The word baccarat is derived from the Italian baccara, which means zero. The term refers to the fache game cards and 10s, all of which have zero value in the game of baccarat. Baccarat game dates back to the Middle Ages. It has been said the game was first played with a Tarot deck.
Originating in Italy, Baccarat game soon made its way to France where it found a home among the upper class aristocracy. Further evolution of the game shows it split to European baccarat, and a French game that goes by the name chemin de fer.
Chemin de fer is very similar to baccarat as it’s played in American casinos today. The difference is one of the players banks the game instead of the casino. The title of banker rotates around the table in a manner similar to the dice at a craps table. The interesting bit to observe of course is that the casino is taking no risk here; they simply charge a fee from each banker.
The Baccarat we know today originated in Great Britain and was then passed along to South America and finally to Nevada. The infamous Dunes casino introduced baccarat in the late 50’s, and since then it has made its final migration into the internet.
Since baccarat’s introduction in Nevada casinos, the game has assumed an aura of glamour. In most casinos, baccarat is played in a roped-off area. The intention was to attract the high roller, or the more sophisticated moneyed player. With the tuxedo-clad dealers, there is an air of elegance to the Baccarat game.
Baccarat has a history overseas too, which is evidenced by its popularity among the Asian population who visit Las Vegas each year. The highest of the high rollers often come from overseas to try their hand under the chandeliers of the stylish Vegas baccarat rooms. In casinos based in the Portuguese territory of Macao, near Hong Kong, the popularity of baccarat is unrivaled. Unlike the heavily ordered and systematic American casinos, these Portuguese tables often allow multiple players to bet on a single spot at the same time, while the expert dealers mentally keep track of each player’s commission on winning bank bets.
However, for all the enchantment, baccarat is primarily a simple game. There are no decisions or options; no degree of skill is required for either player or dealer. Players may sit in any open seat at the table; seating position does not affect the Baccarat play in any manner. Each seat corresponds to a number on the layout, one through 15. Three dealers service each table. The dealer standing between positions one and 15 is known as the “caller.” He runs the game as cards are dealt from the shoe.
Each Baccarat player gets a turn to handle the shoe. The player must bet the bank when he has the shoe, but any player may decline the shoe and it passes right along from player to player. Again, there is no advantage or disadvantage in dealing the cards, it is merely a formality and part of the the ambience that players enjoy.
The caller receives the cards from the Baccarat player with the shoe, places them in the appropriate boxes and then calls for another card or declares the winner, according to the rigid rules of the Baccarat game.
Baccarat players bet by placing their chips in the numbered box opposite their seat. Bets may be made on the player or bank, and both are paid off at even money. In most Baccarat games bets range from a $20 minimum to $2,000 maximum. After the winner is announced, the two other dealers at the table pay off the winning bets and collect from the losers. If the bank was the winner, players who won must pay a 5% commission on their winnings. Thus, if a player had a $100 bet on the bank and it won, $5 would be owed to the house. Rather than collecting vigorish after each Baccarat game, a record of what is owed by each player is kept in a numbered box just opposite where the two payoff dealers sit. Player pays the accumulated amount after the finish of a shoe. Each time the shoe is depleted of cards all eight Baccarat decks are thoroughly shuffled and replaced in the shoe.