Baccarat is a card game that is often associated with high stakes. It is played in a special area in many casinos, usually blocked off from the main gaming area. While the rules are a bit different depending on whether you play the “punto banco” or the “chemin de fer” version, the concept is the same: Bet on a hand (Player or Banker) that has the highest value when all cards have been dealt. Nine is the best possible hand, and one that cannot lose – which is why you’ll find James Bond betting on it so often.
In baccarat, the dealer and the players sit around a table, with an area to place Player and Banker bets. Players can bet on a tie as well, but winning this bet is difficult. If you win, the money you bet is given to a third party – the croupier or banker. In the US, Baccarat is often played with real cash – $100 bills spread across a table. In Europe, high-denomination chips are used. Baccarat is also available to play online, and many online casinos offer a free baccarat game for players to try out the rules and strategies without risking their own money.
The banker deals two cards for himself and the players, then reveals them to determine the winner of the round. If either of the two hands has a total of 8 or 9, this is called a baccarat natural and wins immediately. If the cards do not add up to eight or nine, then the cards are compared to see if there is a higher value hand. If the banker and the players have hands of equal value, then a third card may be drawn to determine a winner.
Unlike other casino games, in baccarat only the rightmost digit of the total counts when calculating the hand’s value. Picture or face cards are worth zero points, numbered cards have their value, and the ace is worth one point. Once the total reaches a double digit, the first digit is dropped.
Baccarat can be a tricky game to play, especially if you’re not familiar with the rules. For example, the maximum total for a player’s hand is nine, but if the cards include a seven and a six, the total will be 13 and the first number must be dropped. Similarly, the total for the banker’s hand must be exactly nine if it is to win.
Baccarat is also sometimes rigged to favor the house. This is known as edge sorting, and it became a big issue in 2012 when Phil Ivey won $10 million from two Atlantic City casinos using this strategy. While edge sorting is not illegal, it’s important to understand how it works before you play the game for real money.