From sticky-floor California card rooms to the tuxedo-laden casinos of Monaco, baccarat is among the most popular games in casino culture. It’s also one of the most complicated games to understand, but once you get a grasp on the basics, it can be a lot of fun.
Before the cards are dealt, you can choose to bet on either the Player hand winning, the Banker hand winning or a Tie. Once you have made your bet, the cards will be dealt and then the winner of the round is determined by whichever hand has the closest total to nine. All pips count in a hand, but face cards have no value and aces are worth one point. The game also has a number of side bets you can place, but these vary by platform and establishment.
The Baccarat table is usually in a separate area of the casino, blocked off from the crowds by velvet ropes. It is a large, oval table with twelve seats on the edge and six in a circle around the dealer, who is known as the croupier or “dealer.” The table is covered with green felt and has numbered areas where players keep their money (or chips). Some of the tables are reserved for high rollers and are marked with a special sign.
When a player walks up to the table, they will need to locate a seat and bet on either the Player or Banker hand. They can also bet on a Tie, which pays out 8-to-1 and has the lowest house advantage of any betting option. Once they have placed their bet, the croupier will deal two cards to each hand. The Player’s hand must beat the Banker’s hand in order to win, but a tie can be a very profitable bet if the odds are right.
If both hands produce a natural (a seven or an eight), the bettors are paid immediately. However, if neither of the first two hands is a natural, further cards may be drawn to determine the winner. If the Banker hand wins, it will win 45.8% of the time, while the Player hand will win 44.6% of the time. A tie occurs 9.6% of the time.
Baccarat also offers a variety of side bets, but they are best avoided. These side bets can have a very high house edge and are therefore not recommended for the casual player. A good way to practice baccarat is to play for free at an online casino and try different strategies using free credits. Avoid the Tie bet as it has a house edge of over 4% and is not a great long-term strategy. The Player and Banker pair bets, on the other hand, have a much lower house edge and are good long-term betting options.