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How to Play Punto Banco

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Punto Banco is a card game played in casinos across the globe. It can be played on a standard half-moon shape table with a single dealer or on a large kidney-shaped table with three dealers and a supervisor or inspector watching the game. Play is very similar to baccarat, which can also be played on a large table or a smaller, single-dealer table where it is often referred to as mini-bac.

Historically, baccarat games allowed both the player (Punto) and the banker (Banco) to make choices about drawing cards to their starting hand. However, to make the game more like blackjack where the house has a specific set of rules to follow, most baccarat games is North America are really Punto Banco games.

Regardless of the name used, baccarat and Punto Banco have a mystique that many players love. And, because the game features a very small house advantage, high rollers are attracted to the game. To accommodate their play, many Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos offer a special room where just a few Punto Banco games are in action – but under beautiful furnishings with plenty of dealers and floor supervisors to watch the games.

Game Play

Punto Banco is played with either six or eight decks of standard English cards. The cards are shuffled and laced into place and set into a shoe which can be moved around the large table so players may deal the cards themselves.

The table layout is numbered from 1 to 12 and only seated players are allowed to place bets. There are only three bets available at Punto Banco – Player, Banker, and Tie (egalite). Once all bets are placed, a dealer will hand the shoe of shuffled cards to the player in seat 1 to begin dealing.

This player deals the cards towards the middle of the table where a second dealer, or caller, sets the hands. The first card goes to Player and the second to Bank and this is repeated on the 3rd and 4th cards. The card totals are called out according to these values:

Card Values
  • Aces count as "1"
  • Tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings count as "0"
  • All other cards, 2-9, count as their pip value, or 2-9

When the totals are called, the casino will either play the hands as they are, or draw cards based on the following rules:

Player Drawing Rules
  • 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – draw one card
  • 6, 7 stand
  • 8, 9 Natural
Banker Drawing Rules
  • 0, 1, 2 Always draws
  • 3 Draws against player 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9
  • 4 Draws against a player 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • 5 Draws against a player 4, 5, 6, 7
  • 6 Draws against a player 6, 7
  • 7 Stands
  • 8, 9 Natural
The Object of the Game

Because player do not make any drawing choices in Punto Banco, your only decision in the game is which seat to sit in, and which of three bets to place: Player, Banker, Tie. The object of the game is for the player/banker to get closest to a total of 9.

For the average player, Punto Banco offers the lowest house advantage among casino games with the exception of basic strategy and card counters playing blackjack. The Punto bet has a house advantage of just 1.24 percent. The Banco must pay a 5 percent commission on all winning bets, but the house edge is a miniscule 1.06 percent.

Players who try the Tie bet encounter a much more substantial house edge of 14.44 percent when a six-deck shoe is used on the game.

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