Baccarat is one of the most popular casino games in the world. The game is played with eight or nine decks of cards and has three possible outcomes: Player Win, Banker Win and Tie. Baccarat is simple to play and easy to understand. Players place bets on the player, banker, or tie hand before the cards are dealt and then watch the hands. The winner is determined by whichever hand comes closest to nine points. Points are awarded according to a set of rules that determine when a third card may be drawn. The player’s and banker’s hands are each dealt two cards in turn.
The dealer deals the cards from a dealing box, called a shoe. Typically, the shoe has six or eight compartments for the cards and a table with numbered sections where bettors place their chips. The croupier, who manages the game and does not play, is located on either side of the table.
After the players have placed their bets, the dealer will deal a hand of two cards to each player and then a third card to the banker. If the value of either the player or banker’s hand totals 8 or 9, this is called a “natural” and all bets are paid out. If the value of either the player or the banker’s hand is closer to nine than the other, a third card may be drawn by the croupier.
If neither the player nor banker has a natural, a second card is dealt to each hand according to a set of rules. In addition, if the first two cards have a combined value of nine or more, the second digit of that total becomes the new total. For example, if a hand has two 8s the actual total is 16, but because it is in double digits, the second digit is 16 and not 9.
A winning Player or Banker bet pays 9-to-1, while a bet on a Tie will pay out only 8-to-1. The payouts for these bets are among the highest in all casino games. Score sheets are available to help players keep track of the hand’s progress and calculate their bets.
Baccarat is not as widely played in the United States as other casino games, but it has a strong following in Asia, where many casinos offer a traditional baccarat game. In Macau, which dethroned Las Vegas as the world’s leading casino city last year, baccarat accounts for nearly 88 percent of all casino wins, and it also plays a big role in Singapore’s casinos. Even on the Strip, where most visitors do not know the rules of baccarat, it still generates 18 percent of casino revenue. The popularity of the game is likely to continue as it becomes more familiar to American gamblers.