Baccarat for Dummies

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Baccarat
is the most glamorous, if not mysterious, game in the casino. The playing tables
are usually roped off, and the croupiers staffing them are typically dressed in
tuxedos. Three croupiers service the game. The one in charge is the callman, who
handles the cards, decides the draw and announces the winning hand. The other
two, who remain seated throughout the game, pay off winning bets and collect
losing bets.

Although
it all looks exotic, playing is surprisingly easy.

The
object of the game is simple. Baccarat is played with multiple decks of standard
playing cards. Two hands composed of two cards each are dealt ”” one for the
“player” and one for the “bank.” Players can bet on either
hand. The winning hand is determined by the point totals of the respective
hands. All 10s and face cards are valued at 0. The rest of the cards retain
their face value (the ace counts as one).

If
the two-card total exceeds 10 points, you simply count the last digit of the
number as your score. For instance, if a hand contains a 6 and 8 for a total of
14, the hand is valued at 4. The winning hand, either the “bank” or
“player,” will have a higher
total value
than the other.

The
rules determining whether additional cards are drawn are complicated, but it is
not necessary for the player to memorize them. The croupier will decide if and
when a draw is necessary; the player is never required to make that decision.
They are included here so you will understand the reasons behind the croupier’s
action.

1. If
either hand has a value of 8 or 9 (these scores are called
“naturals”), no further cards are dealt. The higher of the two hands
is declared the winner. Should both hands have the same value, a tie is declared
and neither wins.

2. If
neither hand is a natural, a set of complicated rules comes into play. Again,
the croupier will make the decisions on drawing cards. Basically, the player’s
hand will take a third card if its value is from 0 to 5. It must stand on 6 or
7. The bank’s hand must draw if its value is from zero to 2. When the bank has
a value of 3 or more, draw is determined by the printed rules.

3. A
bet on the player’s hand pays even money. But, because the bank hand has a
slightly higher percentage of winning (50.7 percent), winning bets on the bank
hand are subject to a 5 percent commission paid to the casino. (In practice, the
bank bets are paid at even money, and the accumulated commissions are paid to
the house at the end of the deal or when the player leaves the table.)

4.
Players can also bet that the hands will end in a tie. This bet pays at odds of
8-1, but it is a poor bet because the house has an advantage of nearly 15
percent.

Because
players cannot decide when to draw cards, there is no skill involved in playing
baccarat. It is purely a game of chance. However, streaks do occur, and a
winning strategy can take advantage of these cycles.

A
reliable winning strategy calls for placing bets on the bank hands. This
surprises many players because bank bets are subject to the 5 percent
commission. However, the bank should win 50.7 percent of the time. And the 5
percent commission is paid only on winnings and not on losing bets. So, a player
has a slightly better advantage by playing the bank.

As with
other table games such as blackjack and craps, flat bets will, at the very best,
even out over the long run. To be successful at baccarat, you should increase
bets after winning hands in order to take advantage of short streaks that often
occur. Conversely, losing bets should never be increased.

A sound
betting system for baccarat calls for increasing your bets after a previous win
over a cycle of five hands, according to the following schedule:

1. An
initial bet of one unit is made.

2. The
second bet is three times the original bet.

3. The
third bet is four times the original bet.

4. The
fourth bet is five times the original bet.

5. The
fifth bet is six times the original bet.

After
the fifth bet, the cycle reverts to the original bet. Although this system calls
for increasing bets in the ratio of 1-3-4-5-6, no bet beyond the second one is
ever double the previous bet. This prevents the player from being wiped out by a
losing bet.

 

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