Punto Banco

Punto Banco is the simplest version of the casino card game, Baccarat, as it does not entail any skill or strategising – it is simply a game of chance. It is generally played in the US, Australia, Canada and Sweden.

Rules of Punto Banco

In spite of the number of punters at the Punto Banco table, only two hands are ever dealt – the ‘player’ and the ‘banker’. The purpose of the game is to try and determine, or bet on, which of the two hands will have a score closest to the winning tally of nine. Bets can only be made on ‘player’, ‘banker’ or a tie. Bets must be made before the cards are dealt.

Baccarat is played with between 6 and 8 full decks of cards, which are duly shuffled by the dealer and place in a ‘shoe’. All the players have the opportunity to deal by rotating the shoe around the table in a counter clockwise direction. The deal is mandatory and players may opt to pass it along to another player, but the same player will deal for as long as the ‘banker’ wins. Remember that ‘player’ and ‘banker’ are just game terms and players may bet on either hand or a tie.

The Play

Four cards are dealt face down in the following manner:

  • The first card to the player’s hand. The dealer takes a card from the "dealing player" and passes it to the player who wagered the largest amount on "player’s hand".
  • The second card to the banker’s hand – placed next to the shoe.
  • The third card to the player’s hand.
  • The fourth card to the banker’s hand

The player who received two cards, as he bet the most, is given the privilege of glancing at the cards first, they are then passed to the croupier who calls the total, for example, 5 to ‘player’ and 3 to ‘banker’. From here the ‘tableau’ or table play is used to determine whether more cards have to be drawn. Depending on the cards the ‘player’ and ‘banker’ have, they may opt to draw a single card or to stand ‘pat’. The hand with a total closest to nine wins.

The Table Play (P – ‘Player’; B – ‘Banker’)

  • If either P or B has a total of 8 or 9 on the initial deal, it equates to a ‘natural’ and no further cards are drawn.
  • If P has 0-5, he draws 1 card, but should P have 6 or 7 then he stands
  • B’s play will be dependent on his hand, whether P drew another card, and what the value of the card was.
  • If P didn’t draw a card, then B draws if he has 0-5 and stands if he has 6 or 7
  • If P drew 2 or 3, then B draws if he has 0-4 and stands if he has 5-7
  • If P drew 4 or 5, then B draws if he has 0-5 and stands if he has 6 or 7
  • If P drew 6 or 7, then B draws if he has 0-6 and stands if he has 7
  • If P drew an 8, then B draws if he has 0-2 and stands if he has 3-7
  • If P drew an Ace,9, 10 or court card, then B draws if he has 0-3 and stands if he has 4-7

The croupier will deal the drawn cards according to the Tableau or table play, and will announce the winning hand and whether P or B’s losing bets will be collected and the winning bets paid out according to the rules of the house, which is generally even money to P and 95% to B, with 5% commission going to the house.