While many people might first think of games like Poker and Blackjack as favorite casino amusements, folks should also be looking at the venerable Baccarat. Long a favorite of European nobility, this is an exciting thrill ride which livens up many a gaming table from Las Vegas to Macau.
If you already know Blackjack, you can get your first hint that Baccarat is full of intrigue and suspense. But unlike its card game cousins, there’s really no strategy here. It’s all pure chance, just like Sic Bo or Roulette. That’s what makes the game so pulse-pounding and sometimes kind of scary!
If you hear a lot of gasps from some corner of the casino, don’t be surprised if it’s coming from the Baccarat table!
A Fascinating History
Baccarat traces its origins to 15th century Italy. Its inventor was named Felix Falguiere. Supposedly, he chose the name “baccara,” which was an Italian word for “zero,” because all the tens and picture cards are worth zero as per the rules of the game (more on that later).
Later on, the game would become wildly popular among the French nobility. There it would come to be known as “Chemin de Fer.” Figures like Napoleon and King Charles VIII were avid fans. Noblemen promoted high-stake games, making it all the rage among the French aristocracy for hundreds of years. This influence eventually changed the name “baccara” to “Baccarat” as it was a more French spelling.
Eventually, its popularity spread across Europe. Nineteenth-century British royalty was among Baccarat’s most avid players. In many ways, it became a status symbol for the rich and powerful, indulging in bank-breaking tournaments just for bragging rights. American gamblers took it on in the 20th century, and now it’s a mainstay in casinos worldwide.
Playing the Game
Baccarat starts with eight standard 52-card decks. The dealer shuffles them all together and deals them from a “shoe” — the word for the dealer’s box. There are 12 seats in total, so the table itself is pretty big. The numbers 1 to 12 are clearly marked on the table, representing each of the players. This is where the participants keep their betting chips.
Players bet on who will win a hand — the banker or the player — or if there will be a tie. The bets are placed. A total of four cards are dealt on the table. First, the dealer slides out a card and puts it in each of the players’ boxes. The next card is placed in the Banker box. The dealer repeats this until each box has two cards. Now you’re set to play!
Baccarat Game Rules
Baccarat has some very strange rules, so pay close attention! The object of the game is to get to as close to a value of nine as you can without going over. Aces are worth one point, non-face cards are worth their respective values (i.e., the 2 card = 2 points, 3 card = 3 points, etc.), and the 10 and all face cards are worth zero. You heard that right!
When everybody’s hands are dealt, you flip the cards over. Remember, No total is higher than nine. If you get a score higher than nine, you have to subtract 10 from your score. For example, a 7 and an 8 = 15. But you lose ten points in Baccarat, meaning your true score is five. An Ace and a 6 would equal five. That’s because if you don’t pass nine, you don’t need to subtract the ten.
If you draw a score of 9, you have hit the winning hand called a “natural,” and you can’t get more cards. If neither the players nor the banker has a total of nine, you get more cards. The dealer draws them for you according to what the rules say about the circumstances of the hand. It gets complex as many different scenarios call for varying actions. But each casino has a rule book you can consult so you know what’s being dealt is the standard.
If you need to go to the third card, the final score determines who has won the hand. Then the banker collects the losses and pays out the winnings. These are all decided not only on whether you won or lose but also where you placed your winners, losers, and tie bets.
Baccarat Fun Facts
Some folks believe that the original Italian game of baccara was based on an old Etruscan legend. As the story goes, a virgin was forced to throw a nine-sided die to decide her fate. She had a chance to become a priestess or be drowned, depending on the outcome.
There was also a similar game played in ancient Rome, apparently — again, with nine-sided dice. The kicker is that winners would get eight or nine prizes. That’s why some believe that the best numbers in Baccarat are 8 and 9.
Incredibly famous people have been involved with Baccarat, both real and fictional. For example, the Prince of Wales was once compelled to testify in a slander case that occurred over a Baccarat game. And none other than the British super spy himself, James Bond, made the game ultra-famous in the Ian Fleming novel “Casino Royale,” which now has two film versions!
And by the way — it’s pronounced “Bach-ah-rah” and not “back-a-rat” as many people often believe! Like we told you, it’s totally a French thing!
Ready to Play?
As you can see, Baccarat is not that hard to learn and is a whole lot of fun to play! Bets can get super crazy, and the action will come at you hard and fast! And if you start feeling elegant, we don’t blame you. After all, it is a game for spies and kings!
Players who prefer to engage in deeply strategic games will find themselves at the Blackjack or Texas Holdem Poker tables. This is a game where you give yourself over to Lady Luck and see just how nice she treats you!
But don’t let the element of chance throw you. The whole point of this game is to drop the pretense and try to tap into an intuition that lies beyond strategy.
Baccarat at RW NYC
Visitors of Resorts World New York City are welcome to enjoy a game of baccarat (and more) in its electronic version. Same level of excitement guaranteed!