What would you expect the number one casino table game worldwide to be? Poker, perhaps? What about roulette, or blackjack? These would probably be the guesses of most North American correspondents. But how about baccarat? The game is far from unknown in the US, but it enjoys a relatively modest following compared to the pastimes already mentioned. Over the past decade, however, baccarat’s US popularity has grown considerably, while in Europe and, especially Asia, baccarat is huge.
Yes, baccarat is officially the #1 casino game in the world. If your poker game has gone stale, then you might want to give it a try.
The rise of Punto Banco
Different versions of baccarat, including Chemin de Fer, Baccarat Banque and the current global (and American) leader, Punto Banco, have been popular in European nations like France and Italy for hundreds of years. But the present trend is almost entirely down to it being picked up by Asian players, while Asia has, over the same time period, become the center of the gambling universe.
Ever since Macao overtook Las Vegas as the world’s biggest casino location, it has derived the majority of its multi-billion-dollar income from baccarat. Even in American casinos, where baccarat tables are very much in the majority, the game has become a major revenue driver. This is largely due to visiting Asian high rollers, who think nothing of gambling thousands of dollars at a US baccarat table in a single night.
Easy to play
Baccarat is also extremely popular online, and you’ll find different versions to suit your tastes at any NJ online casino, including live games and speed baccarat for those who have a short amount of time to kill. Easy to play and easy to win, the attraction of baccarat is its simplicity and the fact that it’s entirely a game of chance, with no skill or strategy required. It doesn’t hurt that it can be played with the lowest house edge of any game in the casino, either.
Luck of the draw
In the most popular version of baccarat, the only decisions you have to make are how much to bet, and whether to place your money on the ‘player’ (punto) or the ‘banker’ (banco). Everything else, including the outcome, is a combination of chance and predetermined rules.
Asian enthusiasts see baccarat as the purest possible gambling game, and as an expression of fate or personal destiny. Some believe that the outcome is decided the moment the cards are placed in the shoe, and the rest is just flow.
The house edge varies depending on which hand you back. If the player wins, there is a 1.24% house edge. If the bank wins, the edge is even lower, at 1.06%, but the house takes a 5% commission of all winnings, as technically the house is the bank. It’s also possible to bet on a tie, which pays out at eight to one, rather than 1:1 for banker or player, but here the house edge is a less attractive 14.4%.
Baccarat’s recent popularity is largely down to how it chimes with Asian cultural beliefs at a time when Asia dominates the gambling markets. But the chance to make big bets and win huge amounts or make small bets and see a better return than most other casino games also contributes to its attractiveness. Baccarat still has a considerable draw.