Among gambling games, baccarat has never enjoyed much fanfare compared to more popular casino staples such as blackjack and poker. And it’s quite a shame though, since baccarat is one of the games with the lowest house edge there is! If you’re a careful player, it’s easy to make a lot of cash just by playing baccarat alone.
Its history shows us why this very profitable game is often overlooked even by the most seasoned of casino-goers.
Long before baccarat became a mainstay in Western casinos, the game has already been played in the East. It’s popular especially in the gambling city of Macau.
Once upon a time, baccarat was solely offered to please the tastes of a casino’s millionaire patrons. The game was easy to play (there’s no strategy and hard thinking involved like in poker) and one can either win or lose a large amount of money just by playing a few rounds.
This is why the image of baccarat that most of us are familiar with is the one that is played on large tables with at least 14 high-rolling players and three dealers going at it at the same time. Called as Big Table baccarat, this type of baccarat involves high stakes and lots of long playing rituals (e.g. rotating the deal around the table, having the players handle the cards) that only high rollers will appreciate.
Baccarat only took off when casinos started offering “mini-baccarat” which has the same mechanics as the big table baccarat game. The only difference here is that the initial starting bet is much lower (thereby allowing the average casino-goer to join in) and the unneccessary rituals are discarded with. There is only one dealer who handles the cards, and who gives out the winnings of the players. The table is also smaller with significantly less players than the 14-player table big table standard. This makes the game considerably faster.
Despite its intimidating look, baccarat is deceptively simple. You have to bet on either the player or banker hand; you can also bet on a tie (which comes with a larger payout if won). One hand’s value must be larger than the other. Tens and face cards get 0 points, while cards from 2-9 get pip value. If the hand’s value goes over ten the rightmost digit is its value (e.g. a hand with a 9 and 6 has a value of 5, since 15’s rightmost digit is a 5).
It’s easy to see why people would want to bet on a tie: the pay-off is at a high 8-1. Though it may seem tempting, never bet on a tie! Ties rarely happen, and you’re better off just betting on the banker.
Start with small bets first. Only bet large amounts when you are completely confident with the game.
Look for games where the house commission is lower. The standard house commission lies at 5%, but some games can go as low as 4% to 2.75%.