Baccarat, a game that once flourished in the gambling salons of Italy and France, has gained a new life as the number one casino game worldwide. It’s a favorite among Asian high rollers, and it’s becoming increasingly popular in casinos around the world. In fact, according to Bill Zender—who literally wrote the book on managing casino games—baccarat has become more profitable than most other table games in recent years. The game is even being offered at more American casinos.
The basics of baccarat are simple. Players wager on whether a Player hand, Banker hand, or a Tie will win. Two cards are dealt to each hand, and the winner is the hand that comes closest to nine when all of the pips—the dots on the card representing clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds—are added up. Face cards are worth zero, and aces count as one.
Whether you play the ‘punto banco’ or the ‘chemin de fer’ version of the game, the aim is to beat the dealer by betting on the hand that ends up with the highest total after the cards are dealt. The rules vary slightly depending on which variation of the game you’re playing, but bets placed before the cards are dealt are what determine your odds of winning.
Once the bets are placed, the Player and Banker receive two cards each. Depending on the outcome of the first round, a third card may be drawn to either or both hands. If the Player’s or Banker’s total is 6 or 7, it’s known as a ‘natural,’ and no third card is drawn. If the total is 0 or 5, however, a third card must be drawn.
While the game has a reputation for being difficult to master, there are actually a few straightforward strategies that can help you increase your chances of winning at baccarat. For starters, you should always bet on the Banker. The payout for this bet is usually around 8.5:1 and the house edge is significantly lower than that of other bets on the game.
In addition, it’s also a good idea to avoid the Tie bet. While this bet pays out 8:1, it’s a risky bet with a low probability of winning and you’ll likely end up losing more money than you won.
If you want to maximize your winnings at baccarat, then consider using the Martingale betting system. While the system has its downsides, such as the fact that it’s not compatible with some online casinos, it does have the advantage of increasing your winnings at an even rate. Just remember to check the rules of your casino before you try this strategy, as some casinos prohibit it.