The game is very dissimilar from Blackjack in that players make decisions on their play even before the cards are dealt. The gambler must choose whether to bet on the banker, on his own hand, or on a tie. After that, they just have to sit back and let the action unfold before their eyes. Baccarat is played with one objective: for the player to hold 2 or 3 cards which should count to 9 or as close to 9 as possible. If the player is dealt 2 cards and it totals to 9, the hand is called a “natural” and is considered unbeatable, even if the banker gets another 9. The second highest hand in baccarat is a 2-card hand totaling to 8, which is also called a “natural”. Neither the player or banker wins if a tie occurs.
All face cards have a value of zero in baccarat, as well as tens. Aces are valued as 1, and all other cards are worth their face value. If your hand totals a number over 10, the 10 is disregarded. For example, if you have a hand of a 5 and a 9 (totaling 14), the value of your hand will be counted as 4, not 14. So all hands are scored from 0 to 9, without any busts. Six or eight decks of cards are used in a casino baccarat game. The cards are all shuffled and then placed in a covered box, known as a “shoe”. One of the formalities of baccarat includes giving each of the players a chance to handle the shoe. But don’t worry; if you’re new at the game and unsure what to do exactly, the banker is always there to guide you. A player handling the shoe at that moment is expected to bet with the bank, not against it. If a player wishes to decline handling the shoe, he or she is free to do so, of course.
A game of baccarat begins with 2 cards being dealt to the player, and 2 more cards to the banker. Depending on the initial value of the hand, the player and banker may choose to be dealt one more card to improve the value of their hands. Only one additional card may be dealt, unlike Blackjack which allows the player to hit as many cards as he wants before he wants to stand or busts. The winning hand in baccarat is the one whose count is 9 or as close to 9 as possible.
If either the player or banker gets an initial count of 8 or 9 on his two initial cards, these are called naturals and the hand must stand. If neither the player or banker gets a natural, the player’s hand is the first one played. Another card is drawn if the cards total 5 or less. The hand must stand if the first two cards total 6 or more. The banker, however, follows slightly different rules of play. If the banker gets an initial hand of 0, 1, or 2, another card must be drawn. If his initial hand totals 3 up to 6, the banker’s play then depends on whether or not the player drew another card, and if so, what the value of the drawn card is.