Baccarat is based on the simple premise of assembling a hand of two or three cards with a point value as close as possible to nine. Although baccarat may seem intimidating to those unfamiliar with the rules, it is, in fact, one of the easiest games to play. There is only one decision you have to make for each hand, the dealers handle the rest, playing out the hands according to strict, predetermined rules. Baccarat is also seen as a glamorous game, often played in a roped off room in many casinos.
The perfect hand consists of two cards that total nine, with the second-best hand being two cards that have a total point value of eight. These are the two “natural” hands in the game of Baccarat. If any player in the current game has a two card hand equaling a natural eight or nine then the other players may not draw a third card. The hand closest to nine always wins. When neither hand has a natural, there is no automatic winner, and additional cards are drawn to determine the outcome of the hand. The only hand that beats the natural eight is the natural nine. If there is a tie, all bests are called off.
Aces have a value of one, picture cards (Kings, Queens, Jacks) have a value of 10 and the remaining cards keep their face value. If your hand total is in double figures, then the first figure is ignored, meaning a hand totaling 18 would count as eight. Drawing two picture cards or two tens would give you a value of zero. A draw of a picture card or a ten and an eight or nine gives you the natural hands and no further cards would be drawn in this case with the natural hand being declared the winner.
The banker deals three hands of two cards each, face down. These hands are for two players, one to the right and one the left of the banker, plus his own hand. Other players at the table may bet on either hand or both to beat the banker’s hand. If a player declares “banco”, it means they are betting the total value of the bank’s funds and all other bets are withdrawn.
If either player has a count less than eight or nine, he may stand or get one more card face up. The player must stand on six or seven and must draw on four or less.
By J Finney
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