Baccarat is the casino game of choice for many high-rollers and VIP players. At its peak, the game accounted for about 88 percent of Macau’s casino revenue in 2017. While it may be tucked away in high-limit gaming areas, baccarat can also deliver solid mass business at a variety of price points, especially when paired with a progressive jackpot.
Unlike blackjack, where players make decisions throughout the course of a hand, baccarat is relatively simple. Prior to cards being dealt, players decide whether to bet on the Player, Banker or a Tie, and then let the dealer do the rest. After the bets have been placed, the croupier deals two cards to both the Player and the Banker. The object is to get a total closest to nine. Picture cards and tens count as zero, while numbered cards from 2-9 are worth their face value. Aces count as one point. The winner is whoever gets the hand with the number closest to 9.
In addition to the Player and Banker bets, most baccarat games offer a third option, which is a bet that the game will result in a tie. This is typically offered at odds of 8 to 1 against a house edge of 1.24%, though in some locations slightly better odds of 9 to 1 may be available.
The croupier then reshuffles the deck, and the deal begins again. In a standard game, eight cards are shuffled together and dealt to the Player and Banker from a dealing box known as a shoe. Each hand is then given a score by the croupier based on the values of each card: Tens and nines are valued at zero, and all other numbers are worth their face value. After both the Player and Banker have a final total, the croupier either draws a third card or stands depending on the total.
If the Player’s total is 0-4 or equals 10, a third card is drawn. The Player stands on a total of 6 or 7 (known as a natural) and at their discretion on a hand with a value of 8 or 9. The Banker can draw a third card if the total is 0-4. The Banker can stand on a total of 5 or 6.
Despite its low house edge, the game still has a cult following among high-rollers. In fact, baccarat is featured in the majority of James Bond films, including Dr. No; Thunderball; On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; and GoldenEye. In addition, the game has been featured in several TV shows such as The X-Files and The Sopranos. Baccarat’s popularity with the upscale crowd has led some to suggest that it will outlast other casino table games, even as the market shifts toward younger patrons. But others believe that baccarat will eventually be supplanted by newer games with higher house edges and more sophisticated features.