Baccarat, you see, is a game for the rich. The very rich. Most bets start at $20 and end at $2,000.
There's another reason though for baccarat's exclusiveness, which John Scarne amusingly explains in Scarne on Cards: "The game's relative infrequency is due mainly to the size and cost of its equipments. It requires a heave kidney-shaped table, its surface juicily padded and painted, with a built-in money drawer and discard cylinder. It requires a six-deck dealing box looking like a cranberry scoop that has gone society. The croupier, squatting in the concavity of the kidney table, needs an ebony-finish pallet to slide the cash and cards around. The area surrounding the table is roped off in order to keep the hoi polloi from mixing in. The dealers and the customers are, for the most part, formally and the latter expensively attired.
Although the beginner at baccarat may stand with gaping jaw before the multifold do's and don'ts of the game, in truth it is one of the most automatic and skill-less of all banking games, the reason being that all strategy is fixed by house rules beforehand. The player is told when to hit, stand, and so forth, and so all he must do is receive his cards, follow the printed rules on display, pray, and let the croupier do the rest. Sounds ultra- mechanical, perhaps, but then so does the slot machine; and at a 1.15 percent house advantage compared to a 40 to 70 percent edge for the slots, one can see where the better risk lies.
In baccarat the suits have no significance. The honor cards and the 10s count zero, the aces 1, and all others equal their own numerical value. Several decks are used, shuffled by one of the players, reshuffled by the croupier, marked in the bottom with a blank card, and dealt out of a shoe. The object of the game is to get a combination of cards that totals 9 or as close to it as possible. Unlike blackjack, it is never possible to bust, since anything over 9 simply equals the second digit, for example a 13 counts as 3, a 17 as 7, a 15 as 5, and so forth.
Baccarat is played around a curved table with numbered slots on the layout to mark each player's seat number. At the start of the game the player seated at number-one slot starts the action, dealing two face-down cards to himself and two to the croupier. (The hand the player deals to the croupier is the player hand and the hand he deals to himself is the bank hand. Players at the table then have the chance to bet either on the bank or on the player. (The first time a bank hand loses, the deal will pass to the player on the dealer's right, and this is the principal difference between baccarat and baccarat banque, for in the latter the house serves as dealer for the entire game. After the deal the cards are turned over and the card count dictates whether the dealer and player receive a third card.
1-2-3-4-5-10 = Draws a card.
6-7 = Stands.
8-9 = Natural (Bank cannot draw.)
Having Draws when giving Does not draw when giving
3 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-9-10 8
4 2-3-4-5-6-7 1-8-9-10
5 4-5-6-7 1-2-3-8-9-10
6 6-7 1-2-3-4-5-8-9-10
7 Stands Stands
8-9 Natural (Player cannot draw.) Natural (Player cannot draw.)
After the action is finished, if the player's count is closer to 9 than the banker's, he wins, if not, he loses. In case of ties, it is a standoff and a new hand is dealt.