Both games are similar and are often mistaken for one another. Chemin de fer offers more choice to the gambler, while baccarat has strict rules as to when a card must be taken or not (in some European casinos it is known as Punto Banco) Both games are akin to blackjack. Chemin de fer will be described first and baccarat next.
In chemin de fer, gamblers are pitted against one another. One gambler puts up a certain amount of money ahead of time in order to control the deal, or bids against the other gamblers for the privilege. He deals until his bank is broken or he withdraws. Six 52 card decks are shuffled together and placed in a device called “shoe”, from which the cards are slid out one at a time. The player dealing is called the “banker” and the other players are called “punters”. The banker tests the shoe by drawing several cards, showing them to the players and discarding them.
The players, starting with the first to the right of the banker, then place bets against the bank. The next player to the right places his bet against the bank, and so on around the table until the amount in the bank is covered or all players have placed bets. Any player may call “Banco” indicating the wishes to bet against the entire bank; should two or more players call “Banco” the first player to the right of the banker has the privilege. The banker is responsible only for the money in the bank, never for any bets that go higher than this amount.
Only two hands are dealt: the banker`s and one hand for all players. The player with the highest bet plays the hand (or the player nearest the right hand of the banker in case of a tie). The banker deals one card face-down to the player and one to himself, and then deals a second card to each hand. After the first two cards are drawn, the punter can choose to draw (carte) or pass (pas de carte); the third card is dealt face-up.
The object of the game is to come as close to 9 as possible, but not 10 (called Baccarat) or more. The face values of the cards are counted together and any 10 in the sum is ignored. Thus, a 7 and 6 equals 3 (6 + 7=13; the 10 is ignored so the value is 3) and an 8 and a 9 equals 7 (17 minus the 10 is 7). If the first two cards add up to 8 or 9, the hand is considered a “natural” (similar to blackjack). A natural 9 beats a natural 8. If the player`s hand is the winner, each of the players receives a portion of the bank equal to what he bet. If the banker wins, he takes the players` money.
In baccarat, there are strict rules as to when a card must be taken and when a player must stand. On a 0 up to 4 count, the punter must draw a card. On 5, he may stand or pass, and on a 6 or 7, he must stand. If he has an 8 or a 9 (a natural), he turns over his hands and shows it to the banker (he does not draw another card). The banker then reveals his hand and, depending on the total, draws or stands. The high hand is the winner. If the card totals are equal, the hand is thrown in and a new hand is dealt, with the punters again placing their bets against the bank. The banker may turn over the shoe to the next player at any time, saying “le banque pass.” No player is forced to be the banker. The house gets 2.5 percent of the winnings from each hand.
Baccarat does not pit one gambler against another. Instead, everyone, including the dealer, bets on the banks hand or the player hand. There is no bank; gamblers` bets are limited solely by the table minimum and maximum. Usually there are two croupiers at the table to oversee the action. They announce the cards and whether a card must be taken or not. There is really very little for the gambler to decide except of the size of the bet.
Baccarat can also be played on a table with a double layout (a deux tableaux). In this case, the banker deals out two hands, one to the left and the other to his right, as well as his own hand. Bets, which pay off even money, can be placed against either player hand or both (a cheval); precedence of who will play against the hands are from the right of the banker or frh the right hand, and to the left of the banker for the left hand.
The bankers deals out the two cards to the player`s hands before dealing his own hand. In both chemin de fer and baccarat, another card must be drawn if the first two cards are 0 through 4; a card may be drawn or not on a 5; and the hand must stand on a 6 through 9. These decisions are predetermined and all players must abide by the rules.
The banker faces certain advantages and disadvantages by playing against two hands. If one of the player`s hands is a natural and 8 or 9, the banker must observe the rules of draw for the other hand. If neither player`s hand is a natural and one asks for a draw while the other stand, the banker can draw or not. And if both players` hand are naturals, the banker must stand. The winning hand is determined as for chemin de fer.
A player who has bet on both hands wins the equivalent of his bet if both punters` hands win. He wins half his bet if one punter`s hand wins, and he loses his bet if the banker`s hand wins.