Baccarat has traditionally been the game of the rich and powerful. In earlier times this game was preferred by the nobility, nowadays it’s in vogue amongst oil tycoons, directors of international enterprises and investment bankers. Although regular folk do play baccarat too, games played by the powerful stir the imagination more. Baccarat is frequently played by politicians, actors and musicians. Some of the famous baccarat players are Michael Jordan, Sean Connery and Jackie Chan. Baccarat was also James Bond’s favourite game, but there are some other baccarat players who deserve to be mentioned among the greatest.
First is Akio Kashiwagi, a Japanese real estate investor who was famous for regularly playing baccarat for large sums of money. He would bet up to $200,000 a hand, once winning over $6 million in Atlantic City in 1990. After winning this huge amount in February, he was back at the same baccarat table in later that year, however, this time he was less lucky and lost over $10 million in one day. Although he was a successful businessman and owned a huge enterprise, baccarat was Akio Kashiwagi’s true passion. He never wagered less than $100,000 and won quite regularly, although not quite as often as he lost. His $10 million loss became one of the biggest losses in the baccarat history.
Frank Scoblete is another great baccarat player who dedicated his life to study of this game. He also wrote several books on the subject, including ‘Baccarat Battle Book’ which became a best-seller. Scoblete has become something of a legend and his name is known to every gambler. He became interested in gambling after doing some research for the role of a gambler for a play his theatre company was producing. Time spent in Atlantic City made him realise that he liked gambling more than acting. Afterwards he sold his share of the theatre company and in the following years spent the majority of his time in casinos. Although in his books he gives advice on how to avoid losing in baccarat, his own losses on occasion amounted to tens of thousands of dollars. Not as astonishing as Akio Kashiwagi’s loss, but quite nonetheless. Scoblete also has won over $100,000 several times, but it’s not known for how long he managed to hang on to this money.
Last but not least is Kerry Packer. An avid gambler, playing both baccarat and blackjack, he is famous for his gigantic wins and losses. In 1997 he won over $20 million at MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. Afterwards he switched to blackjack and lost $28 million.
Baccarat is a card game with more than 500 years of history, yet nobody knows for certain where it originated. Some claim that it’s an Italian game, as ‘baccarat’ means ‘zero’ in Italian. Others argue that this word is used in the French language too, so therefore France is the true birthplace of baccarat. As both languages belong to the romance branch of the Indo-European language family and share many similarities, it is highly unlikely that this question will ever receive a definite answer.
According to legend, the game of baccarat was created by a medieval Italian gambler, Felix Falguierein and was first played with the Tarot deck. Myth suggests that it’s based on an Etruscan ritual where a virgin had to throw a nine sided dice. Nine sides represented nine Etruscan gods. The virgin’s fate was decided by the outcome of the throw: if it was less than six she had to drown herself in the sea, if she rolled 6 or 7, she would live and wouldn’t have to participate in this ritual ever again and finally, if she threw 8 or 9 she became a priestess. Whether or not this legend has any truth in it is not clear, but rules of the game seem to closely follow the described rite.
Although the Italian theory of baccarat origins appears to be the most credible, this game was also played in France, as early as the end of the 15th century. First it was played by French nobility then a few centuries later it was introduced in casinos. Thanks to its simplicity and significant chances of winning offered to players, baccarat was an instant success among the general public.
Nowadays baccarat is one of the most profitable games of chance and it has spread far beyond French and Italian borders and is enjoyed by casino players all over the world. Although over the years several variations of the game have appeared, however the French baccarat or Chemin de Fer is considered to be the original game. Currently Chemin de Fer is mostly played by French and British gamblers.
Tommy Renzoni brought baccarat to the USA after the Cuban Revolution and this game became especially popular in Las Vegas where a distinct variation of baccarat, combining characteristics of European and Chemin de Fer baccarat developed.
As with any game, to play baccarat you must know the rules. Although many beginners may find them too complicated, it’s strongly recommended that newcomers learn the rules before playing. Moreover, new players only have to memorise the few basic rules, because participant’s actions in many cases are predetermined so the player just has to place a bet and wait for the result.
Baccarat, including online versions of this game, is played for money. There are different baccarat rules in different countries, but for international events the official rules of the game are used. Anyone who’s serious about learning to play baccarat, should pay close attention to the official baccarat rules.
In baccarat the ‘Player’ is opposing the dealer or the ‘Banker’. Apart from these 2, up to 14 other participants can join the game and bet on the Player or the Banker. The objective of the game is to get a hand with a value of 9 or as close to it as possible. It’s impossible to score more than 9 points, because if the Player gets any double digit count, the left digit is dropped. So, for example, 12 would mean that the Player only has 2 points.
Cards in online baccarat are valued as follows: number cards count as their natural value, Ace is worth 1 point, face cards and 10 are worth 0. If player gets 5+K, he’s got 5 points.
The game starts with two face-down cards being dealt to both the Player and the Banker. If either or both participants achieve a total of 8 or 9 points on the initial deal, this situation is called ‘natural’; no additional cards are drawn and the outcome of the game is decided by comparing the two hands. In the case that both the Player and the Banker have an equal score after the deal, the hand is considered a draw. However, if participants have less than 8 points, they have to follow additional rules, i.e. if the Player has a total of 6 or 7 points, he stands, whereas if his hand is worth less, he draws a third card.
Afterwards it’s the Banker’s turn to act. If his hand is worth 7, he stands, but if it’s worth 6 or less, he draws a third card. Of course, rules are more complex than that, but to be able to play baccarat online, it’s enough if you know the basics described above. After gaining some experience, you’ll start to notice what actions the Banker has to take depending on your move. This additional knowledge will help you to win even more without excessive risk to your bankroll.
Mathematicians claim that baccarat is purely a game of chance. Indeed, there’s not much the player can influence in the course of the game. However it doesn’t mean that player’s decisions do not change the amount of their winnings or losses, if they develop a certain strategy and follow it during the game. If you’d ask a dozen baccarat players about their playing strategy, you’d receive twelve different answers, because only complete beginners follow textbook strategies. More experienced gamblers develop their own baccarat strategies that suit their playing style best. With a little practice you’ll be able to create your own strategy as well, but for now we’d like to give you a few tips on the fundamentals of baccarat strategy.
To begin with, it’s worth remembering that baccarat is a very simple game. True, it has earned a reputation of being complex because of the many subtle variations of rules that beginners are not required to learn. Yet to gain maximum winnings and enjoy the game to the utmost extent, there are just three rules you should know.
Players should never ever bet on the ‘Tie’. Any baccarat hand has three possible outcomes: Player, Banker and Tie. The Banker has the highest probability of winning, therefore many players never bet on themselves. At the same time, it’s useless to bet on a Tie – although these bets are paid out at 8:1, the casino has 14% probability of profiting from this outcome while players would get a mere 1%.
Any baccarat player should take into account the commission to the house. If player bets on the „Banker” and wins, casino takes 5% commission. This fee was introduced to make players place more bets on „Tie” or the „Player”. Most importantly, 5% commission is not paid immediately, but after the game. So if you’ve won several hands betting on the Banker and afterwards lost all your money, you still have to pay the casino 5% fee from each hand won.
Finally, players should first and foremost follow their own judgement. Quite often casino representatives offer players payout percentage statistics for bets on both the Player and the Banker. Even if this information is accurate, it can disorient the player and make you increase your bets in the hopes of gaining a huge win.