Banker vs. Player
Regardless of how many people are playing, only two hands are dealt. One is designated the banker hand, the other is the player hand. Any customer may bet on either hand, with the exception that the customer holding the shoe in the full-scale game must either bet banker or pass the shoe. Do not think of the bank hand as belonging to the house or the player hand belonging to the bettor. To avoid confusion, we’ll refer to baccarat “bettors” or “customers” rather than “players.”
In full-scale baccarat, the bettor holding the shoe slides one card out and passes it facedown to the stand-up dealer, who passes it to the customer with the largest player bet. The next card, the first of the banker hand, is placed next to the shoe. The bettor then deals another player card, then the second banker card. The dealer calls for the player hand, and the customer with the largest player bet first looks at the cards, then gives them to the dealer. The dealer turns the cards faceup and announces the point total. Then the dealer calls for the banker hand, and the shoe holder looks at the cards and gives them to the dealer. If the player total requires a draw, the dealer will say, “Card for the player,” and the shoe holder will pass a card to the dealer, who will pass it to the player-bettor, who looks at it and passes it back to the dealer, who turns it faceup. Finally, if the banker requires a card, the dealer will call, “Card for the bank,” and repeat the process with the shoe holder.
The casino is more than willing to offer the time-consuming ceremony to its largest bettors. In mini-baccarat, however, the dealer plays out both hands, with no fuss and in half the time.
The object is to bet on the two- or three-card hand that totals closer to nine. Tens and face cards all are worth zero points; all other cards are worth their face value, with the ace worth one point. If a total is more than 10, the second digit is the value of the hand. For example, a 9 and a 6, which total 15, make up a five-point hand.
Initially, two cards are dealt for each hand. The point totals determine whether either hand gets a third card. The player hand is completed first. A total of 8 or 9 is called a “natural,” and the player hand gets no more cards. In fact, unless the banker has a natural 9 or ties the natural 8, no further cards are drawn, and the naturals are automatic winners. Player also stands on totals of 6 or 7. On any other total, zero through 5, player draws a third card, unless banker has a natural, in which case the bank hand wins with no further draw.
Banker rules are a bit more complex. Banker also stands on 7, 8, or 9 …