MrVegas
MrVegas
Joined: Apr 3, 2019
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April 3rd, 2019 at 9:19:05 PM permalink
I was reading about baccarat on Wizard of Odds and couldnít wrap my head around one aspect of the game, the drawing rules. I was so confused as to why the Banker would decide whether or not to take a third card based solely on the value of the players third card and not the value of the player hand. I was typing up a big post when it occurred to me. Iíve been watching a lot of James Bond movies on Netflix recently and Iíve noticed in these movies that baccarat is dealt face down. Therefore, in a traditional game of baccarat the player did not know the banker cards prior to a decision and the banker did not know the first two player cards prior to making a decision.

So the rules are set based on the face down style of the game. Somehow a sort of basic strategy was developed for this game. Were players always required to play according to the drawing rules when the cards were dealt face down? Are these drawing rules for both player and banker the optimal basic strategy?
charliepatrick
charliepatrick
Joined: Jun 17, 2011
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MrVegas
April 4th, 2019 at 1:04:44 AM permalink
Yes - in the old days the game was played whereby the Player would keep their first two cards face down. If you do the maths, and assume the Player always hits 5s, then you'll get to the same strategy for the banker.

If it's still confusing try playing it with a friend (using one deck is OK). Deal their cards face down and only check for whether you have a natural afetr the Player has stood or asked for a third card (dealt face up). Then as banker you can act as you wish. You can sometimes see the game played this way in James Bond films.
MrVegas
MrVegas
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April 4th, 2019 at 6:04:34 AM permalink
Iím not confused now as to how the game is played. 8 or 9 is a natural and if either player or banker has a natural the round is over. Player stands 6,7,8,9 and draws 0-5. If the player stands the banker draws 0-5. If the player draws a third card the banker draws or stands based on the banker drawing rules. The wizard has a memory technique for this.

Player third card 8,27,47,67 which corresponds to banker total 3,4,5,6 meaning banker 3 vs player 8 stand. Banker 4 vs player 2-7 draw. Banker 5 vs player 4-7 draw. Banker 6 vs player 6-7 draw. In addition draw with banker less than 3 and stand with banker greater than 6.

Banker bet house edge 1.06%
Player bet house edge 1.24%
Tie house edge 14.44%

Why are the drawing rules this way? Is this the optimal way to play, similar to basic strategy in blackjack?
TigerWu
TigerWu
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CyrusV
April 4th, 2019 at 12:32:04 PM permalink
Quote: MrVegas

Why are the drawing rules this way? Is this the optimal way to play, similar to basic strategy in blackjack?



Yes, it's mathematically optimal.

For the best onscreen game of baccarat ever, check out the 1954 version of Casino Royale. I actually think they might be playing Chemin de Fer (i.e., no drawing rules) but it's still an intense scene that lasts a good 10 minutes.

It's on Youtube in full.
MrVegas
MrVegas
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April 4th, 2019 at 1:27:35 PM permalink
Thanks! Iím going check that out.
MDawg
MDawg
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MrVegas
May 14th, 2019 at 6:06:15 PM permalink
From the way a pit boss explained it to me years ago, what we play these days in American casinos is actually "Punto Banco" from South America, a fixed version of Baccarat where there is no decision to be made and whether the Player or Bank gets a third card depends on fixed rules.

Baccarat in Europe includes the discretionary drawing rules but usually only on certain hands, such as if you draw a five (Recall James Bond's line from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service": Well, Tracy, next time play it safe and stand on 5. Tracy: People who want to stay alive play it safe....) (In "For Your Eyes Only," Bond is the one taking the chance, where after being told that "The odds favor standing pat," Bond hits his five, and draws a four, remarking, "If you, play the odds."). In those movies Bond was playing Chemin de Fer, where the player holding the shoe acts as the banker against a player or players who are against him, on the Player's side. Chemin de fer means "railroad" or "railway" which implies that the shoe keeps moving along as a different player assumes the role of the Bank, or at least, that's the only explanation I may think of for the phrase as applied to the game. Chemin de Fer DOES allow drawing, but not if either side has a natural 8 or 9 (which is the same in Punto Banco, and probably the reason the Vegas dealers say "There will be no draws" when one side has a natural, probably a trickled down phrase from the old Euro version's rules).

Baccarat as played in Europe sometimes has two hands versus the Bank, the Player hand on the left and the Player hand on the right. Here, the reason the discretionary rules are so important is if the Bank has say a five and is playing against two hands where he thinks the five isn't enough to beat the larger bet hand, the Bank might then want to draw. Or, if say the larger hand appears already beaten by the five, the bank might choose to stand and allow the smaller bet to fall aside as a calculated loss. I haven't watched this version play out in person, so I'm not sure exactly how or when the Banker would play strategically to sacrifice the smaller player to the larger player hand.

From what I have read also, in Europe there will also be versions where either side may draw regardless of what the first two cards are, especially if the bank is being assumed by a player. When the European casino is playing the bank they usually stick to the "Punto Banco" fixed draw rules for the bank side.

I watched European Chemin de Fer being played in the "grand salons" in the back rooms of the Casino de Monte-Carlo as I recall the opposing side kept its cards face down - like poker - until the bank had completed its choice of whether to draw a third card. When you think about it, this "face down" deal is crucial to the discretionary draw rules because otherwise the opposing side would always draw whenever it realized that it had to.

When I used to play grand Bacc. over a decade ago in Vegas, occasionally a player would take the shoe and toss out the cards, acting as the banker, but obviously not for purposes of "banking" (covering) the banker's bet, just, really only for fun. The shoe would pass when the player acting as banker lost a hand (the Player won). Nowadays, as the shoes are electronic (record the last hand's results electronically) and there isn't even that much Grand Bacc. (mostly midi), the player is not going to handle the shoe. But, couple months ago when I was at Caesar's Vegas, I saw a dealer I used to play with and asked her about it, and she said that at their Grand Bacc. tables since they still use the old non-electronic shoes, that if someone wanted to, he could still "hold the shoe" and deal from it, but she said that she hasn't seen anyone do that in a very long time.
Last edited by: MDawg on May 14, 2019
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