Baccarat is a multiplayer casino card game which is played between the player and what is known in the game as the ‘banker’.
Simply put, there are only three possible ways that the game can end; the first being the person player, (the ‘player’) has a higher score, the “banker” has a higher score and the third and final outcome being a tie. There are always only three outcomes, no matter which of the three versions one plays.
There are three versions of the games, each with its own nuances: Punto Banco, Chemin de Fer and Baccarat Banque, each of which are outlined below. As the French names suggest, baccarat originated in France.
Where did Baccarat Come From?
The formal origins of the game are somewhat disputed, some people argue and say that the game dates back to the 19th century whereas there are others who claim that the game dates back to the 15th century when soldiers brought the game back from the Franco-Italian war from Italy to France.
Either way, one thing that is true and a fact is that the game has been popular with the elite French and the nobility in France since as far back as the 19th century.
The game was played in private rooms and in an underground fashion as casino games and gambling were not legalized until 1907.
Baccarat Banque was the first form of baccarat, involving three players followed by Chemin de Fer as a two-person game and then Punto Banco, the current most popular version of the game.
Punto banco is the most popular and played version of the game today in many countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Finland, United Kingdom, and Finland.
This version is actually so popular that it is universally known as “baccarat.” This is the form of baccarat that you will find most often at casinos.
It is one of the most popular card and table games at casinos all over the world, making up a significant percentage of casino revenues.
In this version, the casino is always ‘the bank’. Unlike more traditional versions of baccarat, Punto banco has fixed drawing rules whereas other versions involve drawing choices by the individual player.
Punto is the word for player and banco is the word for bank, so this game is naturally a two-player game and they are titles for the two hands.
The deck or ‘shoe’ contains 6 to 8 decks of cards, all shuffled together. When being shuffled and dealt, there is a card pulled and placed towards the back of the deck and when this card is drawn, it is indicative of the last coup or cut.
Conversely, when the game starts, the first card is turned face up and based on the value of this card, this many cards are placed (burned) face down. For example, if the first card face up is a five, there are then five cards placed face down.
Then, two cards are dealt, taking turns between player and banker and the croupier (who is the dealer) calls the total. When 8 or 9 is reached, the outcome and winner is announced.
If 8 or 9 is not reached, there are rules to help decide about a third card. Regardless, when the winner is announced, bets are paid out accordingly.
Chemin de Fer
Chemin de Fer is one of the more traditional versions of the game and has its origins in the 19th century. The name translates directly from French to mean ‘railway’ and alludes to the fact this game is faster than the original and other versions of the game because in the 19th century, the train was the fastest means of transportation.
This version uses six decks of cards, all shuffled together with multiple players in random order and play goes counter clockwise. One player is named the banker and this person also deals.
The banker sets the wager and the other players then decide if they want to ‘go bank’ and match this wager. If total wagers from all players are less than the bank’s wager, bystanders and observers can add wagers to meet the bank. Four cards are then dealt, two for the banker and two for the players.
The player with the highest wager is the group representative and plays. If either party holds an 8 or 9, the game is finished but if they do not, they can accept or refuse a third card (acceptance is mandatory if the sum of cards held is less than 5).
In order to get one’s wager back, the player hand has to exceed the banker’s hand. This also equates to getting a matching wager back from the bank. The opposite happens if the banker hand exceeds the player hand.