Baccarat – Easy to Learn and Fun to Play

Baccarat is the enigmatic card game you see in movies of high-rollers playing it in opulent casinos. Its James Bond pageantry – players in tuxedos and women in posh evening gowns laying down chips while the dealer distributes cards – contributes to the game’s mystique. But it’s easy to learn and a lot of fun to play, even for beginners.

The game is played on a special table, often in an alcove blocked off from the masses and the other casino action. Each bettor has a lined-off area in which to place either a Banker or Player bet. The cards are dealt to the two hands after the bets have been placed. A third card may be drawn on the Banker or Player hand if the first two cards total 8 or 9. If the hand with the higher point total wins, all placed bets are paid.

Before you start playing, you must understand the basic rules of the game. Once you’re familiar with these, the rest is all about luck. You’ll want to keep your bankroll in check and not risk more than you can afford to lose. You can do this by setting a spending limit and keeping it in mind during your session. A good way to do this is by putting a set amount of money in your wallet or purse and only using it for a certain number of rounds, then stopping.

Unlike other casino games, Baccarat has very few complicated rules or complex patterns to track. This makes it much easier to understand than its more complicated counterparts like poker or blackjack. Baccarat is a pure game of chance, but it has some rules to help prevent exploitation and maintain fairness.

A favored strategy of many baccarat players is to bet on the Banker. This bet pays out eight to one if you win and offers more frequent winnings than other bets, like Player or Tie. The house edge is also lower than the other bets, making it a more desirable option for players.

Another advantage of the Banker bet is that the 5% commission on winning banker bets is collected by the casino, so there’s more potential profit to be had. However, this is a risky bet, as the odds of winning are slim. It’s better to stick with the Player and Tie bets.

Bill Zender, a former Nevada Gaming Control Agent and casino dealer who literally wrote the book on managing casino games, has seen the popularity of baccarat grow considerably. He says that Asian high rollers have made the game their favorite because it fits their culture and preferences.

Regardless of its glamour and mystique, baccarat isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of money to play, and it’s not uncommon for a single table to have a minimum bet of $20,000. But there are several ways to increase your chances of winning, such as by following the trends. Our article “Fate in the Cards: Understanding Baccarat Trends” (first published in Jul/Aug 2011 and followed by a second edition in Sep/Oct 2011) was the first time that the game’s complicated trend-recording rules had ever been written down.