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How to play baccarat

Baccarat is played with either six or eight complete decks of cards.

All cards, ace through nine, are valued according to their count. Tens and face cards count as zero. When any two cards total over a 10 count, 10 must be subtracted and the remaining total is the card count. So for instance, a 7 and 6 combined count as 3 (7 + 6 – 10 = 3).

The highest total any baccarat hand can have is nine. A two-card total of nine is called a natural and is unbeatable. An eight is the second best hand and is also known as a natural.

The cards are shuffled by the dealer and then reshuffled and placed in a covered box called the shoe.

As part of the formality, each player gets a turn to handle the shoe, and the caller explains exactly what to do. The player is expected to bet against the bank when holding the shoe, but any player may decline this role and pass it to the next player. The caller receives the cards from the player with the shoe, places them in the appropriate boxes and then calls for another card or declares the winner.

If both player and bank are dealt identical hands, it is a tie and neither bank nor player wins.

If neither hand has a natural, the player's hand is played first, followed by the dealer. If the first two cards total six or seven, no further cards can be drawn. If they total five or less, another card is drawn. No more than three cards may be drawn for either hand, and when both hands have been played, the hand closest to nine wins.

Players bet by placing chips with either the player, bank, or tie spot in the numbered box opposite where they sit.

Winning bets made on the player or bank are paid off at even money. The only other bet that can be made is a tie bet, which is paid off at 8:1.

In most games, bets range from a £20 minimum to £2,000 maximum, though games with a £20,000 maximum are not uncommon and it is even possible to find no-limits baccarat. The type of wager and the amount are the only decisions a player must make, after which point the dealer takes over.

After the winner is decided, the two other dealers pay off the winning bets and collect from the losers. If players bet on the bank and it was the winner, winning players must pay a 5% commission on their winnings. A record of the commission owed by each player is kept in a numbered box. Players can pay this fee at any time, but it must be paid when the shoe is completed. Each time the shoe is out of cards, decks are shuffled and replaced in the shoe.

The house edge in baccarat is the lowest of any casino game. With a 5% commission on winning bank bets and nothing taken from winning player bets, the player's disadvantage is only 1.37%. The payoff for ties is 8:1, but it is a bad bet as the house edge is increased to 14.1%.

01 June 2013

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