Baccarat is a casino game with a reputation for glamour that conjures images of James Bond in Nassau and well-heeled gamblers frolicking in Havana. It also generates a sizable chunk of Nevada’s table-gaming revenues, even though it isn’t as intellectually stimulating as poker or the other card games played in casinos. Baccarat is, at its core, an elementary pastime, but with a little practice and luck, it can be rewarding.
Players bet on either the player or banker hand, hoping to hit a total closer to nine than the other. Each hand receives two cards. Aces count as 1, while 10s and picture or face cards hold their value. Points are added up and the hand with the closest value wins. Banker hands pay out a full 100 percent of the wager placed on them, while player hands pay out only 95 percent.
Despite the high stakes and posh surroundings, the basic rules of the game are relatively simple. In addition to a bet on the Player or Banker, customers can place a Super Six or Pair Bet. Super Six Bets win if the Banker Hand scores 6 points or more, and payouts on winning Pair Bets are 11x the original bet amount.
The dealer deals two cards to the player and the banker, each hand facing up. Then the croupier takes note of the total and the resulting number. The croupier then announces the result to the bettors and the crowd.
If the total of the player’s cards is equal to 9 or more, the player wins the hand and no further cards are dealt. If the total is less than 9, the player must draw a third card. The croupier must decide whether to take the third card and, if so, how many.
A player’s total is calculated by adding the values of the two cards in his or her hand. Then the croupier subtracts one if the resulting number is three or more. This process is called “taking a ten.”
The game is usually played on large tables that can seat up to 14 players. At each customer position, there is a lined-off area in which to place a banker bet and another in which to place a player bet. When a customer wins a banker bet, the croupier marks the box corresponding to the bet with a marker. In some casinos, a plastic or wooden instrument called a palette is used for this purpose at particularly large tables. These palettes allow the croupier to move the cards with ease without having to leave their position. They also help to keep track of the totals as a 5 percent commission is charged on winning banker bets. Oftentimes, these marks are recorded on paper or bead plates. However, many casinos now use electronic displays to record baccarat results and trends. This eliminates the need for a bead plate and saves the croupier from making mistakes. The display also displays trend information instantaneously, which allows bettors to follow baccarat trends.