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Baccarat or baccara is a card game played at casinos. It is a comparing card game played between two hands, the “player” and the “banker”. Each baccarat coup (round of play) has three possible outcomes: “player” (player has the higher score), “banker”, and “tie”. There are three popular variants of the game: punto banco (or “North American baccarat”), baccarat chemin de fer (or “chemmy”), and baccarat banque (or à deux tableaux).
In punto banco, each player’s moves are forced by the cards the player is dealt. In baccarat chemin de fer and baccarat banque, by contrast, both players can make choices. The winning odds are in favor of the bank, with a house edge no lower than around 1 percent. But for now, let’s get down to our list of Free Demo Baccarat Games for fun.
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Next, let’s dive into the history, rules, and strategies of the Baccarat game.
Baccarat has been popular among the French nobility since the 19th century. During the Napoleonic era and before the legalization of casino gambling in 1907, people in France commonly played Baccarat in private gaming rooms. Dating to this time period, Baccarat Banque is the earliest form of baccarat which is a three-person game and mentioned in Album des jeux by Charles Van-Tenac.
Later, Chemin de Fer emerged as a two-person, zero-sum game from Bacarrat Banque. Baccarat Punto Banco, in which the bettor bets on whether the Player or the Banker’s hand wins, was a significant change in the development of modern baccarat. It developed into a house-banked game in Havana in the 1940s, and is the most popular modern form.
U.S. casinos are generating an increasing amount of their revenue from baccarat play. For example, in May 2012, Nevada only generated 18.3% of its total table gaming win from baccarat. However, in May 2013, this percentage increased to 33.1% and in May 2014 it rose to 45.2%.
The overwhelming majority of casino baccarat games in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Finland, and Macau are “punto banco” baccarat and they may be seen labeled simply as “Baccarat”. About 91% of total income from Macau casinos in 2014 came from punto banco.
In punto banco, the casino banks the game at all times, and commits to playing out both hands according to fixed drawing rules, known as the “tableau” (French: “board”), in contrast to more historic baccarat games where each hand is associated with an individual who makes drawing choices. The player (punto) and banker (banco) are simply designations for the two hands dealt out in each coup, two outcomes which the bettor can back; the player hand has no particular association with the gambler, nor the banker hand with the house.
Punto banco is dealt from a shoe containing 6 or 8 decks of cards shuffled together; a cut-card is placed in front of the seventh from the last card, and the drawing of the cut-card indicates the last coup of the shoe. The dealer burns the first card face up and then based on its respective numerical value, with aces worth 1 and face cards worth 10, the dealer burns that many cards face down. For each coup, two cards are dealt face up to each hand, starting from “player” and alternating between the hands. The croupier may call the total (e.g., “five-player, three bankers”). If either the player or banker or both achieve a total of 8 or 9 at this stage, the coup is finished and the result is announced: a player wins, a Banker win, or tie.
If neither hand has eight or nine, the drawing rules are applied to determine whether the player should receive a third card. Then, based on the value of any card drawn to the player, the drawing rules are applied to determine whether the banker should receive a third card. The coup is then finished, the outcome is announced, and winning bets are paid out. If the player drew a third card, the Banker acts according to the following more complex rules:
The croupier will deal the cards according to the tableau and the croupier will announce the winning hand, either the player or the banker. Losing bets will be collected and the winning bets will be paid according to the rules of the house. Usually, 1-to-1 even money will be paid on player bets and 19-to-20 on banker bets (even money with “5% commission to the house on the win”).
Should both the player and banker have the same value at the end of the deal the croupier shall announce “égalité — tie bets win.” All tie bets will be paid at 8-to-1 odds and all bets on player or banker remain in place and active for the next game (the customer may or may not be able to retract these bets depending on casino rules).
Punto banco has both some of the lowest house edges among casino table games and some of the highest. The player bet has an attractively low house edge of 1.24%, and the banker bet (despite the 5% commission on the win) is even lower, at 1.06%. Both are just slightly better for the player bet than chances at single-zero roulette and comparable to playing blackjack without employing strategy. In contrast, the tie bet which pays 8-to-1 has a high house edge of 14.4%. Most casinos in the United Kingdom pay the tie at 9-to-1, resulting in a more lenient house edge of approximately 4.85%.
While card counting, as employed in games such as blackjack, yields a relatively small advantage, paired with a technique known as edge-sorting, baccarat players can obtain a significant edge versus the casino. This technique gained attention in 2012 when a UK casino refused to pay professional gambler Phil Ivey about $11 million he won because he used edge sorting to gain an unfair advantage.
Also in 2012, Ivey and a female companion won $9.6 million at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City using edge-sorting and another $500,000 playing craps using his gains as a stake in the game. The Borgata paid him after his win, but then sued in court in 2014 after surveillance video showed he manipulated the dealer into rotating certain cards in the deck to exploit the flaw on the back of the cards. The Borgata prevailed and won $10.1 million in civil court, which Ivey as of July 2019 has refused to pay. In February 2019 the Borgata got approval by the US District Court in New Jersey to go after Ivey’s assets in the state of Nevada, since he had no assets in the state of New Jersey to pursue. In court filings, the Borgata estimated Ivey was worth upwards of $100 million. Ivey is appealing the case as of July 2019.
House edge details (8 decks)
Watch the video below for optimal Baccarat strategy:
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