It is a comparing card game played between two hands, the "player" and the "banker". Each baccarat coup (round of play) has three possible outcomes: "player" (player has the higher score), "banker", and "tie". There are three popular variants of the game: punto banco (or "North American baccarat"), baccarat chemin de fer (or "chemmy"), and baccarat banque (or à deux tableaux). In punto banco, each player's moves are forced by the cards the player is dealt. In baccarat chemin de fer and baccarat banque, by contrast, both players can make choices. The winning odds are in favour of the bank, with a house edge no lower than around 1 percent.
The origins of the game are disputed, and some sources claim that it dates to the 19th century. Other sources claim that the game was introduced into France from Italy at the end of the 15th century by soldiers returning from the Franco-Italian War during the reign of Charles VIII.
Baccarat has been popular among the French nobility since the 19th century. During the Napoleonic era and before the legalization of casino gambling in 1907, people in France commonly played Baccarat in private gaming rooms. Dating to this time period, Baccarat Banque is the earliest form of baccarat which is a three-person game and mentioned in Album des jeux by Charles Van-Tenac.
Later, Chemin de Fer emerged as a two-person, zero-sum game from Bacarrat Banque. Baccarat Punto Banco, in which the bettor bets on whether the Player or the Banker's hand wins, was a significant change in the development of modern baccarat. It developed into a house-banked game in Havana in the 1940s and is the most popular modern form.
U.S. casinos are generating an increasing amount of their revenue from baccarat play. For example, in May 2012, Nevada only generated 18.3% of its total table gaming win from baccarat. However, in May 2013, this percentage increased to 33.1% and in May 2014 it rose to 45.2%.