While most casino table games have more than one version – some claim that casino blackjack has over 100 known variations – baccarat is unique in that its two major variants are completely different.
What is now known as European-style baccarat is the original game, a descendant of faro, the same progenitor of modern-day poker. Technically, this form may also be divided into two separate games, “baccarat chemin de fer” and “baccarat à deux tableaux,” basically the only major difference is in treatment of the game’s banker. (In European baccarat, one player serves as the “banker.” Shades of Monopoly, eh?)
Baccarat is definitely in the mold of “minutes to learn, a lifetime to master.”
Here’s how it works:
The objective of the game is to score a total of nine points with two or more cards. Though any number can bet, only two hands are dealt, one for the “banker” and one for the “punter(s).” Cards 2-9 are worth face value; 10 and face cards are worth zero; aces are worth one point. When the player’s total goes over 9, 10 is subtracted from the value of the cards, i.e. a seven and an eight would be valued at 5, not 15. An 8 or 9 on the deal is an automatic winner. If no 8s or 9s are revealed, players may request one more card, in similar fashion to blackjack, though just one more card may be taken.
A tie between punter and banker has the wagers left on the table.
In the American version, the game becomes a matter of luck only, and basically the only decision for the player is whether to bet on “’Player,” “Banker,” or “Tie.” Player and banker each get a hand of two cards and show them. Once the player is settled, the banker “decides” to take a third card based on the player’s draw:
• If player draws a 9, 10, face card or ace, the banker draws on 0-3 and stands on 4 or more.
• On an 8 draw, the banker draws on 2 or less and stands on 3 or more.
• On a 6 or 7 draw, the banker draws on 6 or less and stands on 7.
• On a 4 or 5 draw, the banker draws on 5 or less and stands on 6 or more.
• On a 2 or 3 draw, the banker draws on 4 or less and stands of 5 or more.
• In cases of no draw by the player, banker draws on 5 or less.
Baccarat: Strategy vs. ritual
Baccarat tips – One seriously eccentric game, baccarat is one that often involves the highest of high-rolling players yet features a serious proportion of straight-up luck. Baccarat is a game in which the bluff can be of tantamount importance strategically, yet the maneuver is often frowned open as a breach of etiquette. Since players are assuming to be hitting on hands totaling 4 points or fewer and standing on 6 or more, only a hand of 5 should reduce the player to waffling about whether to take a third card. Not following these unwritten rules may earn the ire of fellow players who may be justified in effrontery: After all, all players are sharing the one hand.
And in the American or “punto banco” version of the game, essentially all guesswork has been eliminated when offered a card, since it is granted when and how the bank will hit his/her hand.
The best advice, therefore?
Just as in blackjack, the crucial strategy is to *play tight* because, just as in blackjack, the house advantage is extremely low. Betting on the player (or “punter”) puts the house advantage at around 1.25% and the banker’s hand has just a 1.06% advantage for the house. The best move – if you’re really hard up for baccarat strategy – might be to simply bet on the banker continuously. Or maybe you should read up on your Evelyn Tremble.