Baccarat Rules

Baccarat, also known as Punto Banco, is played on a casino table about the size of a craps table.  There are three casino dealers and up to twelve or fourteen players can play.  It is not uncommon to find baccarat in its own area of the casino.  The game is played from a six or eight decks.

All face cards and tens do not have a value and cards that are less than ten are counted at face value.  Aces are worth one.  The suit of the card does not matter and only single card values are count.  Any count that reaches a double digit drops the left digit.  So, 15 and 25 both are counted as 5.

The players then bet, either banco (bank), punto (player) or standoff.  The card dealer gives two cards to each player and then the first player and the banker last.  The idea is to bet on the hand that you believe will be the highest in total.

 A third card can then be dealt to the players and the bank.  The third card is based on these three-card rules.  Whether or not the third card is dealt will be decided by the dealer and are basically compulsory decisions that the players do not have to be concerned about.  Nevertheless, they are decided based on these rules:

Players Third Card Rules
If either the player or bank has a hand of 8 or 9 on their first two cards, then no further cards will be drawn.  This hand is called a natural and that hand is then over.

If the player's hand is less than or equal to 5, then the player's hand receives a third card.

If the player does not draw the third card, then the bank's hand must stand on 6 or more and take a third card if the hand equals 5 or less.  If the player does not take the third card, then the bank's third card rules come into effect.

Bank's Third Card Rules:
   When the bank's hand totals 2 or less, then the bank draws the card, regardless of what the player's third card is.
   When the bank's hand totals 3, then the bank draws a third card unless the player's third card was an 8.

   When the bank's hand totals 4, then the bank draws a third card unless the player's third card was 0, 1, 8 or 9.

   When the bank's hand totals 6, then the bank draws a third card if the player's third card is a 6 or 7.

   When the bank's hand totals 7, then the bank must stand.

It is a rare occasion when a mistake is made on these three card rules.  It is not necessary to commit them to memory, but should a mistake be made it can be useful for you to know the rules.

Basic Game Play
There are two basic bets that are principal in baccarat.  These are the banker or player, also known as banco or punto.  There is also the standoff bet, however, this is one is rarely used. Depending on the casino, the players may or may not be able to deal.  If you are playing video baccarat, the cards are dealt by the dealer automatically.  

Each player may bet on either punto or banco.  The player dealing may bet, but the customary bet for the dealer is banco.  Players have the option as to whether or not they would like to deal.  This is called passing the "shoe" to the next player.  The shoe remains with the player dealing as long as the bank wins.  If punto wins, the dealing player must pass the shoes to the next player.

To play, two hands are dealt and the player bets which hand will win or which hand they will tie.  It is similar to betting black or red in roulette.  The payoff on this bet is even money, except for a standoff bet, which pays 9-1 or 9-1.  The only difference between the bets, banco or punto, is that a win on banco costs the player a 5% commission, which is considered a built-in advantage for the casino.

The reason that the winning banco bet is taxed is due to the fact that over 8-deck cards, the banco bet will win three to four hands more often than punto.  Therefore, the casino charges a commission on your winnings.

Each hand begins with two cards, but a third card is drawn depending on certain rules.  The person dealing places two cards face down.  The player who has the largest bet on punto receives two cards that are also face down.  The punto player can then look at the cards and give them back to the dealer.  The dealer then turns the cards over while another casino dealer announces winner and results of the hand.

If the banco or punto hand has a total of eight or night, this hand is a "natural."  No more cards are dealt after this.  However, if it is not a natural, then the casino dealer will instruct the card dealer to deal a third card, depending on the value of each hand.  When to deal the third card is set based on the set of rules for third card dealing for both the player and the bank.

When dealing has ended, the hand with the highest hand count is the winner.  The casino dealers then pay winning bets and collect losing bets.  The player dealer is not responsible for handling payouts, as he is still playing against the casino.

Chemin De Fer
There is also a French version of baccarat that is called Chemin De Fer.  This version of the game is different in that you don't bet banco or punto, but you must be banco or punto.  Additionally, the players are playing against themselves rather than against the casino.  Unlike baccarat, Chemin de Fer has more flexible third card rules.  The player who is dealing is also responsible for losing the losing bets with his or her own money and is also responsible for collecting the winning bank bets.

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