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The game originated in Italy and was earlier known as ‘baccara,’ meaning ‘zero’ which is the value of the face cards. The roots of baccarat lie in the 15th Century, although the modern game developed in the 19th Century with the French adaptation known as 'Chemin de fer'. The game itself has evolved into different forms and was only introduced into the casinos of Las Vegas in the 1950s.
Aside from the grandiose image painted of the card game by authors such as Ian Fleming, baccarat has gained popularity among high rollers thanks to the elite status it's awarded in most casinos, with their separate rooms and high minimums (although many casinos also run 'mini' baccarat tables on the main floor, which don't require such high stakes).
There are several different types of baccarat to choose from, including the very popular live dealer version, which can alter the necessary skills and playing style. Now, however, most casinos and online games are a variation of the Punto Banco (Player Banker), which is arguably one of the most simple forms of the game.
The aim of a baccarat hand is to have the highest score. The player does not make any choices in terms of taking extra cards; after the betting is finished the house will deal two cards to two different hands, followed by a third according to a set of predetermined rules.
In Punto Banco the player can bet on their own hand (Punto), the banker’s hand (Banco), or a tie. The values of the cards in each hand are added and compared in order to find a winner. The essence of the game is in predicting the hand values closest to 9.
The cards that are numbered between 2 to 9 are worth their face value, the aces 1 point and picture cards as well as tens are worth zero points. The final point value of a hand is given in single digits, taken from the rightmost figure - this means that if a hand’s total value is 16 (7 and 9, for example), it is worth six points, and the highest score for any hand is nine.
The dealer will generally announce the total, and if either the player or the banker has a total of 8 or 9, the hand is finished with the highest value hand declared the winner. If neither hand has an 8 or 9, a third card can be given to either side depending on the drawing rules.
Unlike Chemin de fer, which allows players to accept or decline additional cards after the first deal, Punto banco has fixed betting options, controlled by the casino, and the game plays out according to set drawing rules. This essentially makes baccarat, as it is played in most contemporary locations, a game of chance that beginners can easily take part in.
Punto Banco baccarat is dealt from a shoe containing eight decks of cards. Once the shoe is prepared, the dealer, which can be any player based on a rotation similar to that used for throwing the dice in craps, then deals two cards to each player.
If the Player or the Banker has 8 or 9, it is known as "natural", and both hands stand. This rule overrides all other rules. If neither the Player nor the Banker has 8 or 9 play will proceed.
If the player's hand has a total of 0-5 then it draws a third card, before standing on a total of 6 or 7. When this third card is drawn, the banker’s rules become more complicated. Whether or not he takes a third card will depend on his initial total:
The cards are then totaled, and winners determined.
Bets on Player payout evens and bets on Banker will payout evens with a 5% commission taken off. A tie pays odds of 9/1. Because there are no decisions that players can use during the course of the game the best strategy is to try to reduce the house edge.
The casino has around 14% edge on bets on a tie so one solid piece of advice would be to never bet on a Tie. Bets on the Banker do result in a commission but in common with betting on the Player the house edge is greatly reduced to just over 1%.
Once you get your head around this lengthy list of rules, the Punto Banco version of baccarat is one of the most enjoyable live casino games around. Heavily favoured with high rollers (including a certain MI6 agent), and massive in Macau, Baccarat can seem like a daunting game for beginners but behind the history, the money and the elegance lies a deceptively simple game with plenty of reasons to play.
It is important to understand the rules of the game and probably the easiest way is by actually playing Baccarat. You can try baccarat online at any of the best live online baccarat sites to get a better feel for the game, with a real-life dealer on hand to deal the cards.
If you do decide to play in the pressure cooker of a live casino environment, it's worth considering a venue with mini or midi tables on the main floor before graduating to the glitz and glamour of the high-roller tables. Although there's something to be said for making a grand entrance, and being guided behind the rope for a high-stakes game.
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Baccarat is a card game similar to blackjack and poker. While it's fun to play, the rules aren't always easy to understand. Once you have the hang of it, however, you can expect it to become a lifelong favourite.
This makes trying it out online even more tempting, as you can learn the ropes without an audience. When looking for a stand-out baccarat site online, consider the factors below.
Whether you go with a live dealer or a computer game often boils down to your Internet connection. If you have speedy and reliable Wi-Fi, participating in a live feed with a real dealer can be an invigorating experience. You get the feel of the casino right from your living room.
You may prefer a computer game if you don't want personal interaction or if you'll be playing while engaged in other activities. Live dealers only allow players 15 to 20 seconds per turn, and you can get bumped from a game if you go over your time limit.
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Baccarat rose in popularity thanks to the Royal family and James Bond, so it's no wonder that it's a game often played by the elite. Thankfully, online casinos have made it more accessible to the everyday player.
While live dealer baccarat sometimes requires higher minimums than games run by a computer, it's not rare to find table limits as low as £1. Typically, online bets for computer games are capped at £200, while live dealers may accept bets up to £500.
After the shoe is shuffled, the dealer will pause and call for bets. You can bet on the dealer's hand, your own hand or you can bet on a tie. After the bets are placed, the dealer puts down two cards for the player and two cards for himself. If either of you have a "natural," or a hand resulting in a score of 8 or 9, the game is over and winnings are paid out appropriately.
If not, a third card is dealt to both the dealer and the player. Whoever is closest to 9, wins. It's important to remember that in baccarat, face cards and jokers count for zero points, and totals are limited to single digits. For instance, if you have a 4 and a 7, your total isn't 11. It's 1.
In addition, if you bet and win on a dealer's hand, you may be charged a commission.
Computer games provide the fastest baccarat multi-player experiences, with dealing and bets being generated as soon as your turn is done. When games are run by a real dealer--and subsequently, other real players--multi-player hands can last for a minute or more.
You'll be updated to their actions in real-time, just as they'll see yours. This is an especially helpful feature for new players who are learning the best strategies for baccarat.
There are three types of games at online casinos: downloadable, browser-based and live dealer. Browser-based games are often made with flash. With them, you get the chance to play baccarat quickly, easily and can do so while you're doing other things. Live dealers are delivered in streaming video, transmitted in real-time. They allow you the personal interaction of playing at a casino without the inconvenience of travelling to one.
In traditional casinos, the baccarat tables are typically reserved for high rollers. They draw a lot of attention and sometimes require big bets, both elements that can make players table-shy.
There's nothing quite like the thrill of getting dressed up for a night out at the casino, but depending on your favourite places to gamble, it can be quite a fancy affair, requiring a suit and tie just to step up to the tables. Online, of course, you don't have to look your best, or anything close to it. (If you stick with computer games, you won't have to be dressed at all!)
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