer, who also handles all the money bets. The highest ranked card is nine, with picture or face cards worth zero points and numbers ranging from two to nine worth their respective values. Aces count as one point.

Once all bets are placed, the dealer deals one card to each player and a second card to the banker. The player and banker hands are then compared to see which is closer to 9. The winner is the hand that comes closest to 9. If the total of the players’ cards adds up to a number above nine, the first digit is dropped. For example, a 9 and 6 is 15; drop the 6 and you’re left with three.

When the winning player or banker hands are determined, the amount bet on that hand is then paid out according to a predetermined set of rules. The simplest of these is the 1-3-2-6 system, which ensures that a player never bets more than two units from their entire bankroll in any given round. This reduces the amount a player can lose but it may also limit how much they can win.

A third bet, called the tie, pays out eight to one if both the player and banker hands equal the same result, but it has a higher house edge than the player or banker bets. For this reason, most serious players stick with player or banker bets only.

The etiquette of baccarat dictates that players should not enter a table while it is in session. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to watch from a nearby seat until the session is over. A score sheet is usually available to track the progress of each hand. A baccarat table is a little different than other poker or blackjack tables, with from seven to 14 seats and a dedicated area for the dealer. The baccarat table also has special dividers to delineate the areas for placing player, banker, and tie bets. This is done so that players do not touch each other’s chips once they are placed. A baccarat game is a slow-moving affair and can last up to an hour or more. This is another factor that makes it a favorite among high rollers.

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