Chemin de Fer is a baccarat game where players bet against each other. The one who holds the bank sets aside an amount he or she is willing to risk and that covers the bets of the opponents. This is a fundamental difference from two other baccarat games: Punto Banco (Nevada Baccarat) and Baccarat Banque, where the bank is always held by a casino.
If you are not familiar with baccarat games, you may like to first visit the page with the general rules of baccarat, which are common for all three baccarat variations. Except of Chemin de Fer there are Punto Banco (Nevada Baccarat) and Baccarat Banque.
Chemin de Fer is an original version of baccarat that appeared in France. Literally the name of the game means "railway". Chemin de Fer is usually played with six shuffled card decks at a typical "kidney-shaped" table. The table can be occupied by 8 to 12 players. The course of the play is controlled by a croupier from a place between the first and the last player. Opposite to him there are two dealers who handle the bets.
There are two squares on the table in Chemin de Fer. The first one, titled Banque, is designated for the bets on the Banker, the second one, titled Reliquat, serves for the part of the banker's bet, which is not covered by players. In the middle of the table there is a slot for used cards called Panier and another slot called Cagnote for casino's 5% baccarat commission of the winning bets.
On the beginning of the game the cards are shuffled by a croupier and then by the players in the order. Finally the cards are shuffled by the croupier again and the player at his left side splits the deck with a blank card.
The player sitting on the right side of the croupier, who is based in middle of the table, is first to be the Banker. Other participants of Chemin de Fer are the Players. The players take turns in the role of the Banker. The Banker puts ahead an amount, which he is willing to risk. Now it is players' turn. Each player may announce Banco! and go all-in against the bank. Of course the all-in can be done by one player only. When more players do so, the priority is given to the player at the banker's right hand and he can call Banco prime!
If no player announces Banco!, they bet one by at their discretion. If the bank is not covered by the players' bets, then they can be covered by the bets of the spectators around the table. If the bets exceed the bank, the Banker may agree to raise the bank. Otherwise the redundant bets are removed from the table in the opposite playing order.
The croupier deals four cards in total, two cards to the players and two cards to himself. The player who makes the highest bet (if there are more players with the same bet, then the first player in order) is chosen to represent all players, i.e. he plays the hand for all players who bet on the Player.
The Player and the Banker look at their cards. If any of them (or both) has the total 8 or 9 (Natural), he announces so, shows down the cards and the game is decided immediately (the higher total value of cards wins). If the win is not on the hand (Natural), then there are the following rules of Chemin de Fer.
|5||draws or stands|
|6 or 7||stands|
|8 or 9||wins out of the hand|
|Total||The Banker draws, if he is allowed to *||The Banker stands, if he is allowed to *||By discretion|
|3||1–7 or 10||8||9|
|4||2–7||1, 8, 9 or 10|
|5||5–7||1, 2, 3, 8, 9 or 10||4|
|6||6 or 7||1–5, 8, 9 or 10|
|8 or 9||win out the hand|
|* If the Player stands, the Banker draws a third card if his total is 0–5 and stands at 6 or 7.|
As it was said the cards are dealt face down (i.e. they are not visible to the opponent). If the Player demands to draw a third card, he announces Carte (a card). The Player shows his cards after the Banker has shown his own cards. Doing so earlier would not be tactical as if the total is 5 then, in Chemin de Fer, there is a choice between drawing a card and standing.
If the Banker knew that the Player's total is 5, he would adapt his decision accordingly. The additional cards are always drawn face up, because in this phase the initial hands are shown and on their basis it is determined whether the third card is drawn or not. There is no need to worry about the rules of Chemin de Fer – they are watched carefully by the croupier.
If the Player achieves a higher total than the Banker, all players are paid out in the ratio 1:1. That means if you bet e.g. $100, you will get back your $100 + another $100 as a win. If the Banker wins, the players' losing bets are passed to the bank and the Banker may go on in his role. Finally if a tie occurs, the bets remain on the table and their destiny is determined by the next round(s).
In Chemin de Fer the Banker may give up his role at any time by saying Pass (of course he does not have to if he is lucky). However it is highly impolite to do so after one winning game and it is completely against the spirit of Chemin de Fer. The players should have a chance to win their money back. However there should be no objections to pass the bank, say, after three rounds. If no-one is willing to hold the bank, then it comes to the next player in the order. The casinos usually set minimum amounts for the bank and the bets.
The tactics of the Player and the Banker in Chemin de Fer plays its part if the total value of the cards is five. It is vital to change the style of play in order to keep the opponent insecure. Sometimes it is good to draw the third cards, another time it is good to stand.
The player who always draws is called Tireur (a shooter in French). The player who often stands is called Non-tireur . And finally the player who alternates his play is called Douteur (a doubter).
Revealing opponent's style of play may get you a higher ground, but you can fall into disadvantage if your opponent manages to read your uniform playing style. Therefore it pays off to keep the style of play changing.