The Basics Of
There are 10 possible hand scores in Baccarat, ranging from zero up to 9. The idea is to get as close as possible to 9. The worst hand possible is zero. A player's score will always range between zero and 9 as it is impossible to go 'bust'.
The scoring runs as follows: The cards 2 through to 9 are worth their face value in points. Aces are worth one point, and 10s and picture cards are worth zero. When scores are calculated only the number in the right hand column is counted. For example, if you are given a 5 and an 8 then these would obviously add up to 13. However, the 10 is removed and the total of the hand is therefore 3.
The three options available to you are to bet on the 'Banker', the 'Player' or the 'tie'. Player and Banker bets are paid at even money, though successful bets on the Banker are subject to a 5% commission. The odds offered for a bet on the tie are 8/1.
Cards Are Dealt
Regardless of how many players are playing at the table only two hands are dealt: the Player's hand and the Banker's hand. Once the bets have been placed the cards are dealt – one to the Player, one to the Banker, a second to the Player and a second to the Banker. Depending on the score of the two hands, further cards may need to be drawn.
If either the Player or the Banker has a two-card score of 8 or 9 then they have a 'natural hand' and no further cards are drawn for either hand. The outcome is decided there and then.
If the Player's hand is between zero and 5 then they will ALWAYS be dealt another card. If their hand is 6 or 7 then they will ALWAYS stand.
It is then the turn of the Banker's hand to react. If the Banker's hand is zero, 1 or 2 then they will ALWAYS be dealt a third card. If the Banker's hand is a 7 then they will ALWAYS stand, regardless of any hand the Player may have, or whether the Player took a third card. If the Player has stood on 6 or 7 then the Banker will always take a card if their score is between zero and 5. If the Banker's hand is 3, 4, 5 or 6 then whether or not they will be dealt a third card is determined by the third card drawn by the Player. This is illustrated in the following tables:
|Point value of first two cards||Action
|0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5||Draws a card
|6 or 7||Stands
|8 or 9||Natural hand, no further cards drawn
|Point value of first two cards||Draws when the Player's third card is:||Does NOT draw when the Player's third card is:
|0, 1 or 2||Always draws a card||
|3||0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 9||8
|4||2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7||0, 1, 8 or 9
|5||4, 5, 6 or 7||0, 1, 2, 3, 8 or 9
|6||6 or 7||0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 or 9
|8 or 9||Player cannot draw||Player cannot draw
An example: If the Banker's two-card score is 4 and the Player draws a third card with a value of 6 then the Banker will draw a third card. If the Banker's two-card score is 5 and the Player draws a third card with a value of 2 then the Banker is compelled to stand without taking a third card.
In reality, there isn't much scope for strategy as such in Baccarat, because the player is not able to influence the order of the cards, or whether either hand stands or takes another card.
However, the subtlety comes from making the right bets at the right time. Many players like to keep records of the sequences of hand results and make their bets based on what they believe will be the outcome of the next hand. Intuition is everything.
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