There are multiple well-known variants of Baccarat which feature small yet significant changes to the rules and format, and therefore how the game is played. If you ever fancy an alternative to the customary Punto banco version, here is a straightforward guide on how to play some popular variants and the differences you need to remember.
Chemin de fer (Chemmy)
Chemin de fer uses six decks of cards, with players seated in an oval shape and betting on themselves to win. The manner of ascertaining the value of cards and hands is the same as in regular Baccarat.
At the start of the game, one player is designated the banker. For each round, the banker bets the amount they want to risk. The other players then declare in counterclockwise order from the banker whether they will match it, referred to as ‘going bank’ – only one player can do so and if taken, this is the only bet made in the round.
If nobody does, in the same order the players then make their individual bets. If the collective total of the players’ bets is greater than the banker’s, the latter can choose to either increase their own bet to match or remove the excess bets in reverse order to which they were placed.
The banker then deals two cards face down to themselves and two cards face down to the player with the highest individual bet, who plays on behalf of all players. The banker and player then look at their cards; if either or both hands have a natural (value of eight or nine), they must declare this immediately and both hands are then turned up and compared to determine the winner of the round or if there is a tie.
If neither hand has a value of eight or nine, the player must decide to accept or refuse a third card, which is placed face up if accepted. Traditionally, in chemin de fer a third card is accepted if their initial hand is valued between zero and four, the player stands if it is valued at six or seven and is at their discretion if it is valued at five.
If the player stands, the banker picks up a third card if their initial hand is valued from zero to five and stands if it has a value of six or seven. If the player picked up a third card, the banker must make their decision according to the following:
When can the banker draw a third card in Baccarat?
After the player and banker have completed their turns, both hands are turned face up and compared.
If the player wins, each player who placed a bet on the round receives a 1:1 payout, with the banker’s initial bet paying the profit, and the next player counterclockwise assumes the role of the banker. If the banker wins, they collect all the bets placed and remain as banker for the next round. If the round is tied, another round is played with the same roles and bets.
If the banker is required to retain their role for another round but they wish to withdraw from the game, the new banker is the first player in counterclockwise order willing to stake an equal amount to the current banker’s last bet. If no one is willing to do so, the new banker is instead the next player in counterclockwise order, who is free to set a new banker’s bet.
Chemin de fer round example
Here are is an example of a Chemin de fer round based on a game featuring four players:
- Player 1 is designated the banker and places a €100 bet for the opening round. Players 2, 3 and 4 confirm in order that they do not wish to go bank and then place of individual bets of €50, €30 and €20 respectively. Player 1 (the banker) then deals themselves and Player 2 two cards face down.
- Player 2 is dealt two sevens (14), giving them an initial hand value of four. They therefore accept a third card which is a five, giving them a final hand value of nine.
- Player 1 (the banker) is dealt a Queen and a three, giving them an initial hand value of three. Due to this and the fact that Player 2’s third card was a five, they accept a third card, which is a five, giving them a final hand value of eight.
- Player 2 has therefore won. Players 2, 3 and 4 have their original bets returned to them and from Player 1 (the banker)’s original €100 bet, Player 2 wins €50, Player 3 wins €30 and Player 4 wins €20.
- Player 2 is then the banker for the next round, with Player 3 placing the first bet.
Baccarat Banque (A deux tableaux)
Baccarat Banque uses three decks of cards and players bet on themselves on win. The manner of ascertaining the value of cards and hands is the same as in regular Baccarat.
The role of the banker is essentially put up for auction at the start of the game and given to the player willing to bet the largest amount. The banker sits in the center of the table, with the remaining players sitting in two halves to their left and right. The banker remains in this role until all cards have been played through.
At the start of the round, the players place their bets, starting with the nearest player on the banker’s right, then nearest to their left, followed by the second nearest on their right, and so on alternating in such a manner. Unlike in chemin de fer, the players’ bets are allowed to collectively exceed the bet placed by the banker.
Every player is allowed to place a bet, and bets are not cancelled by somebody going bank. Both sides of the table are allowed to enter one player who has gone bank, and if both sides have a player who has done so, they each bet half the value of the banker’s bet. Each player is allowed to lose up to three rounds when they have gone bank, and are not permitted to do so after this point.
The banker then deals three hands face down – one to the nearest player on their left, nearest player on their right and themselves. The players who are dealt the cards play on behalf of all the players on their respective side of the table. The process of determining the victor of the round is the same as in Chemin de fer.
