How to Play Baccarat


The enigmatic casino card game Baccarat evokes images of high-rollers in opulent casinos, men in tuxedos and women in elegant evening dresses, as they place chips on the table and watch the dealer deal the cards. But while the game seems sophisticated and intimidating, it is actually a very easy and fun to play.

A simple game of chance, baccarat pits a player’s or banker’s hand against the other, with the side that comes closest to nine points winning. The game is played with up to 8 decks of cards and a variety of rules that determine when a third card will be drawn. Players can choose to bet on the player or banker, with payouts based entirely on their wager. The player and banker wagers pay even money (or 1:1) while the tie bet offers much higher payouts – but also comes with a far greater house edge.

There are a few different variations on how a hand is scored, but the most common is the nine-point system. In this version, all cards are worth their face value unless they’re Aces or Kings. Then they’re counted as one point. Picture cards, like jacks, queens and kings, are valued at zero, and all other numbers are dropped to the nearest 10. A hand is considered a “natural” win when either the player or the banker’s first two cards total eight or nine points.

Despite its elegance and mystique, Baccarat is one of the easiest games to learn in a casino. The player and banker wagers follow fixed rules and there’s a very small house edge on these bets, at around 1.2 percent. There is a third bet, the Tie, that pays off eight to one if both hands equal the same number, but this bet has a much higher house edge of over 14 percent, and seasoned players generally steer clear of it.

Aside from the player and banker wins, players can also make a variety of side bets on the outcome of a hand. These side bets can increase the excitement of a round and boost your winnings, but remember that they’re all based on chance.

As a general rule, you should always set a loss limit before starting to play Baccarat. This will help you avoid over-betting and can prevent you from losing too much money. You should also set a win limit, which will allow you to cash out and walk away once you’ve won your amount. This can help you avoid going broke and makes the game more enjoyable for you and your wallet.