There are so many different baccarat games available to play online or at a bricks and mortar casino these days that it is often hard to differentiate between what’s what. Chemin de Fer – which translates to ‘railroad’ in French – is one of three original Baccarat variants available to play.
Unlike the most popular and widely available Baccarat variant – Punto Banco – Chemin De Fer is considered to be a much more refined and skillful game because the draw is taken out of the hands of the regimented tableau rules of pulling cards.
Chemin de Fer is not readily available to play at online casinos which is disappointing. This is because of the set up of rules and the players discretion in pulling a third card makes it difficult for the casino – both online or real life – to make a profit and govern the run of play. The only way for the House to make a profit is by taking their obligatory 5% out of every Banker bet. Because of these factors, actually finding a game of Chemin de Fer in real life is rare.
What is Chemin de Fer?
Chemin de Fer is a Baccarat derivative that is played with six, 52 card decks of cards kept in a dealing shoe. Any single game can be played by up to eight players who sit at a large, oval table.
The “general” rules are the same as the ones you may be familiar with in Punto Banco, however the tableau is not as strictly adhered to, allowing for the players themselves to have more control over the result of the game which brings a players skill and instinct into the game.
Where this version of Baccarat strays from the popular version is that instead of the casino banking the game by paying out and collecting, a single player assumes the role of the “Bank” and stakes an amount they are willing to wager on the hand. Therefore the players are betting against each other as opposed to betting against the House.
Card values are exactly the same as conventional Punto Banco, so two card eight or nines are still prime as ‘Natural’s’. Picture cards and 10’s still count as ‘baccarat’.
How to Play Chemin de Fer
Each player takes a seat around the table with the player to the right of the Dealer becoming the first Banker. This player is now bankrolling the game and must nominate how much they are willing to wager on the next hand. They will place their bet in the Banco section in the centre of the table.
The Banker – who can only bet Banker while they are banking the game – waits for the remaining players to place their bets by either hollering out “Banco”. The total amount wagered by the other punters cannot exceed what the Banker has nominated as their bet. Players take turns at putting forward a bet starting from the Bankers left.
From there the Banker will draw the initial deal of four cards, two to the Player with the largest bet and two for the Banker themselves. If either side has drawn a two card eight or nine, or a ‘natural’, from the initial deal, they must immediately flip their cards over.
This is where a players discretion and tactics come into the game of Chemin de Fer. If the Player has drawn a two card total of seven or less they can decide whether or not to pull a third card. After examining their third card – if one has been pulled – the Player must reveal it. From there the Banker can decide whether to pull a third card or not.
Traditionalists will tell you that only a buffoon would take a third card on a six or seven or stay on a baccarat, one, two, three or four. This leaves five the only total no one can really agree on. However you can choose to play the game and your cards the way that you see fit: there is no set rule on whether you must pull a third card or not.
After the other initial cards have been revealed, the hand has been completed and all bets have been dealt with accordingly one of two things will happen. If the Banker won and is happy to continue, that punter will remain the Banker for the next hand. However if the Banker lost the hand the player to their left will become the next Banker.
If you manage to find an online or live game of Chemin de Fer give it a try – it is very different from the Baccarat that we all know so well. Alternatively, there are plenty of other online baccarat games to play at the top-rated online casino sites.