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Baccarat - how to play   Baccarat en Banque

Baccarat is the mother name for a collection of games with very similiar rules but its origins are not clear as many card game historians compete with their own derivations of the game.

The oldest variation still in play is Baccarat en Banque (often referred to simple as Baccarat Banque) which is also known as Baccarat Deux Tables. Baccarat Punto Banco is a popular casino house run version of this and Baccarat Chemin de Fer is a non-house run version popular in the mid-20th century and made famous by James Bond. This page deals with Baccarat en Banque. Confusion arises with many casinos around the world dealing Baccarat Punto Banco and calling it simply Baccarat. Baccarat en Banque is rarely played even in European casinos.

Baccarat en Banque

The Table
Baccarat en Banque is played on cello shaped table, that is an oval with two side cut-outs in the middle and in really old games just one cut-out. The player owning the bank sits in one of the cut-outs and a croupier sits opposite. The two ends of the table can seat five players each. Similar to the image but without the modern markings.
Baccarat en Banque Table

Electing the Banque
One of the players has to become the Banque. There are two traditional ways of choosing who that is. The main and obvious way is the individual players post an amount of money in front of them. The largest bet means that player becomes the Banque and the amount is the maximum they can lose on any hand. If the Banque chooses to do so then they can cover any extra bets.

Shuffle and Deal
Unusually Baccarat en Banque uses three 52 card decks. Chemin de Fer (known as Chemmy) uses six decks and Punto Banco uses eight. The croupier shuffles the shoe of cards and then offers it to the players on either side to shuffle again. They can decline but in any case the shoe moves to the Banque for one last shuffle.

The Banque is the dealer in this game and they begin by dealing a face down card to the player's hand on their right, then the player's hand on their left, then one to themselves, and then repeats the same deal. There are now three 2 card hands, one for the players on the right, one for the players on the left and one for the dealer. So the bank is playing their hand against two player hands. This is where the alternative name Baccarat Deux Tables comes from.

Betting and Play Options
The group of players on each side of the table are nominally playing the hand on their side. However the players can bet on the near hand, the far hand or both at once. The croupier is there to assist players placing the bet in the correct place. A box further away from them allows the placement of a bet on the other side's hand and playing both is said to be playing 'across the line', and the croupier will place the bet on a stripe running between croupier and banker.

When making bets the player on the dealer's right has first option and then dealer's left. It alternates from side to side in order. Any player can say 'Go Bank' when it is their turn which means match the banker's entire stake. Only one person can do this per hand. As there are two player's hands someone on the other side can do the same and then their bets are halved.

When a player takes on the bank and loses, they get two more chances to win back their share. If they lose both those challenges, they cannot go bank again for the remainder of the game.

The exact policy for wagering limits can depend on either the banker or the house rules. In most cases, the total table limit is equal to the banker’s bet; so if the bank stakes £1000, the combined amount of player bets cannot exceed that amount. However, the banque may decide to cover any surplus bets on the table, in which case they are obliged to do so for every hand thereafter. Otherwise, the croupier will remove any excess wagers in reverse playing order (i.e. the last bet is returned first).

Player Drawing Rules
The players immediately left and right of the banker represent their respective halves of the table. They hold this position as long as they keep winning; as soon as they lose their hand, the honour passes to the next person in the playing order.Technically speaking, the player controlling the hand can do whatever he or she likes on a total of seven or less. With the rest of the table’s money on the line, however, it is considered very bad form to stray from traditional drawing norms.

Right of the bank acts first, then the left, then the banker. If the hand is a natural eight or nine, the punter reveals the cards and wins immediately unless the banque has an equal or greater score. Otherwise;

  • If the score is six or seven points then take no more cards
  • If the score is four or less, take a third and final card
  • If the score is five, you can choose whether or not to take another card

Players should look to vary their decisions on five to make it harder for the Banker.

Banker Drawing Rules
The bank must declare a natural immediately, just like the players, but otherwise there are no set laws regarding when to stand or draw. As the dealer only has their own cash to consider, there’s much less pressure to adhere to standard drawing rules but they are generally best.

The Payout
Bets are paid out at Even money but the house will usually charge a fee for playing.

Baccarat Dictionary

Spread Spread is the casino way of saying 'run a game of'. So when a casino runs a game of Punto Banco it is spreading it.
Player and Bank These are the names of the two sides competing in this game.
Shoe This can have two meanings in either Blackjack or Punto Banco. It always refers to the box that holds the cards to be dealt in the game. It also refers to a session of consecutive hands dealt from a full shoe until the cards are finished, or as in either game, the cut card is reached.
Cut Card A plastic card, often red, is inserted six cards from the bottom of the pack of cards before they enter the shoe. This stops the possibility of runnung out of cards.
Natural This is the name given to a total of 8 or 9 because it is 'naturally' strong.
Caller This is an old name for the dealer that sits at the centre of the large table layout version of this game. The name comes from the fact that this dealer calls out the instructions to the person acting as dealer.