Baccarat Background

The Bank and Player bets are two of the best available.

Bank     1.17%
Player   1.35%
Tie        14.1%

The allure of baccarat is one of the most historic of any casino game. It dates back to the middle ages, when the game was played with parts of a Tarot deck. It originated in Italy and migrated to France, where it became the game of the aristocracy.
Eventually, baccarat evolved into European baccarat and the French game chemin de fer (French for “railroad”).
Each game gives the bank one slight rule variation that makes the game an even proposition for the casino and for the players. Chemin de fer is essentially the same game as today’s casino game of baccarat, but one of the players banks the game, rather than the casino. The role of “banker” rotates around the table. The casino takes no risk and merely charges a fee from each banker.

What is known as American baccarat actually originated in England and spread to South America. It was introduced into Las Vegas at the infamous Dunes casino in the late 1950s after Fidel Castro closed the even more infamous Havana casinos. Because it is so elegantly appointed, with marble, chandeliers, plush chairs and more, you might think that baccarat is still the game of the aristocracy. You’d be right. Many of the world’s highest gamblers make it their game of choice. Stories abound about rich men who bet millions during one session. Casino revenues on the Las Vegas Strip rise and fall precipitously according to the casinos’ fortunes at the baccarat tables.

There is a lesson to be learned by the choices made by these high gamblers. They make their millions by making shrewd business decisions, and their choice of casino game reflects their understanding of the odds. Despite baccarat’s elite reputation, the game is available to anyone who can make the minimum bet. In some cases, minimums can be as low as £2.50. At that level, a fund of £50 should be enough to experience one of the casino’s most fascinating games.

While the game is enjoyed by people of many nationalities and ethnic groups, it is the Asians that have made baccarat as popular – and profitable – as it is today. In some of the largest casinos in Las Vegas, several floors are reserved for large groups of Asians who often spend many hours and even days playing their favourite game. Table maximums are a point of negotiation, and some groups and individuals can bet up to $500,000 (approximately £300,000) a hand.

In the casinos of the Portuguese territory of Macao, near Hong Kong, baccarat is the game of choice, with dozens of customers lining up to play at a single table. These casinos allow more than one player to bet on a spot at the same time, while the dealers expertly track what each patron owes in commission on winning bank bets.