Baccarat is a casino game played on a full-size table with up to 14 players. The cards are dealt by a banker and the players place their bets on either the Player or Bank Hand. The winning bet on the Player hand pays 1 to 1, while the winning bet on the Bank hand pays 2 to 1.
The game is played with a number of standard 52-card decks that are shuffled together. The 2 through 9 pip cards are valued by their pip denomination, and face cards and 10-pip cards are treated as zero-valued.
Each hand starts with two cards and a third card may optionally be dealt. These values are summed and the hand with the highest value wins. In addition to the 2 through 9 digits, each card rank also has a value. For example, a pair of 6 and 7 has a value of 3 (no leading digit) while three cards 9, 6 and 9 have a value of 4.
In addition to the card values, the banker has some freedom of choice in the way he deals the cards and draws the third card. This allows the banker to make a free choice based on what the player’s cards are and how much money has been staked on each of their hands.
Unlike blackjack where the player has to memorize a number of rules, in Baccarat there are no such rules. Instead, a set of house rules determines when the Player Hand needs a third card and when the Bank Hand needs one.
There are many variations of this game, some more complex than others, with different numbers of decks used and different card values. Most modern versions of the game are played with 8 decks, while older versions may use 6 or more.
The earliest form of the game, which is still in widespread use today, is called Baccarat a Deux Tableaux or Baccarat Banque, and appears to have first been described in the 19th century. Some descriptions mention this version but most are now associated with Punto Banco, which is the streamlined version that is played in most casinos today.
Another variation of this game is Baccarat Chemin de Fer or railway Baccarat, and is still widely played in France. This variant has two tables, and the two halves of each table play against each other.
This version of the game was not as popular in America but a later version has been introduced and is widely played there. This variation is sometimes known as Punto Banco and is similar to the original game but with more freedom of choice for the banker in the way he deals the cards.
Regardless of the version of Baccarat that you play, always remember to keep track of how much you’ve bet and how you’ve won. If you lose a lot, it is wise to cut your losses and move on to another game or change your strategy for the next hand.