There are many fascinating table casino games, each with their own history and associations, and some of which deserve more recognition. One of these is Punto Banco.
A baccarat version that has long been popular in brick-and-mortar casinos, it is developing a strong following online, particularly among Live Dealer casino players. So, what exactly is Punto Banco?
Punto Banco Basics
As mentioned above, Punto Banco is a variation of baccarat, one that has proven popular enough to develop its own following as an online game.
It was developed in casinos in Argentina and was then introduced to the USA during the 1950s, and from there developed a global following, becoming a regular attraction at casinos throughout the world, while still retaining its enthusiastic support in Las Vegas.
The name is straightforward. Punto means ‘player’ while Banco stands for ‘bank’. As the name suggests, like baccarat, this is a game of the player versus the bank, so Punto Banco players are not competing against one another.
The game is relatively simple but is sophisticated enough to keep players coming back for more and you will find many sources discussing punto banco strategy online. It is worth remembering, however, that punto banco is a game of chance and should only be played for fun.
Getting Started with Punto Banco
The aim of the game is to achieve a total of nine or as close as possible to nine without exceeding that total – which is known as going bust. As with most other variations of baccarat, 10s and Royal cards have no value. Aces are counted as one point, while the remaining cards are worth as much as their face value.
The total score of a hand is calculated by adding the value of the first two cards drawn, and, if that total is a two-digit number, 10 is subtracted from the score.
Typically, the game is played at large baccarat tables that can seat up to 14 players and two dealers. The table always has two marked spaces into which bets can be made, one for the player and one for the bank, and sometimes a third space for Egalite or tie bets.
All betting is carried out before the round and when the betting is concluded, cards are drawn: two each for the player and two for the bank. All the dealing in Punto Banco is carried out by the casino dealers.
Drawing Extra Cards
There are additional rules that lead to new cards being drawn by both the player and the banker. However, as Punto Banco is a game of chance, these rules are automatic so players are unable to apply strategy to drawing extra cards, as they can with Blackjack.
The rules for the player’s hand are straightforward. If the hand has a value of zero to five, then a third card is drawn. If the total is six or seven, then no additional cards are drawn. And if the player’s total is eight or nine (a small natural or a big natural respectively) then the player wins.
The banker’s rules for drawing extra cards are more complicated as they depend both on the banker’s and the player’s hand, though as with the player’s turn, these rules are applied automatically.
- Banker draws if they have 0,1 or 2, regardless of the player’s hand
- Banker draws if they have 3 and player has 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 or 9
- Banker draws if they have 4 and player has 2,3,4,5,6 or 7
- Banker draws if they have 5 and player has 4,5,6 or 7
- Banker draws if they have 6 and player has 6 or 7
- Banker stands if they have 7, 8 or 9
Settling a Hand of Punto Banco
When all the cards have been dealt according to the game rules, there will be a winner or a tie if the values of the player’s and banker’s hands are equal. Losing bets are collected first, though players who have bet on either Punto or Banco don’t lose their bets if the hand ends in a tie.
They have the option of taking their stakes back or letting them remain for the next round.
- Winning bets on Punto pay at 1:1
- Winning bets on Banco pay at 19:20 – due to the 5% house commission
- Winning bets on Egalite pay at 8:1
Punto Banco Online
Thanks to the development of increasingly sophisticated online technology, fans of Punto Banco can enjoy the game online as well as in real world casinos.
Online Punto Banco plays in the same way as the real-world version of the game, and with the added advantage that the game itself will be fully customizable, enabling you to adjust every aspect from the layout, including the backs of the cards that are used, to the betting levels. There are also adjustable controls on audio, the ability to auto play and access to help sections.
You will also find Live Dealer Punto Banco games available online. These provide a reproduction of the real-world casino experience as you place your bets with real dealers and with some variants, you will be able to interact with other players, just as in a real casino, giving you the chance to have fun playing this enduring game at your convenience.
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