Baccarat, a gambling card-game (origin of name unknown), supposed to have been introduced into France from Italy during the reign of Charles VIII. There are two accepted varieties of the game - baccarat chemin de fer (railway) and baccarat banque (or à deux tableaux). In baccarat chemin de fer six full packs of cards are used. These are shuffled by a croupier and then by any of the players who wish to do so. From three to eleven persons may play. Counters are generally used and are sold by the banker who afterwards redeems them. The croupier takes a number of cards from the top of the pack and passes them to the player on his right (sometimes left) who becomes banker, a position which he holds until he loses, when the deal passes to the player next in order. The other players are called punters. The banker places before him the sum he wishes to stake and the punters do likewise, unless a punter desires to go bank, signifying his intention by saying, Banco! In this case he plays against the entire stake of the banker. After the stakes have been made the dealer deals a card to his right for the punters, then one to himself, then a third to his left for the punters and, finally, another to himself, all face downwards.
Court cards and tens count nothing; all others the number of their pips. Each punter looks at his cards, and any one having 8 or 9 turns his card up and announces it, the hand then being at an end. The player having the highest stake plays for both punters, and if the card turned is better than that of the banker, the latter pays each punter the amount of his stake. If not, the banker wins all stakes and the game proceeds as before. If no announcement is made, meaning that neither player holds 8 or 9, the banker deals another card to the player on his right, who, if his first card is 6 or 7, will refuse it, fearing to overrun. The second card is turned face upwards on the table. If his card is 5 he may, or may not, accept the second card, according to his judgment. In case of his refusal the card is offered to the second punter. If the first card is baccarat (i.e. amounts to 0) or 1, 2, 3 or 4, a punter always accepts the second card. The banker then decides whether he will draw another card himself or expose his original ones, and when he has made his play pays or receives according as he wins or loses. Ties neither win nor lose but go over to the next deal. A player who has lost on going bank may go bank again, but no player may go bank more than twice in succession.
In the variation baccarat banque (or à deux tableaux), three packs of cards are used and the banker is permanent; the player who offers to risk the largest amount occupying the position. A line is drawn across the table and any one wishing to do so may place his stake à cheval, i.e. on the line. Stakes so placed neither win nor lose if one side wins and the other loses, but win if both sides win and are lost if both sides lose. The laws of baccarat are complicated and no one code is accepted as authoritative, the different clubs making their own rules.
See Badoureau, étude mathématique sur le jeu de baccarat (Paris, 1881); L. Billard, Bréviaire du baccara expérimental (Paris, 1883).