Baccarat is an easy game to play. The rules determine all aspects of play – there is no choice, no strategy and no subtlety. Indeed if not for the stakes involved the game would not attract much of a following. The stakes can be enormous and it is not unusual for thousands of dollars to be wagered on one hand.
As many people are familiar with the game of Blackjack some comparisons between the two games can be made:
1. Like Blackjack the object of the game is to get closer to a value than the dealer (banker). In Blackjack the target number is twenty-one, while in Baccarat the target number is nine.
2. Unlike Blackjack players cannot bust (go over the target value). The game is played modulo 10, that is to say if your hand exceeds 10 then 10 is subtracted from the total to come up with a value between 0 and 9.
Only one player at a time is dealt cards, but any player at the table can bet on the player or the banker to win or for a tie. Wagers are made by placing chips in the appropriate place on the Baccarat table.
To start both the player and the banker receive two cards dealt face down. The player goes first, if they have a natural (8 or 9) the cards are turned up immediately, and the player wins unless the dealer also has an 8 or 9. If both the dealer and the player have the same value a tie is declared and the bets are returned to their owners. If the player doesn’t have a natural then the following rules apply.
Player’s Hand – Required Action
0,1,2,3,4 – Draw a card (face up)
5 – Can take a card if they want to
6,7 – Stay
After the player is done with his hand the banker turns over his cards and follows the rules for the banker. The banker’s options involve not only his/her cards but also the value of the drawn face up card (if any) dealt to the player. The banker has different options and required actions depending on the cards that are dealt.
Banker’s Hand – Player’s Draw – Banker’s Required Action
0,1,2 – Anything – Draw a card
3 – 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7- Draw a card
8 – Stay
9 – Optional
4 – 2,3,4,5,6,7 – Draw a card / 0,1,8,9- Stay
5 – 5,6,7 – Draw a card / 0,1,2,3,8,9 – Stay
4 – Optional
6 – 6,7 – Draw a card / 0,1,2,3,4,5,8,9 – Stay
7 – Anything -Stay
After both the player and the banker are satisfied with their hands, a comparison is made and the one with the closest to 9 wins.