Punto Banco Game Rules

Punto Banco means literally the two opposing sides; player (punto) V's bank (banco). In the US and Asia it's called baccarat, and is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It also has a spin off game called Chemin de Fer. In Punto Banco the only decision that the player needs to make is where to place his bet. Once a bet has been placed, the game unfolds.

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Punto Banco is traditionally played on an oval casino table with up to 14 numbered seats and three dealers - two 'base dealers' (one for each side of the table) and one 'palette dealer' who sits centrally. The palette dealer uses a wooden paddle to pick up and move cards, often with a flair that's comparable to an Italian waiter brandishing an oversized peppermill. In smaller venues you will also see the game played on a blackjack-sized table with a single dealer.

 Playing Punto Banco

The aim of Punto Banco is to bet on a contest between two hands - the player (punto) and the bank (banco). The winner is the one with a hand closest in value to nine. 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings are worthless, Aces are worth one and the other cards have their usual values. The value of a hand is obtained by adding up the value of the cards and if the total is in double figures ten is removed.

As an example, if the punto draws a 7 and an 8, this is treated as five (7+8=15. Because the result is in double figures, we deduct ten to give a total of five).

To bet players place their chips on the designated boxes on the table immediately in front of them - either punto, banco or egalité (a tie). Once all bets have been placed, the player in seat one takes the card shoe and deals four cards to the dealer who places them.

The first card goes to the player, the second to the dealer, the next to the player and the final card to the bank. After each game the shoe is passed to the next player. In the scaled down version the dealer does all the dealing so you don't even have the excitement and complexity of counting out four cards.

Once the player and bank both have two cards each the following rules apply:

 Player (Punto)

  • If the player's hand adds up to zero to five, a third card is drawn.
  • If the total is six or seven, it stands. If it is eight or nine, this is called a 'natural' and stands.

 Banker (Banco)

  • If the banker's hand is worth zero to three, the banker must draw a third card whatever the value of the player's third card.
  • If the total is four and the value of the player's hand is two to seven the banker must draw a third card.
  • If the total is five and the value of the player's hand is four to seven the banker must draw a third card.
  • If the total is six and the value of the player's hand is six to seven the banker must draw a third card, but only if the player's total was achieved within three cards. Confusingly, where the player's total was made by just two cards the bank must stand.
  • If the total is seven the banker must stand.
  • If the banker's hand is worth a total of eight to nine the banker and player both stand.

 The result

After all that there is either a clear winner or a draw. All bets on Punto winning are paid out at even money while a winning banco bet pays out 19/20; in other words there is a 5% commission paid to the house. Winning egalité bets are paid at 8/1.

All losing bets are collected first prior to winning bets being paid out. If it is a tie the dealer pays the winnings to those who bet on egalité, while the other players may choose either to let their bets stay where they are, change them or withdraw them. Players betting on punto or banco do not lose their stakes in the event of a tie.

 Minimum and maximum bets

Minimum and maximum bets are specified at the table. However, at most of the casinos listed on Jackpot they're generally £10 and £2,000 respectively.

 Winning Punto Banco strategies

Although one is newish and gauche and the other is favoured by James Bond, blah, blah, blah, there really isn't much difference between casino war and punto banco. You do not really have to do anything in either, and there is no player skill whatsoever. Because there are six packs of cards in a shoe and high cards are worthless you could count cards until Hell freezes over and it will do you no good at all.

Best odds are to put your money on Banco, which has a 1.01% house advantage. Punto has a 1.29% house advantage. Do not bother with the egalité bet - the odds of winning are silly and the house advantage is a whopping 15.75%.

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