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How to Play Baccarat

The objective of baccarat is for the players to guess correctly which of three possible propositions will win on the next round: Bank, Player, or Tie. Two cards are dealt to the Bank hand, and two cards are dealt to the Player hand. Sometimes a third card is dealt to either or both hands. Whichever hand is closest to nine is the winner. The game is usually dealt from a six- or eight-deck shoe. All 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings equal nine. The Ace equals one. All the other cards equal their face value. Thus, a 9 equals nine, a 2 equals two, and so forth.

After the Bank and Player hands have received two cards, it is possible that either or both might need to draw an extra card. The rules for drawing cards are predetermined and essentially irrelevant because the players do not get to make any decisions. Whether or not a card is drawn, at the end of the deal, the hand that totals nine or closest to nine wins.

A winning Player hand is paid off at one to one. Thus, if you bet $10, you win $10. A winning Bank hand is paid off at 0.95 to 1. This means that if you bet $10, you win $9.50. Another way to look at the Bank wager is to consider it a one-to-one payout minus a 5 percent commission on winning bets. This commission is collected after the shoe is finished. The Tie hand is paid at eight to one. Thus a winning tie bet of $10 will return $80. 1 f you bet on either Bank or Player and the Tie wins, you do not lose your bet. It is a push.

The Tie bet has a 14.1 percent edge in favor of the casino. Because intelligent players never make the tie bet, we can judge baccarat based on its two main bets in relation to each other and forget all about the Tie bet. The house has a 1.36 percent edge on the Player bet and a 1.17 percent edge on the Bank bet when the bank charges a 5 percent commission. The difference between baccarat and mini-baccarat is simple. Baccarat is played on the large table in the high-roller rooms of casinos for table minimums of $25, $50, $100, or more. The game is slow-moving and ritualistic, and the players actually get to deal the cards. Mini-baccarat, on the other hand, is played at a blackjack-style table with the house dealer dealing the cards. It is played for minimums of $5, $10, and $25 but rarely more. Mini-baccarat is an extremely fast game!

The Ten-Minutes-or-Less Baccarat Strategy

If you can afford it and it is available, always play the traditional game of baccarat in the high-roller room. Because of its slow speed, the small casino edges are manageable.
Always bet Bank.
Try to bet $25 or $75, and ask the casino if you can pay the commission on winning Bank bets as you go. Often, casinos will not take the full commission out of $25 and $75 winning Bank bets because this entails giving out quarters. (Five percent of $25 is $1.25, so the casino drops the 25 cents and pays you $24 instead of $23.75. Five percent of $75 is $3.75, so the casino drops the 75 cents and pays you $72.) By not paying the full commission on winning Bank bets, you get to reduce the casino edge to almost 0.5 percent on the Bank.
If you must play mini-baccarat, try to reduce the number of decisions by sitting out at least half of the rounds. You can do this by playing a "trending" system where you'll only bet Bank after a Bank win or after two Player losses, etc. As with any "trend" system, the house edge is not affected, but the total number of decisions is reduced, thereby reducing your exposure to the house edge over time.
Never bet Tie.

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