Baccarat has come down in prestige a bit since the days when high rollers habitually played for hundreds of thousands on a single weird round card in Monte Carlo, but the game has seen something of a resurgence in the past 10 years thanks to online play.
The rules of baccarat are incredibly simple; it can essentially be thought of as a sort of minimalist blackjack – though instead of attempting to score 21, you’re going for 9 in baccarat.
In baccarat, a standard deck of 52 cards is used. Aces are worth one point, face cards earn zero points, and the 2-9 cards receive their indicated value. Should the sum total of the cards dealt equal more than 10 – for example, with an 8 and a 5 for a total of 13 – the 10 is subtracted.
The game pits two “players” “against” one another, although any number of bettors may wager on the outcome of a dealt hand. Two cards are deal to the “banker”, i.e. the house, and “punter”, or player.
Similarly to drawing an ace and a face card in blackjack, either side hitting a total of 8 or 9 on the deal (known as a “natural”) is an automatic winner in baccarat. If neither side hits an 8 or 9, the punter may request another card – but unlike in blackjack, a baccarat hand must be composed of two or three cards only.
The most important feature to remember – and to the true card-playing aficionado, worst – about baccarat at online casinos is that two types are offered: “punto banco” is known as the American version of the game (despite the exotic name); punto banco is unfortunately becoming altogether too common against the more traditional “baccarat banque” variation.
In punto banco baccarat, basically all moves are made automatically for player and banker positions; it’s basically merely betting on random events à la roulette. Baccarat banque (a.k.a. “Baccarat Chemin de Fer”) requires the player to make a decision as to whether he/she wants a hit or not.
In punto banco baccarat, the game becomes a matter of luck only, and the only decision for the player is whether to bet on “'Player,” “Banker,” or the additional high-rise, low-reward “Tie” wager. Player and banker each get a hand of two cards and show them. Once the player is settled, the banker takes third card based solely on the player’s draw – *the value of the player’s hand does not matter*. This is the most counterintuitive aspect of the game for new players.
• If the player draws a third card of value 0, 1, 9 or 10, the dealer takes a third card on hands valued 0-3.
• If the draw is an 8, the dealer hits on hands of 0-2 points.
• If the draw is a 6 or 7, the dealer hits on hands of 0-6 points.
• If the draw is a 4 or 5, the dealer hits on hands of 0-5 points.
• If the draw is a 2 or 3, the dealer hits on hands of 0-4 points.
• Finally, should the player stand with his/her two cards, the dealer will draw to any hand worth less than 6.
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