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Baccarat tables are typically separated from the rest of the casino floor by ropes; dealers at these tables are required to wear tuxedos; and these tables attract the most attractive, well-dressed (planted) women. It’s no coincidence that casinos can successfully create an elaborate atmosphere and aura for their games, giving players the impression that they’re partaking in an enduring and glamorous pastime (by the way, blackjack was James Bond’s favorite game). However, you should not be discouraged from participating because the rules are extremely simple to grasp, and we welcome any players who have the financial means to cover the required minimum bets.
The book “The Winner’s Guide to Casino Gambling” by Edwin Silberstang is where I learned almost everything I know about casino gambling, as was the case with previous articles I’ve written on the subject. I strongly recommend that you buy this book if you want to learn more about the mathematics, history, and strategies associated with various casino games. I’m going to concentrate on the game’s general rules of play so that you can walk into a casino in Las Vegas and start playing right away. Please be aware that Baccarat is played differently in Europe, which I will not go into here; if you intend to play the game in Europe, I recommend that you purchase a book to familiarize yourself with the game’s terminology and the subtle differences in how it is played.
The Dining Room Table
The diagram depicts the standard table found in the vast majority of casinos in the United States. The numbers 1 through 15 that are located around the perimeter of the table indicate the positions at which players take their seats at the table. Take note of the gap in the number 13. In a similar vein, the numbers 4 and 14 may be absent from some tables because, in Chinese culture, where baccarat is popular, both of these numbers are considered unlucky. The words “Player” and “Banker” are written in the space directly above the numerical values on the table. Players will place their bets in these areas, betting that either the player or the banker will win the current hand.
On a typical large table, there will be three dealers, each of whom is in charge of a specific function. The Kallman is the dealer who faces the players. He is in charge of receiving the dealt cards, placing them in the appropriate places, deciding whether a hand should get another card or stand (based on predetermined rules, which I will explain shortly), and announcing the winning hand. The other two dealers are in charge of placing markers for house commissions, distributing winning hands, collecting losing bets, and distributing winners. When a player wins a bet on the banker, the casino deducts a five percent commission from the player’s winnings. Instead of collecting commissions after each hand, a marker is placed in front of the Kallman in the middle of the table on the player’s number. When the deck is reshuffled or players leave the table, they must contribute to the pot. When playing Baccarat, it is common to use a smaller table with fewer seats; in these cases, a single dealer may be in charge of the entire table.
The Hand’s Valuables
Every card from ace to nine is worth its face value, except the ten, jack, queen, and king, which are all worth zero points. Both the player and banker hands are dealt two cards at the start of the game, and the Tallman adds the face values of the cards to each hand. When playing Baccarat, the sum of each player’s hand cannot exceed 9, so if your hand totals 10 or more, you must deduct 10 from your overall score.
The Kallman, on the other hand, will make all decisions on both the player’s and the banker’s hands without consulting the players. The baccarat rules will be displayed in each casino for all players to see, but the Kallman will make all decisions. The table below outlines the very specific guidelines that must be followed in order to properly play each hand (i.e., when the dealer must draw a card and when they must simply stand).
In Baccarat, a hand totaling nine is considered the best possible; such a hand is known as a “Natural,” and it results in an immediate victory for the player who receives it. If the first two cards are a pair of eights, this is known as a Natural, and if the other hand does not have a value equal to or higher than eight, the player wins automatically. If one of the players has a Natural, neither player may draw any additional cards for either hand. The game is decided by which of the two hands has the higher value: an 8 or a 9. When both players have an 8 or a 9, the game is declared a tie or a standoff, and neither the Player nor the Bank wins. Because the Player’s hand is always dealt first, the Banker’s decision to take another card or stand is dependent on what the Player does with their hand.
How to Play the Game
Baccarat is played with casino chips that are typically denominated in $5, $25, and $100 increments. This is a pure chance game in which no skill is required, and the only decisions a player must make are whether to bet on the Banker’s hand or the PlayerPlayer’s hand, and how much to bet on each hand. In the game of baccarat, the “shoe” is a container that holds all eight decks of playing cards. All of the players currently seated at the table will take turns dealing cards from the shoe at some point during the game. If you choose to play this game, you will have the opportunity to deal with the cards yourself. The player who currently has the shoe will deal with subsequent hands until the Banker’s hand is defeated, at which point the shoe will be passed on to the next player seated at the table.
