Baccarat is one of the world’s most popular casino games and is played in casinos throughout the world. It is especially popular in the Asian enclave of Macau, where it accounts for around 90% of income from casino gaming.
In its original form, baccarat is a game of chance between two players – the banker and the player. The players each put down a stake and the dealer deals two cards to each. If the players’ total is more than the banker’s, a third card is dealt to both players. The player or banker that has the highest value hand wins. If no player has a higher hand, the total is shown and bets are paid accordingly.
The game has been streamlined into several versions, with the most common being Punto Banco. These games have much simpler rules and require less skill, and are particularly popular with high rollers.
Chemin de Fer (pronounced chemmy)
The main difference between this version of the game and the aforementioned Punto Banco is that the banker has slightly more freedom than in punto banco. He can draw on any number from 3 to 6, and also draws on a 5 or a 6 depending on what the player’s third card is (which is placed face-up). The game can be incredibly addictive, though.
It is a little bit like blackjack, but without the dealer making any decisions. It is a lot faster than the game of chemin de fer, and can be played in most American and European casinos.
A few years ago, the game was largely ignored in America, but in the last decade or so it has gained popularity. This is probably due to the growing popularity of Asian high-rolling players and their cultural preferences for a game that requires little strategy.
Baccarat has become a very lucrative casino game, with high rollers putting large amounts of money at risk. It has a relatively low hold percentage, with an average house edge of only about 1.2 percent on banker and player bets, but it does have a tie bet which pays eight to one if both hands equal the same number, and this bet has a significantly larger house edge–over 14 percent.
According to Bill Zender, a former Nevada Gaming Control Agent and current consultant, the game has been gaining in popularity among Asian high rollers because of its unique cultural appeal. In addition, Zender cites the game’s low house edge, which makes it attractive to serious players who want to take risks with their money.
In Macau, where baccarat is a big hit, it accounts for more than 88 percent of the revenue at 40 casino houses, and is a major source of profits in Singapore, as well. It can be found on the Las Vegas Strip as well, but it is often played in small, private rooms with posh leather chairs rather than at double tables with tuxedoed dealers.
The best way to play baccarat is to learn how to read the game’s hand and bet accordingly. The most important tip is to always bet on the Banker, even if the casino charges a commission on that bet. This is the most profitable bet in the game, and the only bet that has a really low house edge.