How to play baccarat, you may ask? First you have to decide between three variations of the game. Punto Blanco is a version developed in Cuba and has no skill element whatsoever. This is especially popular with Spanish and Chinese speakers, whose cultures have a heavy emphasis on things like fate and destiny. This version is also known as “mini-baccarat”.
There are of course many other variations that do have some sort of a skill element, which are more popular among Americans and other Europeans who believe more in the individual and willpower. Popular among these are chemin de fer, en banque, and the Monte Carlo two-table favorite known in French as deux tableaux (two tables in French, of course).
Baccarat actually has a very long and interesting history. It has apparently been around us for more than five centuries, starting in France, but it was derived from the Italian baccara which in turn was derived from the medieval Tarrochi (pronounced ta-ROH-ki) which was actually played with the 78 Tarot cards instead of the Baccarat cards known and used today.
Like any other casino game, Baccarat slightly (or not so slightly over the long term) favors the house, of course. Typical margins are around 1%, which as any good gambler knows can be enormously in favor of the house without a decent strategy.
The one element always under your control is how much to bet and when to bet. Most people consider the best strategy to be to idenfity winning and losing streaks and bet around them. People have claimed very heavy successes using this method. Whenever the rules permit it, try not to bet each time, but rather observe and jump in at an appropriate time. Avoid betting against a winning streak.
Most versions of Baccarat allow for counting cards. If you are good at this, your odds go up that much more. If you’re not good at this, start practicing, unless of course you are playing mini baccarat or punto blanco.
Ultimately this game just like any other card game has an element of gut instinct in it that separates the best players from the rest of them. This instinct can be honed and refined by experience in the game. Most professionals would agree that there is no teacher quite like experience, so if the game intrigues you, don’t be afraid to jump in and get your feet wet. The experience will come as it always does, a little bit at a time.