How to Play Punto Banco

Punto Banco is popular variant of baccarat in which players bet on which of two hands will be closer to nine. The main distinction is that the house always acts as the banker, so online baccarat is effectively Punto Banco, while cards are also always dealt face-up and the game has its own terms. This sophisticated game enjoys a considerable amount of popularity with all types of casino players.

Where to Play Punto Banco

Many land-based venues, such as the Grosvenor Casino Birmingham, The Casino at The Empire in London, and Casino: MK in Milton Keynes, offer Punto Banco.

You can also play Punto Banco online at Mr Green Casino. Play for free to get accustomed to the game before facing the banker to try and win some big money!

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Basic Rules

Rather than a game such as blackjack where you are trying to beat the dealer, Punto Banco players are betting on which of two hands will have a value closest to nine. One hand will belong to the player (punto) and the other to the banker (banco), and you can also bet on the possibility of a tie (egalité).

Bets take place before the cards are dealt and the game starts with both the player and the banker receiving two cards. Aces count as one, number cards count as the value shown, and tens and picture cards are worth zero. If the total goes into double figures, then the first digit is removed - for example a nine and a seven add up to 16, but for the purposes of Punto Banco it counts as a six.

If either the player or the banker has an eight or nine from their first two cards, the winner is whoever has the highest total. If nobody has an eight or nine, which are known as ‘naturals’, the following rules then apply:

For the player:

  • A third card is drawn if the hand totals between zero and five.
  • The player stands on six or seven.

For the banker:

  • A third card is drawn if the hand totals zero to three, no matter what hand the player holds.
  • A third card is drawn if the hand totals four and the player’s hand is two to seven.
  • A third card is drawn if the hand totals five and the player’s hand is four to seven.
  • A third card is drawn if the hand totals six and the player’s hand is six or seven, but only if the player’s hand was made with three cards.
  • The banker stands on seven.

Following the end of one hand, you are paid out at double your bet if the hand you bet on wins, although winning banco bets are subject to a five percent commission from the house. Winning egalité bets are paid at 8:1 but, if it is a tie and you have wagered on punto or banco, your stake is returned to you.

Etiquette

Observe the same etiquette guidelines as you would when playing traditional baccarat. There are occasions when everyone at the table will bet the same way, or the player might call for support. It is good etiquette to go with the flow and it also helps to build up a strong spirit of togetherness.

Once a bet is placed, keep your hands away from the chips or else you might be suspected of foul play. Do not attempt to join a table in the middle of a game and remember to show respect to everyone at the casino - both staff and other players.

Strategy

There are three possible outcomes - punto, banco or egalité - and which one happens is complete chance, but understanding the odds can help you form a useful gaming strategy. The house edge lies in egalité, where the tempting payout of 8:1 should be offset by actual odds of 10.5:1. Betting on a tie can bring big rewards, but the chances of it happening are slim and, as you get money back on any punto or banco wagers in the event of egalité, it is best to avoid backing the hands totalling the same value.

The other two bets have similar odds but the banker is slightly more likely to win, and this is why a five percent commission is charged by the house on all banco wagers. Even taking into account this deduction, which is known as the vigorish, banco is still statistically the way to go.

It is best to ignore the various theories that have previously been put forward about spotting trends and betting on the outcome that was successful in the previous hand, as baccarat is not a game where past events give any indication as to what will happen in the future.

A better strategy to implement concerns the size of the bet you place when you are winning, which allows you to limit your losses whilst potentially getting some bigger returns. One effective method is to make your first bet worth one unit, the second bet worth three, the third bet worth two and the fourth bet worth four, remembering to revert back to the first step whenever you lose. Again, this strategy does not guarantee success, but does mean that you can recover from losing streaks if you go on a sequence of wins.

Like with any casino game, it is a good idea to remember that the casino always wins at Punto Banco in the long run, so quit while you are ahead and don’t keep tempting fate. Just as players are warned to set limits on what they spend, you may to consider setting a limit on what you are willing to win, after which you can walk away in profit.

Important terms:

1Banco

The hand belonging to the banker. In Punto Banco, the house always acts as the banker.

2Egalité

Meaning equal, or tie, egalité occurs when the player and the banker have the same total. Players wagering on punto or banco will have their stake returned to them in the event of a tie, while winning egalité bets are paid at 8:1.

3Punto

The hand belonging to the player. The game is not about the player having a better hand than the banker, but about betting on who will win.

4Vigorish

The commission charged by a casino. There is a five percent charge on all banco bets because a wager on the banker is slightly more likely to win than a bet on the player.

Visit the Casino Glossary for more terms which you might find in Punto Banco or other casino offerings.


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