Baccarat is a game of pure chance where players wager on which hand out of two that are dealt – the Banker’s and Player’s – will win. The winning hand is the one with a total closest to nine. The game is played with eight-deck cards that are dealt from a dealing shoe. Aces count as one; Tens, Jacks and Queens equal zero (0) and all other cards are worth their face value.
While baccarat is often depicted as a sophisticated, elegant casino table game for suave James Bond types in movies like Casino Royal, the truth is it’s a very accessible and easy-to-play card game with some of the best odds in the house. It’s also a game that can be played from the comfort of your own home, thanks to the emergence of online casinos offering legal baccarat games to residents of the five states where it is now possible to gamble online.
The modern version of the game is known as Punto Banco, although older games such as Chemin de Fer and Baccarat a deux tableaux still exist. Baccarat a deux tableaux is a more complex game that allows the players to choose whether or not to draw a third card for the Banker or Player’s hand, while Chemin de Fer has fixed rules that only allow the banker to decide when to draw a third card.
Statistically, backing the banker has a slight advantage over back the player. However, this is offset by the fact that the banker must pay out winning bets at a fixed rate (see chart below). Baccarat also offers an array of side bets that vary from place to place. While these bets can add to the excitement of playing the game, they come at a significant cost and should be avoided unless you’re a high roller.