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Best Baccarat

6 November 2021

This is the fifth article in a series that examines several aspects of popular casino games. Each article briefly explains how the game is played as well as highlighting some of the positive and negative features of that casino game.

This article examines baccarat.

Game Description:

There are three variations of baccarat: punto banco, baccarat chemin de fer (or "chemmy"), and baccarat banque (or à deux tableaux). North American casinos play punto banco in which the player’s moves are forced by the cards that are dealt. The other two variations allow players to make choices. This article covers only punto banco which is the overwhelming variation offered by casinos in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Finland, and Macau.

Dealing the cards:

The game is dealt from a six- to eight-deck shoe. A “cut card” is inserted before the seventh to last card which, when drawn, indicates the last hand.

The dealer then turns the first card face-up. The value of the card (aces count as 1 and face cards count as 10) determines the number of cards that are “burned” face-down before the dealing of hands begins. The first card that was turned face-up is also burned.

The game is played by dealing two hands: a “player” hand and a “banker” hand. The first card is dealt face-up to the player’s hand and then alternated with the banker hand until two 2-card hands are dealt.

The valuation of hands:

Each card has a point value: 2 through 9 are counted at face value; the 10, jack, queen, and king are counted as zero; and the ace counts as 1. The hand total is always a single digit – the unit’s digit. For example, a hand of 3 and 4 is valued as 7, where a hand of 6 and 8 is valued as 4 (the unit’s digit of 14). Because of this scoring method, the highest possible hand is 9.

Bets:

Before each round (or coup) is dealt, the players can bet on the player hand, the banker hand, or on a tie.

Continuing play after initial hands are dealt:

If the player, banker, or both have a score of 8 or 9, the coup is over. The highest scoring hand is declared for the player, banker, or the coup ends in a tie.

If neither the player or banker hand is an 8 or 9 (called a natural), drawing rules are used to determine which hand or hands get additional cards.

Player’s rule:

If the player’s hand is a 0 thru 5, they draw a third card. If the player’s hand is a 6 or 7, they stand.

Banker’s rule:

If the player stood pat (has just two cards), the banker follows the same rule as the player, that is the banker draws a third card with hands 0 thru 5 and stands with 6 or 7.

If the player drew a third card, the banker follows the following rules:
• If the banker total is 2 or less, the banker draws a card, regardless of what the player's third card is.
• If the banker total is 3, the banker draws a third card unless the player's third card was an 8.
• If the banker total is 4, then the banker draws a third card if the player's third card was 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
• If the banker total is 5, then the banker draws a third card if the player's third card was 4, 5, 6, or 7.
• If the banker total is 6, then the banker draws a third card if the player's third card was a 6 or 7.
• If the banker total is 7, then the banker stands.

The hand (player or banker) with the higher value is declared the winner – or a tie is declared if the hands have equal value.

Resolving the bets:

• Losing bets are collected first.
• If the player hand wins, it is usually paid 1-for-1, also called even money.
• If the banker hand wins, it is usually paid even money minus a five-percent commission.
• If it is a tie, the tie bet is paid at 8-to-1 and the player and banker bets remain in place for the next hand. Depending on the casino, the bettors may or may not be able to modify their bets at this time.

House edge:

Interestingly, baccarat has among the lowest and highest house edges of all table games.

For an 8-deck shoe, the house edge is:
• 1.24 percent for player
• 1.06 percent for banker
• 14.4 percent for ties

Other attributes of the game of Baccarat:

• The game is fairly slow-paced and relaxed.
• Bets tend to be fairly large – many times $100 or more per “coup.”
• There is no physical skill required to play.

Summary:

Advantages:
• Very low house edge for “player” and Banker” bets.
• Low volatility.
• Slow, relaxed play.
• Some camaraderie among players.

Disadvantages:
• Table limits can be high - $100 or more.
• Action players will be very bored.
• No jackpots. With payoffs of even money or even money minus a 5-percent commission, wins and losses are small.


Conclusion:

Baccarat is a relaxing, slow playing game. It can be a pleasant way to pass time.

No knowledge is required to play the game. The player just needs to determine whether to bet on Player, Banker, or Tie.

Bankroll requirements can be a little high because of high bet minimum bets.

If you crave action, or lust after a “big win,” you should look for a different game.

The next article in this series looks at the game of Mini-Bac.

As always, may all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com
Jerry Stickman

Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com