Baccarat has long held a mystique, conjuring images of men in tuxedos and women in posh evening dresses laying down chips as the dealer distributes cards. But the game’s mystique is more a function of style than complexity, and anyone who wants to play can learn how to do it in a matter of minutes.
Baccarat is a game of chance and one of the simplest games in the casino. Players place their bets on either the Player Hand, the Banker Hand or a Tie and then the dealer deals two cards to each of the hands. The hand that comes closest to nine wins the game. Occasionally, the player or banker may draw an additional card.
The Banker and Player hands both win more often than the Tie, but when neither hand wins, the game ends in a standoff or tie (called a nipple). In a nipple, all bets to the Player and Banker are returned and only the bets on the Tie are paid. A nipple results in the best odds for the game and is the reason why many high rollers like to play it.
During the 19th Century, Baccarat’s popularity would grow even more thanks to strong showings at major international exhibitions. In 1828 Charles X visited the company’s factory and was so impressed with the glassware he saw that he commissioned a full set for his palace, which would be followed by orders from other French monarchs, Emperors and heads of state. The company would also win medals at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where it displayed a massive, 90-light standing candelabra.
In addition to the cultural reasons Zender cites, Baccarat is popular with high rollers because it has one of the lowest hold percentages in the casino, with banker and player bets returning around 1.2 percent of the time. The third bet, the tie, pays out eight to one but has a higher house edge than the other two, and it is recommended that serious players stick to the player or banker bets. Aside from that, Baccarat is easy to play: the rules are fixed and dealers follow a set of instructions. Attempting to predict the outcome of a game of baccarat by using pattern recognition, or any other method, is nonsense and ties in with gambler’s fallacy. If you want to have the best chances of winning, you should bet on the player or the banker – but only when you have a profit target in mind. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money.