What You Need to Know About Bacarrat
If you’ve ever strolled into a high-roller area of any casino anywhere in the world, from sticky-floor California card rooms to the tuxedo-laden casinos of Monaco, chances are you saw people playing baccarat. A table game with few complexities, baccarat is easy to learn and offers James Bond-style gambling fun with a house edge that’s among the lowest in all casino games. But before you make that big wager, it’s important to know a few things about the game to ensure your bankroll is protected.
Developed in mid-19th century France, baccarat (or Punto Banco as it’s known elsewhere) is a table game of chance where the dealer does all the work. There are from seven to 14 seats, and players place their wagers on either the Player hand or the Banker hand, depending on the version of the game they’re playing. Only two hands of cards are dealt, and the object is to get closer to nine than the other hand. Picture cards and 10s count as zero points, while numbers from 2-9 count at their face value and aces count as one point. If the total number of your cards is above a double digit, however, only the second digit counts.
The game itself is very simple, though the rules can differ slightly from casino to casino. The most common variation involves a fixed commission of five percent for the banker, which can raise or lower the house edge based on how much is staked on each hand. Another popular variation adds a third betting option, the Tie bet, which pays off eight to one but has a higher house edge at over 14 percent. The player and banker bets, however, have a much lower house edge at about 1.2 percent each.
Despite the simplicity of the game, baccarat is one of the most popular casino games in the world and generates huge sums of money for its casinos. Macau casinos, for example, earn 88 percent of their annual revenue from the game, while Singapore’s baccarat tables bring in 18 percent of all casino wins. On the Strip, baccarat is the second biggest game after blackjack, though many visitors don’t even realize it’s played.
The history of baccarat, like that of glassmaking in general, is filled with awe-inspiring achievements and legendary figures. Baccarat was the first company in Europe to produce lead crystal, and by the middle of the 19th Century it was attracting attention from far beyond its home country at international fairs, including the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where it displayed its celebrated ’Jusivy’ table service, designed for the restoration Bourbon monarchy. In the years that followed, Baccarat’s work would win medals at a number of other exhibitions and be commissioned by wealthy patrons across the globe, from Ottoman Turkey to Portugal. In 1841, the firm also created a coveted type of short-stemmed wine glass called the ‘Harcourt’ that was prized for its prismatic lustre, which caused it to reflect an array of colors depending on the position of light hitting it.