Punto Banco, a Popular Baccarat Variant

Baccarat is probably the card game most classically associated with sophisticated casino gaming. Its pedigree includes the fact that it’s the game at which suave superspy James Bond is an expert in all the novels. But Baccarat is not a difficult game to learn, and the Baccarat variant known as Punto Banco is even easier.

Punto Banco removes the player/house contest and the rotating bank that is a feature of Baccarat. Two hands are dealt, labelled simply Punto and Banco, and players bet on which will win, according to the Baccarat rules.

Playing Punto Banco Online

There are several online and mobile casino apps sites that offer various Punto Banco titles among their table games. Some play directly via the device’s Internet browser, while a number of developers offer apps for download. These allow the true Punto Banco enthusiasts to enjoy the game on the go, whenever they like. Free play is always an option, but there are lots of real-money versions too.

Major software developer Net Entertainment, or NetEnt, has produced a title called Punto Banco Professional Series, which is quick to access and easy to play online. A 3D representation of a green-baize Punto Banco table has the bet limits clearly displayed, with all the game controls along the bottom of the screen. Soothing piano jazz accompanies play, and each round is played on a freshly shuffled shoe of six standard 52-card decks.

Punto Banco Professional Series Play Outline

The minimum bet in Punto Banco Professional Series is 1 Euro, and the maximum 100 Euros. Players can place these bets in the section of the table marked Punto, which backs the first hand dealt, or the Banco section, in which they’re betting on the second hand winning. Or they can place a bet on the Tie section of the table, which pays 9 to 1 if the two hands end up equal.

After the player places a bet, the two hands are dealt, face up. At this point, the Baccarat rules determines how card values are assessed. Cards 2 to 9 count as face value, Aces count as 1, and all other cards count as 0. When the card values are added to make a total and a double-digit sum results, only the second digit is used. So a 5 and a 7, for example, totalling 12, actually counts as 2. The object is to have the hand with the total closest to 9.

Natural Overrides All Other Rules

If either the Punto or Banco hand has a natural, the term for two cards that total 8 or 9, then both hands stand and the two hands are assessed immediately; whichever is closer to nine wins, or there is a tie, in which case the Tie bet wins. This rule on a natural overrides any other Punto Banco rules, so the hands only proceed to a second stage if neither hand displays a natural.

If both hands have totals between 0 and 7, play passes to the Punto hand. Whether the Punto hand draws or stands, and whether the Banco hand draws or stands in turn, is determined by the exact totals in both hands; how play proceeds is laid out for the player to understand on the Punto Banco Professional Series information screen, but the game assesses the hands and deals the required cards automatically. The final hands are assessed against each other, and payouts are then made to winning bets according to the pay table.