Play Baccarat In Las Vegas

In popular culture, baccarat conjures up images of opulent gaming salons where well-dressed gamblers and card players the likes of James Bond, with a martini in one hand and a wad of bills in the other. While baccarat is spreading to the masses and rivaling popular games like poker and blackjack, the game is still primarily played in high limit rooms, with a standard minimum bet of $100 per hand. Whales play the highest table limits, putting millions at risk in a single baccarat session.

Every day, travelers fly in through Harry Reid Airport and make a beeline for the gaming tables. Is your dream to play baccarat in Las Vegas bigger than your bankroll? A lower-stakes version of the casino game called mini-baccarat has opened up the game to mid-stakes gamblers. Today, this fast-moving game of chance has a wide audience. It’s a sharp contrast to the last six centuries when baccarat was reserved for the upper crust. 

What Are The Baccarat Rules?

Before every hand of baccarat, a player makes the crucial decision about who to bet for. He has a choice between the player, the banker and a tie. Some rely on intuition to predict the winner, others superstition and some decide based solely on the odds. If the player correctly picks the winner, he doubles his money, regardless of whether his hand beats the dealer’s. Once the player makes his wager, his job is done. The banker plays both hands. Baccarat is played with six to eight decks of playing cards. There are 12 to 14 seats at a baccarat table, as well as a dealer’s area. Regardless of how many are seated, only one hand is drawn to represent the players and one to represent the banker.

Hand Values In Baccarat

A winning hand in baccarat is one that comes closest to nine without going over. Tens to kings are worth zero in baccarat and aces have a value of one. All other cards are counted at face value. If any two cards add up to 10 or more,10 is subtracted from the total. For instance, 9-3 equals 12. Subtract 10 and your new hand total is two. If you have two nines for a total of 18, subtract 10 and your new hand total is eight.

How to Play Baccarat

The action unfolds when the player picks a winner and places his bet. Much as they do with numbers in roulette, the betting here is focused on guessing an outcome. Both the player and the banker are dealt two cards face up. If either the player or banker has a hand totaling eight or nine, it’s called a natural win. The hand ends and the players who bet on the right side get paid even money. If both the player and the banker have eight or nine, it’s a tie. When the cards total any number other than eight or nine, the banker consults a rule book to dictate the player’s next move, followed by his own.

According to the rulebook, the player hand gets one more card if it totals five or less, and stands on a hand totaling six or seven. When the player stands, the rules for the banker and the player are identical. The banker takes another card when his baccarat hand totals five or less, and stands when it totals six or seven. When the player takes a third card, the rule book instructs the banker to draw or stand based on the card he’s dealt. Neither hand is ever dealt more than three cards. The banker plays out both hands according to the rulebook, and the one that comes closest to a total of nine without going over wins. The player’s gamble pays off whenever he correctly predicts the outcome of the hand.

What Is Mini Baccarat?

Mini-baccarat is a popular card game among the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. It plays by the same rules as the original version, but with a smaller seven seat table and smaller minimum and maximum bet sizes. In big baccarat, players are permitted to pick up their cards and take turns acting as banker. Players can’t act as banker in mini-baccarat because they are not permitted to touch the cards. Many gamblers prefer this because it keeps the game going at a faster pace than big baccarat. Mini-baccarat tables are not in high-limit rooms alongside their high-stakes counterparts. They’re on the main casino floor and most tables have a $25 minimum bet.

Low House Edge

Entertaining and easy to play, baccarat has one of the lowest house edges in the casino. The house has a 1.06% advantage over the player when he bets on the banker. The player is responsible for a 5% commission, but don’t let that dissuade you. Betting on the banker every time is the best strategy in baccarat because statistically the banker wins the most hands. If you exclude the chance of a tie, the banker has 51% win odds. The house has a 1.24% edge when you bet on the player. A winning bet on the banker or the player pays 1:1, or even money. The payout ratio is 8:1 when you bet on a tie and win, but at 14.36%, the house edge on a tie bet is too high to overcome.

