History of Baccarat
Baccarat is one of the oldest casino games dating back to the 15th century when it was brought from Italy to France. The name of the game comes from the Italian word “baccarat”, which, translated into English means “zero”. There is a pretty good explanation for the name, though. In Baccarat, all tens, jacks, kings and queens have a zero value. The same applies to any hand that totals zero. For instance, a hand of seven and three makes zero and therefore baccarat (zero).
However thought, there are some arguments about the origin of the game because the French word “Baccarat” also means zero. According to the most popular version for the origin of Baccarat, it was invented by Felix Falguiere, an avid gambler from Italy.
Although the first records for the game date back to 1400s, it was not until the 19th century when Baccarat started gaining popularity in Europe. Before that, it was mainly popular among the French royalty.
Baccarat became a commonly played game in Europe in the 19th century and there was a preferred variation in every country. Yet, the interest for the Chemin de Fer variation prevailed in Europe, among them, the Punto Banco was the most frequently played variation in the UK. Actually it was namely the English variation that became popular in the US as American Baccarat.
How to play Baccarat
Baccarat is actually a fairly simple game that is also popular for the extremely low house edge as compared to some other table games.
The basic Baccarat rules require the player to get closest possible to 9 with two or three dealt cards. Each cards have a point value: –
- Cards two through nine are worth face value (in points),
- Tens, jacks, queens and kings have no point value (i.e. are worth zero),
- Aces are worth 1 point, and
- jokers are not used
Hands are valued according to the rightmost digit of the sum of their constituent cards. For example, a hand consisting of 2 and 3 is worth 5, but a hand consisting of 6 and 7 is worth 3 (i.e., the 3 being the rightmost digit in the summed up points total of 13). This make the highest possible hand value in baccarat nine.
If the total of the two cards is less than 7, the player has the right to request a third card. However, if the total is eight or nine, the higher number wins. The dealer can do the same. When the third cards are turned face up, the winner is determined.
As time passed by, a lot of Baccarat versions emerged, and quite a few of them remained popular throughout the years. Some of the most commonly played Baccarat versions include Punto Banco, Baccarat Banquet and Chemin de Fer. All Baccarat variations basically have the same rules, but set apart by the way how the cards are dealt between one and another.
This is a mini version of the game, as the name indicates. It is played round a table and accommodates only seven players instead of eight. Mini baccarat is played with only one croupier/ dealer and he acts as both the dealer and the banker. The most attractive feature about mini baccarat is its low bet rates. This is the reason why a majority of small time gamblers prefer this game. Unlike the other versions of the game, the mini baccarat table is not roped off in the casinos. It is played in the open like other casino games.
The picture below illustrates the most common type of table layout for Mini Baccarat and the players will place their bet on their desire winner, either the Player card will win, the banker will win or there will be a tie between the 2 sets of cards. After all players had placed their bet, the dealer will reveal the cards for both parties to determine the winner. This is also one of the most common type of layout used by Online Casino.
Chemin de Fer
Chemin de Fer is the French version of the game. The game is played using six decks of cards instead of seven. The croupier only shuffles the cards and the cards are distributed by the player who take turn to be the banker. This variation of the game involves more active participation of the players. The game cards are distributed face down, instead of face up. The decision to draw the third card rests with the player. The first chance to play will go to the player who places the biggest bet and the other play subsequently. This are commonly played by the French Royale family in the past and hardly seen now a days.
Punto Bunco (Player Banker)
Also known as the Nevada Baccarat or America Baccarat. In this version of the game, up to 14 players can play at once. The players are called Punto and the banker is called Bunco. Six to eight decks are used in the game and the dealer or the croupier does all the shuffling and distribution. The players don’t get to decide on the third card. It is dealt anyway, and the winner is announced by the croupier or the dealer. This is the variations of Baccarat mostly played in Online Casino.
I think it is worth mentioning that the overwhelming majority of casino baccarat games in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Finland, and Macau are “Punto Banco” baccarat and they may be seen labelled simply as “Baccarat”. About 91% of total income from Macau casinos in 2014 came from Punto Banco.
In this type of layout, the players had the choice to bet either on the banker, the player, tie or any side had a pair. This style is also one of the common play styles of Online Casino.
In this version of the game, one of the players will play the role of the dealer (most of the time it is the player with the biggest wager) for the entire shoe, unlike Chemin de Fer, where all players get a chance. Lesser number of decks is used in this version of the game. This popular European version of the game offers big bet options to the players.