What is Baccarat?

Baccarat is a table game played by players and the banker. The objective is to win by betting on the hand that will have a value closest to nine, as determined by adding up the values of each card. Cards numbered 2-9 count as their face value, while picture cards (kings, queens and jacks) are worth zero points. Aces count as one point. The croupier announces the results of each hand, and winning bets are paid even money. Losing bets are collected by the croupier.

The rules of baccarat are simple at first glance but get complex as the game progresses. There are two main bets to make — the Player’s Hand and the Banker’s Hand. A third bet, the Tie Bet, is also available but has a 14.1 percent house edge, so it is best to avoid making this bet.

Traditionally, the Player’s and Banker’s hands were dealt with their faces hidden from the other bettors and only revealed after all draw decisions had been made. However, this rule was changed in the 1960s and is now only practiced in a few casinos. If the croupier decides that neither the Player nor the Banker has a hand with a total of 9 or closer, then he will call for a third card. If he calls for a third card and the Player has a six or less, the Banker must stand.

There are from seven to 14 seats for players in a baccarat table, plus a Banker area. When the players have placed their bets, the croupier deals two cards to each player and to the Banker. The hand with the highest value wins, and the winning side is declared. The game is slow and ritualistic, with the croupier dealing the cards, taking bets, paying out winning bets, and collecting losing ones.

Baccarat is the most popular casino table game in Asia, and generates more gambling revenue than any other table game, including blackjack. In fact, in Macau in 2017, baccarat accounted for 88 percent of the region’s casino revenues. High-rollers often place bets of $100,000 or more per hand, with the heaviest bets being made in the high-limit rooms.

Before you sit down to play baccarat, it is important to set a budget for how much you are willing to lose. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of winning big bets, but it is important to remember that you can lose a lot more than you started with. Decide on a number and, no matter what happens, walk away while you’re ahead. It’s not a good idea to gamble on the basis of trends — those can change quickly. However, some baccarat players are able to develop a system that allows them to pick winners more consistently than others. This is called the “Big Road,” “Bead Plate,” or the “derived roads.” Understanding them takes time, but those who do understand them are able to beat the house edge.