Punto Banco – the Baccarat Version of Las Vegas
Punto Banco is a baccarat version that’s been played for decades at land-based casinos in the USA, UK, and Australia, and is a popular live dealer game online today. Originally developed in Argentinian casinos, the game was introduced in the USA in the 1950s, changing the world of gambling forever. It’s still a player favorite today, offered in exclusive VIP casino halls and a linchpin in the US gambling market. Many baccarat games online are called Punto Banco and follow its gameplay. Which, in fact is pretty simplistic. On this page, you will find detailed explanations of its rules, some helpful tips, and strategy. Let’s dive right in.
How to Play Punto Banco
Unlike Chemin de Fer where players bet against each other, without the casino being financially involved, Punto Banco is a game where players bet against the dealer, similarly to blackjack. The name accurately describes the two opposing sides: punto – meaning “player” and banco – standing for “bank”. The objective of the game is to reach nine or closest to nine before the other side does and before going bust or exceeding nine.
Card Values in Punto Banco
Like in the other baccarat versions, 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings have zero value in Punto Banco. Aces are worth one point and all the rest of the cards bring the same points as their face values. The total value of a hand is summed up by the value of the first two cards drawn and if the total is a two-digit number, ten is subtracted. For example, if the Player’s hand is a 6 and an 8, the total value is four: 6+8=14 – 10 = 4.
Table Layout and Card Drawing
Punto Banco is played at large baccarat tables with seats for up to 12 or 14 players, two dealers, and one banker. Sometimes, in smaller rooms or online you can play at smaller tables, like the ones used in blackjack or mini-baccarat. There are two designated spaces on the table for bets on the Punto (Player) and the Banco (Bank). There can also be a third box for Egalite bets – or Tie bets. The game is played with six or eight decks of cards shuffled by the dealer before each round. Players place their wagers on the boxes for Punto, Banco, or Egalite. With all bets placed, the player in the first seat (or the first to the right of the dealer) draws four cards and hands them over to the dealer. The dealer then places them face down on the table – one card for the Player, one for the Banker, and again – one for Player, and one for Banker. In Punto Banco, all the dealing is handled by the casino employees unlike Chemin de Fer where players get to shuffle and deal the cards.
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Drawing Additional Cards
Depending on the total value of the Player and Banker hands, additional cards can be drawn under the following rules:
Rules for the Player:
- If the player’s hand has a total value of zero to five, a third card is drawn.
- f the total is six or seven, Player stands.
- If the hand is a small natural – eight or a big natural – nine, Player wins.
The rules for the Banker are slightly more complicated because this is the hand that is drawn last and drawing a third card will depend not only on the initial cards dealt for the Player hand but also for the additional cards drawn according to the above described rules.
Rules for the Banker
- If the banker’s hand totals zero to three, a third card is drawn regardless of the Player’s hand.
- If the total of the Banker hand is four, a third card is drawn if the Player’s hand is two to seven.
- If the Banker has a five, a card is drawn and the value of the player’s hand is four to seven.
- A Banker hand that totals six and a Player’s hand that is six or seven, allows for a third card to be drawn only if the Player has already drawn a third cards and the total has been made with all three cards.
- The Banker must stand if the hand is seven.
- A value of eight or nine means that both the Banker and the Player stand.
When all of the additional cards have been dealt according to these rules, there’s a clear winner – either Player or Banker, or a Tie if the two hands are the same value. The payouts of the hands are:
- Punto bets pay 1:1
- Banco bets pay 19:20*
- Egalite bets pay 8:1
*There is a 5% commission on the Banco bet which is deducted prior to paying out winning Banco wagers.
All losing bets are collected before the winning bets are paid out. If the round has ended in a tie, the dealer pays the winnings to players who have places a wager on the Egalité bet. Players who have bet on Punto or Banco do not lose their stakes in the event of a tie. They can choose either to let their bets stay where they are and use them for the next round, change them or withdraw them.
Playing Online Punto Banco
Playing Punto Banco online is no different from playing at a land-based casino since in both instances, always the dealer handles all the card action – shuffling, cutting, and dealing. So, there’s really no excitement or thrill that you could miss. Au contraire! Online Punto Banco is every bit as exciting especially if you’re playing at a live casino where you can get the social aspect with immersive camera views of the table and dealer broadcast in real-time HD streaming.
There are different betting limits and many customizable options so you can personalize the game to suit your aesthetics and bankroll. Don’t forget about the live chat option that will allow you to interact with the dealer and the other players at the table for a most authentic playing experience.
RNG Punto Banco games are also available in different betting limits and demo modes, like the NetEnt release that lets you choose between a Low, Standard, and High bet version with wagers varying from $0.1 to a whopping $100,000. If you feel like you need some practice before committing to such bet limits, the game comes in a free play mode so that you can hone your skills and get used to the various options available for customizing.
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