Post-war Las Vegas nestled on the brink of a growth spurt. It was the 1950s and the city was well on its way to establishing itself as the central hub to all aspects of competitive gaming; in the shimmering heat of the Nevada desert, the city was taking stride toward the iconic symbol it is today.
As new interest peaked within the competitive gaming sector, the very nature of the burgeoning Vegas strip and its ever-increasing draw and allure demanded variety to what was on offer; pioneered ways for patrons to sample the delights of the city and what it means to pit strategy with bravado, cunning with risk, became what we now know as the tradition, the culture, the human condition, of coming together to play casino games.
Born from this pioneering tradition, baccarat (pronounced baccarah) was introduced in to established gaming facilities in 1959. Originally centuries old, the game holds massive appeal for the discerning bettor, with its simple nature and highly favourable odds, baccarat now holds a respected spot within every gaming facility.
Absent of any solid strategic course, baccarat’s appeal comes mostly from the wonderful intoxication of its ‘risk-all’ existence.
How to Play
Essentially a game for two, the object is to be the first player to get to (or close to) a numeric value of nine; closer than that of the banker.
A player is dealt two cards and perhaps a third, depending on the result of the first two. Jacks, Kings, Queens and 10s value 0. All other cards are worth their displayed values, and an ace is worth 1. Any value over 9 is seen as the value minus 10. For example, if the player is dealt a 6 and a 5, the value is 11 minus 10 – obviously, 1.
Now, any endeavour to play casino baccarat – in fact, any modern card game – carries with it the obligatory exception; the technical ‘chestnut’ which defines the game.
This is that ‘chestnut’: after being dealt the first two cards, the player is called upon to make a decision, but only if the cards are not a 9 or an 8, in which case no more cards are dealt and the player immediately wins (this being a ‘natural’ and the objective of the game).
Similarly, if the player receives a total of 6 or 7, they must stand. If, however, the player’s total is less than 5, a hit must be taken and the player is dealt a third card. This then prompts the banker to draw a third card, in turn, and from these values, whoever ultimately ends closest to 9, wins the game.
The only other technical ‘chestnut’ comes in the form of a player/banker tie. This simply means that if, after all the cards have been dealt, the values of the player and banker sets equal each other, the result is a tie and the pay-out is split between the bettor and the house.
To Play Casino baccarat means to indulge in the past-time of the high-roller elite. A game of innocent simplicity with an undeniably primal appeal, baccarat’s presence through the ages, from its birth in the fledgling dustbowl of fifties Las Vegas, to the innumerable platforms on which it is available today, confirms it as a classy, all-or-nothing masterpiece of a game, and a deserved staple to gaming stages worldwide.
By Pete J
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