Understanding Baccarat

BaccaratEven if you don’t know the rules of Baccarat, the one thing you probably do you is that it’s the choice game of Ian Fleming’s James Bond.  But this game has been around even before 007 hit the scene.

The game dates to around the early 15th century, around the time of King Charles VIII.  Many sources suggest that the game originated in Italy and then spread to France.

The important thing to note about this game is that there are three variations which each require a different level of skill. The three variations are Punti Banco, Baccarat Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque.  The simplest one, which relies more on chance and luck than on the player’s ability, is Punto Banco. In this version of Baccarat, the outcome of the game is largely governed by the kind of cards dealt. The other two Baccarat variations require more strategy and are affected by the choices of the player.

While there is a level of skill required to play this game, when it comes down to it it’s a simple game with three closing moves.  These are Player, Banker or Tie.  Just like the closing moves, the card values in this game are equally as simple and easy to understand.  The Ace card is worth 1. Cards 10 to King are with 0. Cards 2 – 9 or worth their own face value. In Baccarat, you would determine a player’s score by adding up all the cards and then dropping any 10 digits. For example, say a player was holding an 8 card and a 9 card. 8 + 9 = 17 but the 10 digits are dropped making the player’s final score 7. In Baccarat a player’s aim is to get to 9 – the highest possible score.

Before clarifying more rules about the game, it’s important to have an understanding of the three Baccarat variations as each of them work differently and come with their own rules.

Punto Banco is most common in the United States, Canada, Australia, Macau and Sweden. It is commonly known as North American Baccarat or tableau. This is a high risk game which isn’t really for players who aren’t interested in taking a risk. Betting often starts at $25 but can go up to as high as $500. If you aren’t looking to risk so much in a bet, it’s best to look for Baccarat online. The stakes tend to be lower.

In this variation of Baccarat, cards are dealt to the Player and Banker. These are just terms for two different hands and do not refer to the croupier and players. Other players can also bet on these two hands, either Player or Banker.  Each hand is dealt two facedown cards by the croupier. Once all cards have been dealt, the croupier turns the cards over and the total score of each hand is calculated. No more cards are dealt if either the Player or Banker hand have a high value (a score of either 8 or 9). In this case the winner is the hand with the highest value. If neither hand had a total score of 8 or 9, the dealing continues.

There are different rules for both the Player hand and the Banker hand when it comes to more cards being dealt. For example, with the Player hand, if this hand had a total score of 0 – 5, a third card can be drawn.  However the Player hand will need to stand (not draw another card) if the total score of this hand’s cards is 6 or 7.  The rules which determine the actions of the Banker hand, are influenced by the actions of the player hand. For example if the Player stands, then the Banker hand will follow the Player rules to determine whether or not this hand can draw more cards.  It’s important that a player of this kind of Baccarat knows the rules of each hand before playing.

At the end of the game, once scores have been totalled the croupier pays the winning bets. If for example, the Player and Banker hands win then winnings will be paid evenly to each hand. If the hands have the same score, then a tie bet known as “Egalité-tie bets win” is declared.  There is a variation of this type of Baccarat known as Super 6 where winnings will be paid to both hands evenly unless the Banker got a score of 6. These rules vary from casino to casino so it’s best to do your research before playing.

The terms Player and Banker are merely symbolic. The Banker hand, for example, is not responsible for banking money. The Banker is simply the person the player who has the Dealer’s shoe of cards which is often moved from player to player. Should the Banker not wish to play that hand, there is the option to move the Dealer’s shoe to the other player. The Banker is responsible for dealing the cards. However this is only done when instructed to do so by the croupier.

The second variation of Baccarat, known as Chemin de Fer, is considered to be the original and most authentic version. Its source can be traced to France.  The name of the game which means way of iron or way of the railroad in French is thought to refer to one of two things. It either refers to the fact that the cards used to be kept in an iron box or to the manner in which the card box was moved around the table.

The rules of Chemin de Fer are strict and somewhat rigid. 6 decks of cards are used. These are first shuffled by the dealer and then passed in a counter clockwise direction from player to player. After all players have had a turn shuffling, the dealer gives the cards one last shuffle.

In this game, the Banker starts out as the person to the right of the dealer. However each player has turn being Banker. The significance of the Banker is that this this is the first player to bet. Other players have the option to match this bet. If a player does this, they are said to go bank.  If no players go bank (match the initial bet), they are then given the chance to place their own bets.  The amount betted by the Banker and the players needs to be equal. If no one goes bank, the Banker then needs to adjust the initial bet made by either increasing or decreasing it to match the total of the bets placed by the players.

The game is essentially between the Banker and the player who placed the highest bet, known as the punters. In a similar way to Punto Banco, the Banker deals two facedown cards to each hand. Players then look at their cards and only if either the punters or Banker have a total score of 8 or 9 are the cards turned. If no one has a high score, another card is dealt generally face-up. This is usually only done if the card score is 6 or 7. Once both the Banker and the punters are as close to the highest score as possible, card scores are compared.

If the player has a higher score than the Banker, all those who placed a bet will receive a matching amount from the Banker. Since the Bank lost, in this case the position moves to the next player.  If however, the Banker’s hand won then all winnings are given to the Bank and the player in the Bank position has the option to remain.

For skilled Baccarat players looking for something both exhilarating and risky, Baccarat Banque is the best option. While this game is similar to Chemin de Fer there is one fundamental difference. In Chemin de Fer, the Bank is a position a player hold until they lose at which point it passes to the next player. In this game, the person in the Bank position remains in the position until the end of the game.  This makes the game riskier.

Because of the risk involved in the Bank position, this is often given to the player who is willing to lose the most. Players arrange themselves on either side of the banker. Players are in two groups of five, represented by one player who will stay in the playing position until they lose.

The banker is the last player to shuffle the cards. This only happens after both the croupier and other players have done so first. Just like in other variations of Baccarat, once the banker has placed a bet the other players have the option to go bank.  Cards are then dealt and turned face-up if one player has a score closest to 8 or 9. If no players have a high score, a third card can be dealt face-up.  As in other variations of Baccarat, players will usually only request another card when their total card score is between 0 and 4.

A player in the banker position cannot leave the position until one full hand has been played. When the player does decide to leave, they are required to leave an amount of money for the Banker position so the other players can continue the game.

Baccarat can be a thrilling game once you get the hang of it.  If you’re ready to give some online Baccarat a go, we recommend EuroPalace Casino.

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