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American baccarat , punto banco

In the United States, Canada, Australia a variation of baccarat is played in which the casino banks the game at all times. Players may bet on either the player ,a tie or the banker , which are merely designations for the two hands dealt in each game.

The cards are dealt face down, one to the Player first, then to the Banker; Player then Banker again. This is the initial deal consisting of two cards each. Both cards in each hand are then turned over and added together and the croupier calls the total (e.g. five to the 'Player', three to the 'Banker'). From this position the 'Tableau' or table of play is used to determine if further cards need to be drawn. Depending on the two hands, the Player and Banker may draw a single card or stand pat. The hand with the highest total wins.

If either the Player or the Banker achieves a total of 8 or 9 on the initial deal , also known as a natural, no further cards are drawn. If not, play proceeds as follows.

If the Player has an initial total of 0-5, the Player draws a single card. If the Player has an initial total of 6 or 7, he stands.

The Banker's play depends on the Player's hand, on whether the Player drew a card, and on what card the Player drew:

If the Player did not draw a card, the Banker draws if he has 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.

If the Player drew a 2 or 3, the Banker draws if he has 0-4, and stands if he has 5-7.

If the Player drew a 4 or 5, the Banker draws if he has 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.

If the Player drew a 6 or 7, the Banker draws if he has 0-6, and stands if he has 7.

If the Player drew an 8, the Banker draws if he has 0-2, and stands if he has 3-7.

If the Player drew an ace, 9, 10, or face-card, the Banker draws if he has 0-3, and stands if he has 4-7.

The croupier will deal the cards according to the tableau and the croupier will announce the winning hand - either 'Player' or 'Banker'. Losing bets will be collected and the winning bets will be paid according to the rules of the house. Usually even money or 1-1 will be paid to the player and 95% to the 'Banker', 5% commission to the house. Some casinos pay even money or 1-1 to both 'Player' and 'Banker' except when the 'Banker' wins with 6. Then the 'Banker' will be paid 50% or half the original bet. In this scenario the house edge on a banker bet is 1.46%, while the house edge on player and tie bets remain the same as commission baccarat.

Should both the 'Banker's' hand and the 'Player's' hand have the same value at the end of the deal the croupier shall announce "Egalité - tie bets win." All tie bets will be paid at 8 to 1 odds and all bets on 'Player' or 'Banker' remain in place and active for the next game .

The traditional form of punto banco baccarat is played at an oval table, similar to the chemin de fer version. The table is staffed by a croupier, who directs the play of the game, and two dealers who collect and pay bets as well as tallying commissions due. Six or eight decks of cards are used, normally shuffled only by the croupier and dealers. Like chemin de fer, the shoe is passed around from player to player, who acts as the dealer of the cards and as "banker," but he or she does not actually bank the game. Indeed, the "banker" may bet on the player hand if he or she wishes, or may pass the shoe along to another player — the role of the "banker" is merely ceremonial. The person who bet the highest amount on the player hand is given the player-hand cards, though he or she simply turns the cards over, announcing their total. The croupier instructs the "banker" on if or when to deal third cards, and then announces the winning hand.

In casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, this version of baccarat is usually played in special rooms separated from the main gaming floor, ostensibly to provide an extra measure of privacy and security because of the high stakes often involved. The game is frequented by the highest of high rollers, who may wager tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single hand. Australian tycoon Kerry Packer was particularly fond of the game, having won and lost large sums over the years. Minimum bets are relatively high, often starting at 25 USD and going as high as 500 USD. Posted maximum bets are often arranged to suit a player, but maximums of 10,000 USD per hand are common.

Despite its simplicity or because of it, the punto banco version of baccarat offers some of the lowest house advantage available in a casino. The player bet has a house advantage of 1.24%, and the banker bet (despite the 5% commission) has an advantage of 1.06%. The tie bet has a much higher house advantage of 14.44%, based on six decks in play.

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