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Punto Banco - how to play    

Punto Banco from BJ style tablePunto Banco is a close relative of the more famous game Baccarat, which also has an off-shoot known as Chemin de fer. The key difference for us is the fact that in Punto Banco, there are no optional plays. All cards are dealt according to a fixed set of rules.

To Begin With
This game is unusual in that it can be played on two types of table. One is the conventional Blackjack style table with a single dealer controlling the wholeDiagram of the full table version operation. This is common in provincial casinos that opt to spread this game. The big London casinos tend to go for the big, 'kidney' shaped, table version of the game. This has three dealers and the players sit in armchairs and get the oportunity to deal the cards themselves. The table has twelve numbered seats for punters to sit at.

The Object
Players must bet on the winner of a match-up between two hands, one called Player, the other is called Bank. Cards are dealt to both hands by the dealer according to a set of rules and the winner is the hand closest to a total of nine. Both table versions of the game are identical in this.
For this game the totals of each hand are calculated by adding the values of the cards in them and then using just the last digit. So a hand of 6 and 4 has a total of 10 and thus a value for this game of Zero!

The Play
Players seated at the table are the only ones allowed to make a bet. They must chose which of the two sides will be victorious and place their bet in the box that signifies their choice. In the modern game there is also a third bet which is Egalite, which a result of a tie between the first two bets. Choosing Player simply means placing a bet on the 'Player' area infront of their numbered seat. Choosing Bank means passing the bet to the dealer who places it in the smaller boxes marked Bank. Having made their choice, a player can opt to bet on the tie, or egalité. This means betting that the outcome of the hand will be a draw, both hands having equal value with no more cards to come.

When all bets are placed, the player in seat 1 takes the shoe and begins dealing the cards as if they were the Bank, sending them towards the centre of the table. Here the dealer in the middle of the table (sometimes called the 'caller') places the cards in an orderly fashion. In the mini version, the house dealer does all the dealing. The first card goes to the Player, the second to the Bank and the next two follow suit.

The Rules
When both hands have two cards the dealing rules come in to play to indicate whether an extra card should be dealt to either hand.

Player
  Having  
  0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 DRAWS A CARD
  6, 7 STANDS
  8, 9 NATURAL

The Player table shows what happens to the Player's hand when the first two cards have been dealt. So if it has a total of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 then it gets a third and final card. From 6 to 9 it stays as it is.

 
Bank
  Having Draws when Player has
  0, 1, 2 Anything
  3 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9
  4 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  5 4, 5, 6, 7
  6, 7
  7 STANDS
  8, 9 NATURAL

The play of the Bank hand is more complex but can be seen clearly from the table.

(1) Extra complexity is added when the Bank has a total of 6. Bank draws a card only if the Players total of 6 or 7 is reached with three cards. If it is a two card total then Bank stands.


The Payout
A winning bet on Player is paid at even money. A winning Bank bet is paid at odds of 19-20, or in other words there is a 5% tax on Bank winnings. Winning Egalité bets are paid at 8-1 ( which sometimes is misleadingly written 9 for 1 ).

Playing Bank gives the house a 1.17% edge. and Player gives them 1.36%. The real odds of the Egalite bet is 9.47-1 but the casino offers you 8-1 (9 for 1) and thus racks up a massive 14% edge here.

Punto Banco 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. Punters can bet on either one winning.
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.
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