When all of the players have placed their bets, the Kallman will signal to the player holding the shoe to deal a card into the player’s hand. It will be handed over to the Kallman, who will then hand it over to the player with the highest wager on the table. It will be dealt face down to the Kallman (or wait for the second Player’s card before passing both cards to this player). If none of the other players at the table have wagered on the Player’s hand, the dealer will handle it. The second card drawn from the shoe is dealt as the first card in the Banker’s hand, and it is placed face down beside the player holding the shoe. The third card is dealt face down to the Player’s hand, and the fourth card is dealt face down to the Banker’s hand after the third card is dealt to the Player’s hand.
The player who currently possesses the Player’s hand has the opportunity to inspect their hand before passing their cards to the Kallman to be placed face up on the table and their value announced. After inspecting their hand, the shoe holder hands their cards to the caller, who places them on the table with the appropriate sides facing up. Mr. Tillman Tillman is now in charge of enforcing the game’s rules; if he is required to draw a card by the rules, the person holding the shoe is required to slide out a new card and hand it to the Kallman face down. If necessary, this procedure is repeated with the Banker’s hand until one of the two hands is determined to be the victor. The winning bets are then paid out, and the losing bets are removed from the table. (Because of the lengthy and complicated process involved in playing Baccarat, the game retains a certain air of “mystique” about it; because the game takes so long to play, players spend the majority of their downtime admiring the opulent atmosphere.)
The most intriguing aspect is highlighted here. Baccarat has very good odds; in fact, it has some of the best odds of any casino game. You have a 45.85 percent chance of winning if you bet on “Banker,” a 44.62 percent chance of losing if you bet on “Banker,” and a 9.51 percent chance of drawing a tie if you bet on “Banker.” Your expected return is negative (as it is with all casino games), but the house edge is only 1.06 percent when you win on a Banker’s bet because you must pay the previously mentioned 5% commission (versus roulette at 5.26 percent ).
If you bet on “Player,” you have a 44.62 percent chance of winning, a 45.85 percent chance of losing, and a 9.51 percent chance of the outcome being a tie. In contrast to a banker bet, however, you will NOT be required to pay the 5% commission. This reduces the house advantage to 1.24 percent, which is still quite favorable but not as favorable as a banker bet. What was the main point? ALWAYS PLACE YOUR BET ON THE BANKER, as the five percent commission you must pay is more than offset by the significantly increased likelihood that you will win. Feel free to put it to the test with this online Baccarat simulator.
The Crux of the Issue
I’m going to assume that some of you are thinking to yourselves right now, “Great, but what does that mean for me?” You have a complicated game, but your only decision is whether to bet on the Banker or the Player. This means that the game has been simplified for you to play. And, because betting on the Banker is always the more profitable option, you should ALWAYS choose it. A stress-free game (you can’t lose if you always bet on the banker), with some of the best odds in the casino (perfect blackjack playing has slightly better odds), and one of the last “glamorous” types of gambling, far removed from the fanny pack retirees at the slots. This results in a stress-free game with some of the best odds in the casino (perfect blackjack playing has slightly better odds).
Before starting a game at a table, players should always familiarize themselves with the table’s limits. In Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the minimum bet on a hand is usually $20, with a maximum bet of $2,000. The more compact tables, also known as “mini-Baccarat” tables, may have a $2 or $5 minimum bet; however, you may have to look around for one of these tables because the casinos may only have one or two of them on the floor. Because there are fewer people playing at each table in these “mini-Baccarat” games, the action moves much faster. As a result, you may find yourself betting more money on a game with a $10 minimum bet than on a game with a $25 minimum bet. It is considered bad form for a player to look at their cards before the player’s hand has been turned over, so the player holding the shoe should wait until the player’s hand has been turned over before looking at their hand. Instead of interfering with Gallman’s decisions or letting him run the game, the players should let him call the cards and run the game.
Baccarat is a game that is played at a leisurely pace, and when there are several players seated at the same table, each hand can take a long time. Make an effort to relax and enjoy yourself to the fullest.