Baccarat used to be a game for millionaires. In the casinos, it was played in special roped-off or secluded rooms and you usually didn't walk in until you had at least $100,000 to pony up. Eventually, mini-baccarat came to the scene. It's the same game, but without all the ceremonious moves. The game is conducted on a Blackjack-style table with one dealer and a shoe. The shoe holds multiple decks of cards. The game itself is incredibly easy to play, which is surprising considering how low the house advantage is. In fact, playing Baccarat is one of the best casino plays around. In a nutshell, the game consists of two hands-Banker and Player. Each hand is dealt two cards. Depending on the value, each hand may take one additional card. The hand then ends and a winner is declared. Face cards are worth 0 (or 10 if you rather) and the object is to get as close to 9 as possible. So, a hand of a King and a 4 has a value of four. A hand of a 9 and 4 has the value of three, because ten equals zero and the count restarts. When you first walk up to a table, you'll notice that there are three betting areas. There's the Player wager spot, the Bank wager spot and the Tie wager spot. For each hand you play, you'll need to select something to wager on. There are three possible outcomes to each hand. If it's not a tie, which is rare, the Bank or the Player wins. It's important to note that the Bank has a slight edge-since it goes last in the playing sequence. Because of this, there's a 5% vig to pay for each winning wager you place on the Bank. If you love holding the cards and getting into the game, Baccarat isn't for you-unless you can play the high-roller version. In the mini-Baccarat version, the dealer performs all the action. You just place your wagers as desired.
When you win with the Bank or Player, you'll be paid even money. Ties are paid 9 for 1, which is the same as a saying they pay 8 to 1. The vig from bank wins can be paid at anytime. Usually, you'll want to pay it whenever it equals your normal betting unit. For instance, let's say you're betting $5 units. Each Bank win will cost you 25 cents. It would be more convenient to let it accumulate until it hits $5. If you're playing in the real world, there should be a hand tracker sheet and a writing instrument at the table. Most Baccarat players track the hands to look for trends, which is part of the strategy we'll go into in another article. Online players can just use whatever they have around the house-unless the online casino tracks hands for you. That's all there is to this simple game. In another article, we'll talk about the hands and the rules that determines if the Player and Bank stand or take a card.