Baccarat en Banque

Baccarat's older version - Baccarat en Banque. Closely related to Black Jack and Seven and a Half.


7/9/20225 min read

Baccarat en Banque

The ancestor of all Baccarat variants is Baccarat en Banque also called Deux Tableau. Baccarat en Banque is a fixed number game related to Blackjack, Seven and a Half and other fixed number banking games. Baccarat en Banque is not played anywhere in the United States but does still have a following in Europe, an almost sad end for the game that dominated the Baccarat scene for more than a century and was grandfather to all things Baccarat. In any event I will explain how the game is and was played.

In Baccarat en Banque the Banker sits at the head of the table, while the players occupy the seats on two sides of the table. The number of players per coup is a minimum of 3 and the maximum dictated by the number of seats at the table. The normal number is from 3 to 11 players (including the Banker). The Banker is determined by auction going to the highest bidder or a syndicate agrees to Bank the game permanently. The Bank takes no commission from the players but derives its edge by acting last on the draw/stand decisions. When a player is acting as Banker he may relinquish the bank at any time and the bank either goes back up for auction or the player on his right is offered the banking privilege. The casino makes its profit by taxing the Banker’s winnings. Players may stake wagers on either the “right” side or the “left” side collectively up to the amount of the Bank.

The players sit on both side of the dealer. Five on each side constitutes a full table. The table is cut in half by a red line designating two sides of the table. Each side receives a hand and plays against the Banker. It is not uncommon for there to be more money wagered on one side or the other. Baccarat en Banque offers its own side bet, allowing player to bet the cheval or split. If a player wishes to bet the cheval he places his wager on the table dividing line. The bet wins if both sides beat the dealer, loses if both sides lose and pushes when the table splits with the dealer.

All bets are placed before any cards are dealt out of the shoe. Baccarat en Banque shoes may have 3 to 6 decks, three being the most common. In the 19th and early 20th centuries two decks were used. This version shares the same goal of reaching nine with 2 or 3 cards with its younger cousins. The dealer deals all cards face down starting with the first card to the right side of the table and the second to the left, the third he keeps for himself. The deal continues in this same manner for the second card. After the three two-card hands have been dealt the dealer and players inspect their cards.

If the Banker has a natural and both players do not the bank wins everything on the layout. The players each go head to head against only the Banker. If the right side beats the Banker then the right side wagers are paid and play continues between the left side and the Banker. If no Natural has been dealt then the Banker offers a third card to the right side first and then to the left side. Draw card are given to the players face up for all to see. The player’s decisions are governed by the same rules as Chemin de Fer where the player must draw with a two-card total of 0 to 4, must stand with a total of 6 to 9 and has the option to draw or stand when holding the two-card total of 5.

The Banker is free to act any way he chooses, but normally follows the same strategy as Punto Banco and Chemin de Fer. The difference is that the Bank will react only to the side that has wagered the most money against him. In other words if the first player has only $1k bet and the second player side has $2k on the layout then the Bank will ignore the draw/stand decision of player 1 and focus only on besting player 2.

Optimal Bank Play includes following most of the excepted Baccarat third card rules with two exceptions. Play the 1-7 rule instead of the 2-7 when holding a two-card 4 and of course draw a card when holding a 6 and the player has stood.

Poor Player Play is to draw 0-4, stand 5,6,7 and turn over Naturals.

Optimal Player Play is to draw on any two-card total of 0 to 5, Stand with 6 & 7 and torn over all natural 8s and 9s. In other word mimic the Player third card rules for Baccarat.

Mimic Baccarat Bank Play would be to follow conventional Baccarat third card rules to the letter. All the figures listed in the Banker’s Advantage Table represent the Bakers edge only against the side of the table betting the most. There are obvious advantages for the “little guy” making smaller bets on the other “tableau”.

It is surprising to me that some version of Baccarat en Banque is not played at all in American casinos since it provides the Player and the person acting as Banker with the greatest opportunity to employ his own skill to improve his odds at winning. The Banker is not governed by any rules when making his draw/stand decisions. After the players on both sides of the table have taken or refused a third card, it is the Banker’s turn to decide whether to draw or stand.

If the Banker has a hand 0-2 he will take a card regardless of how either side of the table played their hand. Likewise the bank will always stand on 7, 8, and 9 two-card totals. The Banker has a chance to use his mathematical ability on two-card hands of 3, 4, 5, and 6. The Bank’s main advantage is similar to Blackjack - the Bank decides last. An experienced Banker may be able to discern how the Player on the side of the table with the greatest amount wagered plays the optional two-card 5 hand and play his own hand in the most advantageous way.

The first half of the 20th century saw the famous Greek Syndicate featuring the greatest Baccarat player ever, Nicolas Zographos, use memory and skill to beat punters out of millions over their 40-year reign. Besides being a genius with numbers Zographos had another advantage normally not available to players today. In Zographos’ time shoes were dealt done to the last nine cards. Zographos used his ability to memorize every card already dealt to discern exactly what the final nine cards were. He then called upon his unique knowledge of Baccarat mathematics to make the optimal play. Zographos was one of the original non-cheating advantage players. The Greek Syndicate parlayed their seemly small edge (about 1.7%) over the players into millions of francs. Just like modern casinos they had good days and bad, but the law of large numbers will always favor the side with the edge, no matter how small that edge is.

I think it is important for me to point out that the Greek syndicate, by banking Baccarat en Banque, was filling the role that casinos now occupy. The Greeks started with a small house edge, and let the law of large numbers take over, just like casinos do today with every game they offer.