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Almost any game, including card games, may be the subject of betting, but some card games are designed wholly for betting.  In this section a few of them are described.  First are those to be found in casinos: Baccarat and Blackjack; and secondly those played at home: Brag, Napoleon, Red Dog, Rummy, Slippery Sam and Vingt-et-Un.


Baccarat was played for very high stakes by royalty, the aristocracy and rich industrialists, either side of the First World War in French casinos, such as that at Deauville.  Nowadays it is found in casinos around the world under different names, often with slight amendment but with the basic rules intact.  Described here is a modern version, which might be called Baccarat /Chemin de Fer in the United States or Punto Banco in the United Kingdom.  It is a game of pure chance, with no skill involved.
            Baccarat is played on a green baize table that might be marked as shown below.  It has positions for a number of players, in this case 12.  The game is operated by  croupiers on each side of the table (they might be called dealers or callers).

Object   of the game

The object is to have a hand of a pip count, called a ‘point ’, as near   to nine, but not exceeding it, as possible.

  • Aces count as one.
  • Jacks, Queens and Kings count as ten.
  • Only the last digit of the sum of the pips counts.  Thus a 7 and a 5, which added together make 12, make a point of 2, a Queen and a 3 make a point of 3, and an Ace and a 6 make a point of 7.


Six or eight packs of cards are shuffled together by the croupiers and placed in a dealing shoe.  A marker card is placed between the seventh and eighth card at the back of the shoe to denote the end of the shoe.  The hand being played when the marker card appears is played out, but the last few cards remaining are not used.

The play

There are only two hands in Baccarat, the players’ and the banks.  So there are only two main available bets:

A   Player
B   Banker

There is a third bet, a tie, but this is often made as a side-bet, together with one of the others.  All players may bet on either player or banker to win by placing their bets (of any size within the casino’s limits) in the relevant ‘square’ in front of them in the section marked ‘played’.  Bets on a tie go in the small area provided.  On some tables the spaces are marked ‘Punto’ (for player) and ‘Banco’ (for bank).
            All players in rotation are given the chance to play the banker hand, while a croupier plays the player hand.  The names ‘banker ’ and ‘player ’, therefore, do not have the usual significance, but this is of no matter, as neither side has any options in its play.
            Player 1 has first option to play the banker hand, thus deal the cards.  He is entitled to decline the offer, and the shoe is passed to the next player.  It is the action of the shoe passing round the table with each hand like a train that gave the game one of its names, Chemin de far, the French for railway.

  • When the players have made their bets, the player playing banker deals a card face down to the croupier, a card face down to himself, and a second card to each.  Initially a hand consists of two cards, although a third might be added later.
  • Both croupier and player look at their hands, and if either has a point of 9or 8 he exposes the hand immediately.  These are ‘naturals’ and win straightaway, unless of course both the player and banker hands are naturals, when the point of 9 beats the point of 8.  Equal hands count as a tie, and all the players retain their stakes.
  • Should no naturals be revealed the hands are returned face down to the table, and the croupier (the player) deals with his own hand first.
  • If his point of 6 or 7 he stands.
  • If it is 0,1,2,3,4, or 5 he must draw.  He asks the player with the shoe, the banker, to give him another card, which is dealt face up.
  • The banker now deals with his hand.
  • If he has a point of 7, he will stand.
  • If the player did not draw, the banker also stands on 6, but draws on 0, 1,2,3,4 or 5.
  • If the player draws, the banker follows the requirements of Table 14.

Player and banker can draw only one card each and no hand can contain more than three cards.

  • If the player wins, his backers are paid at even money.

TABLE 14: Banker ’s Table of Play in Baccarat/Punto banc

Banker ’s point

Must draw if player draws

Must stands if player draws
















  • If the banker wins, the casino pays at odds of 19 to 20, i.e. five percent less than evens.  This is because the Table of Play for the banker, whose hand is dealt with second, is worked out to give him the optimum chance.  In fact, it has been calculated that the banker has a 1.34 per cent advantage over the player, so by paying out at 19 to 20, the casino converts that adverse percentage into an edge of 1.20 per cent for itself.  Backing bank is a slightly better bet than backing player.

Equal hands are a stand- off and stakes are returned.  People who backed tie are paid at odds of 8 to 1, but since the true odds are nearer 19 to 2, the casino gains an advantage of around 14 per cent.


In the traditional form of Baccarat, and Chemin de Fer,  the table of play for both player and banker gave both the option of drawing or standing on a point of 5, but this affects the game very little


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