Baccarat is one of the few casino table games that has a low house edge and pays out winning bets quickly. The game is also incredibly simple to play. Players place their bets on either the Player hand, the Banker hand or a Tie. The dealer then deals the cards according to a set of rules, and the hand with the value closest to nine wins.
Often found in high-limit gaming areas, the large baccarat tables usually seat 12 or 14 players and use a shoe with eight decks of cards. The rules of baccarat differ from country to country, but the basic game is identical. Picture cards and tens count as zero, while all other numbers (twos through nines) are worth their face value. Aces count as one point. If a pair of cards totals more than nine, the first digit is dropped. If the total is eight or nine, it’s considered a “natural” and all bets on the hand are paid out. If the hand is less than eight or nine, it’s a “non-natural” and bets on it are not paid out.
Bill Zender, a former Nevada Gaming Control agent, dealer, executive and consultant who literally wrote the book on managing casino games, says Asian high rollers are flocking to the game for cultural reasons and because it has a lower house edge than other bets. But he acknowledges that long-term, baccarat isn’t the most profitable bet in the casino because of its high variance from month to month and quarter to quarter.