Baccarat is a simple casino card game in which players attempt to predict which, if either, of two hands, known as ‘Player’ and ‘Banker’, will reach a total of nine, or as close as possible, in two or three cards. All betting must be completed before any cards are dealt. A winning bet on the ‘Player’ hand or the ‘Banker’ hand pays 1/1 although, in the latter case, winning bets are subject to 5% commission, threby reducing the overall odds to 19/20. A winning bet on the tie pays 8/1, or 9/1, depending on the house rules. In terms of the mathematical advantage in favour of the casino, a.k.a. the ‘house edge’, the ‘Banker’ bet offers 1.06%, the ‘Player’ bet offers 1.24%, but the tie bet offers a much less competitive 14.36%.
The total of each hand is calculated by adding together the value of each card; tens and court cards count as zero, aces count as one and all other cards count as face value. However, the maximum total for either hand is nine, so if the individual cards total above nine the first digit is dropped, thereby leaving a single-digit total.
The ‘Player’ hand is completed first; if the first two cards dealt add up to eight or nine, no further cards are drawn and the ‘Player’ hand, known as a ‘natural’, wins automatically, unless the ‘Banker’ hand has an equal, or higher, natural, in which case the hand is tied, or the ‘Banker’ hand wins automatically. If the first two cards dealt add up to five or less, the ‘Player’ hand draws a third card, but stands pat if the first two cards add up to six or seven. If the ‘Player’ hand stands pat, the ‘Banker’ hand also draws a third card on five or less and stands pat on six or seven but, otherwise, the decision to draw a third card depends on the ‘Banker’ hand total, the third card drawn by the ‘Player’ hand and the strict rules of the game.