Baccarat is often seen as a glamorous casino game – it’s played for high stakes, and the gaming table is usually in a special alcove blocked off from the main action. However, it’s actually quite simple to play and offers players a chance to win big money.
First, players bet on either the Player hand, Banker hand or a tie. Two cards are dealt to each hand, and the winning hand is that which totals closest to nine. Aces are worth one point, picture cards and tens count as zero, and all other numbers count as their value. If a hand totals above nine, the first digit is dropped (for example, a seven and a six would result in 13, which is dropped to three).
After all the bets are placed, the dealer deals the cards. The player and the banker each get two, and then a third card is drawn if necessary. If either the player or banker hands have a total of 8 or 9, it is called a natural win and all bets are paid.
There are from seven to 14 seats at a baccarat table, and each seat has an area to place Player, Banker or Tie bets. Depending on the version of the game, there is also space for players to place Super Six or Pair Bets. Super Six Bets pay out if the Banker’s hand wins with a total of 6 points, while Pair Bets pay out if the first two cards are a pair.
In the United States, most casinos have $20-$25 minimums for baccarat. This makes the game popular for those on a budget. It is possible to increase your bet amount once you feel comfortable with the rules.
Another strategy that works well for many players is to use a hedging system, where you switch between betting on the ‘Player’ or ‘Banker’ and ‘Pair’. This allows you to maximize your potential for winning by hedging against losses, rather than risking all your cash on just one bet.
A hedging system also helps you avoid losing more than you can afford to lose, especially if you have a bad run of luck on the game’s ‘edge sorting’ trends. Edge sorting, which involves looking at the distribution of the Player and Banker’s cards, became a hot topic in 2012 when Phil Ivey won around $10 million playing this technique at two Atlantic City casinos. While edge sorting is not illegal, casinos are increasingly aware of this practice and have taken steps to prevent it. This is why it’s important to research a game before you decide to bet real cash.