Traditional baccarat or big bac is an elite game and requires multiple dealers. When a casino offers big bac, tables are usually tucked away in special high-limit salons where only high-rollers can gain access. Mini baccarat or mini bac games are another story. Mini bac moves faster and only requires one dealer. This means the game is cheaper for the casino to operate and pit supervisors can lower betting limits.
Only two hands are dealt regardless of the number of participants--one for the house, called the bank hand, and another called the player's hand. When the deal begins, one card is dealt to the player's position followed by a card given to the bank position. This process then repeats so each hand has two cards. After the cards have been dealt, all four are turned face up so the dealer can calculate the hands. The hand that comes closest to nine wins. If both hands have the same point value it is considered a tie. Like blackjack, low hands are hit, or given additional cards.
Face cards and 10s are worth zero. All other cards are counted at face value. For example, the three of hearts is worth three points. If a hand totals more than 10 points, 10 points are subtracted from the final total. For example, a hand that consists of the nine of hearts and the seven of diamonds equals six, not 16.
Unlike blackjack, mini bac players don't make decisions about hits. Hits are dealt out automatically depending on the hand totals. The rules of the game govern whether additional cards are given to the bank hand or the player's hand. A two-card hand that totals eight or nine is considered a natural. If either side has a natural, hits are not given. Whichever side has the best original hand wins. Two hands with the same score is considered a tie. If no one has a natural, hits are given out according to the following rules. The player's hand is always addressed first. If the player's first two cards total six or seven points, they are forced to stand and will not receive another card. If the player's hand totals zero through five points, another card will be added to the hand. The hand will be hit until it reaches a total score of six through nine.
Rules for hitting the bank hand follow these guidelines. A bank hand that totals zero, one or two is always hit. The bank always stands on totals of seven, eight and nine. If the player's original two cards total six or seven points, the bank draws a third card if it has a total of zero through five. It stands on six or better. When the bank hand totals three points, the hand is hit unless the player's hand drew a third card of eight. In his case, the bank stands. When the bank starts with a hand totaling four points, it draws a third card only if the player drew a third card worth two through seven points. Otherwise the bank stands. When the bank starts with a total of five points, it draws a third card only if the player's hand drew a third card valued between four and seven. Otherwise the bank stands. When the bank starts with a total of six points, it hits only if the player's hand drew a third card valued at six or seven.
There are only three possible wagers gamblers can make. A bet can be made that the bank hand will win, that the player's hand will win or that there will be a tie. The hand that comes closest to nine prevails.
A winning bet placed on either hand receives even money. A small commission may be imposed on winning bets placed on the house hand because the odds for the house hand to win are slightly better due to the hitting rules. A tie is least likely to happen and therefore winning tie bets receives the biggest payout--eight to one at most casinos.