Getting to Know Punto Banco
Punto Banco is a very commonly played game in the online casino world. It is actually a version of the game baccarat, and though there are three different versions of the game, Punto Banco is the one that most players associate or believe to be what baccarat is all about. As well as Punto Banco, other popular baccarat versions include Chemin de fer, often called Chemmy, and Baccarat Banque. Unlike Punto Banco where there is no real ability for the player to make any major decisions or changes to the game, these other two versions do enable the player to make a series of choices within the game. However, for all variants of baccarat, as well as pretty much every other casino game, the odds are firmly in the house’s favour. The good news for Punto Banco players is that the house edge is only at one percent. Without further ado, let’s move on and give the lowdown on everything to do with Punto Banco.
A History of Baccarat
Baccarat is one of the oldest table games as it goes back at least 500 years to medieval Italy. For hundreds of years this game was one that only noblemen would play, and it only really became accessible to the masses when casinos came into being. Felix Falguiere created the game in the 1400s and called it baccara, which is the Italian word for zero. This was because all the face cards and the tens were worth exactly that – nothing. It wasn’t until much later that the French name of the game (baccarat) was adopted and became the name that we know this game by today. Strangely enough, the game baccara has ties that go back to an Eturscan tale of a virgin with a nine-sided die. The results of her toss would determine what would befall her. The higher the value, the better off in life she would be, any score below 6 would see her being drowned.
In its original form, baccarat had cards dealt out by four separate dealers. Every player at the table would have the chance to be a banker and the players could bet against each other as well as against the house. After it had become fully established in Italy, the game moved across to France where the variant Chemin de Fer sprung up. Here too, the game was played solely by the aristocracy, a trend that continued once more when it hopped the Channel and made it’s way to the UK. Slowly the game permeated various other countries around the world, changing slightly with each move and thus creating the three main versions we know today. Punto Banco became part of the local culture in Cuba and it is here where this variant took hold, also becoming known as American Baccarat as it was so prevalent in that country as well. After this, it was brought to Nevada, where the casino-goers weren’t as enamoured by the game before it reached higher levels of popularity online.
How to Play
Punto Banco baccarat is actually simple to get to grips with. The main aim of the game is for the player to accurately bet on the winner of each hand. Similar to blackjack, Punto Banco is played between the individual player and the dealer, even though there may be other players at the table as well. These two players are what can be bet on – player is punto, and the dealer (or banker) is banco. In the contest between these two players, the winner is the one who’s hand is closer to, or the value of nine. Picture cards and tens hold a value of zero. The ace has a value of one whilst the other cards in the pack all hold their face value as numbered. When the hands are finally revealed, the value of the cards are totalled and this is the final score. If the cards are a value in the double figures, the ten is simply removed with the remaining value being the final.
To actually play, players are required first to place bets in the correct position on the table. There are special boxes labelled on the table, which are punto, banco, or, if the player is feeling very adventurous, tie. Once the bets are placed, the player will take out four cards with the dealer dealing two cards to the player and two to themselves. With the cards revealed, there is always a winner and the bets are paid out accordingly. In this manner, Punto Banco provides players with a very fast and easy way of having some fun. Players are also not required to place bets on themselves, so they can bet on the dealer winning. As the dealer is more likely to win, thanks to the house edge, bets for the banker will have a slightly lower payout than those betting on the player only. The most lucrative bet is of course the tie paying out at 9 to 1, though this should really only be attempted by players who like to take risks.
Now that the basics have been outlined, the more specific rules need to be detailed. There are specific rules in place for both the player and the banker and these will vary between casinos as well. When players are looking for a Punto Banco game to play, they should most certainly check the extra rules for the dealer, especially before throwing themselves into the game. The player’s hand has more basic rules that can help players to win in the long run. For instance, if the player’s hand totals anywhere from zero to five, a third card can be drawn by the player if they choose. This can be risky though and push the final value past the desired nine. If the player has a six or a seven as their total, they should stand. Finally, if the player has an eight or a nine, also known as a natural for those of you who wish to sound professional, they should stand.
The dealer has many more rules and these cannot be changed whilst the player’s can. For instance, if the dealer has a total from zero to three, they must take a third card no matter what the player’s hand is. If the dealer has a total of four and the player a total of two through to seven, again a third card must be taken. Similarly, if the dealer has a total of five with the player having four to seven, they must still take a third card. Lastly, after taking that third card, if the banker’s total is six, and the value of the player’s cards are six or seven, a third card must be taken, but only if the player’s hand is also comprised of three cards. If the banker holds a total of seven, they will stand. Similarly, if the dealer’s hand is eight or nine, the dealer will also stand. Once this has all occurred, then the winner will be seen and paid.
