Baccarat is one of the most popular casino games in the world, but it’s often misunderstood. Many people think it’s a game reserved for high rollers and sophisticated patrons like James Bond, but baccarat is actually very simple to play. It has a low house edge, which makes it easier to make a profit than other games like roulette or the slots.
Unlike games like blackjack, which require the player to make decisions throughout a round, baccarat is a game of pure chance. Players only have to decide whether to bet on the Banker, the Player, or a tie before the cards are dealt. The dealer then deals two cards to each of these hands, and the winner is the hand that comes closest to nine. In the past, baccarat was only played in private rooms, but it has since grown to become a common sight on casino floors.
Bill Zender, a Nevada Gaming Control Agent and former casino dealer and executive, literally wrote the book on managing casino games, and he says that Asian high rollers have made baccarat their game of choice because it fits their cultural preferences perfectly. He also notes that baccarat has one of the lowest hold percentages in casinos, with a house advantage of just 1.2 percent on banker and player bets. The third bet, tie, has a much higher house edge of over 14 percent.
While the baccarat rules are relatively straightforward, there are a few things that can trip up new players. For example, the rules for determining which card goes first are not always clearly explained. The game uses eight decks of cards that are dealt from a dealing shoe, and the cards have numerical values of zero through nine. A ten has the same value as the sum of the pips on the cards, but the order of the digits is important. If the total is over 15, a player must subtract or drop the first numeral to arrive at an adjusted total.
Most baccarat tables feature a score sheet where players record their wins and losses and the number of ties. These sheets can range from simple tracking grids to complex spreadsheets that record the frequency of each type of winning hand for both players and dealers. Some baccarat sites also offer downloadable score sheets that make it easy for players to keep track of their wins and losses while playing online.
Besides the standard Banker, Player, and Tie bets, some casinos offer unique side bets that can increase the payout on a winning hand. These wagers typically come with low odds of landing and a high house edge, so players should check out the payouts and rules before placing their bets.