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Why is Baccarat so popular in Asia

Baccarat popular in Asia – Head to virtually any casino, and you can guarantee yourself one thing; you’ll find Asians playing Baccarat.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re walking the casino floors in Macau or Vegas, Asians dominate Baccarat tables, and each year, they’re estimated to wager billions of dollars on the game.

So, why is Baccarat so popular among Asian cultures? What is it about the game that makes it so appealing? Let’s find out!

What is Baccarat?

Baccarat is a popular card game that’s played at most casinos around the world. Essentially, it’s a ‘player vs banker’ game, and the game has three possible outcomes; the player wins, the banker (dealer) wins, or it’s a tie.

So, how do you play Baccarat?

  • To begin with, players must first make a wager. This wager can be betting on the players hand, the bankers hand, or the tie bet. Once all wagers have been placed, a two-card hand is dealt to the ‘player’ and ‘banker’ spots on the table, one at a time.
  • The player always receives his or her card first. Once these four cards have been drawn (there is only one player bet per table – players wager on one hand, as opposed to Blackjack, where each player has their own hand) the totals of the cards are compared, and this will determine what happens next.
  • Now, the goal of Baccarat is to make a hand totalling as close to 9 as possible. All cards 2 through 9 count as their face value, while Tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings count for 0. Aces count for 1.
  • So, for example, if a player was dealt a 10 and a 4, their total would be 4. There are certain ‘rules’ in Baccarat that both the player and banker must follow.
  • If the player’s hand totals 6, 7, 8, or 9, they automatically stand, and no further cards are drawn. A player hand that equals 8 or 9 is known as a neaureral, and automatically wins against any banker hand bar an 8 or 9.
  • Now, if the player’s first two cards equal 5 or below, they ‘hit’, and receive another card. This is now the final total, and no more cards are dealt to the player.
  • When it comes to the banker’s hand rules, there are also some rules. If they have a 7, 8, or 9 they will always stand. The banker always hits on a total of 0, 1, 2, or 4 – and the banker might hit some 4, 5 or 6 hands depending on what cards the player is holding.

Once all the rules have been followed, the game ends, and the winners are paid out accordingly.

Why Baccarat is Appealing

There are a number of reasons why Baccarat appeals to – not just Asians – but gamblers as a whole.

First of all, the game is incredibly simple to learn, and there’s no decision making required. In Blackjack, for example, a players’ actions affects not just their own hand, but also the hands of everyone else at the table. In Baccarat, you don’t need to know anything, as it’s all done automatically.

If you’re playing online or live baccarat, the decision each hand is made for you, and similarly in a land-based casino, the dealer will always follow Baccarat ‘rules’ to determine how the hand proceeds.

It’s also popular because the game offers a very low house edge. Regular variations of the game give the casino just a 1.24% edge – meaning that for every $100 staked, the casino only expects to make $1.24 in profit. Of course, in the short-term this house edge doesn't come into context as much, but it does show, and it’s one of the main reasons you’ll see experienced gamblers playing Baccarat over Blackjack.

So that’s a couple of reasons why the game is popular in general – but what is it that makes it appeal to Asian players so much?

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Baccarat – did you know?

  • Baccarat has it roots in Italy and was originally played with Tarot cards
  •  Most people will know that Baccarat is the favourite game of 007. He plays the game in a lot of movies with Casino Royale being the most re-known
  •  This is probably the only game where the worst hand (being the zero) is the “namegiver” of the game
  •  Punto Banco is a very famous version of the game, mostly played in Southern America

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Bond didn't defend the practice. He simply maintained that the more effort and ingenuity you put into gambling, the more you took out.” – Ian Fleming, Casino Royale

Superstition, Gambling, Card Games and Asian Culture

One of the major driving factors in the popularity of Baccarat in Asian communities, is the superstitious element involved with the game. In fact, this superstition goes way beyond Baccarat – Asian gamblers, in general, are incredibly superstitious when it comes to gambling, and you’ll notice many of them have lucky charms with them.

There are many superstitions Asians showcase when gambling – and another common one is picking up the cards, squeezing them tightly together, and looking slowly at the cards one-by-one. In high-stakes live casino games, the players may grip the cards to tightly, that they bend, and are rendered unusable for the next round.

Players may also blow gently onto the cards, as a way of removing any bad numbers. Of course, this doesn’t actually have any effect on the game’s outcome, but it’s another example of the superstition that’s ingrained with Asians minds.

Another interesting superstitious belief held by Asian players, is that, if a player is doing well, they may well be more inclined to bet against the house. Similarly, if the player is losing continually, they may make bets against the player.

Finally, is the importance of the number 8 in Chinese culture. Due to the way in which Baccarat plays, when a player gets an 8 or a 9, the game is over (usually), and the player wins. The Chinese see this as symbolic, as 8 is a sacred number within their culture, so it’s another reason why the game is popular.

(As a side note, you may also see Chinese players regularly betting on the number ‘8’ on the Roulette wheel. Again, this is due to the sacred nature of the number within their culture.)

Do The Asians Have It All Worked Out?

It’s not unusual to see Chinese players with huge stacks of casino chips – and while some may attribute this to their superstitions…

Remember, at the end of the day, gambling is a game of luck. The house is always going to win in the end, and this goes for Baccarat too.

While the game is certainly appealing – thanks to its incredibly low house edge, and the ease at which it can be played – remember, that gambling is gambling, and there are certainly no sure-fire wins available.

Playing Baccarat Online

One of the major differences between playing Baccarat in a land-based casino, as opposed to playing online, is that many of the superstitious elements of the game can no longer be found. Consequently, Asian players prefer to play the game in a land-based casino, than online, as this allows them to play the game in a way that suits them.

However, some game developers like Playtech have attempted to address this by opening special live dealer games studios that are catered especially to Asian players. In fact, Playtech, and Evolution Gaming (two of the world’s largest and most reputable live dealer games developers) have even created brand-new game concepts that are designed to appeal to the Asian market.

baccarat popular in asia

A good example of one of these games is ‘Dragon Tiger’, by Evolution Gaming. Still, despite this, you’ll definitely find a lot less Asian players online – and legal reasons also play a part in this. Online gambling in Asian countries is very rarely legalized, meaning the only Asian players you’d find at online Baccarat tables would be those living in Westernized countries where online gambling is legal.