Baccarat is a common card game played in casinos in several different versions, but the true origins of this game are yet to be specified. Some sources claim that it was first played in Italy, in the 15th century and then transferred to France by soldiers returning from the Franco-Italian War. People think it had its breakthrough since the James Bond movies, regarding the fact that it was his favored game.
Agent Bond plays the game in numerous novels, most notably his 1953 debut, Casino Royale, in which the entire plot revolves around a game between Bond and SMERSH operative Le Chiffre. Dr. No is where Bond was first introduced playing the game in film and Thunderball; the 1967 version of Casino Royale, which is the most detailed treatment of a baccarat game in any Bond film. Baccarat appeared in Las Vegas in casinos as Chemin de Fer in 1958, for just the next year to have as following its other version, the Cuban Punto Banco.
Not many people are familiar with the fact that baccarat is one of the easiest game in the casino world and features one of the smallest house advantages (just over 1%). Over time, more and more casual players play baccarat online or at land-based casinos. It’s not a strange sight to see players with ordinary dressing style play next to celebrities or company executives dressed to latest fashion with their tux-s or fancy dresses. There is a difference between playing baccarat when you play online comparing to baccarat game at based casinos, the limits are lower for playing online.
Rules & Gameplay
The most popular one provided by most casinos being Punto Banco which is played at an oval table similar to the other variation, the aforementioned French Chemin de Fer, where the shoe is also passed around the table by the players who are acting as the dealers and as bankers. The players aren’t actually banking the game and the role of the banker is merely ceremonial.
The number of players may vary depending on the specific rules of different casinos. Each Punto Banco table is staffed by a croupier who also directs the gameplay. Two dealers are collecting and paying the bets as well tallying commissions due.
The basic rules are that Punto Banco is played with 4, 6 or 8 decks shuffled together by the croupiers and dealers. It can be played with up to 12 or 14 players, but even one player can play alone against the casino. There are only 3 main bets to make: 1. The Player (Punto) 2. The Banker (Banco) 3. Tie (Stand-Off). The tie is not recommended because it’s high casino advantage.
It’s important to know the card values in Baccarat. Cards from 2 to 9 are worth face value. Tens and face cards are worth zero. Aces are worth one point. Also, hand values are a bit different to other card games, but not complicated. The score of a hand is the sum of all cards, Modulo 10, which is the equivalent of the rightmost digit.
In other words, any sum that reaches 2 digits, drops the left digit. For example, a hand consisting of 6 and 7 would be 13. But by dropping the left digit the hand value is 3. A hand consisting of 2 and 4 is 6 and there is no digit to drop, so the hand value is 6. A hand consisting of 3, 7 and 10 has the sum of 20, but it’s actually worth zero points.
The word “Baccarat” is used for cards and hands worth zero points. The best possible score in the game of Baccarat is 9, also called “natural”.
Before the cards are dealt you can place your bet on either the player, the banker or tie. The payoff for player and banker bet is one to one. However, if you win a banker bet, the casino keeps a 5% commission from your bet. Because banker bets have lower casino advantage, the payoff is usually 9:1 or 8:1 depending on specific house rules. This bet has the highest casino advantage of over 14% and thus is not recommended in the long turn.
The objective of the game is that both dealer and player are dealt two cards. In some cases, an additional third card is needed to determine the outcome of the game. The hand that is closer to 9, wins, and winnings are paid on corresponding bets. The purpose of the game is to bet on a winning outcome.
The third card, if needed, is dealt according to third card rules. These rules are compulsory and therefore automatically applied by the dealers. There is no need for a player to learn them. For curious players, the third card rules are available on the internet and are easy to understand.
For example, you place a 10 dollars on the player. Cards are dealt. Banker receives a 7 and an ace for a hand value of 8. The player receives a 9 and a king, for a hand value of 9. The player's hand value is higher and wins. You get paid one to one for the bet.
Another example, you place ten dollar bet on a tie. The cards are dealt. Banker receives a 10 and an 8, for a hand value of 8. The player receives a 3 and a 5, for a hand value of 8. Both hand values are equal. The tie bet wins and gets paid 9:1, which equals 90 dollars plus the original bet is returned.
Some examples of the third card rule. If the hand player has a value from zero to five he draws a third card. If the player hand has a value of 6 or 7, he stands. If the player has a hand value of 8 or 9, that’s called a “natural” and both hands stand. After the player’s hand receives a third card, the banker's hand receives a third card according to the following rules: if the banker has a hand value from zero to two, he draws a third card.
If the banker has a hand value of three to six, he draws a third card or stands, depending on the player’s third card value. If the banker has a hand value of seven, he stands. If the banker has a hand value of eight or nine, that’s called a natural and both hands stand. There is no need to know these rules in order to play.
Here are some examples of third card rules applied. A ten dollar bet is placed on the player. Cards are dealt. Banker receives a 10 and a 4 for a hand value of 4. Player receives a 5 and a 2 for a hand value of 7. Player stands because of his hand value. A third card is dealt automatically to the banker because of his hand value. Banker receives a 3 for a total hand value of 7. It’s a tie. Bets on a player or banker are lost.
Next example. A hundred dollar bet is placed on the banker. Cards are dealt. Banker receives a queen and a 3 for a hand value of 3. Player receives a 4 and a 10 for a hand value of 4. Player automatically draws a third card because his hand value is between 0 and 5. Player receives an ace for a total hand value of 5. Now according to specific complex third card rules, banker draws a card and receives a 3.
Total hand value is 6. Banker’s hand wins. You get paid one to one, with the casino keeping a 5% commission (?) on the bankers bet, so the winning amount is 95 dollars with the original 100 dollars. The value of a single bet starts relatively high at a minimum of around 25 dollars and goes up to 500. The common maximum is somewhere at 10 000 dollars.
The player who has the highest bet on the "Punto" hand is given the "Punto" cards, though he or she simply turns the cards over, announcing their total. The croupier instructs the "banker" when to deal third cards, and then announces the winning hand.
There are a few fun facts and some interesting trivia about Baccarat that you may not be aware of. For example that it was supposedly invented by Italian gambler Felix Falguiere during the middle-ages who originally played the game with Tarot Cards. There are Three accepted variations of the game exist namely: Chemin de Fer (Railway), Baccarat Banque (or a Deux Tableaux), and Punto Banco (or North American Baccarat).
The game of Chemin de Fer was first played in the United States at the racetrack at Saratoga and the Palm Beach resort in 1911. The first introduction of baccarat in Vegas was at the Sands in 1959, who lost $250,000 on the tables that night. Some interesting trivia about this game is that more than 70% of high rollers visiting Baccarat tables in Las Vegas gaming are Asian, mostly employed as industrialists or bankers.
Regarding film industry, as mentioned in the beginning of the text the main plot of 007's Casino Royale is centered around the Baccarat Table, and as a funny moment in Rush Hour 3, Chris Tucker's character mistakes Baccarat in a Paris Casino for Blackjack.