While blackjack and poker are usually the first thing that comes to mind when we think of card games played in a casino. However, over recent years a new card game has been gaining traction: baccarat.
The game itself is not new, thought by some historians to have been played as far back as the 1400s, but its popularity as a casino card game is rising every year. Its particular rules and odds make it slightly different from more traditional casino card games. Let’s take a look at the history of baccarat, how it's played, and what sets it apart from the pack. Keep reading to find out more.
The History of Baccarat
Like many card games, baccarat is incredibly old. Thought to have been invented in 15th century Italy by a man called Felix Falguire, it takes its name from the Italian word ‘baccara’ which means zero. According to legend, baccarat is based on an Etruscan myth that told the tale of a young virgin whose ultimate fate was to be decided by the outcome of a nine-sided die. If she rolled an eight or a nine, she would become a high priestess. A six or seven and her life would be spared but she would have to live as an outcast. Anything lower than a six and she would be thrown into the sea to her death.
After its invention in Italy, the game moved over the Alps to France, where it caught the attention of the aristocracy and soon became known as a sophisticated pastime for nobility. From there, it spread across the world, from South America to East Asia, and soon became immensely popular.
The Rules of Baccarat
The rules of baccarat are relatively simple to understand and follow, which is one the reasons it has enjoyed such popularity at casinos.
The game is made up of two hands, the player and the bank. Each of these hands is dealt two cards, with the objective of the game to correctly bet on which hand will be closer to a total of nine, or whether it will be a tie.
The way cards are calculated in baccarat differs slightly from other card games. All tens and face cards have a value of zero and aces are worth one.
If a hand scores higher than nine, the final total for that hand is calculated by subtracting 10 from the value of the hand. Some outcomes can result in a third card being drawn for the player hand, such as the total being between zero to five or 10. However, this will depend on the particular house rules, whether you’re playing in person at a traditional stone foot casino or playing baccarat at an online casino.
For the banker's hand, a third card can be drawn depending on a range of various factors. If the player stands and the banker’s hand is between zero and five, the dealer will draw. If the player has drawn, the value of the third card they receive will dictate whether the banker will stand or draw on various hands. Again, these rules are all subject to change depending on where it is you’re playing.
The Odds of Baccarat
Baccarat is a straightforward game, with only a couple of key decisions to make, how much to bet, and which hand to bet on. When compared to other games like blackjack where you’re asked to make high-pressure decisions that can significantly alter the outcome of the game, baccarat seems like a much less stressful option.
Winning player bets pay out at 1:1, even money, while winning banker bets pay out at slightly under even, usually around 95%. A winning tie bet will pay out at odds of 8:1.
However, it’s not just for the easy-to-understand rules that baccarat is popular for, it offers improved odds and chances of winning for players when compared to other casino card games. In a typical baccarat game, the house edge ranges from 1.01% to 1.24%, this is considerably less than a game like blackjack, where the house edge can reach as high as 4%.
To counter this, some casinos will stipulate much higher minimum bets for baccarat tables than for blackjack tables. Don’t let this put you off, though, baccarat still offers excellent opportunities for high returns.
When choosing a card game to wager on, it can be easy to opt for the more well-known choices such as blackjack or poker. However, baccarat is a viable alternative that has stood the test of time. While it has been around for centuries, it is only in recent years that it is starting to achieve mainstream popularity, as more and more people are becoming aware of the unique opportunities to offer. Simple, straightforward rules and generous odds make baccarat a perfect choice for both old and new players alike.