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Baccarat is Easy!

When it comes to choosing a casino game to play, most gamblers stick to the things that seem easiest: blackjack, slots, roulette. There's a certain intimidation that comes along with trying a different game for the first time, when you're not quite sure what to do, what your odds are or even how to begin. Craps, baccarat and various forms of poker are often identified as games that you'd like to play, but just don't know to get started with.

Let's take baccarat out of that list! The fact is that baccarat is easy to learn, easier still to play, and there's not that many secrets that you can't pick up after a few hours of play.

Here's something you didn't know: baccarat actually has fewer rules to remember than blackjack. You don't even need to count to 21... if you can handle counting from zero to nine, you're ready to learn how to play baccarat.

Two cards are dealt to you, and two to the dealer. The dealer will then deal a card to the person whose hand is farthest from totaling nine; if you have zero through five, you must take a card, and if you have six or seven, you must stand. Once that third card is dealt, the hand closest to nine is the winner.

Yes, it's that simple.

OK, so there's a little more to it than that: learning the card values and automatic subtraction can seem confusing at first. Aces count as one, number cards (two through nine) count as their face value, and face cards are counted as zero, or no value. When your hand totals 10 to 19, ten is automatically subtracted; if it totals 20 to 29, twenty is automatically subtracted. So two fours would be eight, and a seven and a six is three, not 13. Get it?

Here's the complication: you must choose to bet either on your hand, on the dealer's hand, or on a tie. The casino's edge on a player-side bet is marginally higher than on a banker bet, and substantially higher on a tie bet, although the payout for a tie bet is commonly eight to one, whereas player and banker bets pay out at even money. Still, the tie bet is generally considered a fools wager, as it carries something like a 14% house advantage.

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