Baccarat is an elegant and very old game and very popular not only in Europe and the US but also in Asia. Thanks to the simple rules and the speed of the game it is well suited to all types of casino players without ever losing that tone of elegance that has always marked.
There are two dealers and a caller, whose duties roughly correspond to the two dealers and the stickmen at craps. The dealing shoe circulates around the table from player to player in much the same way the dice do at craps. The player with the shoe can keep dealing until he deals a losing bank hand, comparable to evening-out at craps. The two basic bets at baccarat, bank hand and player hand, correspond to the two line bets at craps, pass and don't pass.
Regardless of the number of players at the table, there are always only two hands dealt in the game. These are called the player hand and the bank hand. These games are a holdover from the original European version of the game, in which one player takes a role of the bank and all other players bet against him. In American-style baccarat, these names have no real significance since anyone can bet on either hand. The names are just an arbitrary way of distinguishing the two hands. Each player makes a bet on either the player hand or the bank hand before any cards are dealt for that round.
Between these two hands, the two hands, the one that wins is the one that comes closer to a total of 9. It is impossible to go over 9 because, in total the value of the cards, tens are always cancelled out. Therefore, if the cards totalled 17, this would be considered a 7. If they totalled 24, this would count as 4. In adding the cards, each card counts as its numerical value, except 10s and picture cards counting as ten. However, since the tens are cancelled out in baccarat, ten and zero are synonymous. As we shall see, 10s and picture cards do count as ten for purposes of burning a card. A couple of examples of totalling hands should clarify the process. A hand consisting of a 5 and a 3 counts as 8. A hand consisting of a 6 and a queen counts as six. A hand consisting of a 5, an 8, and a jack counts as 3. A hand consisting of a king, a 5, and a 9 counts as 4.
Initially, each hand consists of two cards. However, depending on the total, one or both hands may draw an additional card in an effort to improve the total. However, unlike in blackjack, in baccarat the players have no choice of whether to draw a card. House rules stipulate when a card must be drawn and when one cannot be drawn. In no case is more than one card ever drawn to a hand.
Once the two hands have been dealt and have received any draw they may have come, the two totals determine the winner. Whichever hand-player hand or bank hand is closer to 9 wins. Players who had bet on that hand are paid off at even money and those betting on the other hand lose their wagers. If the bank hand wins, the house will charge a 5 percent commission on the winnings. No commission is charged on winning bets on the player hand. If both hands end up with the same total, this is considered a tie no money changes hands. Each player keeps his original bet and is free to wager all or part of it again or to take the money back.
Before beginning the first round of play, the first few cards are burned by the dealer. This is done as follows. The top card is dealt out and turned face up. The value of the card determines how many cards will be burned (discarded).
The cards are dealt by the players themselves under the direction of the caller. The dealing shoe travels counter clockwise from player to player. A player, who does not wish to deal, can pass the shoe to the player on the right. The dealer must keep dealing as long as the bank hand continues to win. The dealer deals a hand to the caller to represent the player hand and one for him to represent the bank hand. The two cards dealt to caller constitute the player hand. The player who dealt then turns his two cards face up and tosses them to the caller. These two cards, the ones from under the corner of the shoe, represent the bank hand. He then announces the value of the bank hand.
Depending on the value of both hands, they may be both entitled to one more card. Once both hands have been completed, the caller announces the winning hand, player or bank, and the two dealers take and pay bets.