Baccarat traces its origins to mainland Europe during the 14th century, where the literal translation of the word ‘Baccarat’ in both French and Italian equates to the number ‘zero.’ While it is not known to many, Baccarat is undoubtedly the most popular game in a casino, as it accounts for the most substantial gambling volumes than any other popular casino games, including Roulette, Blackjack, slots, and Poker.
Baccarat also seems to be the popular choice for high-rollers, mainly from Europe and Asia, where the game has an unprecedented amount of popularity. Gamblers from the US are slowly warming up to the idea of winning big at the game, as several online casino software providers are seen to be developing the best baccarat games in the market to attract the maximum number of players to their platforms. So, what makes Baccarat the preferred choice for gamblers? How did it develop into its modern version and how is it significant in the modern gambling industry?
A short history lesson
Baccarat’s origin story is still disputed by many, but the game was indeed popularised during the 19th century Europe. Primarily the game was enjoyed by the French royalty, but it slowly spread over to other regions of Europe, eventually being a mainstay in casinos throughout the world. There are several variations of the game such as Chemin de Fer, Punto Banco, and Baccarat Banque, but historians of the game believe Chemin de Fer to be the original form. However, Punto Banco is the most commonly adopted form of the game, with over 91% of the gamblers choosing this version over the others. Although there aren’t that many variations in the rules of the game, there are some subtle variations in the way the cards are dealt, along with the changes in payouts for the different betting options.
References in Pop Culture
Baccarat gained popularity through the world’s most elite and fictitious super-spy, Mr. James Bond. All the Bond novels through the 50s and 60s were heavily influenced by the game, with Baccarat being the centre of attention in Casino Royale. However, the movie adaptation of the same gave preference to Texas Hold’em over Baccarat, as poker was widely popular at the time the move was made. Nevertheless, Baccarat hasn’t had the same kind of pop culture exposure like Roulette, Blackjack, or Poker, which might be the reason why the game has had a lukewarm response in the past.
The game in modern times
Despite being out of the public consciousness for the most part of the past century, Baccarat continued to be a part of the casino floor in gambling establishments throughout Vegas and Macao. Casino managers had a tough time in promoting the game among their gamblers, with most operators resorting to attractive comps, bonuses, and extravagant themes to rope in a crowd.
It all changed when high-rollers from Asia and Europe started spending big money on popular Baccarat tables, which began garnering the attention of both casinos and other gamblers. Today, Baccarat is among the very few games in a casino that are consistently profitable, where the table limits per hand can run into thousands and even millions of dollars. Several casinos have special VIP tables that provide exclusive access for premium players. Regardless, smaller players can also join in on the fun by visiting online casinos, where the table limits are set at a more manageable level.
Some basics of game play in Baccarat
The rules in Baccarat gameplay are quite simple. Players don’t have to do much, as the dealer or the croupier deals the cards and manages the players’ bets. The croupier is responsible for making all the decisions regarding the dealing of cards, while the player only needs to place a bet on the ‘banker’ option, ‘player’ option, or the ‘tie’ option. Both the banker and the player option pays out 1:1, while the tie pays out 8:1 or 9:1, depending on the casino. Betting on the banker may involve a small commission, as there is a higher chance for the player to win.
The primary aim of the game is to reach a combined card value of 9, where the card values are determined by adding up the face values and subtracting 10 from the total (if the sum goes beyond 10). There are many rules that apply to the cards being dealt, but a player does not have to concern himself/herself with them. The simplicity of the game does make it easier for players to have a great time, rather than having to try out different strategies to beat the house.
Advantages of playing Baccarat
Baccarat has the least house edge of any game in a casino. The banker option has the lowest house edge of 1.06%, while the player option has a house edge of 1.36%. The tie option is not recommended by serious players, as the house edge is around 14.40%. Therefore, the lower probability of losing makes sense for high-rollers, as they lose less or win consistently over the entire duration of the game. The low-risk aspect is indeed one of the main advantages of the game over its counterparts.
Another key advantage is that the game does not require any type of analytical skills or experience, as the croupier makes all the decisions. Unlike blackjack or poker, where mathematical skills are essential, baccarat allows the player to simply enjoy the game, rather than second-guessing his/her choices throughout the game.
The popularity of baccarat ensures that it is supported by an extensive network of casino operators, both through online and offline platforms. There are also plenty of online resources such as baccarat.net, where players can receive tons of useful advice on choosing the best online casino, along with the best strategies on maximizing their profits.
Cover image credit: Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash