The image of James Bond sitting down at a high rollers table of Chemin de Fer, introducing himself as "Bond, James Bond" has solidified the prestigious reputation of Baccarat at casinos all over the world. Currently, the game is hottest in Asian casinos, where wealthy Chinese gamblers make up the majority of players in Macau's VIP rooms.

 

Various versions of Baccarat circulate casinos, but in general it pits "the banker" versus "the player" in a card game where both parties aim to get scores of 9. In that way, it's comparable to Blackjack. Face cards and 10s are worth zero, Aces are worth one and the rest of the cards are worth face value. When placing bets, the player chooses to wager on the banker winning, the player winning, or a tie between the two.

 

The game starts with the player and banker receiving two cards each. The two-card hand's score is the sum of both cards, as long as the score is under 10. If the two cards add up to more than 10, simply drop the first digit. For example, if the hand consists of a 6 and an 8, the score would be 4 (14 minus the first digit). If the player's score is under 6, a third card is drawn.

 

The game is simple and immensely popular amongst casino whales. According to the findings of research analyst Shaun C Kelley, 90% of the 2014 gaming revenue generated in Macau came from Baccarat tables, with 30% coming from regular Baccarat and 60% coming from VIP Baccarat – the ritzier version that can have $25,000 minimum bets or more.

 

VIPs flock to the game because of the low house edge, the prestige and the simplicity. A VIP Baccarat player in Macau is invited to a private gaming salon with reserved tables and special staff. They can get away with doing things that other players can't, such as ripping up cards after a poor hand. Players also aggressively fold the cards' corners, revealing a hint of the card and thus prolonging the excitement. The folded unusable cards are tossed to the other side of the table.

 

Players are scouted by "junkets," who make a commission on bringing big-time Baccarat players to casinos in Macau. The gamblers are set up with "rolling chips," which are non-negotiable chips used by casinos to track VIP play. Because casinos offer big rebates to high rollers (for example, $1 million return for $5 million lost), tracking VIP play is important, otherwise casinos risk paying out rebates for amounts not actually wagered.

 

The perks of playing Baccarat are more pronounced than any other game. Once played by French aristocracy, this "gentleman's game" has maintained its integrity over the years and continues to offer elite players the opportunity to flaunt their wealth and enjoy the luxuries that come along with it.