Baccarat Game Versions
Baccarat Strategy Guide - Chapter 2

DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF BACCARAT

Chapter 1 describes Punto Banco, the version of baccarat that is played in casinos in North America, Australia, Macau, and elsewhere (including online casinos).

The characteristics of Punto Banco are:

  • THE CASINO BANKS THE GAME ALL THE TIME.
  • THE PLAYER AND BANK HANDS ARE PLAYED OUT BY FIXED RULES.
  • WINNING BANK HANDS MUST PAY A 5% COMMISSION.

In this chapter, I’ll describe several different versions of baccarat that include:

Baccarat Game Versions

CHEMIN DE FER

Baccarat Game: Chemin de FerChemin de Fer is a French phrase meaning “railroad” or “the railway.” This version of baccarat (also known as “chemmy”) is popular in casinos in France. (This was, in fact, the game that you saw James Bond playing in most of his movies.) The rules are similar to Punto Banco (see Chapter 1 for the rules) except the players have the following options:

  • TO BE THE BANK, AND
  • TO DECIDE IF THE BANK OR PLAYER HAND SHOULD DRAW A THIRD CARD.

Six decks of cards are used, and after the shuffle, one player is designated as the banker. (The option to be banker rotates around the table.) The banker wagers an amount of money that he is willing to risk. Each player in turn indicates how much they want to bet. If any player wants to the bet an amount equal to the bank, he would declare “banco,” and no other player is allowed to wager. (If the total of all bets made by the players is less than the bank, then bystanders may wager up to the amount of the bank.) The dealer (or in some casinos the banker) will give the two Bank Hand cards to the banker and the two Player Hand cards to the player that has wagered the most on the Player Hand. The players holding the cards will look at them.

  • IF EITHER HAS A TOTAL OF 8 OR 9, THE CARDS WOULD BE IMMEDIATELY TURNED OVER (THERE WOULD NOT BE ANY THIRD CARD DRAWS).
  • IF NEITHER HAND IS 8 OR 9, THE PLAYER HOLDING THE PLAYER HAND DECIDES WHETHER TO STAND OR DRAW A THIRD CARD.
  • TRADITIONALLY, THE PLAYER HOLDING THE PLAYER HAND WOULD DRAW ON 4 OR LESS AND STAND ON 6 OR MORE, WITH A PLAYER HAND OF 5 GOING ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

Once the Player Hand is completed, the banker decides whether the Bank Hand stands or draws. After the bank decision is made, the cards in both hands are turned over and the winning hand is declared by the dealer. There is an interesting playing strategy for Chemin de Fer on https://wizardofodds.com/games/chemin-de-fer/ that is based on whether the player holding the Player Hand stands or hits with a total of 5. If you intend to play Chemin de Fer, I would suggest you use this Baccarat strategy.

BACCARAT BANQUE

Baccarat Game: BanqueIn this version of baccarat (also called “Baccarat à Deux Tableaux”) a player is determined to be banker (usually a person who puts up the highest stake, or the first person who signed up to play the game). The banker is the only player that can wager on Bank Hand; all of the other players must wager on the Player Hand. Moreover, the designated banker is more permanent; he or she remains the banker until the end of the shoe (or runs out of money or decides to relinquish the role of banker).

The banker and the croupier will position themselves opposite each other in the center of the oval table (seating for up to 16 players). Most casinos use three decks of cards. The croupier will shuffle the cards and then give them to a player on his right to shuffle; and then to the player on the left to shuffle, and finally the cards are given to the banker for one final shuffle. The banker will deal three hands from a dealing shoe as follows: one card to the player on his or her right, the second card to the player on the left and then a third card to him- or herself. He repeats the process so that three two-card hands have been dealt.

The hand to the right of the banker is the Player Hand that players seated on the right side of the table can wager on. Likewise, the hand on the left is for players seated on the left side of the table. In other words, with Baccarat Banque, the banker plays against two Player Hands. (Note: if you are seated on the right side you don’t have to wager on the near hand; you could wager on the far hand.)

As in Chemin de Fer, a player can declare to “go bank,” meaning matching the banker’s entire stake. (If seated players combined wagers are less than the bank, then bystanders can make bets to make up the difference.) There are other rules regarding wagering that are often specific to each casino.

The player to the right of the banker acts first on the right-side Player Hand, then the player to the banker’s left does the same for the left-side Player Hand, and then the banker acts on the Bank Hand. Players can choose whether to stand or draw but traditionally, the players who control the two Player Hands will reveal the cards if they total a natural (8 or 9); stand if they total 6 or 7, and draw if they total 04. With a total of 5, the player can do as he or she pleases. There are no rules for standing or drawing on the Bank Hand, meaning the banker can choose to stand or draw. However, since the banker is playing against two Player Hands, he or she will usually focus the decision to stand or draw based on the Player Hand that has the highest total wager. (The logic here is if you can beat just one hand, beat the hand where you will win the most money.)

EZ BACCARAT

EZ BaccaratOne of the characteristics of baccarat that often annoys players is the payment of the 5% commission every time they wager on the Bank Hand and it wins. Most players don’t understand the reason for the 5% commission and, therefore, paying the casino a part of their winnings irritates them. It took a while but someone finally developed a baccarat game without the 5% commission. The name of this game is EZ Baccarat, and it was co-invented by a former casino live dealer, marketing executive, and manager of one of the most successful baccarat rooms on the Las Vegas Strip (MGM Grand), Francisco TJ Tejeda. Here’s how the game eliminated the 5% commission, and in the process, become one of the most popular versions of baccarat in North American casinos.

