Live Punto Banco, The North American Baccarat
The casino banks the game of baccarat in the Live Punto Banco variation, which is played in North America as well as Australia, Sweden and Macau. In this version, bets may be placed on either the banker or the player, which are simply what the two hands dealt are called rather than the actual player and/or banke.
The cards are dealt to the player first face down and then face down to the banker. A second card is then dealt to each player to complete the deal. Then, each player will turn their two card hands over and add them up. The total will be called by the croupier. An example would be to say “four to the “player” and “two to the banker” or however the game turns out. At this point it can be determined if more cards should be drawn or not. Depending on the hands, the players may choose to either draw a single card or else they may stay put. The hand that has the highest total at the end is the winner.
No additional cards will be drawn if a “natural” is achieved on the first hand. This would be a total of 8 or 9 on the first deal. If a “natural” is not achieved then the play will continue on as outlined below:
- If the initial deal results in a score of 0-5 for the player then one more single card may be drawn. The player will stand if the initial total is a 6 or 7.
- How the banker plays will depend on his hand as well as whether or not a card was drawn by the player, and if so, what card was drawn.
- If a card was not drawn by the player and the banker has a score of 0-5 then he will draw, but if he has 6-7 he will stand.
- If a 2-3 is drawn by the player then the banker draws if his score is a 0-4 but if it is a 5-7 he will stand.
- If a 4 or 5 is drawn by the player then the banker will draw if his score is a 0-5 and stand if the score is a 6 or 7.
- If a 6 or 7 was drawn by the player then the banker would draw if he had a 0-6 and stand on a 7.
- If an 8 were drawn by the player then the banker would draw on a score of 0-2 and stand on 3-7.
- If an ace, 9, 10, or face card were drawn by the player then the banker would draw on a score of 0-3 and stand on a score of 4-7.
According to the tableau, or table, is how the croupier deals the cards. Also, the croupier is in charge of announcing the hand that won and will yell out either “banker” or “player.” The bets that lost will be collected and the winning bets will be paid based on the house rules.
Generally, 1-1 or even money is paid to the player with the “banker” receiving 95% and the house a 5% commission. Other casinos may pay out even money to the player and the banker except for when a 6 wins for the banker. In this situation, the banker would receive half the original bet, paid at 50%. The house edge for the banker in this situation is 1.46%. The housed edge on tie bets and player bets are the same as with commission baccarat.
At the end of a deal, if both the player and the banker have the same value of hands then the croupier will announce, “Egalite, tie bets win.” Tie bets are paid at 8 to 1 odds and all of the bets that were previously in place for the banker and player will stay in place for the next game. Depending on the rules of the casino, these bets may or may not be able to be taken back.
Similar to the chemin de fer version, punto banco baccarat is typically played at an oval table. The person who directs the game is called the croupier and there are also two dealers in charge of collecting and pay bets as well as determining what amount of commissions are due. In punto banco there are generally six to eight decks of cards used and typically the croupier and dealers are the only ones to shuffle. Each player will act as the dealer at some point during the game as the shoe is passed from player to player. Each player will also act as the banker at some point, although this is not the actual banker for the game.
In this case, the “banker” has the option to bet on the player hand or pass the shoe to a different player. Serving as the “banker” is only about ceremony. The player that bet the most on the player hand will be given the player hand cards to turn over and announce the total. The banker will be instructed by the croupier when third cards should be dealt, if at all, and then the winning hand will be announced.
This particular version of baccarat is usually found behind closed doors in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The reason why is to add more security and privacy to the game since large stakes are usually wagered. High rollers bet big money on baccarat and it is not unusual to have players betting tens of thousands of dollars on a hand, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per hand. The minimum bets for the game are usually at least $25 and may go up as high as $500. The posted maximum bets are frequently arranged so the player is happy. It is not uncommon to see a $10,000 per hand maximum however.
The house advantage of punto banco is one of the lowest you will find in any casino. The reason why, according to many, is that the game is so simple. The house advantage for a player bet is 1.24% and 1.06% is the banker advantage despite the commission of 5%. The house advantage for a tie bet is much higher at 14.44% when six decks of cards are in use.
Since high rollers love this game it is not uncommon for millions of dollars to be won or lost by a casino in a single night. It is even possible for a single game to affect a corporation’s profit and loss for a quarter! Publicly traded gaming companies frequently have notations to explain how a game affected the quarterly reports.