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The origins of Baccarat are in France. To date, it has been a very popular card game in the European casinos, but has now recently been surpassed in popularity by chemin de fer. In Baccarat, the banker plays against the hands he deals to two other players called punters. The players' hand whose point total has the number closest to 9 as its last digit wins. Face cards and tens count as nothing. Two cards are dealt out to each hand, while the player is able to draw one card. The term baccarat implies the meaning “nothing” and is applied to hands whose point total results in a zero.

Although Baccarat’s roots began to grow in Italy in the Middle Ages, its origin is considered France, where the game was first played with a tarot deck. Initially played by the French aristocrats, Baccarat made its way around Europe and eventually made a name for itself in America. In the beginning, the Baccarat played in America was transposed into a high roller version in Nevada casinos. When the big owners of these casinos realized Baccarat’s potential to be a popular game for the general population, they created a similar game called “Mini Baccarat.”

The Baccarat Table

Seating is spread out around the entire table. There are 14 open seats, numbered 1 through 15, skipping the number 13 (to avoid bad luck). Three dealers attend to the table at the same time. There is a dealer who stands in the middle called the “croupier” or the “caller.” The croupier is responsible for not only announcing the cards as they’re dealt, but also guiding the players on the general processes of the game. The job of the other two dealers standing at his sides is to make sure the winners get their money. On the table itself there are seven large, yellow numbered positions on either side, each with three betting areas. For tie bets, there is a central area above both the Banker and Player bets, which are spelled out across the row of betting areas corresponding to the possible choices at the start of the game. The Mini Baccarat table is designed as one end of the full table, with dealer features located at the top.

Variations

  • AMERICAN BACCARAT - In this game, it doesn’t matter how many players are at the table because only two hands are dealt – There is a “banker” hand and a “player” hand. Like any other Baccarat game, the goal is to receive a score closest to 9 but not over. Players can bet on one of the two hands or a tie before any hands are dealt. Six or eight decks of cards are shuffled by the dealer and placed in the “shoe” box. The shoe is passed around the table, alternating between Player and Banker. The house dealer deals four cards face-down, two to each type of hand, and whoever bet the most money on the Player hand gets to look at this hand first. The person holding the shoe is temporarily considered the Banker hand (this doesn’t mean he must bet on the Banker hand). However, it is not mandatory that everyone takes a turn at dealing – Anyone who is uncomfortable with this position may pass the shoe on to the next person. In the end, everyone at the table has 2-3 cards. The dealer oversees the hand totals and declares the winning hand. The winning hand is considered the cards with the closest total to or directly on 9. In the case of a tie, any bets made on Banker or Player must be given in.

  • EUROPEAN BACCARAT - The European version is actually very similar to the American version, except in two respects: The banker, who is under the supervision of the dealer, has the option of drawing a 3rd card and the players have the opportunity to either stand or draw on 5. The banker hand is backed up by the casino. This means that there is a set price that the players can bet up to; if the first two players bet up to this amount, for example, then the players after them are not allowed to bet any more money. There is a special term used in European Baccarat, called “Banco.” When a player calls out this word it means that he wants to cover the entire bet. If this happens, no one else is allowed to bet on this specific round.
  • CHEMIN DE FER - While very popular in France, Chemin de fer is a little hard to find in other European casinos. The basic rules of the game are similar to the American version, but there are some differences: First of all, the casino does not play the role of banker. Furthermore, a player can not just bet on Player or Banker (referred to as “Punto” or “Banco” in Europe) because he must actually be one or the other. The players are able to bet amongst themselves before and then the bank swivels from player to player. Like the American game, the position of Banker can be refused and the Shoe will be moved to the next player accordingly. While in American Baccarat the player bets against the House and the casino supplies the money, in Chemin de fer the casino is not directly concerned with wagers. At the same time, there is still a dealer, or “Croupier,” who looks after the game, making sure the rules are followed appropriately. The casino also takes a rake on all winning hands, usually nothing more than a 5% commission.
  • BACCARAT EN BANQUE - This variation is not especially popular but it can still be found in some European casinos today. In most Baccarat versions, the player who wagered the most money becomes the banker; or the role of banker goes from player to player in a counterclockwise circle. In Baccarat en Banque, the house takes on the responsibility of banker, who is usually one of the casino workers. Because of this, it is possible for the players to make larger bets.

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