Among the many games you can play at a casino, Baccarat stands out as one of the classiest and most glamorous. It’s a game with a history that dates back to the fancy gatherings of French nobility in the 1800s.
But don’t let its fancy reputation fool you – Baccarat is a game that’s easy for beginners to learn and enjoy.
If you’re new to Baccarat and want to know the rules, tips, and how to bet, this beginner’s guide is your way in. In this article, we’ll break down Baccarat and make it all clear, from its past to how it’s played and how to get better at it.
Whether you’re just starting or looking to improve your Baccarat skills, this guide will help you understand the game, so you can have fun and maybe even win a little.
A Brief History of Baccarat
Baccarat’s history is a fascinating journey through different centuries and cultures. The game’s origins can be traced back to Italy in the 15th century, where it was known as “baccara” or “baccarat,” meaning zero in Italian, likely referring to the value of tens and face cards in the game.
It was initially played with tarot cards and was similar to the game of ‘faro.’ As Baccarat evolved, it made its way to France, where it underwent significant changes and became the game we recognize today.
In France during the 19th century, Baccarat underwent several transformations, resulting in various versions of the game, including Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer, and Baccarat Banque.
Punto Banco is the most commonly played version today, particularly in the United States. Chemin de Fer involves players taking turns as the banker, and Baccarat Banque is a more elaborate form with the banker role auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Baccarat gained popularity among the French nobility, making it a symbol of prestige and luxury. The game was frequently played in aristocratic salons and castles.
King Louis XIV was known to be a fan of Baccarat, contributing to its allure among the upper echelons of society. It soon spread to other European countries, including England, where it was referred to as “baccarat” or “baccara.”
In the early 20th century, Baccarat made its way to the United States, particularly Las Vegas. It gained popularity in the glamorous casinos of the Las Vegas Strip and quickly became synonymous with high-stakes gambling and luxury.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Baccarat continued to rise in popularity, especially in Asian markets. Macau, in particular, became a Baccarat hotspot, attracting high rollers from around the world.
Today, Baccarat remains a popular card game, played in casinos globally. Its history represents a transition from being an exclusive game for the French nobility to a mainstream casino attraction, enjoyed by players from various backgrounds.
The game’s legacy is marked by its association with sophistication and high-stakes gambling, making it a symbol of opulence in the world of casinos.
Should You Play Online or In Person?
Online Baccarat and in-casino Baccarat share the same core rules and gameplay, but they offer distinct experiences. Playing Baccarat in an online casino is distinguished by its convenience and accessibility, as it can be played from virtually anywhere with an internet connection, whether you’re at home or using a mobile device on the go.
In contrast, in-casino Baccarat is known for its luxurious and social atmosphere. It provides an opportunity for players to engage with live dealers and fellow players, creating a more immersive and socially interactive experience.
The choice between the two often comes down to personal preference, with online Baccarat offering convenience and accessibility, while in-casino Baccarat provides a more immersive and traditional gaming environment.
Why do People Enjoy Baccarat?
When it comes to why people most enjoy playing Baccarat, you can’t ignore its simplicity: that alone is a major draw. The rules are easy to understand, and there are no complex strategies to master, making it accessible to both novice and experienced gamblers.
The game’s straightforward nature means that it can be enjoyed without the need for extensive knowledge or skill, which can be appealing to those looking for a relaxing and uncomplicated casino experience.
Baccarat’s association with elegance and luxury also plays a role in its popularity. The game has a long history of being played in high-end casinos, often depicted in movies and popular culture as a game for the glamorous and sophisticated. This allure of sophistication and exclusivity appeals to those who prioritize a quality player experience when gambling.
Another reason people enjoy playing this classic game is the excitement: the fast-paced nature of Baccarat keeps players engaged, with quick results and minimal downtime between bets. The suspense and excitement of the game’s outcomes, combined with the chance to win significant amounts of money, are attractive to many.
Last, you have to take into account Baccarat’s relatively low house edge, particularly when betting on the Banker hand. This can make it an attractive choice for players looking for favorable odds. The straightforward betting options and clear payouts also contribute to its appeal. Have we convinced you yet?
Baccarat 101: The Basics
So, how do you play? Baccarat is a classic card game often played with six to eight decks of cards, regardless of if you’re playing the classic game or a brand new version. The game begins with players placing their bets on one of three possible outcomes: the Player hand winning, the Banker hand winning, or a tie between the two. The bets are typically placed in designated areas on the Baccarat table.
After bets are placed, the dealer proceeds to deal two cards for the Player hand and two cards for the Banker hand, usually face up. The card values are then calculated, which is a critical aspect of the game.
Face cards and tens are considered worth zero points, aces are worth one point, and all other cards are valued at their face value. If the total value of a hand exceeds 9, only the last digit is taken into account. For example, if a hand comprises a 7 and an 8, the total value is not 15 but rather 5.
The objective in Baccarat is to have a hand value as close to nine as possible. The hand closest to nine wins the game. If both the Player and Banker hands have the same total value, it’s a tie, and those who bet on a tie receive their wagers back.
If the Player hand wins, those who bet on the Player receive their bets at a 1:1 payout, minus a small commission. If the Banker hand wins, those who bet on the Banker also receive their bets at a 1:1 payout, but a 5% commission is typically applied.
Baccarat is often considered a game of chance rather than skill, as the rules for drawing a third card are predetermined and do not require player decisions—though it’s always important to make sure you’re employing safe gambling habits. Therefore, there aren’t really any complex strategies to employ to influence the outcome. But that doesn’t mean it’s without people who try (and maybe succeed) in gaming the system.
The Phil Ivey Baccarat Controversy
Phil Ivey may be better known for Poker, but he was at the center of a controversy in 2012 that put him on the map for Baccarat as well. The controversy centers around a technique known as “edge sorting,” which he and his partner, Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, used to exploit the imperfections in the design of playing cards to gain an advantage in Baccarat. Here’s what went down:
In 2012, Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun visited Crockfords Casino in London and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City to play a Baccarat variant known as Punto Banco. They employed a method called edge sorting, which involved identifying tiny imperfections in the patterns on the back of playing cards.
By asking the casino to use a specific brand of cards (that Ivey and Sun knew had these imperfections), they were able to sort the cards into two groups: those with favorable high-value cards and those with less favorable low-value cards.
During the game, Ivey and Sun requested that the cards be turned in specific ways (a technique known as “card mucking”) to exploit the sorting they had performed.
They were able to win millions of dollars using this technique.
Both casinos, Crockfords and Borgata, refused to pay out Ivey’s winnings, accusing him of cheating. The ensuing legal battles saw Ivey claiming that he did not cheat but simply used skill and observation to exploit the flaws in the cards and the casino’s processes.
The controversy resulted in lawsuits, with the casinos seeking to recover the money, and counter-lawsuits from Ivey and Sun.
In 2014, a London court ruled in favor of Crockfords Casino, and Ivey was ordered to return the £7.7 million he had won. The Borgata case was settled in 2016, with Ivey agreeing to pay back $9.6 million of his winnings.
The controversy stirred considerable debate in the gambling community and raised questions about the boundaries of skill-based advantage play in casino games, especially in cases where imperfections in equipment are exploited.
So there you have it! While we certainly don’t condone cheating in any form, we do encourage you to try your luck—and your hand.