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Baccarat is one of the oldest casino games, first played in France in the 1800s, but with roots that purportedly stretch back to the 16th Century. However, it’s often listed towards the bottom of the list of casino games — slots, poker, roulette, and blackjack tend to overshadow it. There are many reasons for this, from its public image and relative lack of modern pop-culture exposure to misconceptions about its complexity. But with more options available, such as live-dealer games, baccarat is coming into the spotlight once more, its popularity driven by the accessibility and user-friendly nature of online casinos.
One of the reasons behind the popularity of online casinos is their accessibility — many players have never set foot in a land-based casino before. A brick-and-mortar establishment can be intimidating for those unaccustomed to the atmosphere, and games with unfamiliar rules can be unappealing. An online casino dispenses with those off-putting factors, providing a welcoming atmosphere, and many apps even have tutorials or free games available to help new players get to grips with the rules. So, it isn’t a surprise that baccarat is becoming one of the more popular games on offer, and players will find baccarat as well as other favourites such as online blackjack at Paddy Power, both with engaging live dealer options. Baccarat has a more old-school, sophisticated feel than other games, such as poker. Perhaps due to its rich history — it’s been enjoyed in gaming halls since the 19th Century and enjoyed a rich pop-culture heritage in days gone by. Fans of literature will know that in the Ian Fleming novels, it’s James Bond’s casino game of choice. And all this is part of the appeal — while online casino newbies might take advantage of free spins and flock to the slot machines, seasoned players may well be searching for a new game to enjoy.
For those unfamiliar with the game, baccarat is essentially a comparing card game, related to blackjack, but with distinct rules and scoring. The game is played between two hands: the player and the banker. The objective of the game is to bet on which hand will have a total point value closest to 9. It is primarily a game of chance, and players have limited control over the outcome.
The game is easy to pick up. After all the cards have been dealt, the hand with the higher total wins. Bets can be placed on the player’s hand, the banker’s hand, or a tie. It’s important to note that in baccarat, the term “banker” does not refer to the casino or the house, but rather one of the two hands being dealt.
As mentioned above, baccarat was 007’s favourite game in the novels. However, for the 2006 film adaptation of Casino Royale, the high-stakes game that makes up the central scene of the movie is poker — just one of many differences between Fleming’s books and EON’s films. This reflects the general public’s familiarity with poker and poorer knowledge of baccarat.
Also, poker is a game which involves a level of skill, whereas baccarat is more or less down to chance — this takes away some of the drama that poker players love. Even though it’s easy to pick up, for some reason baccarat has a reputation for being complex, although ten minutes of play will dispel that misconception.
So, baccarat looks to be finding a whole new audience thanks to online casinos. It’s gradually shaking off its elitist image, and becoming more accessible to new players.