Baccarat is one of the most popular games in casinos. It has a glamorous reputation that conjures images of James Bond in Nassau or well-heeled gamblers in Havana on the eve of Fulgencio Batista’s ouster. It also has a low house edge, which makes it an attractive option for high rollers. But why is this game so popular? This article will explore the history of baccarat, as well as its payouts, odds, and best strategy.
Baccarat (bah-koo-RAH) is a card game played in a banker-player-tie format with eight decks of cards dealt by a croupier to one or more players at a large table that seats up to 14 people. The rules of baccarat are very simple: bet on the player or banker hand, aim for a total value closest to 9, and don’t make a tie bet. Cards 2 through 9 hold their value, and aces count as 1 instead of 10.
High-rollers prefer to play baccarat because of the game’s long tradition in Asian culture. They also appreciate that the game is not as complicated to learn as other casino games, and that it’s slow-moving, ritualistic, and a fun way to socialize with friends. The game is popular in Las Vegas, where many baccarat tables are set aside for high-rollers and separated from the rest of the floor by velvet ropes.
However, baccarat’s popularity is declining in the United States. In a conference call last year, MGM Resorts International chairman Jim Murren explained that the majority of high-rolling casino customers from the United States are more interested in other games, especially those where they have some control over the outcome. This is because non-Asian guests tend to be less interested in the “ascetic art” of baccarat and prefer games with more recognizable odds and strategies that they can learn quickly.
In addition to the cultural reasons Zender outlined, baccarat is a great choice for high rollers because it has one of the lowest hold percentages in the casino. The average house edge on the banker and player bets is only 1.2 percent. The tie bet, on the other hand, is more like blackjack and has a higher house edge of over 14 percent. Because of this, most serious baccarat players stick with the player or banker bets and avoid the tie bet altogether.
Another reason baccarat has a lower house edge than other casino games is because it doesn’t have a lot of betting options. Most baccarat bets are placed on either the player or banker hands, and players must decide which hand they want to bet on at the beginning of each hand. The other side bets are not as profitable as these two, and avoiding them is the most prudent course of action. This is why many baccarat strategies focus on betting systems that require even money payouts, as opposed to those that involve risking the game’s banker bet. This is not to say that the other bets don’t have their place, but it’s important for high rollers to understand how they differ from each other.