Baccarat is a casino card game originating in 15th century France or Italy. In baccarat players may bet on either the “player” or the “banker”, which are designations for the two hands dealt in each game. The cards are dealt face down, each one having a certain value. This is the initial deal consisting of two cards each. Both cards in each hand are then turned over and added together and the croupier calls the total (e.g. five to the 'Player', three to the 'Banker'). From this position the 'Tableau' or table of play is used to determine if further cards need to be drawn. Depending on the two initial hands, both the Player and Banker may draw a third card on their hand or stand pat. The final hand with the higher total wins.
Baccarat has been known for centuries as a classy card game. Originating from 15th century France and Italy, baccarat has simple rules, though requires high wagers and is considered a game for the elite. In land-based casinos baccarat tables are being placed behind velvet ropes or in exquisitely decorated rooms and is attended by three dealers and one or two concierges. Even so, nowadays online casinos have made this extremely simple and fun game available for everyone who wants to try their luck and have a good time in the comfort of his home.
Punto Banco or Mini-baccarat is a simple game with only three possible results – ‘Player’, ‘Banker’ and ‘Tie’. These are just options on which the player can bet and don’t represent him or the house. In this variation of baccarat the casino banks the game at all times. Both ‘player’ and ‘banker’ are dealt two cards each, which are summed up and depending on the ‘tableu’ or table of play an additional card may be drawn. The final hand with the higher total wins. Cards 2-9 are worth their face value, tens and face cards (J, Q, K) are worth zero, and Aces are worth 1 point. Players calculate their score by taking the sum of all cards, ignoring the tens digit if the score exceeds 10 (i.e. a total of 13 is considered 3). The highest possible score is 9 (from a 4 and 5, 10 and 9, A and 8, etc.). If either of the sides achieves a total of 8 or 9 from the initial two cards (also known as a ‘natural’), no further cards are drawn and the game is immediately evaluated based on the current score. If nobody has a natural, the game proceeds.
- If the player has an initial total of 0-5, he draws a third card, if his initial total is 6 or 7, he stands.
- If the player stands, the banker draws according to the same rules – with an initial total of 0-5, and he stands with 6 or 7.
- If the player drew a third card, the banker acts based on drawn card:
- If it is a 2 or 3, the banker draws with 0-4 and stands with 5-7.
- If it is a 4 or 5, the banker draws with 0-5 and stands with 6-7.
- If it is a 6 or 7, the banker draws with 0-6 and stands with a 7.
- If the player draws an 8, the banker draws with 0-2 and stands with 3-7.
- Finally, if the player draws an ace, a 9, 10, or a face-card, the banker draws with 0-3 and stands with 4-7.
As soon as the cards are dealt, the winner is announced and winnings are paid. Usually even money is paid for winning ‘player’ bets and 95% of the original bet is paid if the ‘banker’ has won. In the case of a ‘tie’, all tie bets are paid of 8 or 9 to 1.
History of Baccarat
While commonly believed Baccarat stems from France, it is in fact traced back to 15th century Italy and famous Italian gambler Felix Falguerein. The word ‘baccarat’ is a French word, deriving from Italian ‘baccara’ for ‘zero’. Unlike other games like Black Jack, baccarat is named after the losing hand (zero points) in all three variations of the game – Chemin de Fer, Punto Banco and Baccarat Banque. While originating in Italy, within a decade the game spread to France, where the popular Baccarat Chermin de Fer and Baccarat Banque were ultimately designed. Not long after, the game became popular in China. It was in the late 19th century that the game spread throughout America. It set off relatively slow, being introduced alongside Blackjack. While blackjack quickly became popular, Baccarat remained in the shadows at first. In the 1950s Baccarat underwent its final transformations and the modern baccarat emerged in Las Vegas Casinos with a few new rules. This is how American Baccarat (also known as Punto Banco) was born.
While Baccarat was gaining in popularity in the USA, it was already well recognized in the famous casinos of the French Riviera. These were reluctant to adopt the Punto Banco rules, while the Americans preferred them to the other two versions of the game. The last reformation of baccarat was the introduction of the so called ‘mini-baccarat’. While this is essentially Punto Banco at a smaller table, it makes the game simpler by letting one casino dealer handle the game. Mini-baccarat also has lower minimums, so it’s available to a wider audience.
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