Baccarat Rules

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Baccarat is played by a strict set of rules, which often seem confusing to newcomers. At least some of the misunderstanding surrounding the game stems from the many variations that are played, such as Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer and Mini-Baccarat. However, all of the versions possess similarities, and once they are learned, any form of Baccarat becomes easy to play.

For betting, no game is much simpler than Baccarat. Only three types of wagers exist: bet on the Player hand, bet on the Banker hand or bet on the two hands to Tie. The only exception is a “side bet” sometimes available, like the “Dragon Bonus.” It wins if the chosen hand, Banker or Player, is a “natural” or succeeds by a margin of four points or more.

Wagering limits, both minimum and maximum, are set by the House for each Baccarat table. To make a bet, chips are placed directly on the table in the areas in front of each participant marked Banker, Player or Tie.

Winning bets on the Player hand pay “even money” or 1-to-1. Successful wagers on the Banker hand also pay even money, but a small commission, usually 5%, is deducted from the payout by the House as a commission. If the two hands tie, neither Banker nor Player bets win. Instead, any bets made on the “Tie” pay out at 8-to-1 or 9-to-1, depending upon the House Rules.

It is most common for eight decks of 52 cards to be used in Baccarat games played today. Every card has its own designated point value. Each Ace counts as one point, the cards 2 through 9 count at face value, and the faces cards (King, Queen and Jack) each count as zero, as does the 10.

The value of a hand is the total of the card points it contains. For example, a hand containing K-3-4 is valued at seven points and one made up of 2-A-3 is valued at six points. Whenever the total is ten or higher, the digit in the tens column is ignored in a process called “Modelo 10.” For instance, a Baccarat hand containing 6-7-Q is valued at three points, not thirteen. Similarly, a hand made up of 3-8-6 is worth seven points, not seventeen.

When a new shoe of cards is put into play, the Dealer turns over one card and then “burns” (discards) a number of cards equal to the first card’s Baccarat value. For example, three cards would be burned for a 3 or six cards for a 6. However, if the first card is a 10 or a face card, ten cards are burned, not zero.

After the burn, the Dealer inserts a “cut card” into the decks of the shoe, no fewer than sixteen cards from the last card in the shoe. During play, when the cut card appears, the current hand is played out as the last hand of the shoe and a new shuffle follows.

Prior to each deal of the cards, wagers must be made. Each round of play is referred to as a “coup.” A new coup begins with four cards dealt—two each for the Banker and Player hands. A strict set of rules determines when the Player or Banker may “draw” and take a third card to improve the hand’s value.

Perhaps the easiest rule to remember—and the most important—is that if either of the two hands has a “natural” value of 8 or 9 on the first two cards, then both hands must stand; no more cards can be drawn. The winner is the higher valued of the two hands.

When there are no naturals, the Player hand is always the first to have the opportunity to draw, but again strict rules apply. For a Player hand valued at four points or fewer, a third card must be drawn. If the Player hand contains six or seven points, no draw is permitted. If the Player hand is valued at exactly five points, House Rules typically require a card to be drawn, although some allow a choice of whether to draw or not.

After the Player hand is complete, the Banker hand gets an opportunity to draw, once more following strict rules. On a total value of two points or fewer, the Banker hand must draw a card, no matter what total shows in the Player hand. In the same way, whenever the Banker hand is valued at seven points, no draw is permitted under any circumstances.

When the Banker hand is valued at three through six points, the draw depends on the Player’s total. With exactly six points, the Banker draws facing the Player’s total of six or seven and must stand otherwise. With exactly five points, the Banker draws against the Player’s five through seven. With exactly four points, a draw is necessary against the Player’s total of three through seven points. And with three points, the Banker always draws, unless the Player holds a total of eight—in that special case, the Banker is required to stand.

At the end of each coup, the cards dealt out for the hand are gathered as “discards” in a collecting area at the center of the table. In some casinos, the cards for Baccarat are used just once and destroyed after play.

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