Baccarat Odds

  • Banker Bet: 45.85% chance of winning. 
  • Player Bet: 44.62% chance of winning.
  • Tie Bet: 9.53% chance of winning.

Stadium Baccarat

Electronic table games, or ETGs, were greeted with lackluster enthusiasm when they were first introduced to Las Vegas gamblers in early 2000. Compared to loose slot machines, these alternatives were frowned upon initially. Twenty years later, they’re a sensation, adopted by most casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Players are drawn to the low minimum bets, usually between $5 and $10, and the solitary nature of the game. While you’re not playing alone in the same sense as at a slot or video poker machine, you usually have your own station and there’s minimal interaction between players. Stadium Baccarat has stations for dozens of players, each with a video display that can be used to place bets on up to four games at once. Players compete with a live banker who deals the hand in front of them as it plays out on their 27” video displays. All players are dealt one hand to play jointly against the banker. 

Edge Sorting

Baccarat players can gain a substantial edge over the casino with an advantage technique called edge sorting. Many decks of cards have unintentional, virtually indistinguishable irregularities. The cards all look the same to the naked eye, but to the trained eye of an advantage player, some cards aren’t 100% symmetrical or may have a miniscule imperfection on the back. Edge sorters memorize the backs of each card, and use the subtle differences between them to identify high and low cards. Usually, the player will ask the dealer to rotate face cards into high and low values. Passing it off as superstition, the dealer often grants his request. When the high and low cards face opposite directions, the player knows which kind will be dealt next. He uses this information to pick the winner of the next round. 

Edge sorting only works if the casino uses an automatic card shuffler, not when the dealer shuffles the cards by hand. It’s not illegal, and technically, edge sorting isn’t considered cheating. Still, the pit boss will throw you out and may not pay you if he thinks you’re practicing this technique. Before long, you’re banned and searching for something to do. (Might we suggest arcades on the Strip?)

Ten-time World Series of Poker bracelet holder Phil Ivey was taken to court for edge sorting when he won around $10 million at a UK casino in 2012. Crockfords in London said Ivey and a friend used edge sorting to gain an unfair advantage and refused to cash in his chips. The casino won in court and kept Ivey’s winnings, but returned the money he wagered on the game. 

The same year, Ivey and a friend were accused of edge sorting when he won $9.6 million playing baccarat at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. The casino paid Ivey this time, then took him to civil court where the Borgata won a $10.1 million judgment. In a meager, but meaningful victory for Ivey, the judge ruled that his playing strategy did not constitute fraud. Ivey never denied edge sorting, and contends that it’s legitimate. Now that Ivey’s case has shone a spotlight on the strategy, expect casinos to be on high alert for defective decks and edge sorting. 

Baccarat Las Vegas Revenue

In March 2022, Strip casinos saw a huge jump in profits from baccarat games, with revenue of $126.5 million. That’s an 87.3% increase over the same time last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Baccarat is the biggest moneymaker for Nevada casinos, out earning blackjack since 2009. A University of Nevada, Las Vegas study titled, Las Vegas Strip Table Mix, says the spectacular growth of the game has impacted casinos in ways you may not expect. “The increased reliance on baccarat, a more volatile game, has led to greater variance in reported field results for both individual properties and the Strip as a whole.” Anotherwards, profits will have more highs and lows with a chance based game such as baccarat than with a game of skill like blackjack and poker.

FAQ

Is there more than one form of baccarat?

The baccarat commonly found in Las Vegas casinos is called Punto Banco, or American Baccarat. Other forms of the game include Chemin de Fer, or Chemmy and Baccarat Banque, also called à deux tableaux.

What is midi-baccarat?

What distinguishes big baccarat from mini-baccarat and midi-baccarat is the size of the table. A midi-baccarat table seats nine. Players are permitted to handle their cards and take turns acting as banker. Minimum bets are lower than in big baccarat and higher than in mini-baccarat.

How popular is baccarat in Asia?

Casinos in Macau make more money from baccarat than any other city in the world.

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