Baccarat Game Types
Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer, and Baccarat Banque
There are different strokes for different folks and this is true even in the casino. Even the most historic and standard of games that you can play are not set in stone. Baccarat is a great example of the varieties that you can choose from depending on your geography and preference.
Baccarat is a card game that has been around for centuries and has travelled from its origins in Italy and around the world to become something unique for European and North American casinos. With all that travelling and all those years behind it, you can imagine the different changes that have shaped this game.
All Baccarat games share some things in common, so let’s start with that. Baccarat is a card game played in a casino with a range of players from 5 to 12 and anywhere from 3 to 8 decks of cards. There is typically staff of the casino to act as dealer and croupier. The table may be an oval like a craps table or kidney-shaped. The name of the game baccarat comes from the French word for “zero”. If you find yourself with a zero, then you are the loser of the hand.
The object of all varieties of Baccarat is to get a score of 9, or the closest to 9 possible. By drawing cards from the stack you have two or three cards to reach the 9 point goal. To count your points in Baccarat add up the face value of cards 2-9. An Ace is worth 1 point, and the 10, Jack, Queen and King are all worth 10 points each. Once you have the total of your cards, you will drop the first digit and only count the remainder. For example, if you draw a 6 + 9 = 15 = 5. Don’t find yourself holding a 4+6=10 but a 0 in Baccarat!
North American Baccarat, or Punto Banco, is a variety that is most played in the United States. Punto Banco takes no skill whatsoever but lots of luck. “Punto” is the “Player” and “Banco” is the “Banker” and these roles hold major significance in different Baccarat varieties. One of the major differences to pay attention to in the three major varieties of Baccarat is how the position of the “Banker” is assigned. In Punto Banco, the bank is funded by the casino and is merely a ceremonial position. All players coming to the Baccarat table in Punto Banco can bet on either the “Player” or “Banker” cards.
Typically the third card rules are quite firm at a Punto Banco game. For a Player who draws a total of 0-5, they must draw the third card. A Player with a 6 or 7 must stay and a “natural”, or 8 or 9, must reveal their cards immediately.
The Banker’s third card rules are a bit more complex and are based on the third card revealed by the Player:
The Player’s third card is a 2 or 3, then the Banker will draw if he has a 0-4 and stays with a 5-7.
The Player’s third card is a 4 or 5, then the Banker will draw is he has a 0-5 and stays with a 6-7.
The Player’s third card is a 6 or 7, then the Banker will draw if he has a 0-6 and stays with a 7.
The Player’s third card is an 8, then the Banker will draw if he has a 0-2 and stays with a 3-7.
The Player’s third card is an Ace, 9, 10 or face card, then the Banker will draw if he has a 0-3 and stays with a 4-7.
Chemin de Fer
This popular version is played in France and differs from Punto Banco in several important ways. Chemin de Fer is French for “railway” for the quick tempo in which you pass around the “shoe”. This special tool you will see in Baccarat is more than ceremony in Chemin de Fer. In simpler versions of Baccarat the role of the” Banker” is played by the casino. However, in Chemin de Fer, the “Banker” role rotates. The person that is the banker for a specified round stakes his or her own money and can remain banker as long as they are a winner. The casino typically takes a 5% rake from the banker’s winnings.
In Chemin de Fer the player acting as the “Banker” will stake his money and the players that take the role as “Player” at the table will bet against the banker’s bet. Players may join in the hand until the banker’s total bet has been covered. If one single player would like to bet against the entire bet staked by the banker, that player yells, “Banco”! In this version of Baccarat two cards are dealt face-down to the banker and two face down to the player. If it is a “natural”, which is a total of 8 or 9 on the first two cards, you will then reveal your cards. If you take a third card, then the third card will be dealt face up.
Since Chemin de Fer has a player “banking” the game and not a casino, the rules that dictate when a player must take a third card are more flexible.
The third variety of Baccarat you could see is called Baccarat Banque. This version is also a European and has a few differences to notice. This version, like Chemin de Fer also offers more opportunities for strategy. The banker is often determined in this game by the player that has the largest bet to play. There is no ceremonial passing of the Baccarat “shoe” to signify the changing of the banker like in Chemin de Fer.
Also known as “A Deux Tableau”, or two tables, for the unusual way you may place bets. In this Baccarat, players may only bet on the “Player” cards. However, “two tables” means that there is a Player 1 and Player 2. Two cards are dealt to the banker, two cards to Player 1 and two cards to Player 2. If there are 8 “Players” around the table, for example, then 4 players would be Player 1 and 4 players would be Player 2.
To take over the role of the banker, a player may call “Going Bank” on a hand in attempt to bust the banker. Their bet must equal that of the bankers and then beat the score in the cards final reveal.
The object of all varieties of Baccarat remains the same. The only variations rest on the role of the banker and the third card rules – oh and maybe which language you will speak at the table! One of the most attractive things about this game is the low house advantage.
As the face of gaming continues to change, there have even been some new changes in the casinos as Baccarat continues to evolve. If you happen to pass through a Las Vegas casino now days, you may see Baccarat has been scaled down onto a blackjack sized table. Some call this mini-baccarat and has been a great tool to make the game of the nobility accessible for all. All varieties are quick to learn, easy to follow and have proven fun for thousands of years and across the globe.