There are three important aspects to the rules of baccarat that need to be understood by potential players. These concern the valuation of hands, the placing of wagers and the process of deciding who the winner is.
Valuation of Hands
In baccarat, each card is assigned a value. The cards from twos to nines are assigned their face values. Tens and the face cards are assigned a value of 10 and aces are assigned a value of 1. The hand value is obtained by adding the card values and dropping the tens digit. A hand of a three and a five is valued at 8, whereas a hand of a seven and an eight, whose total is 15, is valued at 5. A hand consisting of a seven and a three, which totals 10 is valued at 0. A hand with 0 value is called baccarat. Thus the name of the game derives from the lowest hand. The highest hand value possible is 9.
Placing of Stakes
After the banker places his stake, any player can alone match the entire banker’s stake by saying “Banco”. In that event the others players do not place any bets.
If no player call “Banco”, then each player places his own stake. If the total of the players’ stakes falls short of the amount in the bank, the difference may be made up by any player. If the total of the players’ stakes exceeds of the amount in the bank, the banker has the option of making up the difference or refusing the extra bet amount.
Deciding the Winner
After the dealer deals two cards to the player and to himself, they see the cards. If any one of them has a hand value of nine or eight he calls out that value. At that point the cards are turned face up and the one with the higher hand value is declared the winner.
If neither player calls the game proceeds by the dealer offering the third card to the player. If the player’s hand value is 0 to 4 he has to accept the third card. If his hand value is 6 to 9 he has to refuse the third card. If his hand value is 5 then he has a choice whether to accept or refuse. Wrongly accepting or refusing a card at this stage is a serious breach and can have dire consequences for the errant player. The third card is dealt face up.
It is then the dealer’s turn to decide whether he should draw or not. His decision has no constraints, but is usually guided by his own hand, whether the player has taken the third card or not, the third card of the player if taken and the nature of the player. Once the dealer takes his decision the hands are compared and the one with the higher hand value is declared the winner. No one wins on ties and the stakes can be withdrawn or carried forward to the next deal.