Baccarat may not be quite as well known as the likes of roulette or blackjack, but it is every bit as much a casino mainstay, both in brick-and-mortar casinos and online. It certainly has a unique space in the world of purely chance-based games.
What Is Baccarat
Baccarat is played by having players bet on which of two hands of two cards each – the dealer’s or the player’s – has a total value that’s closest to 9. Cards between 2 and 9 are worth their face value, the ace is worth 1 and the 10, Jack, Queen, and King are all worth zero points. The way each hand is evaluated is rather unique, though. A hand of 2 and 6, for example, obviously is worth 8, but a hand of 5 and 7 isn’t worth 12 but 2 because any hand that is valued at 10 and more immediately has 10 subtracted from it. So, again, an 8 and a 1 would equal 9, but an 8 and a 2 would equal zero. If the value of either hand is not an 8 or 9, a third card is usually drawn.
Worth noting, though, is that the “player’s hand” isn’t handled by any one player, but represents the card of all players at the table. The primary role of each player is to bet on the outcome of the match up between the two hands. And here too is something unique to baccarat. In baccarat you can actually bet on the dealer. The three bets in each round of baccarat are on the player’s hand, on the dealer’s hand, or on a tie.
Like all casino games, there is a house edge, but it’s actually the smallest of any casino game, coming in at roughly 1%, which means that betting on the house (the dealer’s hand) has a slightly higher chance of winning so to counter this, a 5% penalty is added to each bet on the dealer’s hand. Betting on a tie has the worst odds and therefore the highest payout.
MM vs VIP Baccarat
Baccarat has, for as long as anyone can remember, considered a game of kings and queens as it was exceptionally popular in palaces and royal courts, but is it still a game that is exclusively the domain of the super rich and the highest of high rollers?
Well, no. And this is where the abbreviations MM and VIP come in when it comes to baccarat. MM stands for “mass market”, whereas VIP, as always, stands for “very important person”.
Mass market baccarat is the most common form of baccarat available and it allows players to place relatively small (sometimes very small) bets on each hand and is the one you usually find on the casino floor. VIP baccarat, on the other hand, are baccarat games for high rollers, with much larger minimum bets and a certain exclusivity around the table.
There’s literally no difference between the two whatsoever as the betting and gameplay is identical in each version. They are only treated as different games when it comes to working out the revenue and taxes of a casino as MM baccarat brings in plenty of customers but with low bets, whereas VIP baccarat only brings in select high rollers but with much larger pets placed.
But this is really just a matter for the taxman. As a casino patron, all you really need to know is where to go if you want to play for higher or lower stakes.