Baccarat is a casino game played with cards. The objective is to guess which of two hands – the Bank hand and the Player hand – will have the higher score on the next ‘coup’ (round of play).
There are three popular versions of the game: Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer, and Baccarat Banque. The three games all have a house edge of at least 1 percent, and they are favoured by high rollers.
Chemin de fer is played with a shoe that contains six or eight decks of playing cards. The players sit around the table, and one person is designated as banker. This person deals the cards according to a chart or other table. When a banker wins, the shoe passes to the next player in order. If a banker loses, the shoe resets to the player who made the largest wager.
In Chemin de fer the position of banker is a temporary one, and it changes every time a coup is won or lost. The player who won the last coup becomes banker for the next deal, and so on until someone retires.
A more permanent banker role is found in Baccarat banque. The table is divided into two halves, each with a half of the table occupied by players on the left and right. The two groups of players play against each other, and the banker plays against the group on his or her left.
The banker is responsible for betting on the Player and Banker hands, and he or she pays or is paid by all of the other players who bet on these hands. The banker also pays or is paid by observing bystanders who wager on these hands.
Before each round of play, a dealer places a shoe with cards on the table. He or she deals the cards, and then announces which hand will win. The winning hand is the one closest to nine, or a “natural” (a total of 8 or 9).
If the two hands are equal, it’s a stand-off and no money is exchanged. When a hand is better than the banker’s, it pays all bets on that side of the table.
When a total of seven or less is reached, the active player must decide whether to ask for a third card. If he or she stands, a third card is dealt face up to both players.
The third card can be a joker, which adds a zero to the value of the player’s hand. If the players are not dealt a total of 8 or 9, their hands are compared by announcing ‘la petite’ for the player with an 8 and ‘la grande’ for the banker with a 9. The best hand wins the coup, unless it is a tie, in which case all bets are returned.
A low-stakes version of baccarat is Mini-Baccarat, which can be found in the main casino and can be played for a minimum of $5 up to $5,000. It is much faster than the big Baccarat game and can be played by more players, because there is only one dealer instead of several.