Baccarat Variations

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Published: 26/04/2012

The spread of Baccarat throughout the world brought about a tremendous number of variations in how the game is played. Each region added its own modifications to the rules, culminating in at least half a dozen major versions and quite a few minor ones.

Fortunately, the basics of the game have remained essentially unchanged. Two hands are dealt, a Banker hand versus a Player hand. The winner is the hand with a point value closest to nine points.

Most of the differences relate to who assumes the role of Bank, the rules by which cards may be drawn and the betting limits that are in force. Some variations make side bets available, but most offer only the opportunity to wager on a Tie at odds of 8:1 or 9:1.

Following are some brief descriptions of the most commonly encountered versions of Baccarat. Players are encouraged to check the House Rules for each game before playing, just to be sure what restrictions on drawing and/or betting may apply.

Chemin de Fer – Although this original French version of Baccarat is still played at some European casinos, it is hard to find in most other parts of the world. Participants compete among themselves, not against the House. They take turns being responsible for the Bank, and only the participant holding the Bank is allowed to bet on the Banker hand. Everyone else has to bet on the Player hand, to which strict drawing rules apply. The Banker hand has more drawing options available.

Baccarat en Banque – In this version, the House has a dedicated Dealer who is responsible for the Bank. The shoe is stationary. In Monte Carlo’s variation Baccarat a Deux Tableau, two Player hands are dealt, allowing participants to wager on either one of them, but not on the Banker hand, which is reserved for the House. Drawing rules also differ.

Punto Banco – Sometimes referred to as “American Baccarat” or “Big Table” Baccarat, this version got its start in South America. It enables wagering on either the Player hand (punto) or Banker hand (banco). Typically, the House employs a playing Dealer, who bets on the Banker hand exclusively. The Dealer is also responsible for paying winners or collecting from losers. Because the House always holds the Bank, a 5% commission is levied on all Banker wins backed by the participants. Strict drawing rules apply.

Mini Baccarat – This version of the game is the one most often found in casino pit areas. It follows the same rules and methods of play as those of Punto Banco. The table, however, is smaller and the stakes tend to be considerably lower. Again, a casino Dealer always controls the shoe and serves as the Bank. For beginners, this is probably the easiest and least costly version of the game with which to start.

Midi Baccarat – this version is played on a slightly larger table than Mini Baccarat, although the rules are basically the same with somewhat higher stakes. It is not unusual to encounter this variation inside the High Limit rooms of casinos.

Three-Card Baccarat –Played with a single 52-card deck, this version has become quite popular in the casinos of Macau. It differs from the traditional game in several other ways, too, such as three cards dealt initially to each hand, with the highest possible hand being three face cards, followed by a natural nine or eight, and so on. There is no drawing at all. Should both hands have the same point value, the one holding more face cards wins. When both hands contain the same number of points and face cards, a Tie is declared, paying 20-to-1. A side bet known as “Three Faces” is also available, with a payout of 16-to-1, but it is a bad bet; the House advantage is a whopping 83%.

Double Fortune Baccarat – A few Las Vegas casinos offer this variation of Baccarat using two eight-deck shoes. One shoe is red, while the other is blue, and hands are dealt from both shoes for each hand. Participants may bet on the results of either or both shoes, along with a number of proposition bets.

Commission Free Baccarat – This unusual variation is sometimes referred to as “EZ Baccarat.” It follows the rules of Punto Banco, yet the House receives no commission when the Banker hand succeeds. All wins pay even money. However, whenever the Banker hand wins with a three-card total of 7, all bets on the Banker push. The optional “Dragon Bet” is available to wager on this rare occurrence, paying 40-to-1.

Published on: 26/04/2012

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