The game is played on a table the size of a blackjack table (up to 6 - 7 players) and it has the same rules as traditional baccarat except for these important differences:

 

  • ALL WINNING BANK HAND WAGERS ARE PAID AT EVEN MONEY EXCEPT WHEN THE THREE- CARD WINNING BANKER HAND HAS A TOTAL OF 7. WHEN THE LATTER OCCURS THE BANK HAND IS A PUSH.
  • BECAUSE THE 5% COMMISSION ON WINNING BANK HAND WAGERS IS ELIMINATED, IT MAKES THE GAME PLAY FASTER.
  • THERE ARE TWO SIDE BETS: THE DRAGON 7 AND PANDA 8.

HOUSE ADVANTAGE

The Bank Hand in EZ Baccarat has a house advantage of 1.02% per hand, which is slightly lower than the 1.06% for the traditional baccarat. (House advantage on the Player Hand and Tie does not change.)

Dragon 7 exampleDRAGON 7

Players have the option of wagering on the Dragon 7 side bet. The bet wins when a three-card Bank Hand totals 7 and beats the Player Hand (otherwise the side bet loses). The payoff is 40 to 1, and the house advantage is 7.61%. (Note: If you bet on the Bank Hand, and also wager on the Dragon 7 side bet and the Bank Hand wins with a three-card total of 7, your wager on the Bank Hand pushes, and your wager on the Dragon 7 side bet is paid off at 40 to 1.)

Panda8 examplePANDA 8

This is another optional side bet. The bet wins when a three-card winning Player Hand totals 8. The payoff is 25 to 1, and the house advantage is 10.19%.

CARD COUNTING THE DRAGON 7 SIDE BET

Card counting dragon 7By removing each card in turn from an eight-deck shoe, and doing computer simulations studies, it’s possible to determine the effect each card has on the house advantage. In fact, this study was done by 888casino contributing writer Eliot Jacobson.

What Jacobson found was the following:

  • THE 7 IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CARD REMAINING IN THE SHOE.
  • ELIMINATING THE 8 AND 9 VALUE CARDS ALSO AFFECTS THE HOUSE ADVANTAGE.
  • OTHER CARDS HAVE LESS EFFECT ON THE HOUSE ADVANTAGE.

Jacobson assigned tags to the cards and developed several card counting systems, which were then tested by millions of computer simulations. Jacobson concluded from his study that:

  • “IN THEORY THE DRAGON SIDE BET IN EZ BACCARAT IS AN ADVANTAGE PLAY OPPORTUNITY USING CARD COUNTING METHODOLOGY.”
  • IN HIS OPINION, HOWEVER, “GIVEN THE HIGH VARIANCE AND LOW RETURNS, CARD COUNTING IS NOT A PRACTICAL THREAT TO THE GAME.

CARD COUNTING THE PANDA 8 SIDE BET

Panda 8 Card CountingA similar computer simulation study was undertaken by Michael Shackleford on the Panda 8 side bet. Similar results were obtained for using a card counting system developed for this side bet.

Shackleford’s conclusions were:

  • IT’S POSSIBLE TO GAIN THE ADVANTAGE.
  • BETTING $100 WHENEVER THE COUNT GETS ABOVE A SPECIFIED VALUE, A CARD COUNTER COULD EXPECT TO EARN $17.80 PER HOUR.

Note: Betting less than $100 would make this card counting system not very profitable for average players.

OTHER COMMISSION-FREE BACCARAT GAMES

There are several other commission-free baccarat games. The only other one that is reasonably popular in land-based casinos is called “Commission Free Baccarat” (also known as Punto Banco 2000 and Nepal Baccarat).

Commission Free Baccarat

In this version of baccarat, a winning wager on the Bank Hand pays even money, except:

  • YOU WIN ONLY 50% OF YOU BET WHEN THE BANK HAND WINS WITH A TOTAL OF 6.

The house edge on the Bank Hand is 1.46% per hand, which is higher than the traditional game (1.06%).

Bottom Line: Other than EZ Baccarat, I would be wary of any other “commission-free” baccarat games you might see touted in either a land-based or online casino without first investigating the rules and finding out what is the house advantage on the Bank and Player Hands.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

In Chemin de Fer (or “chemmy”)
• A player is declared the banker and puts up a stake that other players can wager against.
• Players can chose whether to stand or draw on the Bank and Player hands.

n Baccarat Banque
• A player is declared the banker.
• Three hands are dealt: one for the players seated on the right side of the table, the second hand to the players on
the left side, and the banker receives the cards for the Bank Hand.
• Players can choose whether to stand or draw on the Bank and Player hand.

In EZ Baccarat
• The 5% commission on the Bank Hand is eliminated.
• When the Bank Hands wins with a three-card total of 7, the Bank Hand pushes.
• The House advantage on the Bank Hand is slightly lower (1.02%) than in a traditional baccarat game (1.06%).
• The Dragon 7 Side bet wins if the three-card Bank Hand totals 7 and it beats the Player Hand. The payoff is 40 to
1 and the house advantage is 7.61%.
• The Panda 8 side bet wins when the three-card winning Player Hand totals 8. The payoff is 25 to 1 and the House
Advantage is 10.19%.
• The game plays faster because of the elimination of the 5% commission rule.
• You can gain a very slight advantage on both side bets using a card counting system.

In No Commission Baccarat
• The 5% commission on the Bank Hand is eliminated.
• You win only 50% of your wager when the Bank Hand wins with a total of 6.
• The house edge is slightly higher than a traditional baccarat game (1.46% vs 1.06%).

By
Henry Tamburin Ph.D