For some reason, there’s always been an air of mystery and intrigue around baccarat. It’s one of the oldest and most widely-played casino games in existence, yet has something of a foreboding aura about it.
Seriously – ask a bunch of casino gamers about their gambling habits and is comparatively rare to come across a true baccarat aficionado. In amateur gambling circles, in particular, you’ll almost never come across anyone who knows even the first thing about how it works.
As for why this is the case, you could say that popular culture is at least partly to blame. For a lot of people – if not most – the only knowledge and/or experience they have with baccarat is what they’ve seen in the movies. It’s been the preferred game of James Bond (no, not poker) throughout his career, and has popped up time and time again on the big screen.
But as often tends to be the case with such things, the way baccarat is portrayed in the movies is nothing like its real-life manifestation. The problem is that big-screen baccarat paints a picture of a game that’s not only exclusive, but also quite intimidating.
In reality, learning how to play baccarat is one of the simplest and most rewarding things you’ll ever do as a gambler. And just as long as you can add up to nine, you’ll find the whole thing a walk in the park.
With the above in mind, here’s a brief look at five ways the movies have given you entirely the wrong idea about
- It’s for High-Rollers Only
First up, baccarat is indeed a game that attracts those looking to wager small fortunes on the turn of a card. The sums of cash to change hands across some baccarat tables are ridiculous, and it’s a hugely popular pursuit among the super-rich in Monaco.
But just because high-rollers flock to the baccarat table doesn’t mean it is only for high-rollers. In your typical everyday casino, you’ll find people happily playing baccarat for hours on end, wagering no more than around £5 at a time. Take your baccarat playing online and it’s possible to play for less than this – even free of charge.
There is absolutely nothing that states that you have to place significant sums of money on the line to play baccarat. It’s the same with poker, blackjack, roulette and everything else – it depends entirely on the table you choose, and your own preferred spending limits. You can spend as much as you like, but you can also spend (literally) nothing can still have a fantastic time playing baccarat.
- It’s all Very Serious and Formal
If baccarat was portrayed in an accurate light on TV and in the movies, it wouldn’t be very entertaining. Particularly when it comes to the likes of 007 and Co., it’s all about that quintessentially icy stare and trademark stone-faced expression.
Again, the truth of the matter is that you will indeed find baccarat tables like this. Where thousands or even millions of pounds are being thrown around like toilet paper, the whole thing naturally becomes quite serious. But when simply playing for fun with much smaller sums of cash on the line, baccarat isn’t nearly as formal.
In fact, the baccarat table can be one of the most enjoyable places to spend time in a casino. It’s a hugely social game, due to the fact that there’s literally no skill or intuition involved. The whole thing comes down to blind luck, so you can spend more of your time making friends with those around you.
Unless, of course, they clearly don’t want to be bothered – in which case it’s best to leave them alone!
- The Rules Are Hard to Get to Grips With
The rules of baccarat are ridiculously simple to get to grips with. People often assume baccarat is complex due to associations with the amount of money that changes hands on the table. Or perhaps, the fact that those playing baccarat are usually dressed in tuxedos, sipping cocktails and being very serious.
Baccarat is a game of pure chance, where players are required to guess which of the two hands has a combined sum closest to 9. Similar to other card games, baccarat makes use of a standard playing deck composed of 52 cards. The sum total of the cards you are dealt is compared to that of the dealer’s cards, and whoever is closest to 9 wins.
The only thing you need to do is decide whether you want to bet on your own hand, or the dealer’s hand. The cards are revealed, and you win or lose – it really is as simple as that.
- There’s a Significant Element of Skill Involved
Skill and intuition really do not come into play with baccarat. Of course, you need to have an extremely basic grasp of rudimentary mathematics, and to know from a logical perspective whether it’s better to back yourself or the dealer.
Other than this, there is literally no skill involved – nothing but pure luck. Far from detrimental, this all adds to the appeal of baccarat. It means that everyone (newcomers included) has a fair shot at winning, and that you don’t have to spend an eternity studying the rules to have a great time.
If luck is on your side, you’ll win. If not, you won’t…end of story.
- Everyone At the Table is Against You
Last up, playing baccarat is similar in many ways to playing blackjack. Contrary to popular belief, you’re not actually playing against anyone else at the table but the dealer.
This is one of the reasons why baccarat tends to be a particularly social game. Rather than attempting to beat others out of their hard-earned money, you’re technically all on the same side. Even the dealer will be rooting for you, as they know the biggest tips come from those who strike it lucky.
So, while baccarat may be portrayed as a game where it’s every man for himself, this couldn’t actually be further from the truth.
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