If a player’s side of the table wins the round, they receive a 1:1 payout on their bet. The banker must pay out or take the players’ bets depending on whether they beat or were defeated by the two respective sides of the table.
If the player who was responsible for their side of the table’s hand wins the round, they retain this role. If they lose, it is passed to the next player along on their side of the table, who then also earns the right to make the first bet of the next round for that side, with their predecessor now going last.
If the winning bets for a round exceed the amount of money the banker has available, they have two options. They can resign from the game, at which point the winning bets are paid as far as possible in the order they were placed, or they buy in to meet the funds needed, from which point every winning bet must be honoured during their time as banker.
If the banker wishes to resign from their role before their end of their stint, they must state so and the amount they currently have. The role of the banker is then offered to all the other players in the same order which they bet. Any player who wants the role must have at least the same amount as the current banker. The outgoing banker then takes the place previously occupied by their successor.
Baccarat Banque round example
Here are is an example of a Baccarat Banque round based on a game featuring five players:
- Player 1 is designated the banker and places a €100 bet for the opening round. Players 2 and 3 sit on the right side of the table and Players 4 and 5 sit on the left side of the table.
- Player 2 decides to go bank and places a €100 bet. Player 4 goes next and places a €50 bet, before Player 3 places a €20 bet and Player 5 places a €80 bet. Player 1 (the banker) then deals two cards face down to Player 2, Player 4 and themselves.
- Player 2 is dealt an eight and a six (14), giving them an initial hand value of four. They therefore accept a third card which is a three, giving them a final hand value of seven.
- Player 4 is dealt two fives (ten), giving them an initial hand value of zero. They therefore accept a third card which is a nine, giving them a final hand value of nine.
- Player 1 (the banker) is dealt a ten and a four, giving them an initial hand value of four. Due to this and the fact that Player 2’s third card was a four, they must draw a third card which is another four, giving them a final hand value of eight.
- Player 2 has therefore lost the round, meaning Player 2 loses their €100 bet and Player 3 loses their €20 bet. Player 4 has won the round, meaning Player 4 wins €100 and Player 5 wins €160. Player 1 (the banker) has won €220 and lost €260, for a total loss of €40 on the round.
- In the next round, Player 3 gets to place the first bet and plays the round for the right side, whereas Player 4 continues to do so on the left side.
Macao is widely considered a precursor to Baccarat which the game evolved from. It is played with two decks of cards with the players betting on themselves to win. The manner of ascertaining the value of cards and hands is the same as in regular Baccarat.
At the start of the game, a player is designated the banker. Players place their bet at the beginning of each round within agreed limits. These may be at the discretion of each banker or agreed at the start of the game to be imposed for its duration.
For each round, players take their turns in clockwise order from the banker. They are dealt one card face down and after they have checked this, they have the option to add a second card dealt face up, and a third card if the second is valued at zero. After every player has taken their turn, the banker does the same before everybody’s hand is revealed.
The person with a higher valued hand out of the player and banker wins. If there is a tie and one person has less cards than the other, they win. If the player and banker have both the same value and number of cards, the banker wins.
In Macau, winning a round via a natural nine rewards a 3:1 payout, winning a round via a natural eight rewards a 2:1 payout and winning a round by any other means rewards a 1:1 payout. Once all cards have been played through, the player to the banker’s left becomes the banker.
Here are is an example of a Macao round based on a game featuring four players:
- Player 1 is designated the banker. Player 2 bets €20 on the round, Player 3 bets €30 and Player 4 bets €40.
- Player 2 is dealt a nine, meaning they have a natural nine and stand.
- Player 3 is dealt a four. They decide to receive another card which is also a four, giving them a final hand value of eight.
- Player 4 is dealt an Ace. They decide to receive another card which is a Jack, meaning they can receive a third card, which is a six, giving them a final hand value of seven.
- Player 1 (the banker) is dealt an eight, meaning they have a natural eight and stand.
- Player 2 has therefore won the round, and receives a 3:1 payout on their €20 bet to win €80. Both Player 3 and Player 1 (the banker) have a final value of eight, but Player 1 (the banker) wins as they achieved it in one card whereas Player 3 did it in two, meaning they lose their €30 bet. Player 4 had a lower value than the banker, meaning they lose their €40 bet.
Learn more about Baccarat
If you’re looking for advice on how to play Baccarat, check out our guide to Baccarat and article on Baccarat side bets. If you’re interested in learning more about Baccarat beyond how to play the game, you can read about the history of Baccarat.