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Baccarat has been called blackjack for idiots. While this is an overly harsh judgment, it is true that baccarat is somewhat analogous to the game of blackjack but without any of the complexities of strategy or player options. While the underlying concept of the game is like a simplified version of blackjack, the way in which the game is conducted is more analogous to craps. There are two dealers and a caller, whose duties roughly correspond to the two dealers and stickman at craps. The dealing shoe circulates around the table from player with the shoe can keep dealing until he deals a losing bank hand, comparable to sevening-out at craps. The two basic bets at baccarat, bank hand and player hand, correspond to the two line bets at craps, pass and don't-pass. Regardless of the number of players at the table, there are always only two hands dealt in the game. These are called the player hand and the bank hand. These names are a holdover form the original European version of the game, in which one player takes the role of the bank and all other players bet against him. In American-style baccarat, these names have no real significance since anyone can bet on either hand. The names are just an arbitrary way of distinguishing the two hands. Each player makes a bet on either the player hand or the bank hand before any cards are dealt for that round.

Between these two hands, the one that wins is the one that comes closer to a total of 9. It is impossible to go over 9 because, in totaling the values of the cards, tens are always canceled out. Therefore, if the cards totaled 17, this would be considered a 7. If they totaled 24, this would count as 4. In adding the cards, each card counts as its numerical value, except 10s and picture cards, which count as zero. Another way of looking at this is that the cards have the same value as they do in blackjack, with the 10s and picture card counting as ten. However, since tens are canceled out in baccarat, ten and zero are synonymous. As we shall see, 10s and picture cards do count as ten for purposes of burning cards. A couple of example of totaling hands should clarify the process. A hand consisting of a 5 and a 3 counts as 8. A hand consisting of a 6 and a queen counts as six. A hand consisting of a 5, an 8, and a jack counts as 3. A hand consisting of a king, a 5, and a 9 counts as 4

Initially, each hand consists of two cards. However, depending on the total, one or both hands may draw an additional card in an effort to improve the total. However, unlike in blackjack, in baccarat the players have no choice of whether to draw a card. House rules stipulate when a card must be drawn and when one cannot be drawn. In no case is more than one card ever drawn to a hand. Once the two hands have been dealt and have received any draw they may have coming, the two totals determine the winner. Whichever hand - player hand or bank hand - is closer to 9 wins. Players who had bet on that hand are paid off at even money and those betting on the other hand lose their wagers. If the bank hand wins, the house will charge a 5 percent commission on the winnings. No commission is charged on winning bets on the player hand. If both hands end up with the same total, this is considered a tie and no money changes hands. Each player keeps his original bet and is free to wager all or part of it again or to take the money back.


After the cards have been shuffled by the dealers, they are offered to a player to cut, using a plastic card that he inserts into the deck at the point where he wishes it cut. A dealer then places the cards into the dealing shoe and inserts the plastic card into the deck at some point near the end of the shoe. Later, when this plastic card turns up during the deal, it will notify the dealers that the cards should again be shuffled. Finally, before beginning the first round of play, the first few cards are burned by a dealer. This is done as follows. The top card is dealt out and turned face up. The value of this card is a 7 of spades, the 7 will be discarded along with the next seven cards. These cards are dropped into the discard slot in the table, as are all used cards as the game progresses. The cards are dealt by the players themselves under the direction of the caller. Every player has the right to deal as long as he has a bet on either the bank hand or the player hand. Most of time, the dealer handling the shoe bets on the bank hand because the player with the shoe in effect represents the bank and most players are psychologically uncomfortable "betting against themselves." However, the dealing player does have the choice of betting on either hand and can change his betting from one hand to the other whenever he wishes

The dealing shoe travels counterclockwise from player to player. In other words, it travels in numerical order in accordance with the numbering of the players' seats on the layout. A player who does not wish to deal can simply pass the shoe on to the next player on his right. Once a player begins to deal, he may keep dealing as long as the bank hand continues to win. A player may also voluntarily surrender the shoe at the end of any hand. The caller begins each round by announcing "Cards." This is the signal to the player with the shoe to begin dealing. He deals a hand to the caller to represent the player hand and one to himself to represent the bank hand. First he deals a card to the caller, then a card to himself, which he slips under one of the front corners of the shoe. This should be the corner away from the caller so it won't get in the way as subsequent cards are dealt. He then deals a second card to the caller and a second card to himself, which is also slipped under his previous card at the corner of the shoe. All cards are dealt face down. The two cards dealt to the caller constitute the player hand. The caller passes this hand on to whichever player, other than the one dealing, has the largest wager on the player hand. This player turns the cards face up tosses them back to the caller, who places them face up in front of himself and announces their value. If no one has bet on the player hand, the caller will turn the hand up himself.

The player who dealt then turns his two cards face up and tosses them to the caller. These two cards, the ones from under the corner of the shoe, represent the bank hand. The caller places these cards face up in front of himself on the spot on the layout marked BANK HAND and announces the value of the hand. Depending on the value of the two hands, one or both of them may be entitled to one more card. If so, the caller will direct the player dealing to deal accordingly. He may announce "Card for the player," in which case the player dealing deals a card to the caller, who turns if face up, adds it to the player hand, and announces the new total. Instead, or in addition, he may announce "Card for the bank, " in which case the same procedure is followed for the bank hand. The rules governing this process of drawing cards are covered in detail below. Once both hands have been completed, the caller announces the winning hand, player or bank, and the two dealers take and pay bets accordingly. The used cards are inserted into the discard slot, and the next hand commences. If the previous round was won by the bank hand, the same player deals. If the round was won by the player hand, the deal moves to the next player on the right. When the plastic card appears during a hand, the hand in progress is completed. Then the cards are once again shuffled by the dealers and the entire process starts again. After the shuffle, the shoe will revert back to the same player if the bank hand won the last round before the shuffle. If the player hand won the last round, the shoe moves to the next player. When a particular player keeps the shoe for a long time until finally the plastic card appears, this is known as running the shoe.

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