Punto Banco Winning Strategies
Punto Banco, as already discussed, is not actually a game that players can really alter the outcome. The main way that they can get ahead in any way is through the in depth knowledge of what the player and the dealer should or would do in the event of specific card totals – as mentioned in the rules section of this article. Knowing exactly what the dealer will do does help (and can influence) the way that the player chooses to play. For instance, if the player has bet on the dealer to win, when they see their hand they have the option to make small plays that could cement their hand into being a losing one, thus giving them the win. However, despite this, and the numerous similarities between Punto Banco and blackjack, it is believed that card counting is not profitable and will not provide any specific benefit to the player. Instead players are better off determining, which bets they will make based on the odds they are given.
Betting on the player has a low house edge, usually sitting at around 1.24%, which makes this a lucrative option. Surprisingly, betting on the dealer’s hand to win has an even lower house edge, often sitting at around 1.06%. This is despite the fact that in most casinos, the dealer bet will have a 5% commission on it giving a lower bet return to the player. Some casinos do have no-commission Punto Banco, so that is an important feature to keep an eye out for as it can help with making some better wins. The tie bet has the highest house edge usually around 14.4% as the casino will payout at eight to one on that bet. However, if players are playing at a UK casino, they will get a better deal as these casinos often pay out at nine to one for the tie, giving a house edge of a much more reasonable 4.85%. Overall, though, there isn’t much in the way of strategy – luck simply plays a big part.
Getting Ahead with Betting Techniques
As there aren’t really any strategies to get ahead in the game itself, there are ways the players can try to make some money through the way that they manage their bets. The first option is a positive progression betting system, and a commonly used one is the Martingale system. This version simply requires the player to make increasingly larger bets every time they make a win. The idea behind this type of system is to preemptively cover the losing streaks when they occur. When a loss does finally happen, the idea is to then drop the bet back to the original value. In order to be successful at this type of strategy, players should be aware of how much they can increase their bets by. There’s no point choosing to double the bet each time as this might not be sustainable. Of course the idea is that the winnings will increase and therefore support the subsequent bets that are placed.
The reverse of this are the negative progression systems. Again, this can be done with the Martingale system, or Reverse Martingale as it is known. Instead of increasing the bet every time there is a win, the player will raise the bet on every loss. The idea for this is that when a win finally does occur, the bet should be large enough that the winnings will cover all the previous losses. However, games tend to go in streaks and players must monitor their bankroll carefully, raising their bets in small increments otherwise there is a high risk of losing all the bankroll before having the chance to recoup them on a win. As with the Martingale, once a win occurs, the initial bet goes back to the original value and then increases on every loss again. There are other systems that also follow these lines; however, none of these systems can ever be guaranteed to work to bring in big money.
Live Punto Banco versus Virtual
All online variants of Punto Banco are not quite the same as their land-based counterparts as the player is, of course, unable to actually make the first distribution of cards. Because of this, online Punto Banco is not really very dissimilar to regular baccarat and this is why the two are often seen as the same game. However, there are differences between the online versions and live virtual ones. Virtual games run on software like slot games do, with all outcomes created by random number generators to ensure gaming fairness. These types of games give new players a great way to get into the game and see how it works. They also give helpful instructions both verbally and in written form so that players can keep track of what they need to do. Another nice thing is that they can be played at a speed suited to the player. Even better, they can be played in demo version giving a complete risk-free way of testing out the waters.
Live games, on the other hand, give players a chance to taste the friendly atmosphere that comes with a game of Punto Banco. Because this game is not against the other players at the table, it makes for a much more light, conversational environment in which to play. Live Punto Banco is setup with a live dealer dealing the cards, all in a studio dressed to look like a casino. There are cameras at multiple angles that live stream the feed directly to the participating players. In this way the players can converse with the dealer but also each other as well. This brings much more of the land-based casino environment into the home. Punto Banco games are often listed as baccarat in this format so players looking for a live game should check out those tables as well. Live games also come in a wide range of options, with different rules, such as no-commission games and also varying bet limits.
Where to Play Punto Banco
When it comes to choosing where to play Punto Banco, there are so many options available to players. However, the key to finding the best place to play lies in the casino itself. Before settling for a casino simply because it has the game available or offers a great welcome bonus, players should check the important things such as trustworthiness and payout speeds. Any online casino worth its salt will actually be licensed with an authorising body, which means that the casino is required to follow specific rules and regulations that help to safeguard players from fraud. If a player is still unsure as to whether the site is reputable or not, they can also check out a number of review sites and find what other players think of the casino itself. Once it is established that the casino can be trusted and provides a secure playing environment, then the player can check out the game selection and bonuses awarded to make their final choice.
In the past, baccarat as a whole was viewed as something only for the aristocracy. In recent years, it has still taken a while to change this perception as many believe baccarat to be the game of high-rollers. The addition of Ian Fleming’s James Bond to the mix, did nothing to alleviate this belief, though it did help to make the game a little more glamorous. However, players should note that Bond plays Chemin de Fer rather than Punto Banco. Thanks to the widening reach of the internet, Punto Banco is actually becoming more common, and in this recent online era, it is being played by more and more players. A simple game based on luck, it appeals to many as it offers a quick fix full of fast-paced action and the promise of some wins. With no real strategies in place, the key is all about watching that bankroll and being able to stay in play for the long haul.