Chemin de Fer

As the name suggests, Chemin de Fer is the original French version of the game, and it simply means ‘railroad’. This term refers to the fact that in Chemin de Fer the position of ‘banker’ rotates to the player or players on the dealer’s right, or in a counter clockwise direction.

Rule Variations

Chemin de Fer is very similar to the North American, Punto Banco, but there are a couple of major differences:

  • The casino does not play the role of banker, and this means that the player cannot just bet on ‘Punto’ or ‘Player’ and ‘Banco’ or ‘Bank. Each player must be one or the other.
  • In Punto Banco the punters are effectively playing against the house and the casino picks up the financial tab for the game. In Chemin de Fer the casino simply provides a croupier, who is there to make sure that the rules of the house are adhered to, and the necessary gaming equipment, like tables, chairs and the shoe, or sabot. The casino, in turn, claims a rake or a percentage of all the bankers winning hands, it is normally in the region of 5%.
  • Unlike Punto Banco which has to follow stringent tableau of table play rules, Chemin de Fer has flexible drawing rules for the third card

How to Play Chemin de Fer

In this form of Baccarat six decks of cards are used and player positions are normally decided by the throw of the dice, or by lot. The croupier will shuffle the cards and then pass them to each player in turn who has the right to shuffle them as well. Once the full circuit of the punters has been made, the cards are shuffled once again and cut by the player ion the croupier’s left. The croupier then hands the shuffled and cut deck to the player on his immediate right who is the designated dealer and banker.

The dealer will then place his bet and the other players will make their stakes. At this stage any punter may say ‘Banco’ meaning to ‘go bank’, and the player involved has to play against the whole of the banker’s stake. If no-one calls ‘Banco’ each player will place his stake out in front on the table.

The dealer will deal four cards and the punter with the highest stake will represent the ‘players’. Each will look at their cards and if they total 9 or 8 the cards will be turned over, the number announced, and the hand will be complete. Should the banker’s hand be higher than the ‘player’s, then the stakes go to the banker. Should the points in the player’s hand be better then the banker pays each punter or player the amount of each individual stake. Should the banker win, then he deals again.

If neither hand turns up the cards, then the banker is bound to offer a third card to the players according to the following guidelines:

  • If the cards are 0-4, ‘accept’ or say ‘yes’ to the third card
  • If 6 or 7, ‘refuse’ or say no to the third card option.
  • Only with the point of 5 in hand is it optional to take or refuse the third card
  • The banker will then make a decision to draw the third card based on:
  • The cards in hand
  • The third card, if drawn, of the players
  • What he knows or anticipates about the punter’s style of play.

The hands are then finally scrutinised and the winning stakes or bets are paid out. Ties go on to the next hand with the stakes carried over. Banker may not withdraw any winnings but is entitled to pass the deal on, but the punter or player who does accept the deal must start the bank with exactly the same amount as the previous banker.